How to have a good sleep: Separating misconceptions from facts….

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When writing your new year resolutions did you include “having a good sleep” on your list? Or you don’t think good sleep plays a vital role in your life?

If you haven’t considered getting such as a lifestyle, its time to revisit your notepad.

Sleep is extremely important because we spend about a third of our life doing it. There is so much magic in closing your eyes at a point in time and opening it five or more hours later. Since sleep is such a powerful thing which so many people do not have an understanding of, there are so many misconceptions which people live by and this hurts them unknowingly. Ibiene aims to dispel some of the common myths so that we all can have quality sleep time.

Misconception: People need less sleep with age.
People often get less sleep as they get older, in part because they are more likely to develop a sleep disorder such as insomnia or sleep apnea.

There are no scientific proof that older adults need less sleep.  You see, babies, toddlers and teenagers don’t have responsibilities like their parents do. Of course they can afford to sleep the whole day if they want to. One of the best ways to know how much sleep you need is to gradually give yourself more and more sleep until you feel rested during the day.

Misconception: Everyone needs at least eight hours of sleep.
The  American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that adults should sleep seven or more hours per night on a regular basis to promote good health. Individual variability in sleep need is influenced by genetic, behavioral, medical, and environmental factors. This doesn’t mean you have to beat yourself up when you don’t get up to eight hours of sleep.

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Misconception: You can catch up on lost sleep on the weekends.
Depending on how much ‘sleep debt’ you have accumulated, you can catch up on some lost sleep on the weekends. However, this comes with the problem of an irregular sleep schedule which may lead to further problems like dozing off at unplanned times.

A sleep expert from the Amerian Academy of Sleep Medicine says “It takes more than the two days of the weekend to get back to a rested state. If you try to catch up on the weekends, but then start sleeping less at the beginning of the next week, you quickly end up just as tired as you were at the end of the week. Eventually you can catch up but it takes more than the weekend.”

Misconception: Watching TV helps you fall asleep.
Fact: While some people like to have the background noise of the TV to help them fall asleep, the changing volume and lighting of the TV can break up the quality of your sleep and may lead you to wake up in the middle of the night. If you learn to associate bedtime with watching TV, you are also in danger of developing ‘learned’ or ‘psychophysiological’ insomnia. Some say reading a boring book or newspaper in a dim lit area may be a better option. So what happens when there’s no background noise or boring book to read? You stir all night. It’s better you discipline yourself to do none of these things once you actually get into bed.

Misconception: Exercising at night will help you sleep.
People who exercise regularly tend to sleep better. However, sleep experts warn that exercising too close to bed time elevates your core body temperature and may make it tough to fall asleep. It’s best to avoid aerobic exercises at least 1 to 2 hours before bed time.

Fitting exercise into your lifestyle is so important, but you need to try to figure out if you are a ‘morning’ or an ‘evening’ person. For example, if you fall asleep early and awaken early, exercising in the morning is likely the best for you.

Misconception: Drinking warm milk or herbal tea will help you fall asleep.
Fact: There is very little evidence of specific foods that aids sleep. What some of these foods or drinks do is to help in calming your body, which can make you fall asleep.

Again, sleep behaviors and effects vary with individuals, both milk and tea contain chemicals that tend to promote sleep: milk has tryptophan and green tea has theanine, both agents which may help sleep. Also, consider how coffee works – some people drink coffee and are awake for hours while some others consume the same coffee and are asleep in minutes. Find what works best for you but don’t rely on any substance to help you fall asleep.

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Misconception: Alcohol helps you sleep.
Fact: Alcohol in sufficient quantities will put you to sleep, but as your body metabolizes alcohol, the chemicals that are produced break up the quality of sleep and can lead to you being awake in the middle of the night. So the sleep you get with alcohol is usually not restful. 

The American Academy of Sleep and Medicine warns that while alcohol at night will generally promote falling asleep more quickly, chronic use can promote complete loss of deep sleep and it also inhibits rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. It can worsen the tendency to have obstructive sleep apnea, which is a very common and potentially life threatening medical condition and also may cause gastric acid reflux. Overall, alcohol is a very poor choice as a sleep promoting agent and alcohol moderation and avoidance within 4 hours of desired sleep time is generally a part of a healthy sleep prescription.

The bottom line remains seeking medical attention when you have difficulty sleeping so a solution can be recommended. You need sleep to function well.

Have you had a sleep conditions which you have conquered? Do share your story with us in the comment section.

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