sleep myths

sleep myths

Sleep can definitely seem like a mystery at times. Despite it being a common, everyday activity in our lives, we are all still trying to work out why we sleep, what sleep actually is, and which factors determine or affect our rest.  Along with all the speculation appear plenty of sleep myths, some of which can be both misleading and even detrimental to health.  Take a look below to see some sleep myths debunked once and for all.

Sleep Myth 1)  Alcohol Helps You Sleep

Whilst alcohol certainly causes drowsiness and eventual sleep, the sleep achieved is broken, uncomfortable and low in quality. Alcohol can also cause dehydration, meaning that you tend to wake with a sore head, a dry mouth and a feeling far from rested.

 

Sleep Myth 2)  Daytime Activities Do Not Affect Sleep

Wrong! Daytime activities definitely affect sleep. Activities such as working out late in the evening tend to make it difficult to fall asleep, whilst watching a film late into the early hours can definitely lessen sleep quality due to blue light exposure. Day time activities can have a huge affect on rest and investing in the correct sleep hygiene can make all the difference.

 

Sleep Myth 3)  Certain Foods Put Me to Sleep

Whilst certain foods can definitely help to encourage sleep, there is no specific food that will heavily induce sleep. Whilst foods such as nuts, slow release carbs and warm milk can certainly relax your mind and body for rest, they cannot directly induce sleep. Simply include sleep boosting foods in your diet for a healthy sleep and a better life, they’ll fit well into your sleep hygiene routine.

 

Sleep Myth 4)  You Can Make Up for Lost Sleep

Although it can be tempting to sleep in for longer at the weekend in order to ‘make up’ for sleep lost during the week, studies have actually shown that sleeping longer on your days off can be pretty ineffective. Not only does it make you miss out on daytime activities, sleeping for longer at the weekend will most likely cause ‘social jet lag’, making it pretty difficult for you to start the new week afresh on Monday!

Athletes Need More Sleep

Athletes Need More Sleep

We all know that good sleep is vital for performance, but when it comes to athletes, do they need more rest than usual? Take a look at the science below.

For most people, the average amount of sleep needed tends to be between 7-9 hours, although this does vary with age.

For athletes, the numbers are higher. Similar to how athletes need more calories for their high intensity training, they also need more sleep, around one hour extra each night, pulling the amount up to a recommended average of 10 hours! Athletes are also encouraged to take regular afternoon naps for quick energy boosts in the day, it’s also advised that they head to bed early and wake up early too. So, why all the fuss? How does a lack of sleep affect athletes?
Well, the truth is – athletes are affected massively by just one hour drop in their usual sleep patterns. We need sleep for energy and overall performance, meaning that a decrease in athletes’ sleep leads to poor performance, lack of stamina and energy and general fatigue. The more active the person, the harder fatigue tends to hit.
Leading a busy lifestyle as an athlete can be tricky, especially when it comes to fitting in good sleep.

Check out these athlete sleep tips here.

• Set a schedule! Athletes already lead a regimented lifestyle in terms of training, therefore slotting a sleep routine into the mix seems to work well alongside their other activities. Aiming to fall asleep and get up at same time each day really works to decrease fatigue and fight insomnia.

• Set a schedule! Athletes already lead a regimented lifestyle in terms of training, therefore slotting a sleep routine into the mix seems to work well alongside their other activities. Aiming to fall asleep and get up at same time each day really works to decrease fatigue and fight insomnia.

• Athletes tend to travel a lot for games, tournaments and events, meaning their sleep schedule tends to suffer, which can in turn start to affect their performance. A great way to get around this is to arrive in the location days or even weeks before the actual event, this allows your body to acclimatize to the new surroundings and will really work to shake off jet lag and fatigue.

• Avoid sleep medication. Certain sleep supplements can make waking up a diffiicult and drowsy affair, and if you’re heading to morning training, it can be tough to wake up and get out the door. There are plenty of other ways to encourage sleep, from sleep hygiene through to sleep hypnosis and pillow sprays.

• Reduce caffeine. If you’re coming up to an important event, it’s probably best to start cutting out caffeine a few days prior to ensure that you’re sleeping well and performing at your best.

creativity at night

creativity at night

Creativity at night?  Here’s how to harness it.

Although it might not seem that logical, as in the evening we tend to feel pretty drowsy, the period before we drop off into slumber holds the most creative potential within our minds. Sleep and relaxation allow our unconnected brain cells to basically link up- resulting in a flood of philosophies. If you end up with a string of ideas coming into your head in the evenings, here are five great tips on how to harness this creative ability to ultimately channel it into your work.

Write everything down.

Due to the fickle nature of our thoughts as we fall asleep, ideas and creative concepts can easily fall in and out of our minds incredibly quickly. If you ever experience a creative thought in the evening- it’s best to write it down, as you’re probably not going to be able to recall it the next day! Keep a late-night thought diary for your ideas, they’re pretty entertaining to have a look through the morning after the night before!

 

Set aside time.

Although the evening can be an incredibly creative time for our minds, sleep tends to come first. When you feel the thoughts enter your brain, work on them for a certain amount of time before switching off- sometimes all it takes is around half an hour to get your thoughts down on paper before heading off to bed.

 

Create a plan for the next morning.

Although tempting, it’s probably not the best idea to stay up late working on new ideas. Instead, drafting a plan and writing up a few brief notes on your ideas is a great way to set yourself up for the next working day.

 

Listen to instrumental music.

Music boosts creativity and improves learning and memory function. Just half an hour of listening to instrumental music on a low volume can help you to dig into your mind before sleep to unearth some brilliant ideas.

 

 Perfect your sleep environment.

Finally, for late night thoughts to be nurtured and for creativity to flow in the moments before sleep, it’s always a good idea to have an ideal sleeping environment. A cooling mattress can help to regulate your body temperature whilst dim lighting relaxes your mind as you fill in a few of your thoughts before falling asleep.

Coffee naps

Coffee naps

Coffee Naps-What’s the Science?

Regular napping has been shown to increase cognitive performance, boost mood and deliver an extra hit of energy to fight against afternoon crashes. However, there’s a new form of napping gaining popularity- coffee naps. Although coffee and sleep don’t particularly match up in people’s minds with a restorative sleep- when combined with a quick power nap, the combination of caffeine and dozing can make for a great energy boost.

First, it’s important to look at how caffeine effectively works in the body. When we drink coffee it is absorbed into our bloodstream, kickstarting our energy levels through blocking the sleep causing hormone Adenosine. If we sleep during this process, the adenosine is naturally cleared away, meaning the caffeine can replace it! The handy thing with 20 minute coffee naps is that it takes just 20 minutes for this process to occur, meaning that if you wake up after a quick doze- your mind is pretty much cleared of sleep hormones- giving you an energy boost- and a relatively clear head. There is one issue with coffee naps however, the timings need to be correct. Slip into deep sleep after 20 minutes and you could wake up feeling pretty groggy and sluggish. It’s best to set an alarm as soon as you drink the coffee, find a quiet corner in the office and have a doze!

Here are a few facts on coffee naps – if you’d like to give them a go!

 • Coffee naps can be great for an afternoon energy burst, especially if you’ve hit the afternoon slump. You don’t have to fall completely asleep, as long as you’ve got somewhere to just have a quiet lie down for 20 minutes, you’re bound to wake up feeling fresh.

• Studies have shown that coffee naps are more cognitive enhancing than normal naps alone, with subjects scoring higher on memory tests and stating they were less tired after a coffee nap- in comparison to a caffeine free snooze.

• Although coffee naps should only be restricted to 20 minutes, if you struggle to fall asleep fast, scientists advise that even a few minutes of restful dozing has the same restorative affects!

• Of course, coffee naps should not really be used in replacement of a restful night’s sleep, but they can have their benefits.

• Just 20 minutes of napping in the day can make up for one hour of sleep during the night, add caffeine to the mix and coffee naps can be pretty great!

Catching Sleep

Catching Sleep

Can You Catch Up On Lost Sleep?

Turns out weekend snoozing is not the answer…

Unfortunately, studies have shown that sleeping in for an extra 1-2 hours during the weekend does not actually catch up on sleep lost during the week. The main reason that this fails is linked to something called sleep debt. As we miss hours throughout the week, they add up, meaning that by the weekend we could be totaling around eight hours of missed sleep, that’s four hours extra for both Saturday and Sunday! Even if you do achieve sleeping for those extra hours, your whole sleep schedule has been completely thrown off, meaning that you’re more likely to struggle to head to bed on Sunday evening… It’s definitely an endless cycle…

So, what’s the best way to clean up sleep debt?

The best way to clean up any sleep debt acquired during the week is to start slow and steady. Even heading to bed around 10-15 mins earlier each night can make a real difference and will mean that you’ll have no sleep debt come the weekend! Struggle to head to bed at an earlier time?

Clean up your sleep hygiene routine.

Heading to bed earlier can be achieved through a variety of activities, from a hot bath through to self care, lavender pillow spray and reading a book.

It’s also super important to keep your sleep environment clean, tidy and fresh. Leaving the window open at night can have a cooling affect on your body which can naturally encourage sleep whilst there are plenty of apps out there that you can try in order to encourage sleep at an easier time.

Cracking a sleep schedule is the most affective way to avoid sleep debt and the best way to create a sleep routine!

What if you do end up with sleep debt come the weekend?

Although this might not be brilliant to hear, if you end up with a lot of sleep debt come the weekend, it’s probably best to still get up at the usual time on both Saturday and Sunday. Waking up as usual will mean that you’ll head to bed at an early time come the end of the weekend due to natural tiredness!

Dream Quality

Dream Quality

Can Dreams affect Sleep Quality?

Although at times they can be completely bizarre, dreams are a normal part of sleep and an everyday occurrence in our lives. Despite the vast majority of people being unable to remember what they dreamt the night before, we actually dream for two hours each night, usually as we enter into the ‘Rapid Eye Movement’ form of sleep, usually referred to as (REM).

Essentially, dreams are unavoidable, but could they be affecting the quality of your sleep? Read below to find out more.

 

Dreams can make you feel hungover

Having a bad dream can actually cause what is referred to as a ‘dream hangover’, with particularly horrible nightmares making it difficult for people to fall back to sleep, and when sleep is achieved, to actually get a good quality doze!

 So, next time you’re dozing the day after a nightmare, you can probably put your poor sleep down to your frightening dream…

 

Happy Dream = Good Sleep

Although we are still working on the evidence behind this, in various studies, people who dreamt happy dreams woke feeling well rested and in a great mood, as opposed to people who suffered sleep loss or were plagued with nightmares.

We still don’t know for sure on the science behind this, but the mood in which we wake can impact the rest of our day, and if we wake in a happy mood, thanks to a joyful dream, it’s very likely that feelings of happiness and contentedness will follow.

 

Dreaming in Real Life

Our dreams are heavily influenced by our reality. Studies have shown that people who suffer from stress or are battling depression struggle with their sleeping pattern, and if our reality reflects our dreams, then nightmares can be a common occurrence, leading to poor sleep.

Tackle the problem at the root cause. You might not be able to influence your dreams directly, but you can work to relieve stresses and pressures in the day, leading to happier dreams and a better sleep.

 

 

 

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