Despite being one of the most essential things in life, many are still not getting the right amount of sleep. This is hugely due to the conflicting beliefs that exist out there about sleep. Everyone has an opinion on the right way. But which one is really true?
In this article, sleep experts come together to bust the myths about sleep that people need to stop believing.
1. Everyone needs 8 hours of sleep
It’s not true that you need 8 hours of sleep. Some do well with 7 hours while others need to get a full 8 hours to feel well-rested. The average adult will require 7 to 9 hours of sleep. How much you need is entirely up to you.
Pay attention to how your body reacts when sleeping for a certain amount of time. Are you cranky and irritable? Do you find it hard to get out of bed? Are you always hitting the snooze button? If you don’t feel right, it may be a sign that you need to adjust your sleeping hours.
2. Sleep times don’t matter
Maybe you’re one of those people that can fall asleep at any time and still get an adequate amount of hours. Count yourself lucky. For most people, it’s important to have a consistent sleep schedule. This helps to fall asleep easier, and gets you the right amount of rest you need to function the next day.
3. You can “catch up” on sleep on the weekend
A lot of busy individuals miss getting enough sleep throughout the week and try to catch up by sleeping more on the weekend. This is called “banking sleep” and it’s not actually doing you any good. Making up for sleep has the same effect as jet lag in the sense that your body gets confused by the inconsistent sleep hours.
4. Alcohol helps you fall asleep
This can be tricky since alcohol can make you fall asleep because of its sedative properties. However, it definitely affects the quality of your sleep. You’re more prone to sleep fragmentation where you frequently wake up in the middle of the night. This affects your REM sleep pattern which is part of deep sleep. Unfortunately, this condition can get worse as you age so the sooner you can quit using alcohol as a sleep aid, the better.
5. Snoring is okay
This may seem like just a nuisance on the surface but it could actually indicate a more serious problem. If you snore when you sleep, you could have obstructive sleep apnea which blocks your airways causing you to stop breathing suddenly. This can lead to other conditions like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression. Consider speaking with a sleep specialist who can help fix this problem.
6. If you’re functioning well, then you’re getting enough sleep
The body is surprisingly resilient and can run just fine even when not getting enough sleep. Be careful with getting used to being sleep deprived because your body will adapt to this. Sure, you may be functioning normally at work but you could be more forgetful, slow, or irritable.
7. Your body gets used to shift work
Humans have always thrived on day time. Most of our active work happens during these hours. However, we live in a round-the-clock society and some people do need to work at night. Even if you claim to be a night owl, your body never really gets used to working at night.
Fortunately, there are ways to remedy this. You’ll want to focus on your sleep environment. Avoid light during day time and make sure your bedroom is dark, cool and comfortable. Use furniture that uses sustainable materials so you are sleeping comfortably and not inhaling dangerous compounds as you sleep. Lastly, keep screens out of the bedroom as these can keep you awake.
Which of these myths did you believe before? Share your thoughts in the comments below.