“You Don’t Need Eight Hours”
Many younger people and workaholics adhere to the philosophy that you don’t truly need eight hours of sleep every night. In fact, they argue they function best on five to six hours of sleep with frequent naps throughout the day. While this may sound anecdotal at best, the truth is everyone needs seven to nine hours of quality REM sleep each night. Researchers defend that a full night’s sleep—approximately eight hours—improves productivity, cognition, and hormone control. Sleeping less at night and taking frequent naps creates an unhealthy cyclical pattern in which your body remains in a state of flux, thus potentially harming your hormone regulation and performance.
“Not Dreaming Is Bad”
This myth is trickier. Some people claim that only dreams signify quality sleep. While dreaming does indicate you enter a state of deep sleep, it doesn’t mean not dreaming is any worse. Sleeping constitutes four stages. Stages one through three are NREM, or non-rapid eye movement. The first stage transitions you from wakefulness to sleep as your brain, heartbeat, eye movements, and breathing slow down and your body relaxes. In stage two, your core body temperature drops, eye movements stop, and breathing and heart rate regulate. In stage three, your muscles completely relax, your blood pressure drops, breathing continues to slow, and you progress into a deep sleep. This is also the beginning stage of dreaming. During stage four, the final stage, your body transitions into a state of rapid eye movement (REM).
Your brain is active during REM sleep, similar to when you’re awake. However, your body remains in a state of paralysis, and you dream. During eight hours of sleep, your body cycles through these four stages about four to five times. These stages aren’t in sequence either. For example, you can go from stage two to stage three and back to stage two without falling into a deep sleep.
“Warmer Is Better”
One of the most common sleep myths to stop believing is that a warmer room means better sleep. However, a colder room is better for the body. Since your body naturally drops its core temperature as you rest, a cool room helps put your body at rest and helps it wake up the following morning. Some other small ways to improve sleep include darkening the atmosphere, using white noise, and following a consistent sleep schedule. That way, your body grows accustomed to going to bed at a certain time, and you feel healthier and more productive for the next day.