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Sleep Clocks

Expert Panel Debunks Common Sleep-Related Myths

By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

Investigators identified and debunked 10 common myths about the sleeping habits of young people and recently published more details about their work..

A research team from Brigham and Women’s Hospital interviewed 12 adolescent sleep health experts, who identified commonly held beliefs that are not quite true. Then, researchers surveyed 200 parents and caregivers about these myths.

About 74% of respondents agreed “going to bed and waking up late on the weekends is no big deal for adolescents, as long as they get enough sleep during that time.” In reality, the expert panel noted how irregular sleep schedules can lead to more fatigue and worse resting patterns.

Almost 70% of parents believed “if school starts later, adolescents will stay up that much later.” The expert panel argued starting school later leads to more sleep, with bedtimes minimally affected.

Because melatonin supplements are considered “natural,” two-thirds of parents said it is safe to give these to adolescents. However, the expert panel said the evidence of benefit is lacking, and expressed concern about giving teens these supplements without proper medical supervision.

“Adolescents face myriad barriers when it comes to sleep, some of which are physiological and others behavioral. Given these challenges, it is critical to reduce any modifiable barriers that stand in the way for young people when it comes to sleep. Our goal was to identify common adolescent sleep myths and inspire future public outreach and education efforts to promote evidence-based beliefs about sleep health,” said corresponding author Rebecca Robbins, PhD. “Caregivers and adolescents commonly turn to the Internet and social media for guidance on topics such as sleep. Although these platforms can be sources of evidence-based information, there is the chance that misinformation can proliferate on these platforms.”

For more on this and related subjects, be sure to read the latest issues of Integrative Medicine Alert, Internal Medicine Alert, and Neurology Alert.