Sleep myths

I came across a very interesting article the other day about sleep myths. You can see the reference below, as well as a link where you can download the article yourself.

In this article the authors presented 20 false beliefs that are widely held (i.e., myths), yet lack an evidence base (or have a very limited one). I must admit to holding some of these myself. They add that because beliefs are associated with behaviours, these myths may be manifested through detrimental sleeping practices. These could quite possibly result in impaired health amongst those who hold them.

I have copied these myths below. If interested, please follow the link to the article which outlines the study, explains each myth in turn, as well as discussing implications for public health.

Sleep duration myths

  1. Being able to fall asleep “anytime, anywhere” is a sign of a healthy sleep system.
  2. Many adults need only 5 or fewer hours of sleep for general health.
  3. Your brain and body can learn to function just as well with less sleep.
  4. Adults sleep more as they get older.
  5. If you can get it, more sleep is always better.
  6. One night of sleep deprivation will have lasting negative health consequences.

Sleep timing myths

  1. In terms of your health, it does not matter what time of day you sleep.

Behaviours during sleep myths

  1. Lying in bed with your eyes closed is almost as good as sleeping.
  2. If you have difficulty falling asleep, it is best to stay in bed and try to fall back to sleep.
  3. Although annoying for bed partners, loud snoring is mostly harmless.
  4. A sound sleeper rarely moves at night.

Daytime behaviours that relate to sleep myths

  1. Hitting the snooze when you wake up is better than getting up when the alarm first goes off.
  2. If you are having difficulties sleeping at night, taking a nap in the afternoon is a good way to get adequate sleep.

Presleep behaviours myths

  1. Alcohol before bed will improve your sleep.
  2. For sleeping, it is better to have a warmer bedroom than a cooler bedroom.
  3. Boredom can make you sleepy even if you got adequate sleep before.
  4. Watching television in bed is a good way to relax before sleep.
  5. Exercising within 4 hours of bedtime will disturb your sleep.

Brain function and sleep myths

  1. During sleep, the brain is not active.
  2. Remembering your dreams is a sign of a good night’s sleep.


Robbins, R., Grandner, M. A., Buxton, O. M., Hale, L., Buysse, D. J., Knutson, K. L., Patel, S. R., Troxel, W. M., Youngstedt, S. D., Czeisler, C. A., & Jean-Louis, G. (2019). Sleep myths: an expert-led study to identify false beliefs about sleep that impinge upon population sleep health practices. Sleep health, 5(4), 409–417.

You can download the article from here.

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Dave Lee

Dave Lee

Dave Lee has over 30 years experience in the health and fitness sector and has developed the AllActive course range to help make physical activity more accessible to everyone.

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