When it comes to crazy sleep patterns, Leonardo da Vinci and Nikola Tesla take the cake. They are both alleged to have followed the Uberman cycle.
This exhausting regimen consisted of just six 20-minute naps spread evenly throughout the day. Tesla went so far as to claim he never slept more than two hours in a given 24-hour period. Keep in mind, this crazy genius also had a mental breakdown at age 25…
Today, there’s a lot more science available on sleep and how good habits can help maintain our health and well-being… and there are almost as many myths.
But some fabrications are more harmful than others.
For instance, it’s often thought that a sound sleeper rarely moves at night. This has been proven unequivocally not true, but it poses no impact on one’s health or sleep habits.
Here are eight other sleep myths that can cause serious health risks to those who believe them.
1. Many adults need only five hours of sleep or less per night.
- False. A regular deficiency in sleep has been associated with poor cardiovascular, metabolic and mental health.
2. Your brain and body can learn to function with less sleep.
- False. Regularly reducing sleep has been proven to lead to a sustained reduction in performance. There is no evidence that the brain or body can adapt to function on less sleep.
3. Adults sleep more as they get older.
- False. In fact, older adults require less sleep than teenagers. But seven to eight hours is still recommended regardless of your age.
4. It doesn’t matter what time of day you sleep.
- False. While sleeping during the day is better than no sleep at all, a study of nightshift workers who sleep during the day reported less and lower-quality sleep. This has led to a higher incidence of depression, diabetes and breast cancer.
5. Lying down with your eyes closed is almost as good as sleep.
- False. Endocrine, cardiovascular, metabolic and cognitive functions operate very differently when you’re awake versus asleep. Cognitive activity is also markedly different.
6. Alcohol before bed will help you sleep better.
- False. Skip the nightcap. Alcohol delays REM sleep and causes sleep disturbances. It has also been shown to worsen sleep apnea symptoms.
7. Snoring is mostly harmless.
- False. Loud snoring is symptomatic of various adverse health conditions and sleep apnea, which can lead to cardiovascular issues if left untreated. Regular snoring means you need to speak to your doctor.
8. Exercising within four hours of bedtime will disturb your sleep.
- False. Exercise and sleep are mutually beneficial. And there is little to no evidence to show that vigorous nighttime exercise impacts sleep quality. If exercise at night is what fits your schedule, keep it up.
While history proves that people’s sleep needs can vary, there is good reason to not believe everything you hear when it comes to getting a good night’s rest.