Sleep is just as essential to our health and well-being as the basic need for air, food, and water. Sleep gives our body time to heal from injuries, repair damaged cells, tissues and muscles and restore our energy reserves. It gives us the necessary capability to handle daily challenges and navigate relationships with compassion, patience and calm.
In order to get the most benefits from sleep in today’s post, I will be debunking some of the myths about sleep.
9 Myths and Facts About Sleep
It doesn’t matter what time you go to sleep.
This is not true. Yes, our bodies vary and require different things. However, the sleep-wake cycle follows a circadian cycle that aligns with the sun. Therefore as light reduces, the body naturally becomes tired as it produces melatonin. This serves to signal the brain to prepare for sleep. As such sleeping during night hours is more beneficial than daytime sleeping. This fact means that night-shift workers who typically get less night-time sleep are more at risk for sleep related issues.
You can catch up on sleep with naps or sleeping in on weekends
Despite popular belief, you cannot catch up on sleep. Naps, 30 mins or less, can boost energy, but they in no way make up for sleep deprivation. Furthermore, napping especially late in the afternoon disrupts your natural sleep pattern making it harder to fall asleep at night. Getting the right amount of sleep each night is necessary.
Your body gets use to less sleep
Sadly, your body does not adjust to less sleep. A very minor percentage of people, about 1 in a million, possess the ‘short sleep gene‘. This means they can operate optimally with less than 7 hours of sleep. But for the rest of us, the body requires 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night for optimal health and performance.
Snoring is normal and cannot be corrected
Wrong again. Loud or chronic snoring can be an indicator of a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that disturbs sleep and hinders oxygen intake. There are various devices and exercises available to help with this condition. My suggestion would be to see a sleep doctor for guidance on diagnosis and remedies.
The ability to fall asleep at anything or place is a sign of a good sleeper
Nope, this actually indicates that you potentially have a sleep problem such as insomnia or sleep apnea. These problems can take the form of excessive daytime sleeping which can disrupt your circadian rhythm.
Sleep duration is all that matters
Getting enough sleep is essential. However, if that sleep is disruptive and uncomfortable you will miss the restorative benefits of sleep. Therefore, getting quality sleep is just as crucial as obtaining enough sleep. As such you need to optimise your bedroom for better sleep.
Check out: Nine Tips To Help You Sleep Better Tonight
If you can’t sleep stay in bed until you do
Staying in bed when you can not fall asleep can be counterintuitive. It can lead to anxiety at the thought of going to bed because you begin to associate the bed with trouble sleeping. This will only lead to more stress and anxiety the next time you go to bed or cannot fall asleep. If after 20 mins of going to bed, you are wide awake get-up and do something relaxing. Try listening to gentle music, reading, a light stretch or yoga session or meditation. Remember not to turn on any harsh lights or devices.
Exercising at night or late evening disturbs sleep
For some doing high-intensity exercises at night can serve to energise the body and make it hard to relax and sleep. However, research shows that exercising at night can actually help you sleep better. Maybe try low impact exercises, walking, biking or yoga and see how it works for you.
Hitting snooze provides extra rest
Snoozing like snoring disrupts your sleep preventing your body from getting the restorative sleep it needs. Sleep disturbances leave you tired, groggy and affect your mental state during the day. Therefore, set your alarm for the exact time you need to be awake and break the snooze habit.
Thank you for reading.
PS: I hope you enjoyed this sleep series.
Are there any other topics that you would like me to create a blog series around.
PPS: For the month of May, posts will be focused around mental health. If you have any topics you want covered leave it in the comments or contact me.