Better sleep seems to be everyone’s goal these days, and the hunt for elusive shuteye has given rise to some popular myths. Some widely accepted sleep strategies just aren’t true and they can interfere with your efforts to log a solid eight hours at night. Experts say a small change such as setting your bedtime 15 minutes earlier and your wake-up alarm 15 minutes later will do more to help you sleep. Here’s the reality behind some myths that can sabotage your search for sounder sleep.
Myth: Alcohol is a sleep aid.
A glass of wine before bed can make falling asleep easier but drinking alcohol can also wake you up in the middle of the night. As you grow older, you’re prone to light sleeping and you’ll notice that alcohol disrupts your sleep patterns more. Try limiting your drinking to earlier in the evening before dinner rather than after dessert. The further away from bedtime the less likely that glass of wine should disrupt your sleep.
Myth: Binge watching before bed only keeps you up a little.
Do you think spending hours on your phone before bed means you take longer to fall asleep? Many tech bingers think their viewing habit keeps them up a little longer, but a study reveals that an extra 10 minutes getting to sleep is not the issue. The real problem is the impact of binge-watching on melatonin production. The light from the screen triggers poor quality sleep and more daytime sleepiness. One solution is to watch on a TV so that the phone or tablet screen is not right in your face.
Myth: Sleeping late will catch you up on lost shuteye.
You can’t really put extra sleep in the bank. If you stay up until the wee hours and sleep in the next day, you’re probably throwing off your sleep rhythm. Getting to sleep that night will be even more difficult. Most people need to be awake for about 17 hours before they start to nod off. It figures that sleeping until noon will keep you up way past your regular bedtime.
Myth: Hours matter more than sleep patterns.
Evidence indicates that going to sleep around the same time every night is more important than the number of hours you sleep. Your age and other factors influence how many hours of sleep you need, but a regular sleep pattern makes even more of an impact for quality sleep.
Myth: Coffee after noon is okay if you can fall asleep.
You lingered over after-dinner coffee and had no problem falling asleep, but don’t think that caffeine won’t catch up you. Caffeine remains in your system for as long as eight hours. When you are wide awake at 3 a.m. you’ll realize that espresso did make an impact on the quality of your sleep.
Myth: Early morning workouts help even when you’re sleep deprived.
Stumbling into the gym for an early workout when you haven’t had enough sleep may feel incredibly disciplined, but it will work against your efforts to lose weight. Sleep deprivation boosts hormones that give you a feeling of hunger. The same hormones keep you from feeling full. You eat more because you feel hungrier. The result: you gain weight and your athletic performance suffers. Skip the dawn workout if you didn’t get to bed on time the night before.