woman awake, insomnia sleep myths by healthista

8 sleep myths making you tired

Got insomnia again? Leading sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley exposes some of the myths that are  keeping you awake

MYTH 1: Eight hours a night is essential

There are no hard and fast rules about the amount of sleep each of us needs.  We all have our own individual need. The normal range is anywhere between five and nine hours and, like height or shoe size, is genetically determined. Therefore you need to get the right amount of sleep for you. Do not obsess about getting eight hours, find the amount of time that is right for you. This is the amount of sleep that allows you to feel awake and vital the next day. If you are sleepy during the day you are probably not getting enough sleep at night.

MYTH 2: There is no such thing as too much sleep

You can get too much sleep, each of us has our own individual sleep ‘need’ and like anything it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Scientific evidence has shown that too much sleep is just as harmful as too little.

MYTH 3: You can train your body to need less sleep

Some people naturally need less sleep than others and this is genetically determined so whilst you can ‘get by’ on less sleep then you need you cannot train yourself to ‘need’ less sleep.  However, regularly getting even one hour less sleep than you need is likely to impact on your health and negatively affect performance and mood.  Longer term partial sleep deprivation is associated with a greater risk of a number of diseases including heart disease, depression, diabetes and obesity.

MYTH 4: Sleeping in separate beds/bedrooms means the relationship is in trouble

Many people sleep better with the warmth and security of another person next to them, however 50 per cent of your sleep disturbance is caused by your bed partner so others prefer to sleep alone. This is a perfectly natural thing to do and might even improve your relationship because by sleeping better you will be happier, less tired and less resentful of the other person.

MYTH 5: If you miss out on sleep during the week you can catch up at the weekend

Catching up on missed sleep is important but a lie-in on the weekend can actually add to sleep disruption and increase tiredness.   Our bodies respond better to regular sleep patterns going to bed and getting up at a regular time.  The weekend lie-in is disruptive to this pattern and this is why getting up on Monday morning can be so difficult.  To catch-up on sleep it is better to go to bed a bit earlier and keep to your regular wake-up time.

Red alarm clock showing midnight

MYTH 6: An hour before midnight is worth two after

There is some wisdom behind this old-wives tale because the deep restorative part of sleep that we have is usually during the first third of the night, that is, in the hours before and around midnight, sleep in the later part of the night is more easily disturbed. So this saying is actually about the quality of sleep in the first part of the night not necessarily the timing.

MYTH 7: Children will go to sleep when they are tired

This is like thinking that children will stop eating ice cream when they are full. Children need much more sleep than adults, it is crucial to their development; however, like us, it is important for children to have a routine in order for them to get their required sleep.

MYTH  8: Snoring is just a bit annoying and nothing to worry about

Many people, both men and women, snore during the night. Most occasional snoring is linked alcohol or being a bit overweight. However regularly snoring will disturb the sleep of both the snorer and their bed partner and there is no good thing about poor sleep. Loud, frequent snoring with regular pauses in breathing is called sleep apnoea, a serious sleep disorder that should be treated.

Dr Neil Stanley is an author and sleep expert. See his twitter page @drneilstanley for daily sleeping tips.

More Healthista Content:

Antibiotic resistance PLUS how to fix a cold fast without drugs

Run like an athlete – the new London running club showing us how

10 cold prevention remedies proven by science

Got IBS? 6 things this TV doctor says you must know

< Back

Also in this week’s magazine

7 ways to make your home a feel-good sanctuary feature
Mood and Mind

Self-isolation – 7 steps to make your home a feel good space

Now that we're all spending the foreseeable future at home, feng shui pioneer Jane Alexander has tips on how to make your home a haven and refuge

9 natural ways to get a better night's sleep FEATURED
Sleep

9 natural insomnia remedies to help you sleep better tonight

Whether you're worried about that virus or general life pressures are mounting, there seems to be a lot of insomnia about right now - these natural fixes will help

charisma featured (1)
Mood and Mind

How to be charismatic – 7 steps to becoming your most confident self

Charisma - you either have or don’t, right? Well, class is in session as Kevin Murray, author of Charismatic Leadership, breaks down how you can become more confident

8-ways-to-deal-with-a-bully-at-work-FEATURE
Relationships

5 workplace bully types and exactly how to deal with them

As the Home Secretary faces fresh new allegations, this expert has advice on how to deal

finding true love post featured
Relationships

How to find love – the therapist’s guide

Clinical psychotherapist Emmy Brunner, founder of the UK's Recover Clinic has advice

harvey weinstein FEATURED (1)
Therapy

How to spot a sexual predator – the 8 characteristics

Harvey Weinstein has been found guilty of sexual assaults, including rape. We ask therapist Leonie Adamson from the video counselling app Dr Julian how to spot the signs of a sexual predator 

Natural help for sleep

Natural help for sleep

Latest Video Series

Healthista-footer

Wellness Weekly

I agree to my personal data being stored and used to receive the Healthista newsletter.

Top