Myth Busting: Sleep Edition

There are many different claims swirling around about ways to get better sleep. However, don’t be too quick to believe these circulating claims – because many are actually inaccurate!

“Well, which ones?” you might ask. I’m glad you’re wondering – hence my purpose in concocting this post.

Below, I’ve got 9 myths on how to get better sleep, and I’m going to bust them one by one; right now.

Myth: It’s good to “catch up” on sleep when you can – like sleeping in late on weekends.

Busted: Although it can be tempting to sleep in on the weekends, it’s actually important to keep a regular sleep schedule seven days a week. Yes, even weekends. A regular bedtime and waking time will aid you in falling asleep at night and allow you to feel better rested.

Myth: A good workout in the evening will make you tired; therefore you will fall asleep faster.

Busted: Exercising on the daily does indeed lead to a better night’s rest, but; make sure you finish working out at least three hours before bedtime – preferably morning or in the afternoon. A cooler body makes it easier to fall asleep. Exercising raises your body temperature and it can take up to 6 hours to get back to normal.

Myth: Older people need less sleep.

Busted: I know sometimes it can seem like older folks get by on less sleep, but the truth is they need the same amount of sleep as younger people – 7-9 hours a day. It’s their sleep patterns that change: they tend to sleep more during the day with small naps.

Myth: Sleep is needed for your brain to rest.

Busted: Sleep is definitely needed – but it’s not your brain that needs to rest, it’s your body. Your brain is still working when you’re asleep, controlling bodily functions like breathing.

Myth: If you wake up in the middle of the night, it’s best to lie still and try to fall back asleep. Getting up will only wake you more.

Busted: If you can’t fall asleep within 15-20 minutes, get out of bed. Go to another room and do something relaxing, like listening to soft music or reading a positive book. If you lie there stressing out about falling back asleep, you’ll only get more anxious – and never fall asleep. I can definitely vouch for this myth bust, because when I wake up and try too hard to focus on getting back to sleep, it seems my mind and body want to do anything BUT sleep.

Myth: It’s good to hangout in your bedroom at night before you go to sleep because it will “get you ready” to fall asleep.

Busted: The more activities you associate with your bedroom – like watching TV, working on the computer, doing work, etc. – the harder it may be to fall asleep there when you want to. It’s best to use your bed only for sleep, to strengthen the association between bed and sleep.

Myth: Cozying up under heavy blankets will help you fall asleep more quickly.

Busted: The body gets into sleep mode more easily when it is at a cooler temperature. So if you must use a squishy down comforter (or two), open the window a crack to let in some fresh air. You don’t want to be cold, but you don’t want to be too warm either. Kind of like Goldie Locks with her porridge 🙂

Myth: Snoring is common and never worrisome.

Busted: Snoring is common and harmless for most people, but it also may be a symptom of a sleep disorder called Sleep Apnea – which can be life threatening. If you snore loudly, and there are long pauses in your snoring, you should see your doctor; Sleep Apnea can be treated.

Myth: A nice glass of wine will help calm you down and put you to sleep faster.

Busted: While drinking alcohol can often times make you tired (of course drinking a lot will knock you out), you’ll end up having fragmented sleep and waking up during the night. No Bueno. If you want to drink something before bed to aid in sleep – I’d suggest some tea, chamomile for example; to assist in making you drowsy.