Everyone has those random tidbits of information — the ones you don’t know where they came from and you’re not sure if you should believe. Old wives tales, misconceptions, myths, whatever you call them, it’s all the same. Any one of them can be really damaging to your health and your relationship.
Sleep is one of the most vital parts of our health and wellness. It’s too important for us to let these myths go on. So, let’s debunk some of the most popular sleep myths that might be hurting your relationship, shall we?
Myth: Separate Beds Mean Your Marriage Is Doomed
If you utter the words “we’re sleeping in separate beds,” there’s typically a collective shutter and gasps as everyone in the room worries for your marriage or relationship. It’s one of the most common myths you’ll come across, and we’re here to tell you it’s not true. The simple act of choosing to sleep in separate beds doesn’t mean your marriage is doomed.
Research shows that more couples than ever are considering “sleep divorce.” And it’s not because they are unhappy in their marriages. Sleep deprivation can have some severe impacts on your health — weight gain, heart disease, and even drops in your immune system. Not to mention the impact it can have on your relationship. A 2017 study found that sleep-deprived couples are more likely to be hostile or argumentative.
Sleep divorce can be the solution if you’re not getting enough sleep because of your partner. Snoring is the largest reported cause of choosing to sleep in separate beds. However, there are several reasons you might choose this. If your partner has a different sleep schedule that keeps you awake or they toss and turn, then “sleep divorce” may be your solution.
Myth: Don’t Go to Bed Angry
Okay, we’re not here to give you relationship advice. However, the idea that going to bed angry will ruin your relationship is not realistic. It all comes down to physiology. When we’re in an argument (with anyone), cortisol floods into our bloodstream, and our heart rate rises, making it more difficult to have rational conversations. It becomes even harder to solve issues when you’re tired.
Sleep and our moods are intricately intertwined. If you’re getting poor sleep, you’re more likely to be irritable and short-tempered. Dragging out an argument all night will only compound the stress and potentially hurt your relationship. On the other hand, the increased heart rate and cortisol levels in the blood will also make it hard to sleep. You’re best off tabling any discussion until the next day and giving yourself a few hours to wind down for bed.
Myth: You Can Catch Up On Sleep
This one might be the most painful to hear. No, you cannot catch up on sleep like you’re paying off your credit card bill. You can’t just make bigger payments next week and hope everything evens out. Unfortunately, that’s now how our bodies work.
If your partner struggles with insomnia or has trouble sleeping, don’t encourage them to sleep in to catch up on sleep. Yes, we know you’re well-intentioned, but the last thing you want to encourage unknowingly is an erratic sleeping pattern that only makes their sleeping habits worse. Our bodies are not forgiving when it comes to sleep. A recent paper in Current Biology found that people who cut their sleep by five hours throughout the week still suffered consequences even if they “caught up” through the weekend. Participants experienced weight increase, fatigue, and even changes in insulin intake in the body.
Long-term sleep deprivation can have significant health risks — heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. Instead of sleeping in, help your partner find solutions that work to improve their sleep health.
Myth: You Only Need Six Hours or Less of Sleep to Function
Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Yes, you can wake up and go to work on less, but that doesn’t mean you should. Your body never adapts to getting less sleep; you just get used to feeling the effects. Your health and ability to function and make decisions are compromised if you regularly do not get enough sleep.
If you want to function at your best, you need to get around eight hours of sleep each night. Sleep is critical for your health and well-being, don’t short-change yourself by believing this myth.
Myth: You Should Have the Same Sleep Preferences
Admittedly, having similar sleep preferences does help a relationship, but it doesn’t have to hurt it either. Having different sleep and wake times does have the potential to cause some tension. However, couples with healthy communication skills can avoid these problems. There’s no reason that night owls and morning larks cannot cohabitate happily.
We can’t tell you the right way to balance both needs. It might be a trial and error process, but it can be done. You just have to find what works best for you.
Myth: Men Are Better at Sleeping
Some people are asleep the second that their head hits the pillow — pop culture would have you believe that it’s mostly men. While there is some truth to it, generally, you shouldn’t believe this myth. However, men and women do tend to have differences in how they sleep.
Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia. Nevertheless, women are more likely than men to sleep deeply, which could be related to the fact that men are more likely to have sleep apnea. Neither men nor women sleep better than the other — they just sleep differently. Men and women experience differences in the circadian rhythm, hormone production, and other sex-based factors that lead them to have different sleeping habits.
Too Long, Didn’t Read?
The sleep myths that are floating around can be damaging to both your health and your relationship. While they might have been rooted in truth at some point, the vast majority of them now are unfounded old wives’ tales. Every relationship is different, and every person’s sleep needs can vary. A little planning to ensure both you and your partner are getting the best sleep possible is the best way to lay these debunked myths to rest.