It often takes a bad night’s sleep to remember how important it is to have a good night’s sleep. But how much do you really know about how to get to sleep, how to stay asleep, and how to get the best night of sleep that you can? Read on for some of the most pervasive myths about sleep.
- Cool Bedrooms Make Sleeping Easier.
Do you need a nice, cool room to get your beauty sleep? It can make falling asleep easier, but it can also lead to a less restful night’s sleep and middle-of-the-night wake ups. For most people, the best temperature to keep your bedroom is around 68 degrees — not too cold, and not too hot.
- It Doesn’t Matter What Time You Hit the Sack.
Everyone is different. Some of us are early birds and some of us are night owls. This is partly due to the trappings of daily life, and partly due to genetics. But there’s one thing you can’t change: your body’s natural circadian rhythms. Sleep happens in cycles, and, one of the most important sleep cycles, known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM), occurs at the same times every night no matter what time you go to sleep. You’re likely going to suffer the consequences of not getting 4-6 REM cycles per night.
So what does that mean? Well, the best time to go to sleep is somewhere between 8PM and 12AM.
- Some People Can Function with 4 Hours of Sleep.
While it is true that 8 is not the magic number for everyone — it generally ranges from between 7-9 hours — there’s little research that supports the idea that some super-humans can fully function on just four hours of shut-eye. Some research has suggested that a genetic mutation found in about 1-3 percent of the population may lead to people being fully functional on shorter spurts of sleep, but the science hasn’t fully backed that up. Even if you have that genetic mutation, though, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can function on less sleep. We’re talking about a small sliver of a small sliver of the population; people that claim to be fully functional on 4 hours of sleep are likely chronically sleep deprived and don’t even realize it.
- Exercise Helps Insomnia.
Though this has long been thought to be true, there’s very little research that backs the idea that exercise can improve insomnia. In fact, strenuous exercising and exercising too soon before bed may make it harder to fall asleep. That’s not an excuse to avoid the gym, though! While the data doesn’t totally prove that exercise helps sleep in the short term, there is evidence to suggest that, over the long term, people with insomnia may benefit from regular exercise. In the meantime, just make sure to keep your workouts at a safe level, and at least a few hours before you turn in for the night.
- The More Sleep You Get, the Better.
You may dream of laying in bed for 12 hours a night, but oversleeping isn’t necessarily the answer. The focus should be on quality, no quantity. Getting too much shut eye can make you groggy throughout the day, and some studies have linked more than 9 hours of sleep per day to increased risks for diabetes, obesity and even death.
- Yawning Means You’re Tired.
Yawning is not a sign of sleep deprivation, that’s what is (mostly) clear. Amazingly enough, some research suggests that yawning is simply your brain’s way of cooling itself down. It could also be a since-outdated communication method from prehistoric times, which would help explain why thinking about yawning or seeing someone else yawn triggers your urge to yawn. Are you yawning yet?!
- Naps make it harder to sleep at night.
Are naps what’s keeping you awake at night? Research says no, not usually. Of course, excessive napping or napping too soon before bedtime can hinder restfulness at nighttime, but shorter naps during the day can actually help you catch up on sleep and feel more rested during the day. Keep your naps short, sweet and early to avoid nighttime insomnia.
- Insomnia Means You’re Depressed.
Insomnia is certainly one of the signs of depression, but insomnia isn’t necessarily caused by depression, anxiety, or other mental disorders. Insomnia can be the result of a whole slew of medical issues, from chronic pain to cancer. It can also happen because of medications that you take, your alcohol, tobacco or drug use, changes in your daily routine, or even just age. Talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing unexplained insomnia.
Source: Katie Waldeck, Care2.com