While we may spend almost a third of our lives sleeping, few of us actually know that much about sleep itself. Indeed, there are a number of age-old myths that mislead people about sleeping habits and how to get a good night’s rest. Understanding these for what they are may just help you overcome those frustrating sleep problems.
Something for the weekend
Spending a few extra hours sleeping on Saturday morning may seem like a good idea, but in reality all it does is change your sleep schedule, which can be harmful in the long run.
Sleeping late on a Sunday morning simply means your body will have to readjust again on Monday, meaning that your quality of sleep becomes worse. Quite simply, you can’t compensate for missed sleep during the week, so try and stick to getting at least seven hours every night and, wherever possible, at around the same times.
Surfing the net or watching television aids sleep
Although many people do it, spending time online or watching TV last thing before sleep is a bad habit to get into. However, this is perhaps not for the reason you might think. It is not the fact that these activities can actually stimulate the mind rather than relax it that is the problem, rather it is the exposure to light that causes sleep issues.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brain’s pineal gland which is vital to ordering our sleep patterns. Unfortunately, the light from your TV or computer monitor can greatly reduce the production of this essential hormone, so your sleep cycle will be disrupted.
A nightcap before bed encourages sleep
While it may be true that a glass or two of wine in the late evening can relax your body, making dropping off far easier, the quality of sleep you get can be greatly impaired. This is because when the relaxing effect wears off, the alcohol simply serves to inhibit the REM stage of sleep.
The REM stage is when your sleep is at its deepest and this is the point at which your dreams usually occur. Without this, your body can experience what is known as ‘REM rebound’ REM rebound is the lengthening and increasing frequency and depth of REM sleep which occurs after periods of sleep deprivation which often leads to nightmares and a bad quality of sleep.
The best time to exercise is before bedtime
While getting some exercise at some point during the day may be vital to promoting quality sleep, doing your exercise routine last thing before you turn in is a bad strategy, especially if it is relatively strenuous.
Doing any exercise three hours before going to bed can disrupt sleep significantly because the body temperature is raised and the mind is therefore considerably more alert.
The older you get, the less sleep you need
It may be true that in general young children need more sleep than adults, but older people still need to get at least seven hours a night. Certainly, the older we get the more difficult it can become to get a good night’s sleep, but that doesn’t mean older people don’t need to work on it. A great tip is to try buying a new mattress if yours is older than seven years. Orthopaedic mattresses such as a Sealy mattress help support the pressure points of your body, and aid better quality sleep.
If you have trouble falling asleep, remedies such as having a bath and a warm mug of milk before bedtime will encourage sleep. Cutting out caffeine will also help. Another helpful tip for if your mind is racing at bedtime, is to write down all your worries and thoughts. This simple meditation device enables you to put your thoughts ‘aside’ for the night and calm your mind. Following these tips should encourage a much deeper and longer night’s sleep.