Nearly half (45%) of people are compromising their sleep quality by following ‘sleep myths’.

52% believe you can catch up on sleep, while over a third (39%) think four-hours sleep each night is enough
More than a quarter (28%) think an alcoholic tipple before bed helps you sleep better

Avoiding cheese, watching TV and exercising before bed are all popular pieces of advice which are said to help us get some much-needed shut eye. However, new research has revealed that nearly half of Brits (45%) are following sleep wisdom which simply isn’t true, with much of it potentially harming our sleep quality.

The research [1], conducted by the world’s number one bed brand, Sealy UK, aimed to find out more about the UK’s sleeping habits, and to separate the nation’s well-established sleep truths from sleep myths once and for all.

It revealed that more than a quarter (27%) of people believe that eating cheese before bed is guaranteed to bring you nightmares, while drinking alcohol at night guarantees a deeper slumber (28%), despite both being largely untrue.

Other incorrect pieces of advice which were widely believed by participants to promote a good night’s sleep were exercising before bed (50%), counting sheep (35%) and watching TV before nodding off (35%).

The most widely believed (but incorrect) pieces of sleep wisdom are:

Yawning is a sign of tiredness (60%) We need eight hours of sleep every night (59%) More sleep is better for you (56%) The older you get, the fewer hours sleep you need (53%) You can always catch up on sleep (52%) Exercising just before bed helps you sleep better (50%) Going to bed early always helps you sleep better (42%) You train yourself to get by with just four hours of sleep (39%) Watching TV or using an electronic device helps you drift off (35%) Eating cheese before bed will guarantee nightmares (28%) Drinking alcohol before bedtime ensures you sleep deeply (28%)

While some of the more popular pieces of ‘incorrect’ sleep wisdom are generally harmless, some could have a negative effect on your overall health if followed regularly.

These include the commonly held belief that you can ‘catch up on sleep’, with more than half of people (52%) believing this to be the case, despite bodies of research suggesting that lying in at the weekend to catch up on sleep missed during the week could increase your risk of heart disease [2], not to mention upsetting your sleep routine across subsequent nights.

Similarly, over a third of people (39%) also believe that you can train yourself to get by on just four hours of sleep a night, despite health experts regularly warning that a lack of high quality sleep (usually defined as less than eight hours a night), can result in a disrupted immune system, weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes. [3]

Commenting on the results of the research, Neil Robinson, an expert on sleep at Sealy, comments: “Many of us are desperate to achieve a better night’s sleep, but seemingly, in our quest to get it we’re following advice that in actual fact can do more harm than good. Further complicating things is the fact that many of our well-established ‘sleep truths’ are in fact false, or only partly-true.

“With this in mind it’s important for people to be on their guard and to consider carefully what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to popular sleep advice. However, there’s no need to overcomplicate things. When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, getting the basics right is the most important thing, including a comfortable and supportive bed, a calm and quiet sleeping environment, and a regular pre-sleep routine.”

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