Sleep myths: an expert-led study to identify false beliefs about sleep that impinge upon population sleep health practices.

Authors:
Rebecca Robbins
Rebecca Robbins
University of California
United States
Michael A Grandner
Michael A Grandner
University of Pennsylvania
United States
Orfeu M Buxton
Orfeu M Buxton
Harvard Medical School
Lauren Hale
Lauren Hale
Stony Brook University
United States
Daniel J Buysse
Daniel J Buysse
University of Pittsburgh
United States
Kristen L Knutson
Kristen L Knutson
University of Chicago
United States
Sanjay R Patel
Sanjay R Patel
University of Pittsburgh
United States
Wendy M Troxel
Wendy M Troxel
University of Pittsburgh
United States

Sleep Health 2019 Apr 16. Epub 2019 Apr 16.

Center for Healthful Behavior Change, Department of Population Health, NYU Langone Health.

Introduction: False beliefs about sleep can persist despite contradicting scientific evidence, potentially impairing population health. Identifying commonly held false beliefs lacking an evidence base ("myths") can inform efforts to promote population sleep health.

Method: We compiled a list of potential myths using Internet searches of popular press and scientific literature. We used a Delphi process with sleep experts (n = 10) from the fields of sleep medicine and research. Selection and refinement of myths by sleep experts proceeded in 3 phases, including focus groups (Phase 1); email-based feedback to edit, add, or remove myths (Phase 2); and closed-ended questionnaires (Phase 3) where experts rated myths on 2 dimensions, falseness and public health significance, using 5-point Likert scale from 1 ("not at all") to 5 ("extremely false").

Results: The current study identified 20 sleep myths. Mean expert ratings of falseness ranged from 5.00 (SD = 0.00) for the statement "during sleep the brain is not active" to 2.50 (SD = 1.07) for the statement "sleeping in during the weekends is a good way to ensure you get adequate sleep." Mean responses to public health significance ranged from 4.63 (SD = 0.74) for debunking the statement that "many adults need only 5 or less hours of sleep for general health" to 1.71 (SD = 0.49) for the statement that "remembering your dreams is a sign of a good night's sleep."

Conclusion: The current study identified commonly held sleep myths that have a limited or questionable evidence base. Ratings provided by experts suggest areas that may benefit from public health education to correct myths and promote healthy sleep.

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Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2019.02.002DOI Listing
April 2019
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