Community & Culture

8 Sleep Myths: Real or Not?

Ever wonder if counting sheep actually puts people to sleep? Or that you'll do prison time for removing a mattress tag?

There are plenty of sleep myths and urban legends that are intriguing but untrue. Here are 8 of the most popular ones:

You can always catch up on lost sleep.

Not true, according to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Adults who cheat themselves of seven to eight hours of sleep during the week will not be able to make it up by sleeping in later on the weekend. Chronically sleep deprived people face health risks, including high blood pressure, cognitive problems and emotional stress. It's better to allocate time every day for a full eight hours of sleep.

If you have trouble falling asleep, try counting sheep.

One might think that the sheer monotony of counting lots of little lambs leaping over a fence would put anyone to sleep, but an Oxford University study revealed that it took subjects counting sheep an average of 20 minutes longer to fall asleep than those who pictured a relaxing scene, such as a beach. But whether you are counting sheep or imagining yourself on a beach, lying awake in bed can be stressful, particularly if you have to wake up early the next morning. If you can't fall asleep within 15 minutes, many sleep specialists recommend reading or listening to soft music until you feel drowsy.

Snoring is harmless.

Occasional snoring isn't always detrimental to your health, but persistent snoring accompanied by daytime drowsiness can be a symptom of sleep apnea, which can be dangerous if left untreated. Sleep apnea is characterized by breathing disruptions during sleep, and people afflicted with the disorder awaken frequently to gasp for air. Sleep apnea may cause an increased risk for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. People with possible sleep apnea should seek the advice of their physicians.

Mattress Firm answers the age-old question “If I rip off my mattress tag will I really go to jail?"

The Mattress Firm reviews are in: Despite the strong warning that usually begins with “Do not remove under penalty of law,” you won’t be arrested if you decide to rip off the tag on your mattress. The mattress tag warning is actually meant for mattress manufacturers and retailers, like Mattress Firm. However, you shouldn’t remove the mattress tag from your Mattress Firm mattress either because it may void the manufacturer’s warranty that comes with buying a new mattress, according to Consumer Reports. There is important information on the mattress tag, such as a complete description of the materials and the country of origin that may be important if you have to resolve an issue about your mattress. Mattress Firm wants your Mattress Firm warranty to stay intact, so your mattress tag should, too.

You should never wake up a sleepwalker because the shock might kill him.

Quite the contrary - you should wake a sleepwalker who is engaging in potentially dangerous behavior. Most sleepwalkers, or somnambulists, limit their activities to walking around the bedroom or getting dressed, but in some cases, they may cook, walk around outside or drive a vehicle. Gently guiding a sleepwalker back to his bed is always appropriate. There is no truth to the old wives tale that waking a sleepwalker could kill him.

Rolling down the windows and turning up the radio will keep a drowsy driver alert.

Neither of these are effective measures to wake up a tired driver. Drowsy driving can be extremely dangerous. If you are too tired to drive, the best thing to do is pull over and grab a 15 to 30 minute nap. Drinking coffee or other caffeinated drink may also help, but it will take about 30 minutes to feel the effects. The best way to combat drowsy driving is to get a full eight hours of sleep every night.

Watching TV or Netflix can help you fall asleep.

Many people find that watching a show before bed helps them to relax and get to sleep faster. The lights and noises can easily become part of someone's routine, and the distraction can keep their mind off of other things that might distract their brains from the task of sleep. But research shows that the blue light coming from TVs interferes with the body's secretion of melatonin.

When it comes to mattresses, firmer is better.

The best mattress is the one that is the most comfortable to you. Far more important than firmness is the amount of support, or push back, a mattress provides. A mattress that is sagging or is more than eight years old is not likely to be very supportive and needs to be replaced. To ensure you find the right mattress for you, plan to spend about 15 minutes "test-driving" different mattresses on the showroom floor. Mattress Firm employees will be more than happy to provide customer service the next time you visit your nearest Mattress Firm location.

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