5 myths about sleep
When it comes to sleep, there are lots of tips, tricks and recommendations on how to get the best sleep possible. Not being able to get enough sleep or the right kind of sleep can cause a lot of stress and anxiety- both things which exacerbate the problem. It’s important to know the distinction between fact and fiction when it comes to your bedtime routine. What works for one person may not work for you- there isn’t one rule for everyone.
TEA+ spoke to Rebecca Hill who is a certified Sleep Consultant. Rebecca founded Sleepytime Sleep, a sleep consultancy service, after struggling with sleep as a mother. Both Rebecca and her son were not getting enough sleep and this took a toll on her mental health. After seeking help from a sleep consultant, her son was able to learn the skills he needed for sleeping and napping. This was life changing for Rebecca as she was able to function as normal with a healthy sleep routine for both mother and son. Now, through Sleepytime Sleep, Rebecca works to achieve the same success for families struggling with sleep.
We asked Rebecca for some common misconceptions surrounding sleep. It's important to learn what your body needs and not what everyone else says it does. Take a read through our list of surprising myths about sleep:
Myth number one: All adults need 8 hours of sleepNow if you’re like me, then you’ll be thinking that this statement has to be true. You’ll be surprised to find that 8 hours isn’t always the goal. The amount of sleep that you need is entirely dependent on the individual. How much sleep you need could depend on your age, your genetic makeup, whether you are pregnant or not and a whole host of individual variables that make us all different from one another. The amount of hours we really need can vary, however, the quality of your sleep is much more important than the quantity.
Myth number 2: Your brain shuts down while you sleepYou’ll be surprised to know that the brain is in fact really busy while we sleep, processing and storing away information supporting our ability to think, our memory, and emotions. During REM sleep which is one phase of sleep cycles, the brain’s activity is similar to when we are awake. We dream the most when we are in REM sleep- and think of all the brain power we use up dreaming!
Myth number 3: Napping helps to catch up on a poor night's sleepIf you’re feeling sleepy, there’s nothing more comforting than the thought of resting your head on a soft pillow and drifting off for 40 winks. For adults, naps can be a good energy boost as long as the nap is only 30 minutes and is early in the afternoon. However, naps during the day can affect sleep overnight and make it harder to fall asleep at bedtime.
Myth number 4: If you wake in the night, stay in your bed until you fall asleepNow you might think that staying in bed when you’re restless is the right thing to do. Your bed is where you’re supposed to sleep so if you stay there you’ll eventually drift off, right? Wrong. It’s actually better to avoid this, staying in bed when you can’t sleep or spending too much time in bed when you’re awake only has a negative impact on your ability to sleep. Your body and mind will then start to associate all the frustration and anxiety you feel when you can’t get to sleep with being in bed. So when you’re lying awake in bed, it’s better to get up for around 15-20 minutes, avoiding screen time and do a simple activity and then go back to bed and try again. It’s also important to only go to bed when you feel you are ready to sleep so you continue to associate bed with rest.
Myth number 5: Having an alcoholic drink will make you sleep well
After a few glasses of wine in the evening you might find it difficult to keep your eyes open and it’s true: alcohol will make you feel drowsy-initially. However, it can disrupt sleep cycle patterns and will cause more disrupted sleep. It is also a stimulant and can make snoring or sleep apnea worse if you are susceptible to this.
The most important thing to remember is that the best sleep routine for you is one that meets your individual needs. It’s crucial to not succumb to the pressures of what you think you should be doing. Trial a few methods for an extended period of time and if you’re still struggling with sleep, consider consulting a sleep consultant.