4 common sleep myths debunked

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Sleep is something we all need but don’t necessarily get enough of.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgians mostly rank within the 36.7% and 59.8% range in prevalence of short sleep duration or insufficient sleep.

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But when it comes to getting adequate shut-eye, there are some myths that you may believe that experts have debunked. Read on to find out the truth behind four of them, according to the Amerisleep blog.

Sleep myth #1: You can catch up on sleep

It’s possible to catch up on sleep if you’ve missed an hour here or there, according to Little Rock, Arkansas-based sleep medicine specialist Dr. Raghu Reddy. But if you have been sleep deprived on a chronic level, it won’t help.

Sleep.org reported that the caveat to catching up on sleep is that the benefits only occur when you spend multiple nights or weekends doing so. Some people have such a large sleep debt — that is, the sum of all the hours of sleep you’ve missed — during the week that they’ll need almost an entire weekend to pay it back.

Sleep myth #2: Older adults need less sleep

WebMD reported that older adults don’t require fewer hours in bed, but they may need a different type of sleep.

“Insomnia is more common for seniors, partly because of health issues, partly because of the anxiety and the concerns of aging, and sometimes because of medication,” Dr. Jack Gardner, a Texas-based neurologist and sleep medicine specialist told the website. He noted that older people should see their doctors if they’re experiencing sleep issues.

“Healthy sleep is something one should expect at all ages,” he said.

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Sleep myth #3: Nighttime workouts will make it difficult for you to fall asleep

This depends on the person, according to sports medicine specialist Dr. Edward R. Laskowski of the Mayo Clinic.

“Regular exercise reduces stress and anxiety and generally improves sleep,” he explained on the hospital’s website. “But for some people, exercising within a few hours of bedtime may cause problems getting to sleep. Keep in mind, everyone’s different. For some people, late-day exercise isn’t a problem.”

Sleep myth #4: Napping is bad

According to Dr. Adrian Williams, professor of sleep medicine and consultant respiratory physician at Queens Victoria Hospital in the U.K., napping can have several benefits. Among them are decreased drowsy driving and an increase in awareness, he wrote on the Headspace blog.

As for how long you should nap, the National Sleep Foundation recommends doing so for only 20-30 minutes. This will give you “improved performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep,” Williams noted.

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