Myths and beliefs surrounding sleep

What about your beliefs surrounding sleep?

Isabella mariana

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In terms of health, many beliefs are transmitted in spite of low levels of scientific evidence. They can either promote or refrain from adopting healthy habits. Sleep does not escape this rule and several myths are hard to beat! It is important to identify these myths - which are shared by relatives, the media, press, forums and the Internet - and assess their scientific level of evidence. In a recent study (Robbins et al., 2019), a Delphi procedure was implemented with 11 experts in order to assess the falsehood and importance of some myths surrounding sleep on public health. Authors finally established a list of 20 myths classified into six categories: sleep quantity; sleep timing; nightly habits; daily habits and their impact on sleep; behaviour prior to bedtime; brain activity throughout the night. Among the identified myths, we can find that of “short sleeper” which stipulates that some adults need only 5 or less hours of sleep in order to be fit. Another one refers to a recurring question: if I don’t manage to sleep, should I stay in bed or get up? Another myth refers to snoring: apart from the nuisance it causes for the partner, in most cases it wrongly appears to be without danger for the sleeper. Better identifying and understanding myths and beliefs surrounding sleep is a first step towards: 1) promoting beliefs based on scientific evidence; and (2) proposing educational interventions on sleep.

Mathieu Nedelec, sport scientist in charge of research projects on sleep and recovery. I teach best practices to improve sleep and performance. I will read your answers carefully and let you know when my next posts will be published.