As with anything, over the years, society has developed many myths about the best ways to attain a good night sleep. Here are five “facts” you’ve probably heard, and most importantly, the truth behind them:
Alcoholic Beverages Will Help You Sleep Better.
As relaxing as a glass of wine can be, alcohol is never a solution to a health problem. Though, from time to time, having a drink before bed can help you fall asleep faster, it also makes it hard for your body to reach the deeper, more restorative REM levels of sleep. This is hazardous to both your sleep and health, as your inability to reach the REM cycle will make you feel more tired the next day. In addition to this, having alcohol before bed can cause withdrawals in the middle of the night, forcing you to wake up. Should this trend continue day after day, those affected by it might develop a habit that could lead to an increased alcohol tolerance, and sometimes, even alcoholism.
Beauty Sleep: It’s Not Real.
Heads up, ladies—beauty sleep is real! In a recent study in Sweden, researchers monitored participants getting different amounts of sleep, took their photos the following day, and had them ranked by random groups of onlookers. After an in-depth review and voting process, it proved overwhelmingly true that those who got the recommended eight hours of sleep actually did appear more attractive the next day.
The Older You Get, the Less Sleep You Need.
Just because you’re getting older, it doesn’t mean your body doesn’t still have some basic requirements. Because senior citizens tend to wake up in the early hours of the morning, many people incorrectly assume that they do not need a full eight hours of sleep to function properly. Many seniors struggle with sleep as a result of hormonal and body clock changes that come with age. Furthermore, they are also more likely to suffer from sleep disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia. That said, as they are at a higher risk of disease and poor body function, it is even more important for older individuals to get a full night of sleep to ensure that they keep their body as healthy as possible.
Naps Just Aren’t Worth It.
Some people think naps are only for children—wrong! If you have trouble sleeping throughout the night, a 15-20 minute “power nap”—preferably between the hours of 1 and 3 p.m.—may be just what you need to get through the rest of the day feeling alert and refreshed. As beneficial as this can be, keep in mind that naps longer than 45 minutes, especially those later in the day, can actually leave you feeling more tired than you were before—and interestingly enough, can negatively affect how well you sleep throughout the night.
Big Meals Mean Big Nightmares.
What you eat before bed has absolutely nothing to do with what you dream about. By definition, dreams are deep, psychological processes that allow you to filter all of the information you’ve received during the day. This, obviously, cannot be affected by food—but those who do eat large meals before sleep should beware of acid reflux.