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Putting sleep myths to bed: experts answer the questions that keep you awake at night

Eating before bed

It is important to leave at least a couple of hours between eating and sleeping. 

There is a whole raft of so-called sleepy foods – anything containing tryptophan, serotonin, melatonin, magnesium, calcium, potassium – often eaten in the hope they will aid sleep. 

If you do want to eat these foods, do it because it’s a nice ritual, not because you need it to sleep.

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Putting sleep myths to bed: experts answer the questions that keep you awake at night

Putting sleep myths to bed: experts answer the questions that keep you awake at night

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jan/31/putting-sleep-myths-to-bed-experts-on-insomnia

theguardian.com

10

Key Ideas

How alcohol affects sleep

A lot of the symptoms associated with a hangover are a product of sleep deprivation.

Alcohol affects our ability to get into what is known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the bulk of which occurs in the last two-thirds of the night. As a rule of thumb, it takes about an hour to metabolize one unit of alcohol, so if you have a 250ml glass of wine at 7 pm it will mostly be out of your system by 10.30pm.

Eating before bed

It is important to leave at least a couple of hours between eating and sleeping. 

There is a whole raft of so-called sleepy foods – anything containing tryptophan, serotonin, melatonin, magnesium, calcium, potassium – often eaten in the hope they will aid sleep. 

If you do want to eat these foods, do it because it’s a nice ritual, not because you need it to sleep.

A cure for sleepwalking

There isn’t a cure. 

People who sleepwalk usually are advised to keep their room safe by locking windows and doors, and to maintain what’s called good sleep hygiene: keep to a regular sleep routine, turn mobile phones off, avoid stimulants, and so on. Sleepwalking can often occur as a result of poor or disrupted sleep.

The Possibility of Sleeping too much

  • There is some evidence that suggests that if you sleep excessively, your risk of mortality increases, but it remains controversial.
  • Teenagers naturally have a delay in their sleep phase because the production of the hormone melatonin (which aids sleep) gets released later as a product of puberty. This means they naturally want to go to bed and get up later.

The cures for insomnia

Acceptance is important.

If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed, get up, go to another room and do a calming activity, then go back to bed. If you are lying in bed unable to sleep, your brain will soon start associating lying in bed with being awake.

Napping

Napping must be natural because so many cultures have siestas. But often the desire to nap in adults comes from insufficient sleep during the night. There are reports showing that excessive napping can be associated with negative health outcomes

Sleeping pills

Sleeping pills depress the central nervous system, so they feed into biochemical changes that occur in the brain, causing you to drop off to sleep. 

Unlike the brain circuitry, they wash the entire brain in these chemicals so there are other unwanted effects. They reduce the amount of time you spend in the deepest stages of sleep, and people get used to them and require increasing doses. It is better to look at the underlying cause of your sleep problem, which is often psychological.

Sleep paralysis

We are paralyzed during REM sleep, and we believe that this is so we don’t act out our dreams. 

A small percentage of the population wake up in REM sleep, but the brain forgets to wake the muscles so they get this scary state where they are paralyzed but awake. It is completely harmless, although it can feel terrifying.

Why People fall asleep on the sofa

... while watching TV, but then can’t sleep when they go to bed.

During a nap, you dissipate some of your sleep pressure. The brain can only produce so much sleep over 24 hours. If you use some of it up on snoozing in front of the telly, there is less left for the night.

Using the snooze function

The optimal way to wake up is naturally. If someone is hitting the snooze button, it suggests they are not getting enough sleep or they are sleeping at the wrong time for them. If you are a habitual snooze button user, reset your alarm to the later time and get more consolidated sleep.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Keep in sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle
  • Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day;
  • Avoid sleeping in, even on weekends;
  • Limit naps to 15 to 20 minutes in the early afternoon;
Melatonin

Is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. 

Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark, making you sleepy, and less when it’s light, making you more alert. 

However, many aspects of modern life can alter your body’s production of melatonin and shift your circadian rhythm

Influence exposure to ligh

During the day:

  • Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning. 
  • Spend more time outside during daylight. 
  • Let as much natural light into your home or workspace as possible.

At night:

  • Avoid bright screens within 1-2 hours of your bedtime.
  • Say no to late-night television.
  • Don’t read with backlit devices. 
  • When it’s time to sleep, make sure the room is dark.
  • Keep the lights down if you get up during the night.

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Snoring isn’t harmful

Although snoring may be harmless for most people, it can be a symptom of a life-threatening sleep disorder called sleep apnea, especially if it is accompanied by severe daytime sleepiness. 

You can "cheat" on sleep

Sleep experts say most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health, and safety. 

The resulting sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behavior, decreased productivity, and safety issues in the home, on the job, and on the road.

Turning up the radio

... opening the window, or turning on the air conditioner are effective ways to stay awake when driving.

These "aids" are ineffective and can be dangerous to the person who is driving while feeling drowsy or sleepy. 

It's best to pull off the road in a safe rest area and take a nap for 15-45 minutes. Caffeinated beverages can help overcome drowsiness for a short period of time. 

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Slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) – SWS

About 80% of our sleeping is of the SWS variety, identified by slow brain waves, relaxed muscles and deep breathing.

Deep sleep is important for the consolidation of memories. New experience...

Rapid eye movement (dreaming) - REM

Dreaming accounts for 20% of our sleeping time.

The length of dreams can vary from a few seconds to almost an hour. During REM sleep, the brain is highly active. The muscles are paralyzed, and the heart rate increases. Breathing can become erratic. 

Sleep quantity

Although eight hours is the common mention, optimum sleep can vary from person to person and from age to age.

One review that worked through 320 research articles concluded 7 - 9 hours of sleep are enough for adults. According to experts, too little or too much sleep can both have a negative impact on your health.

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5 hours of sleep is enough

Habitual sleep deprivation is associated with diverse and far-reaching health effects and none of them is good.

Between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night are recommended. You can get used to l...

Watching Television before bed

Cellphones, tablets, and all kinds of personal electronics are not a good idea when you’re getting ready for bed.

Researchers have increasingly focused on “blue light” emitted by screens and its effect on sleep and negative sleep-related health outcomes.

It doesn’t matter when you sleep

Our bodies tend to follow a natural rhythm of wakefulness and sleep that is attuned to sunrise and sunset for a reason.

While some missed sleep here and there isn’t necessarily a big deal, shifting your sleep schedule long term isn’t healthy.

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Sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation

Willpower, memory, judgement, and attention all suffer when you are sleep deprived.

You drop things, crave junk food sugar, overeat, gain weight. You’re more irritable, negative, emotio...

Get through sleep deprivation:
  • Stabilize your blood sugar, by eating hearty food (protein and fat) more often.
  • Reduce refined carbs and increase fats and proteins.
  • B-complex vitamin supplements can give you an immediate boost in alertness and mental clarity.
  • Soak in an Epsom salt bath - might even help you get enough energy to exercise the next day.
  • Drink more water than you usually do to help compensate.
  • Exercise is the single best way to “take out the trash” in your body, and after staying up more hours than you should.
Getting Sufficient Sleep

When you’re consistently not getting enough sleep, you get used to feeling tired, and your body adapts to function on that amount of sleep. But this doesn’t mean that you’re performing at you...

8 Hours Of Sleep

Although it is recommended that healthy adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep, everyone is different. There are people who need just three to four hours to stay alert. 

If you’re not sure how many hours of sleep you need on a daily basis, experimentation is the best way to go. Try waking up without an alarm and figure out what your natural wake-up time is. Observe how adding or subtracting one hour of sleep impacts your productivity.

“Catch Up” Sleep On Weekends

The harm of bingeing on sleep on Saturday and Sunday is that it makes it hard to get a full and well-constructed night of sleep on Sunday night, which then sends us off into the workweek on the wrong foot.

If you don’t try to wake up at a similar time at the weekend, it is similar to giving yourself jet lag every weekend.

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Weighted blankets and their benefits
Weighted blankets and their benefits

Whenever you feel overwhelmed, try alternative solutions to pills and checks with the doctors. Weighted blankets have proven to have a calming effect on individuals who find themselves having to de...

Weighted blankets and their use

While their benefits have not been scientifically proven, weighted blankets seem to be very much in demand these days. However, before deciding on using one, make sure that you really need it, as their price is high and their benefits may vary considerably.

Choosing the best therapy

If you find yourself struggling with your sleep, check out the various options to help you overcome this. You have plenty of choices, from using weighted blankets to relaxation techniques, that are only waiting for you to try them on.

Sleep stability

It's the key to a good night’s sleep. It means pinning your bedtime to the same time every night, even on weekends, and waking up at the same time every morning, even on weekends. ...

The "8-hour sleep" myth

8 hours of sleep/night is a useful goal, but it’s not true that everyone needs that. 

A lot of people get obsessed with this goal of getting 8 hours of sleep every single night, and because they’re someone who just doesn’t need that much sleep, or they can’t reliably sleep that long, they get anxious about it and that actually creates issues with insomnia.

Basic sleep hygiene
  • not drinking caffeine after midday;
  • not exercising too late;
  • not drinking alcohol before bed;
  • eating sensibly;
  • leaving mobile devices outside the bedroom (artificial light disrupts the brain).

If doing natural things like this doesn’t work, then it might be wise to consult with a specialist or a doctor.

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The Science of Sleep

The average adult spends 36 % (or about one-third) of his or her life asleep.

Purpose of Sleep:

  • Restoration
  • Memory Consolidation
  • Metabolic Health
Restoration

The first purpose of sleep is restoration.

Every day, your brain accumulates metabolic waste as it goes about its normal neural activities. Sleeping restores the brains healthy condition by removing these waste products. Accumulation of these waste products has been linked to many brain-related disorders.

Memory Consolidation

The second purpose of sleep is memory consolidation.

Sleep is crucial for memory consolidation, which is responsible for your long term memories. Insufficient or fragmented sleep can hamper your ability to remember facts and feelings/emotions.

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Your Relationship With Sleep
Your Relationship With Sleep

Many of us have a broken relationship with sleep. It’s rare for most people to wake up refreshed, rejuvenated, and full of energy.

We need to look into something we always overlooked or neg...

Basics Of Sleep

A night of sleep is made of five cycles, making us go through various sleep stages. This can be light sleep, deep sleep and REM stage of sleep when we dream and have eye movement.

During sleep, our body produces Melatonin and Growth Hormones, which are required by your bodies for regulating our internal clock and to restore our muscles, bone and metabolism.

Sleep Myths Busted
  1. We all don’t need a standard eight hours of sleep, as it varies according to our age, genetics and level of activity.
  2. Insomnia is actually of various types, from Onset (unable to fall asleep) to Maintenance(struggling to stay asleep) and other types like chronic and acute insomnia.
  3. We all do not have to wake up at 5 a.m., and the wake up time depends on our chronotype.
  4. Sleeping pills, like the types of insomnia, are different too. Benadryl helps you fall asleep, while melatonin pills regulate our internal clock.

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