People with financial success of fame like President Trump, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk love to brag about how little sleep they need.
But myths about how much sleep we need are rising to the level of a ‘public health threat,’ according to a new New York University study.
The most damaging is the idea you can get by on five or fewer hours of shut-eye a night, as Trump insists he does.
Americans also believe that snoring is harmless and that a ‘night cap’ will send you into a more peaceful slumber – but these are all false and harmful to our health, the study authors warn.
President Donald Trump has boasted that he needs less than five hours of sleep a night – but a new study warns that this is unhealthy – and that such myths pose a ‘public health danger’ (file)
Britain and the US are among the most sleep deprived countries in the world. Not getting enough has been linked with a host of diseases from dementia to heart disease and cancer.
Study leader Dr Rebecca Robbins, an epidemiologist at New York University’s School of Medicine, said: ‘Sleep is a vital part of life that affects our productivity, mood and general health and well-being.
‘Dispelling myths about sleep promotes healthier sleep habits which, in turn, promote overall better health.’
In the first investigation of its kind, her team reviewed over 8,000 websites to identify the 20 most common assumptions.
Sleep medicine experts ranked each based on if they could be dispelled as fiction or supported by scientific evidence – and on the harm it could cause.
The claim by some that they can survive on only five hours a night was among the top myths they were able to refute.
It also poses the most serious risk to health from long-term sleep deficits, said the researchers.
They suggest creating a consistent sleep schedule and spending more time asleep – at least seven hours, as recommended by the World Health Organization, American Heart Association and various sleep and public health experts the world over.
HOW DONALD TRUMP, JACK DORSEY AND ELON MUSK SLEEP
President Donald Trump says he sleeps four to five hours.
He claims that this is a key to his business success.
Trump once asked ‘How does somebody that’s sleeping 12 and 14 hours a day compete with someone that’s sleeping three or four?’
Some have suggests he shares a genetic trait with Margaret Thatcher that make them part of the ‘sleepless elite’ who need less shut-eye than most.
The Twitter CEO claims to stick to an eccentric ‘health’ regimen.
He has said he sleeps between 11:00 pm and 5:00 am.
In his waking hours, Dorsey claims to eat only dinner, nothing at all on Saturdays, meditate for 30 hours and work out three times for seven minutes a time each day.
Musk, who is at the helm of both SpaceX and Tesla claims to function best with minimal sleep.
He believes he is not as sharp when he sleeps seven hours.
Instead, Musk aims for six to six-and-a-half hours of snooze time a night.
He also purports that his tight sleep schedule is a byproduct of his supposed 120-hour work weeks.
This would avoid the effects of this falsehood and others identified such as the value of taking naps when you routinely have difficulty sleeping overnight.
Many people also believe that snoring is completely harmless, according to the new study.
In some cases this is true, but in others, the noisy nighttime habit can signal that someone may have sleep apnea.
It causes breathing to stop and start over the course of the night. Sleep apnea has, in turn, been associated with the development of dementia.
The researchers said patients should not to dismiss loud snoring but see a doctor since it may lead to heart stoppages or other illnesses.
They also found sufficient evidence in published studies that, despite beliefs to the contrary, drinking booze before bed is indeed unhealthy for sleep.
According to experts alcohol reduces the body’s ability to achieve deep sleep which people need to function properly.
Co-author Dr Girardin Jean Louis, a psychiatrist at NYU, said: ‘Sleep is important to health and there needs to be greater effort to inform the public regarding this important public health issue.
‘For example, by discussing sleep habits with their patients, doctors can help prevent sleep myths from increasing risks for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.’
The researchers, whose findings are published in Sleep Health, say some myths still cause disagreement – even among experts.
This is particularly true when it comes to people who can’t get optimal sleep any way.
For instance, some scientists say that sleeping in on the weekend disrupts the natural circadian rhythm or body clock.
But, then again, others say that shift workers who don’t generally get healthy sleep are better off ‘catching up’ on sleep when they can.
These discrepancies, they say, suggest further research needs to be done.