Sleep is complicated matter. There are plenty of notions about sleep that aren’t entirely true. We’ve pulled together some of the biggest sleep misconceptions, helping you achieve a dreamy night’s rest.
“Snoring means you are in a deep sleep”
If you happen to find yourself lying next to someone in bed who snores, it’s easy to assume that they are in a deep sleep. In fact, snoring is probably the first thing that springs to mind when you think of deep sleep, however experts have revealed that this is not the case. Snoring does not necessarily mean that the person is in a deep sleep: snoring actually occurs because of the air pathway being blocked.
If you’re finding that your sleep is disturbed by snoring, here is a ‘snore workout’ from Silentnight’s sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan.
- Start with your mouth open as wide as it can go and stick your tongue out as far forward as you can
- Hold this position while stretching your tongue up, down, and side to side for two full revolutions
- Begin humming your national anthem or ‘Happy Birthday’ in as deep a pitch as you can and continue right to the end (or for at least two minutes)
- With daily practice, you should start to notice an improvement in your snoring within two to three weeks
Dr Nerina says: “Simple breathing exercises can help, but my main piece of advice to any couple struggling to sleep together due to snoring or otherwise, is to sleep in separate beds!”
“The more sleep, the better!”
Another common misconception is to believe that the more you sleep, the better it is for you. This isn’t actually the case, as sleep is more about quality, than quantity. It is far more beneficial for you to have eight hours of deep, restorative sleep, than 12 hours of disturbed sleep. In fact, Dr Nerina has explained how people who tend to oversleep can end up feeling tired, sluggish and lack motivation.
“Feeling sleepy, and feeling tired is the same”
Many of us also tend to think of feeling sleepy and feeling tired as the same thing.
Whilst being sleepy does include being tired, feeling tired doesn’t mean you are also sleepy. Tiredness is a symptom of your mind or body needing rest, which does not necessarily mean sleep. Feeling sleepy on the other hand, is the distinct need for sleep. If you go to bed because you’re tired rather than sleepy, you may actually find it tricky to fall asleep.
“Caffeine will help me feel more awake”
One of the murky areas on sleep is the relationship between sleep and caffeine. Lots of us regularly incorporate caffeine into our routines to try and combat feeling sleepy, and even feel that it’s a necessity at times. However, caffeine could be seriously damaging your sleep pattern, as well as your sleep quality.
This is because very few of us will be thinking about the half life of the coffee or tea that we drink. The half life of caffeine in the human body is normally around five hours, which means that if you have a drink at 5pm, you will still have half of that amount in your bloodstream by 10pm. You probably won’t feel energised at this time, but the caffeine in your system can still be enough to disturb your sleep. Therefore, it’s important to think about when you are consuming caffeine, so it sleep isn’t impacted.
“I need eight hours of sleep a night”
While it’s important to get enough sleep, there is far too much significance placed on the holy grail of 8 hours. Everyone’s sleep requirements are different and it’s unhelpful to focus on getting a set amount. The key is to pay attention to how you feel when you wake up. If you wake up feeling refreshed after five hours you’re probably getting enough sleep for you.
“I shouldn’t wake up during the night”
Do you worry about waking up during the night, believing you should put your head on the pillow and not wake up until morning? Even if you think you slept through, chances are you woke up several times during the night without realising it.
Sleep studies show that the average human wakes around 10 times during the night. The theory is that this sleep-wake cycle evolved for our survival and safety; we come into a semi-conscious state to check that all is well and then slide back into sleep. It is completely normal to wake up during the night and then go back to sleep. Don’t fixate on it being a problem.
“I can catch up on sleep”
One way people like to overcome drowsiness is to oversleep. This belief that you can catch up could be seriously damaging your sleep pattern. While you can catch up to some extent, you can’t fully recover. Get into a good, regular routine if you want to really reap the healing benefits of sleep. It is far better to sleep in consistent sleep patterns rather than keeping a tally of what sleep we’re owed, and living a system of under and over-sleeping.
The best thing to do is to forget any preconceptions you have about sleep, and listen to your own body to find a sleep pattern that is best for you.
If you are having trouble sleeping check out our sleep tips page here https://www.silentnight.co.uk/sleep-matters/sleep-tips