Sleeping Myths

A grey bed with a book on the pillow.

There are a lot of myths related to sleep floating around. Learn more about the truth behind sleeping myths. 

Using Caffeine and other stimulants to study late at night won't affect my sleep later.

Stimulants such as caffeine may help you stay awake or alert for a given amount of time, but the substances stay in your body long after that initial caffeine high. Limit your caffeine intake (coffee, soda, energy drinks) to within 3-4 hours before bed to make sure they don’t affect your sleep quality.

I can "catch up" on sleep on the weekends.

While weekends offer the opportunity for extra sleep, you can throw your body off even more by trying to catch up on sleep over the weekends. Though you may feel more rested after the weekend, that extra shut-eye doesn’t erase all of the drawbacks from not getting enough sleep during the week. While extra weekend sleep does help reduce daytime sleepiness, your ability to focus and pay attention will still be reduced. You can also throw off your body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm), which can lead to trouble sleeping during the week. We suggest trying to keep your weekend wake up time within an hour or two of your weekday wake up time.

If I sleep, I'm missing out on study time.

Planning ahead with good time management and study skills can help you avoid all-nighters. In fact, getting adequate rest the night before a test has been shown to be more beneficial to test performance than pulling an all-nighter. Lack of sleep can reduce the ability of your brain to consolidate recently formed memories and can cause you to have poor concentration and a shortened attention span.

If I can’t fall asleep or wake up in the middle of the night, I should stay in bed until I eventually fall asleep.

While you can use different strategies to help yourself fall asleep, such as “counting sheep”, practicing deep breathing, and listening to calming music, medical experts advise that if you don’t fall asleep within 15-20 minutes, you should get out of bed and find something relaxing to do until you feel tired. Don’t return to bed until you feel sleepy.

Alcohol will help me get a better night’s sleep.

Alcohol has a natural sedative effect and may sometimes initially help you fall asleep. However, as the alcohol is metabolized in your body, your sleep becomes lighter, the chances of waking up throughout the night increase, and overall sleep quality diminishes.