5 Popular Sleep Myths
Whether you’re a sound sleeper or having a little bout of insomnia, you’ve probably heard a lot of myths about sleep. In fact, some misconceptions about sleep are so ingrained into our collective consciousness, we rarely question if they’re actually true! We reached out to Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and well-known sleep therapist to help us separate fact from fiction. Dr. Breus listed five popular sleep myths that should be put to rest.
Myth 1: Eat a Big Meal Before Bed to Fall Asleep Faster
Thinking a massive plate of spicy enchiladas right before bed will help you catch more zzz’s? According to Dr. Breus, it’s advisable to pass on that idea – no matter how delicious it sounds. “Our bodies require food to be digested sitting or standing up. People need to stop having large meals within three hours of lights out. Conversely, you don’t want to sleep on an empty stomach,” says Dr. Breus. “One should sleep with a comfortable level of food in their stomach. Also, eating spicy food can cause indigestion that will disrupt sleep, so it’s good to avoid that, too.”
Alcohol deserves caution, too. Many people incorrectly believe that because alcohol is a sedative, it helps them sleep better. Alcohol may put you to sleep, but it significantly inhibits your quality of sleep.
Myth 2: Do Cardio Exercise to Tire You Out
While we know that folks who exercise regularly are pretty good sleepers, some data suggests that we need to make sure it’s not too close to sleep. “Exercise such as cardio done right before you sleep can be too stimulating,” says Dr. Breus. “It’s suggested to stop exercising approximately four hours before lights out.” Regular physical activity can promote better sleep, helping you to fall asleep faster and to enjoy deeper sleep. So, go ahead and exercise but make sure it’s not too close to bedtime.
Myth 3: Everybody Should Sleep 8 Hours
This is a popular one: the 8 hours of recommended sleep for everyone. According to Dr. Breus, the 8 hours of sleep is a myth. “Recent data suggests seven hours is optimal. Everybody’s sleep need is individual. There’s no one magic number of hours of sleep that can apply to everybody,” adds Dr. Breus. Even an individual’s sleep needs will change daily, based on factors including how much sleep you got the night before and the amount of exercise and stress you accumulated throughout the day.
Myth 4: Naps Ruin Your Sleep
Who doesn’t enjoy a good nap? However, as studies show, there might be times to avoid napping. “Naps only ruin sleep if you have insomnia or if you nap too close to your bedtime. I suggest not napping after 2 pm and never if you have insomnia,” says Dr. Breus. If you take daily naps, limit them to 10-30 minutes in the afternoon. Long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep — especially if you’re struggling with insomnia or poor sleep quality at night.
Myth 5: You Need Less Sleep as You Age
It’s a popular myth that older folks don’t need as much sleep as everyone else. But is it true? Not according to sleep experts. Dr. Breus explains that people tend to get less sleep as we age, but that doesn’t mean you need less sleep. So why are seniors sleeping less? Retirement could carry some of the blame. “Some retired folks take naps during the day, which may cause them not to sleep too much at night,” says Dr. Breus.
Again, you won’t gain any benefits from napping if your afternoon snooze prevents you from sleeping at night. To get the rest you need, give yourself a sleep schedule.
Your mattress and pillow can contribute to better sleep, too. If you’re suffering from back problems or pain in the morning, it could be the right time for mattress replacement. Head over to your local Sit ‘n Sleep store where we have a huge selection of mattresses, pillows, bedding accessories, furniture, frames, and more.