Sleep Fact vs Sleep Fiction: 10 Common Myths About Sleep

Sleep Fact vs Sleep Fiction: 10 Common Myths About Sleep - DUSK

We are always on the lookout for top tips to guarantee a restful sleep. So, let's help you achieve this by debunking these common sleep myths, here.

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From practising mindfulness before bed to investing in breathable cotton bedding, we are constantly looking for ways to ensure a good night’s sleep. 

Yet, with long-held sleep myths believed by many, it can be hard to decipher what helps or hinders. So, to guarantee you that coveted, refreshing sleep, the DUSK team has come together to separate the sneaky sleep myths from the beneficial sleep facts.

Whether it’s eating cheese before bed or watching TV to drift off, let’s settle the sleep myth vs sleep fact debate for good, below. 

1. A coffee before bed will keep you awake

While most of us love nothing more than that first sip of coffee in the morning, some people prefer their coffee before bed. But one sleep myth claims this is a recipe for a sleepless night. 

So, is coffee just before bed actually bad for you or is this a sleep myth?

Sleep fact: While coffee before bed can keep you tossing and turning all night due to the caffeine levels, there is a slight caveat to this…

In general, it is best to avoid drinking coffee at least six hours before bedtime. But an early evening 4pm coffee to see you through the last part of the working day is safe, as long as you’re happy with a 10pm bedtime. 

2. Every year you swallow eight spiders while you sleep

You've probably heard that terrifying sleep myth about eating spiders during the night. The idea of swallowing one of those eight-legged creepy crawlies is gruesome enough, but allegedly we unknowingly eat eight arachnids every year! 

So, is it a sleep fact or sleep myth?

Sleep myth: Fortunately, you can relax. Spiders tend to avoid threats and predators, so we're more likely to scare them off while we move during sleep. 

3. You should never wake a sleepwalker

One of the most common sleep myths in the UK is that it’s harmful to wake a sleepwalker. But is this really a sleep fact? 

Sleep myth: It may actually be more dangerous to leave them to their own devices.

If a sleepwalker is in a potentially dangerous situation, like the top of the stairs, it is much safer to gently wake them up. If you find yourself in this situation, it's advised to gently guide them back to bed. If this isn't possible, make a loud noise from a safe distance, so as not to startle them.

4. Watching TV helps you fall asleep

Many of us Brits find the white noise of a well-loved show soothing to fall asleep to, but is this sleep myth actually harming our sleep?

Sleep fact: Dozing off to a show you’re familiar with can actually help soothe your mind, leading to a restful sleep.

However, it is a sleep fact that too much screen time before bed can damage your sleep quality. So, if you do like to fall asleep to background noise, make sure the screen brightness is all the way down to avoid a restless or poor quality snooze.

5. ‘I don’t dream while I sleep’

Many psychologists, ancient civilisations, and even some Brits today believe dreams hold secret meanings. So, what happens when someone claims they don’t dream – is this sleep myth possible?

Sleep myth: It is highly unlikely that you don’t dream. Rather, it is more likely you simply don’t recall your dreams once you wake up, or your sleep quality has reduced and you aren’t in a deep enough sleep. 

Dreams happen in the REM (rapid eye movement) part of sleep, and studies have shown it’s harder for our brain to form memories during this stage. While this explains why you may not remember dreams, the fact is, if your sleep quality is good, it’s next to impossible not to dream.

6. Cheese before bed gives you nightmares

Thought to be derived from the European tradition of eating cheese after an evening meal, many believe gorging on some gouda or chowing down on cheddar before bed will give you nightmares. 

But is it a sleep fact or sleep myth? 

Sleep myth: There's no scientific evidence to prove cheese before bed induces nightmares.

Now, it is generally best to avoid eating before bed, as this myth does have a bit of fact behind it. But it’s foods like red meat that are hard to digest, or spicy foods that raise your body temperature, that can cause sleep troubles. 

So, cheese fans rejoice - it is completely safe to snack on your favourite cheese before bed!

7. Exercise before bed is bad for your sleep

Exercising offers huge health benefits, both mentally and physically. Yet this sleep myth says working out too close to your bedtime can result in a disturbed night. Is this true?

Sleep myth: Some forms of exercise can actually help you snooze.

While it's true that vigorous exercise prior to crawling under the duvet covers can cause disruptions, many experts believe a gentle workout can help you enjoy a deeper, more restful slumber. Just make sure you finish an hour before bed to give you time to unwind.

8. Napping will harm your circadian rhythm

Many of us love the idea of a little afternoon snooze nestled under a comfy throw. But is this sleep myth about harming your circadian rhythm true? 

Sleep myth: Studies actually indicate that a short afternoon rest is perfectly healthy. Taking a quick twenty-minute siesta could boost your productivity and leave you feeling refreshed. However, anything longer could result in entering REM sleep, wreaking havoc with your circadian rhythm.

So, take advantage of this fun fact about sleep - switch that do-not-disturb button on, pull the duvet to your nose, and enjoy a guilt-free nap!

9. You can get by on less than seven hours sleep

We all know someone who prides themselves on only needing five or six hours of sleep per night. And while we could all do with a few more waking hours in the day, let’s look at whether this is a sleep myth or sleep fact first. 

Sleep myth: While you may feel like you can function on less than seven hours sleep, you may be better off spending longer in bed. 

While you do generally need less sleep as you get older, even as an adult it is best to get a minimum of seven hours sleep. Studies have linked adequate sleep to better health and even a longer life! So, get cosy in bed, and settle in for a long, healthy snooze.

10. Sleeping with a fan on is dangerous

While many of us can’t get by without a fan on at night – especially during the sticky heat of the summer – there’s a sleep myth around fans being dangerous while you snooze. 

But is sleeping with a fan on actually bad for us? 

Sleep myth: You’ll be glad to hear this is a sleep myth. While sleeping with a fan on may be bad for allergies on some occasions, it is perfectly safe on the whole. In fact, many people enjoy the soothing noise of a fan, and studies have shown that sleeping with white noise can actually improve sleep quality. 

With these popular sleep myth vs sleep fact debates settled, it’s time to find the perfect pillow and get a comfy duvet to really make the most of bedtime. So, head over to our inspiration page to discover how to get the ultimate night’s sleep.