‘I need less sleep because I’m older. I can catch up on sleep later. I only need four hours sleep.’ If these thoughts have crossed your mind, think again.
We all know by now that getting quality sleep is essential to a happy and healthy life.
But the stats still show more than half of adult Americans are suffering from at least one chronic sleep symptom, affecting our productivity, mood and general health and well-being.
A 2019 report, commissioned by the Sleep Health Foundation, found almost 60 per cent of us regularly experience at least one sleep symptom (like trouble falling asleep) and 14.8 per cent of us have symptoms which could result in being diagnosed with clinical insomnia.
On top of that, there are all those persistent sleep myths that confuse and complicate things even further.
We thought it time to debunk some of the more common ones, to help improve the quality of your all-important nocturnal hours. You’re welcome.
1. I need less sleep because I’m older
Sure, you have more to do now you’re a grown-up, so it’s OK to sacrifice some precious zzzz time to nail your to-do list, right?
Wrong! Research shows adults need seven (or more) hours regularly for optimal health.
2. It doesn’t matter what time of day you sleep
Talk to a shift-worker about this one. While sleeping during the day is better than no sleep at all, science has found shift-workers sleep worse than day workers, even after retirement.
This leaves them more at risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, as well as depression.
3. Exercise at night disturbs sleep
If you like to pound the pavement or hit the gym late in the evening and fear it amps you up too much for sleep, relax.
According to a recent study, exercising in the evening doesn’t compromise your sleep – it might even improve it.
4. A glass or two of (insert favorite alcoholic drinky-poo) helps me sleep
No, no, and no. Whatever your poison, it won’t help you sleep better.
While alcohol does make you tired and can help you nod off more quickly, it’s been shown to lead to interrupted sleep and can keep you awake overnight. Try chamomile tea instead.
5. I can add to my sleep bank on the weekend
Actually catching up on sleep is much harder than you think.
Trying to compensate for late nights during the week by sleeping on the weekend isn’t healthy and has been proven to have no benefits for your body.
6. Using your phone before bed is fine if you eliminate blue light
While there are an ever-increasing number of blue-light-blocking products on the market, the experts say even just checking our phones or tablets in the hours before bedtime is enough to mess with our health.