Debunking Common Misconceptions About Sleep

Pajama Program’s focus is on children’s bedtime routine and sleep, but what about parents and caregivers? Just as when the flight attendant reminds passengers to put on their own oxygen masks before assisting others, adults need to get good sleep to help their children do the same. But many believe they only need 5 hours or less of sleep, or they can catch up on sleep by sleeping in on the weekend. These are examples of beliefs that simply are not true, and they can affect caregivers’ health and wellness. Recently, my colleagues and I looked into common “sleep myths” that get in the way of adults getting the sleep they need to thrive.

Research tells us that sleep is imperative for overall health, development, well-being, mood, and longevity across the life span. And yet, about one-third of adults in the United States report sleeping less than the recommended 7 hours nightly and approximately 30% of adults report insomnia. Insufficient sleep duration and sleep difficulties carry an economic burden, estimated at over $411 billion annually.

In sleep medicine, little attention has been paid to myths that persist despite scientific evidence to the contrary. In a recent article published in Sleep Health, we identified 20 commonly held sleep myths that have a limited or questionable evidence base. We used ratings by 10 sleep experts to suggest areas that may benefit from public health education to correct myths and promote healthy sleep. Expert-rated myths included “during sleep the brain is not active” and “sleeping in during the weekends is a good way to ensure you get adequate sleep.”

Watch this video to hear more about the sleep myths we’ve identified in this study and some suggestions we have for adjusting nighttime routines.


Robbins R, Grandner MA, Buxton OM, et al. (2019). Sleep myths: an expert-led study to identify false beliefs about sleep that impinge upon population sleep health. Sleep Health: Journal of the National Sleep Foundation,

Rebecca Robbins is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at NYU Langone Health and a member of our Good Night Advisory Council. Learn more about her here.

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