5 Sleep Myths Debunked
We are always looking for ways to improve our nighttime rest and get more of that valuable snoozing. While there are plenty of ways to improve your sleep habits, today we’ll be focusing on the myths and misconceptions of sleep.
1. If you can’t sleep, it’s best to stay in bed.
It’s a common misconception that if you wake up in the middle of the night, you should lie in bed or count sheep until you eventually fall back asleep.
While relaxing and trying to go back to sleep can work eventually, waking up in the middle of the night can also be a symptom of insomnia. If you can’t get back to sleep within 20 minutes, research has found it isn’t effective to keep tossing and turning in your bed.
Most experts agree that the best course of action is to go into another room and engage in a relaxing activity. This can include reading or listening to quiet music. Try to stay away from the TV and your phone as the blue light can stimulate your brain rather than calm you down. When you start to feel sleepy again, simply head back to bed.
2. Resting your eyes is just as effective as sleep.
You may feel like you’re getting sufficient rest lying in bed, even if you can’t quite get to sleep, but researchers rated this myth as majorly false as well as potentially harmful.
Your brain, heart and lungs function differently when you’re asleep than they do when you’re awake, and while you think you’re cheating the system, your body knows your awake.
It’s best to be alert and productive throughout the day and save the real snoozing for the night time.
3. The older you get, the less sleep you need.
It’s a common misconception that as we get older we need less sleep. It’s not that we need less sleep, but that unfortunately our quality of sleep gets worse as we age.
As we get older we are increasingly likely to suffer from broken sleep and are also more likely to take the odd daytime nap which affects our sleeping patterns. The good news is that simple changes to our daily routine can help. Making sure you wake up and go to bed at the same time each day, ditching the snooze button on your alarm, and napping less, or restricting naps to 20 minutes max can make a big difference.
4. Cheese causes nightmares.
There is no solid evidence to suggest that eating cheese before bed gives you nightmares.
In fact, cheese contains calcium which is a natural sleep aid as it contains an amino acid that produces melatonin, a natural hormone which regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Dairy products also contain the amino-acid trytophan, which interacts with our brain chemicals in order to regulate our biological clocks.
5. You can catch up on any lost sleep on the weekend.
We’re all guilty of telling ourselves that we’ll just catch up on sleep over the weekend. However it turns out this doesn’t always work out.
It is not this simple to pay off your sleep debt and missing out on sleep throughout the week can negatively impact our health in the long term increasing our risk of developing serious medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
So rather than oversleeping on the weekend, it’s best to focus on your sleep pattern more long term. Plan for a couple hours extra sleep each night for a week and this will soon get you into a routine and back on track.
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