Myth 1 - lots of people only need four hours' sleep a night.
Reality- ever since Margaret Thatcher famously managed to run the country on just four hours' sleep a night, spending hours in bed has been seen as lazy. In reality, according to Loughborough University's sleep research centre, only 1% of the population can get by on so little sleep. Getting the right amount sleep for you as an individual is the best possible lifestyle choice!
Myth 2 – napping is bad for you.
Reality- this one isn’t so much a myth as a grey area! According to the Sleep Council, the UK’s national body for sleep health, napping during the day can indeed affect the quality of your night-time sleep. If you’re sleep-deprived, though, then catching forty winks during the day can be very beneficial and shouldn’t affect your night-time sleep.
Myth 3 – alcohol helps you sleep better.
Reality- this one really is a myth! What alcohol might actually do is encourage you to fall asleep more quickly. Once you are asleep, though, it’s likely that alcohol will cause you to have an uneasy, unsettled night and fragmented REM sleep. If you can, try and leave a couple of hours between having a drink and going to bed.
Myth 4 – your brain shuts down when you sleep.
Reality- fortunately for the future of the human race, this one isn’t true – after all, your brain has to get on with the business of breathing and keeping your heart beating, whether you’re asleep or not! In fact, your brain is active during sleep (particularly during REM sleep dreams) and uses this time to refresh and repair ready for the following day.
Myth 5 – you can ‘train’ yourself to sleep less
Reality– nope, this one’s not true either! Modern life can be so hectic that sometimes we can struggle to fit our full number of hours in. There’s a perception that if we regularly allow ourselves to sleep for only (for example) seven hours instead of eight then our bodies will gradually become attuned to it. In fact, the reverse is true – you’ll become cumulatively more and more deprived of sleep until you find it difficult to function. When your body tells you it needs more sleep, it’s not lying!
Myth 6 – your bedroom needs to be nice and warm
Reality– no, no, no! A majority of us actually keep our bedrooms too hot for comfortable sleeping, and the UK government now recommend a maximum of just 18 degrees Celsius. This means that when you walk into your bedroom from the rest of the house it should feel noticeably cooler. Trying to sleep in a room that’s too hot means uneasy sleep and frequent wakeups.
One thing that’s essential for a restful night is the right pyjamas. They need to be cool, comfortable, not too tight fitting – oh, and if they’re crisp and stylish as well it’s a bonus and will make you look forward to putting them on!