We're all on the quest for a perfect night's sleep, but what
really aids it? The below myths are extremely unhelpful when
considering a great snooze.


You can catch up on your sleep at the
weekends


Busy week? Burning the midnight oil can really influence our
rest time, which helps us acquire what some may call 'sleep debt'.
A common held belief is that you can catch up on any hours you may
have missed during the week by sleeping a few extra hours at the
weekend. However, research by Dr Daniel Cohen, a researcher in the
Division of Sleep Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital
(BWH), has shown that this may not be the best tactic. As the
sleep debt increased, volunteers' performance on reaction time
tests got worse faster for each hour awake, despite being within
normal limits when they first awoke. The moral to this story: get
the right amount of sleep every night and try to keep your sleep
pattern regular at the weekend.


You can get by with just 4 hours
sleep 


Recently, scientists discovered a gene that may
explain why some people can get by with a fraction of the amount of
sleep most of us need, however this is thought to apply to
only around 2-3% of the population. While the rest of us
need on average between 7-8 hours each night to stay fit, healthy
and alert during the day. In partnership with the University of
Leeds, we have created an interactive sleep map to show people
around the UK how much sleep they're getting.


Cheese gives you nightmares


According to a 2005 study by the British Cheese Board, different
cheeses can give you different types of dreams. None of the study
volunteers reported nightmares from their bedtime snack,
thankfully! Fun fact for you: Cheddar is the most commonly eaten
cheese in the UK, and those who snacked on this variety in the
study were found to dream of celebrities.


Counting sheep can help you sleep


In a sleep study, Oxford researchers found that people who
counted sheep took longer to fall asleep than they normally would
had they not counted sheep. On the other hand, they found that
people who instead imagined a relaxing scene, such as a peaceful
beach or a soothing waterfall, fell asleep an average of 20 minutes
earlier.


A glass of milk before bed can help you
sleep


According to Drew Dawson, a sleep and fatigue expert and
director at Appleton Institute at Central Queensland University,
drinking milk may help, but not for the reason you think - "It
could be that it just takes you 10 minutes to make a cup of milk
and by that time you're relaxed enough to fall asleep," Dawson
said. The common thought is that milk can help people fall asleep
because it contains two substances which are known to be related to
sleep and relaxation: the hormone melatonin and the amino acid
tryptophan.