Turns out, the big little lies you need to know about have nothing to do with Sunday night TV. It’s easy to tell ourselves fibs and make excuses about our health—this condition isn’t that bad, I don’t need this exam this year, there’s nothing I can do about that—but that can lead to major problems down the line, or needlessly make life less enjoyable.
These are some of the most common lies doctors and health experts say we tell ourselves—and our’s recommendations for how to stop fooling yourself out of your best health ever.
“I need to do a cleanse.”
Over the past decade, a huge industry has sprung up dedicated to detoxing the body from everyday wear-and-tear. Diets, drinks, recipes, supplements and other regimens: Most experts say they’re a waste of money. Why? Our bodies are meant to detox themselves. “Our digestive tract, liver, kidneys and skin are responsible for breaking down toxins for elimination through urine, stool or sweat,” says the Cleveland Clinic.
Recommendation: Eat a balanced diet of whole foods, with plenty of fruits and vegetables and lean protein. Limit alcohol. Cleanses may do more harm than good—at least to your wallet.
“I don’t need sleep.”
“Often when our lives get busy, sleep is the first casualty,” says Colleen M. Wallace, MD, associate professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Lying to ourselves about how much sleep we need can lead to multiple health effects. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and decreased immune system function. It impairs your thinking, memory formation and attention span. It can lead to depression. It not only causes disease but can significantly decrease the quality of your life.”
Recommendation: “Instead of lying to yourself about how little sleep you need, create a life that allows for you to get the recommended amount of sleep of six to eight hours per night,” says Wallace. “First, set a bedtime. Then develop some strategies in the hour before bedtime that help you to relax. This could be putting your phone out of sight, listening to calming music, reading, meditating, or taking a long shower. These are all primers that are suggesting to your brain that it’s almost time for bed.”
“My snoring isn’t a big deal.”
Snoring doesn’t just disturb the sleep of your bedmate. It could be a sign you have sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing stops and the brain has to wake up to get your lungs moving again. It’s exhausting—even though you likely don’t remember waking up—and correlated to a variety of serious illnesses, including cardiovascular disease.
Recommendation: If you’ve been told you snore, talk to your doctor about it.