The quality of your sleep affects both your physical and mental health.
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about sleep that often lead to unhealthy sleep habits. For instance, you might have heard the lie that counting sheep helps you sleep faster.
You may also have dismissed the advice to buy a quality mattress and eco-friendly bedding such as a eucalyptus duvet cover, not knowing that uncomfortable bedding and mattress may be causing you insomnia.
In this article, we seek to debunk some of the common sleep myths and give you facts about sleep, so you can drift off from the point of understanding.
Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll prioritize sleep if you haven’t done so yet.
Myth: Counting Sheep Works When You Can’t Fall Asleep
The counting sheep method requires you to imagine a group of sheep jumping over a fence. The belief is that if you count each sheep as it goes over the fence, you’ll soon find yourself nodding off.
Lying in bed for hours waiting for sleep to come can be frustrating. And you may resort to counting sheep with the hope that it will help you drift off to the land of nod.
Unfortunately, counting sheep doesn’t help you with sleep.
Oxford University researchers tried different methods, including counting sheep to get some insomnia patients to nod off. The study found out that counting sheep gave similar results as doing nothing.
If you struggle to fall asleep every time you get in bed, try other sleep-promoting techniques such as engaging in a relaxing activity, exercising, or dimming off the lights in your bedroom.
Fact: 10% of Adults Suffer From Chronic Insomnia
Several studies indicate that 10 to 30% of adults have insomnia. This percentage is worrying as sleep is one of the factors that promote good health.
Symptoms of insomnia include trouble falling asleep, sleep disturbances, fatigue in the morning, daytime sleepiness, poor concentration, and waking up too early in the morning.
Common causes of insomnia include medical conditions such as asthma, sleep apnea, and chronic pain. Insomnia may also be caused by some types of medication, unhealthy sleep habits, and nicotine use.
Another often overlooked cause of insomnia is poor bedding. An old mattress or dirty bedding can be uncomfortable, leading to sleep disruptions. Investing in a high-quality mattress gives you the proper support during sleep, reducing muscle aches and pains.
Similarly, eco-friendly bedding is good for the environment and comfortable for you, promoting a good night’s rest.
Myth: Scrolling Through Your Phone Is a Good Way to Relax Before Bed
Many of us are guilty of this one!
Using your phone or watching television as a way of relaxing before sleep only makes it harder for you to fall asleep.
The blue light emitted by your TV or cell phone reduces the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep and wake cycle.
Besides, scrolling through your smartphone tricks your brain into believing that you need to stay awake, increasing your alertness at night.
Fact: Poor Sleep Makes You Prone to Some Serious Diseases
If you thought that lack of enough sleep only makes you cranky in the morning, you’re wrong.
Poor sleep has been linked to some severe medical conditions, including weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. A lack of enough sleep also leads to a weakened immune system, poor memory, a lousy mood, and poor concentration.
Sleep experts advise that your body needs enough sleep, just like it needs food and air to function correctly.
Myth: Drinking Alcohol Before Bed Makes You Sleep Better at Night
We all know that a drink or two before bed leads to drowsiness, allowing you to fall asleep easily. Unfortunately, consuming alcohol before you sleep negatively affects your sleep cycle and the quality of your sleep.
During sleep, your body goes through the non-Rapid Eye Movement (non-REM) and the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep cycles. During the non-REM stage, you’re in light sleep, and your brain and muscles relax, ready for the REM cycle or deep sleep.
A review of 27 studies found that alcohol reduces REM sleep, causing disruptions and wakefulness at night. This is why you might find yourself wide awake at 2 am or feel extremely sleepy in the morning after a night of binge drinking.
Thus, although alcohol may reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep, it causes more disruptions later in the night and can also lead to a vicious cycle of using alcohol to fall asleep.
Fact: Snoring May Be a Symptom of the Life-Threatening Sleep Disorder Apnea
Loud snoring is usually one of the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a life-threatening condition that causes you to stop breathing for some time during sleep. When you have apnea, your thorax muscles relax and block your airways during sleep.
But not all snorers have this condition. When snoring is accompanied by breathing pauses during sleep, headaches in the morning, shallow breaths, being restless at night, sore throat in the morning, or choking at night, you might need to see a doctor.
If you’re diagnosed with sleep apnea, several treatments are available, including using a mouthpiece and surgery.
Fact: Most Adults Need Between Seven and Nine Hours of Sleep to Function at Their Best
Research shows that most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every night to function well. Getting quality sleep is essential as it leads to good physical and mental health.
Most individuals choose to deprive their bodies of enough sleep due to busy schedules. Unfortunately, a few hours of sleep loss can take a toll on your memory, concentration, energy, and mood.
Besides, when you constantly get inadequate sleep, then your body accumulates a sleep debt that can have an adverse effect on your health.
So, next time you feel the need to deprive yourself of a few hours of sleep to catch up with friends or finish some office work, please don’t!
In closing, the above sleep insights aim to set the record straight on some of the sleep misinformation you may have heard. By debunking some of these sleep myths and giving you a few sleep facts, we hope you’ll now get enough sleep.