New Study Says the Most Dangerous Myth About Sleep Is That You Only Need Five Hours

Don't believe everything you read on the internet.

Sleeping is something we do (hopefully) every night. But, according to a new study published in the journal Sleep Health, we're wildly uneducated about the science—and importance—of it. When experts from the country's top sleep research departments analyzed data from more than 8,000 websites, they found that the most enduring—and dangerous—myth about sleep was that you only need five hours to function.

Other pervasive sleep myths include statements like "sleeping in during the weekends is a good way to ensure you get adequate sleep," and "snoring is harmless." In terms of the former, the researchers note that sleeping in disrupts the natural circadian rhythm—AKA your body's internal clock—which controls everything from your sleep-wake cycle to the times of day when you're most productive. And while snoring can be harmless, it can also be a sign of sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing overnight.

"Sleep is a vital part of life that affects our productivity, mood, and general health and wellbeing," the study's lead investigator, Rebecca Robbins, PhD, said in a press release. "Dispelling myths about sleep promotes healthier sleep habits which, in turn, promote overall better health."

According to Robbins and her team, maintaining a consistent nightly schedule and getting at least seven hours of sleep every night are both great ways to ensure you're well rested. And the next time you hear someone talk about how superior they are because they only need five hours of sleep, feel free to remind them that that's nothing to brag about.

"Sleep is important to health, and there needs to be greater effort to inform the public regarding this important public health issue," said the study's senior investigator Girardin Jean-Louis, PhD. And based on the team's findings, it appears that doctors and researchers have their work cut out for them. With that said, if you want to sleep soundly, check out these 20 Doctor-Approved Ways to Get a Full Night's Sleep.

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