Sleep Myths and Tips | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Flashback Friday: Sleep Facts, Myths, and Tips Revisited

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To ensure that you are well rested this summer, we looked back at a few past editions of the Almanac to compile this information on snoring, snoozing, and the average time spent sleeping.

Flashback Friday: Sleep Facts, Myths, and Tips Revisited

Our 1991 Old Farmer’s Almanac discusses snoring, an issue plaguing 20 percent of American men and 5 percent of American women ages 20 to 35, and 60 and 40 percent, respectively, by age 60. Here’s a short summary of the article:

  • Snoring is generally caused by weak or inadequate musculature, masses encroaching on the airway, or obstructed nasal breathing.
  • Most snoring occurs in the deep stages of sleep, when muscles are relaxed.
  • A favored old-time cure for snoring is sewing a pocket onto the back of a pajama shirt and putting a marble or golf ball in it, to discourage the wearer from sleeping on his or her back.
  • Other remedies include reducing weight, toning muscles, mouth exercises, avoiding large meals and muscle relaxants before bed, quitting smoking, consulting an allergist, and sleeping on a firm mattress.


Volume 1 of The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids discusses sleeping positions and what they say about you, as well as facts about sleeping. Here are some highlights:

  • About one-third of your life is spent sleeping!
  • On average, babies up to 3 months old sleep about 16 to 22 hours a day; 14- to 30-year-olds sleep about 8 hours a day; and people 50 and over sleep only 6 hours a day.
  • 41 percent of people sleep in the fetal position, making it the most common sleeping posture. Some scientists believe that if you sleep like this, you have a tough outward appearance but are sensitive at heart.
  • The next most common sleeping position is “The Log” (on your side with arms down), which is interpreted to mean that you are easygoing, social, and trusting.


The 2001 Old Farmer’s Almanac explores and refutes common sleeping myths in “Putting Sleep Myths to Bed.” Here are a few examples:

  • Myth: You’ll live longer if you sleep with your head to the north. Reality: Experts now believe that you should sleep facing whichever way you are most comfortable.
  • Myth: Teenagers require less sleep than young adults and young children. Reality: Most teens actually need about 9 to 9.5 hours of sleep—more than younger children. Scientists also think that teens are predisposed to go to bed and wake up later than people of other ages.
  • Myth: Counting sheep cures insomnia. Reality: Concentration of any kind, even on something harmless like sheep, can inhibit slumber.
  • Myth: Dreams last only a few seconds. Reality: The average dream lasts 10 to 30 minutes. The final dream of the night is generally the longest and can last up to an hour!

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