Sleep Myths – Separating Fact from Fiction

There are lots of things we hear about sleep, do you ever wonder if they are actually true? Well we are here to help you separate fact from fiction; let’s go:

The older you get, the less sleep you need

Boffins recommend between 7-9 hours sleep each night for the average adult. Sleep patterns may change as we get older (e.g. older people waking more frequently throughout the night) but the amount of sleep does not. Older people tend to make up for less sleep at night time by taking naps in the day.

 Our brains rest while we sleep

Our bodies rest while we sleep but the brain remains very much ‘active’. It recharges itself while still performing bodily functions, such as breathing. Even during the ‘deep sleep’ phases of our sleep cycles the mind can still process information.

 Eating cheese gives you nightmares

There’s no solid evidence to suggest that cheese causes nightmares. In fact, cheese is actually a good bedtime snack. Calcium, found in cheese, is a natural sleep aid as it contains tryptophan, an amino acid the body uses to produce melatinin; the sleep inducing hormone.

Yawning is a sign you are tired

It can be, but it can also mean a number of other things. Some people yawn when waking up, or when they are bored or even just if someone else does!

Counting sheep helps you to fall asleep

Technically yes, it can due to the repetitive nature of the task of counting…it doesn’t matter if they are sheep, pigs or horses though!

Feeling sleepy in the daytime means you aren’t getting enough sleep at night

Not always, it can also occur after a good night’s sleep. Sleepiness can also be due to an underlying medical condition or sleep disorder such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea. Always get medical advice if daytime sleepiness is an issue.

Alcohol before bed can help you sleep

The relaxing nightcap is a myth I’m afraid. It may help you fall asleep but it can dramatically reduce the quality of your sleep for the rest of the night. You are likely to need to make a trip to the bathroom too as alcohol is a diuretic.

You can cope on less than 5 hours sleep a night

There is extensive research to show that having less than 5 hours sleep a night consistently can drastically damage your health. They found it can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and strokes and can lead to a shorter life expectancy.