Sleep is the foundation of good health but are you left wondering how to get the best rest you can? When the rich and famous from Donald Trump to Elon Musk boast about how little sleep they need, it is no wonder confusion can set in.
Qualified Nurse Prescriber & Sleep Practitioner JOANNA KIPPAX shares the five common myths that can lead you up the garden path.
MYTH 1: “Five hours sleep is enough”
It is true that we all need a different amount of sleep, but research has shown that having five hours of sleep, or less, per night, on a regular basis, can increase the risk of some serious health conditions. So prioritising your sleep really does help to keep you healthy!
MYTH 2: “Drinking alcohol before bedtime will help you sleep”
Alcohol works as a sedative and although you may fall asleep quickly, it dramatically reduces the quality of your dream sleep and deep sleep that night. This will leave you feeling less refreshed in the morning, and may give you problems with your memory, concentration and ability to solve problems the next day.
MYTH 3: “Watching TV is a good way to relax in bed before sleep time”
Any activity on a screen is not the best way to wind down at the end of the day. Screens emit a blue light, which signals to your body to stay awake. If you then switch off your device, you may have difficulty trying to get to sleep, causing you to think you have insomnia. Switching off all screens an hour before bedtime will signal to your body it is time for sleep and you will drop off quickly when you get into a darkened room.
MYTH 4: “If you wake in the night, it’s best to stay in bed”
Our brains are brilliant at making instant connections. What do you think of when you see a fir tree with lights on? A Christmas tree maybe? In the same way, if you spend a long time in bed awake, your brain will associate this with not sleeping. So if you are awake for more than 15-20 minutes in the night, simply get up, move out of the room and do something mindless in dimmed light, before returning to bed 30-45 minutes later.
MYTH 5: “Hitting the snooze button gets you a little more sleep in the morning”
After hitting the snooze button you will only get light, low quality sleep, which may leave you feeling more groggy throughout the day. Getting out of bed and into the sunlight as early as you can is the best way of “switching off” your sleep hormone and help you to feel alert and refreshed.
Joanna Kippax, RGN/RSCN/NMP/SP founded WyeSleep after working as a nurse prescriber in the NHS for over 30 years. A qualified sleep practitioner, Joanna is trained to use a range of treatments based on scientific evidence, which include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBTI), the first line treatment for insomnia, and the REST Programme, to support clients with sleep issues.
WyeSleep will teach you how to sleep better, feel great and protect your health. This bespoke sleep service treats clients with insomnia and disturbed sleep to identify the cause of their sleep problem and develop an individual sleep plan. See progress in a few weeks.
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Founder and editor of FitNet.
Previously gymnastics coach, massage therapist and personal trainer with 20 years of experience. Former gymnast and dancer.