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4 more myths about diet, exercise, and sleep

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4 more myths about diet, exercise, and sleep

Last week's blog post talked about fad diets, smartphones in the bedroom, belly fat and crunches, and supplements you see on social media. This week let's look at four more myths about your daily lifestyle and fitness. 

Myth No. 1 Social media can inspire you to diet and exercise

Research shows young people believe turning to fitness and diet videos on TikTok, Facebook or other social media will inspire them to be a better version of themselves, Taylor said.

“They believe that will motivate them to work out or diet,” Taylor said. “However, what that can lead to is body dissatisfaction – social comparison and a lot of concerns about body and weight. Those are all risk factors for eating disorder development.”

Experts fear body dysphoria may have increased during the pandemic as more young people turned to social media while also faced with social isolation and disrupted routines, Taylor said.

“Disordered eating is often a coping mechanism,” she said. “It’s a way to feel in control and deal with tough emotions.”

Intuitive eating is a natural way of listening to the body’s cues on hunger and fullness, which experts believe sets up a more healthy way of eating. Some call it the “anti-diet.”


Myth No. 2: Hitting the snooze button helps you get more sleep

As morning approaches, your body is naturally nearing the end of its last rapid eye movement, or “dream” cycle. Hit that snooze button, and your brain falls right back into a new dream cycle, experts say. When the alarm goes off a few minutes later, you’re likely to be in the middle of that cycle and wake up groggy. You’ll stay groggy longer, too.

Pro tip: Put the alarm on the other side of the room, so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. (And no, you can’t tell Google or Alexa to turn it off. That’s cheating.)


Myth No. 3: It’s best to stay in bed with eyes closed when you can’t sleep

Staying in bed more than 20 minutes if you can’t sleep is one of the worst things you can do, according to sleep experts, because it trains your brain to associate the bed with a lack of sleep. Doing so can lead to chronic insomnia.

“It’s counterintuitive, but spending time in bed awake turns the bed into the dentist’s chair,” Michael Grandner, a clinical psychologist and sleep expert, told CNN previously.

Instead, get up and do something boring, such as folding laundry, until you’re sleepy. Make sure you keep the lights dim, and don’t check your smartphone or laptop.


Myth No. 4: I have to work out or diet all the time to change my body type

There’s a belief that exercising or dieting all the time can change your basic body type, Taylor said. “Especially among younger age groups, the feeling is ‘if I just dieted better, or if I just exercised more, I would get my body to look a certain way.’ The reality is there’s a large range and diversity of body types that are all normal and healthy.”

Genetics are a key to how exercise might affect your body, Smith said. “If your parents are both over 6 feet tall, you’re probably not going to be successful as a gymnast, for example,” she said. “Some of this might be determined by muscle shape and size, and some of it might be determined by hormonal balances that you have been dealt at birth.”

The idea everyone can lose or gain weight or bulk up to some ideal body image doesn’t make sense, Taylor said. “There will always be body diversity. After all, we would never say, ‘You should be taller,’ or ‘You should be shorter,’ right?”

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