Busting the myths about sleep
Don’t believe everything you hear or read about sleep! Here are some common misconceptions that could be stopping you from nodding off…
MYTH: Alcohol will help me sleep
FACT: It’s sedative effects may help you fall asleep, but it makes it harder to stay there, as the liver works so hard to metabolise the alcohol.
Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning you’ll probably wake up in the night needing the loo. Plus, excessive alcohol consumption means you spend more time in deep sleep and less time in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep – which is why you can feel so exhausted after drinking, even if you’ve been in bed a long time.
MYTH: Everyone needs eight hours a night
FACT: Most guidelines state that adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but the truth is there is no magic number. Everyone is different; you may feel fine on seven, while someone else needs ten to feel functional. However, less than six hours a night, on a regular basis, is thought to be unhealthy.
MYTH: Your body gets used to sleep deprivation
FACT: You might feel like your daytime drowsiness stabilises after a few nights of reduced sleep, but the reality is that your sleep deprivation will continue to affect your metabolism, immune system, hormone production, cardiovascular system and mental health.
MYTH: You can ‘catch up’ on sleep by napping
FACT: Daytime napping isn’t a substitute for proper night-time sleep. Firstly, you can’t get the same quality in short bursts, and secondly, it then makes it much harder to fall asleep at night.
If fatigue means you need to nap, keep it to less than 30 minutes and take it before early afternoon.