11 Sleep Myths That Could Explain Why You're So Tired

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DON'T SLEEP ON IT!

There's been a lot of research and media musing about sleep. The negative effects of alcohol and caffeine on a good night's rest are fairly well-known, but myths abound. Correctives to these 10 common misconceptions might help you catch a full night of deep winks.
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MYTH: STAY IN BED UNTIL THE ALARM GOES OFF

A recent study conducted by Penn Medicine found that people can prevent acute insomnia from becoming chronic insomnia by getting out of bed if they wake before the appointed hour. People who developed long-lasting insomnia stayed in bed in the morning trying to force more sleep.
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MYTH: PAJAMAS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH SLEEP QUALITY

Research has shown that sleeping naked may improve sleep. Throwing off the PJs is better for body temperature regulation, which helps relieve stress -- and that, in turn, makes it easier to sleep. For some people, the absence of garments also leads to more intimacy in bed -- another soporific.
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MYTH: SLEEP DEBT CAN BE REPAID

There's no such thing as catching up on sleep deficits. And research indicates that a lack of sleep has negative effects on the next day's energy, motor skills, cognitive thinking, and productivity. New studies show the effects of sleep deprivation on leaders and adolescents, so strive to get the daily recommended amount of rest.
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MYTH: EVERYONE NEEDS EIGHT HOURS OF SLEEP

The exhortation to get eight hours sleep a night may be the biggest myth of all. In 2015, the National Sleep Foundation released new recommended sleep durations, including a separate category for young adults (18 to 25 years old). Depending on your age, you may be sleeping too much or too little.
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MYTH: GETTING THE RECOMMENDED NUMBER OF HOURS IS ENOUGH

Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle can cause tiredness even in people who sleep the recommended number of hours. Try to time your morning wake-up so it falls between natural sleep cycles. Free services such as SleepyTi.me and When to Sleep can help determine the best times to begin preparing for bed.
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MYTH: EXERCISE IS UNRELATED TO SLEEP

According to the National Sleep Foundation, exercise can make falling asleep (and staying asleep) easier. Even 10 minutes of physical activity during the day can help improve sleep quality and reduce the likelihood of sleep disorders. People who have trouble sleeping and but aren't particularly active can take a lunchtime stroll, go for a quick pre-dinner speed walk, or use a jump rope or hula hoop in the yard. Challenge your partner to a joint workout so you both get a better night's sleep.
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MYTH: STAY IN BED UNTIL SLEEP RETURNS

Staying in bed may not help you fall asleep again if you wake in the middle of the night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Experts say if you don't fall back to sleep within 15 to 20 minutes, it's best to get up and do something relaxing in another room. Don't switch on bright lights, a smartphone, or a laptop. Instead, read a book by lamplight or listen to calming music until you feel drowsy again.
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MYTH: READING BEFORE BEDTIME IS RELAXING

This depends on the medium. Scrolling through social media feeds and news sites on a smartphone may seem relaxing, but the brain doesn't think so. The blue light emitted from personal electronic devices suppresses melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep cycles, according to Harvard Health. Practice self-restraint and keep the phones, tablets, and laptops out of the bedroom.
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MYTH: WARM, COZY ROOMS ARE BEST FOR FALLING ASLEEP

Hot temperatures and muggy conditions may induce drowsiness during the daytime, but they're not recommended for a good night's rest. Experts agree that about 65 degrees is the best temperature for sleeping. It's neither too cold nor too warm, and lets the body temperature gradually drop -- as it should -- as a person begins to fall asleep.
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MYTH: CAFFEINE DOESN'T AFFECT SLEEP IF YOU'RE IMMUNE TO IT

Caffeine consumption should be cut off at least four hours before bedtime, according to Australia's Sleep Health Foundation, because the effects can last up to six hours. Even people who don't feel the effect should still practice moderation or abstinence. Research shows that caffeine has a negative effect on sleep, regardless how "immune" someone has become.
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MYTH: ALCOHOL HELPS YOU SLEEP

A beer or glass of wine will make you drowsy and initially may induce sleep. However, research shows that the quality of sleep gradually deteriorates during the latter half of the night. A glass of red wine may be recommended for other health benefits, but abstaining from alcohol before bedtime facilitates a better night's rest.