Too little rest can cause constant tiredness, low mood, poor concentration and a depleted immune system, which can lead to lots of other health problems so sleep is very important. Below are various myths and facts about sleep that you should know:
MYTH: Eating cheese before bedtime gives you bad dreams
FACT: There are some sleep experts that claim eating cheese or dairy products close to bedtime can lead to vivid and/or bad dreams, however most research suggests that cheese can actually help you sleep as it contains tryptophan which can reduce stress and help the body produce sleep hormone melatonin.
MYTH: Skipping an hour’s sleep doesn’t matter
FACT: Actually, if you get less sleep than you need the body’s ability to perform cognitive and behavioural tasks is impaired. The average adult needs 7-9 hours per night, so getting 6 hours could affect how well you perform, change your mood and even increase the risk of becoming ill.
MYTH: A good workout in the evening will help you sleep
FACT: Not quite. While you may feel tired straight after a workout your body actually falls asleep most easily when it’s temperature goes rapidly from hot to cool, following a warm bath or sauna for example. The cooling period after a workout can be as much as 6 hours, leaving you wide awake at bedtime. Try exercising in the morning for all day energy.
MYTH: Older people need less sleep
FACT: Older people need the same amount of sleep as everyone else, around 7-9 hours. The belief that they need less can lead to older people not getting help with sleep problems, and/or or putting up with feeling unnecessarily tired the next day. Their quality of sleep can also be affected by illnesses and/or medications.
MYTH: You can catch up at the weekend
FACT: Many people sleep in on Saturdays and Sundays to help make up for tiredness generated during the week. Sleeping late can help you catch up on sleep debt, but it also alters your sleep schedule, for example having a lie in on Sunday may mean you can’t sleep Sunday night, and that you’ve had too little sleep when you have to get up on Monday. During the time spent catching up, quality of sleep is poor and you may spend half the week feeling tired. It is better to try and keep your sleep schedule consistent at the weekend, always aiming for 7-9 hours.
MYTH: Insomnia is caused by worry
FACT: This is true up to a point. If you are stressed and anxious about something it can interfere with your sleep as you’ll find it harder to switch off and relax. However, insomnia can also be caused by medical conditions such as depression, asthma and arthritis, and also muscle problems such as restless leg syndrome.