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Flashback Friday: Putting Sleep Myths to Bed

June 28, 2013

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Do you sleep better if your head is pointed due north? Will eating raw onions cure insomnia? And how about counting sheep? In this edition of Flashback Friday, The 2001 Old Farmer’s Almanac gives us a look at some ancient and modern myths about sleep.

Putting Sleep Myths to Bed


1. Newborn babies need 20 to 22 hours of sleep a day: According to Dr. Nathaniel Kleitman, pioneer sleep researcher, newborns need less sleep than was once believed. The norm for newborns is about 15 hours of sleep per day—although rarely will they slumber for more than a few hours at a time.

2. Counting sheep cures insomnia: The idea that repetitive counting could put you to sleep is appealing, but researchers now know that concentration of any kind—even on harmless sheep—can actually inhibit slumber.

3. Dreams last only a few seconds: Sometimes they seem that brief, but the average dream lasts 10 to 30 minutes. The final dream of the night is the longest and can last up to an hour.

4. To sleep well is to sleep like a log: This comes from a French expression that translates to “To sleep like a mole.” Moles have poor eyesight and live in the dark, so it was assumed that they slept pretty well. Incorrect pronunciation eventually led to the saying, “To sleep like a log.”



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