May is Better Sleep Month, so we’ve decided to explore some common myths about sleeping:
MYTH: If I can’t fall asleep, I should stay in bed until I do.
While this is how we are trained when we are younger, it doesn’t hold true as adults. If you find yourself lying in bed for more than 20 minutes trying to fall asleep, get up and out of bed. If you can, go sit somewhere with low lighting and do a relaxing activity like light reading, knitting or a crossword puzzle. Avoid watching TV or using your phone. When you begin to feel tired, return to the bedroom and try again.
MYTH: Napping is a good way to catch up on sleep.
It can be hard to resist your comfy bed after a long day at work or for a Saturday afternoon snooze. But taking naps longer than 30 minutes can affect your body’s ability to sleep later on that night. If you really need to recharge the batteries, set your alarm for a quick 15 -20 minute nap. This short window of time is ideal for providing a quick burst of alertness and increased motor and cognitive performance without leaving you feeling groggy.
MYTH: Having a drink before bed will help me sleep better.
They don’t call it a night cap for nothing! Many people like to indulge in a drink before bed, but it’s doing you more harm than good. Consuming alcohol before bed can affect your ability to properly go through the stages of sleep, making is easier for your body to wake you early the next morning. Instead of something tall and strong, trade the liquor for a smoothing drink like tea. Here is a list of some of our favorite recipes.
MYTH: Exercising close to bedtime will help me fall asleep.
Staying physically active is a great way to not only stay healthy, but to sleep well at night. But exercising too closely to bed time can actually make it harder to fall sleep. When you work out, you raise your internal body temperature, making you feel more responsive. But when you are trying to sleep your temperature drops. If you are looking for an easy way to prepare for sleep, try some low impact workouts like Yoga or stretching. We found some great moves in Yoga Journal you may like.
MYTH: Watching TV will put me to sleep.
A study done by the Sleep Foundation showed that almost 95 percent of the people polled use some type of electronic device at least a few night a week within the hour before going to bed. While it’s easy to drift off to the 10 p.m news or one of the Late Night shows, it’s not good for you. The blue light emitted from the screen helps trigger alertness in the brain, making it difficult to fall asleep of your brain is being told to wake up.
You can find more sleep tips in The Better Sleep Council’s Better Sleep Guide. If you still find yourself continually unable to sleep each night, it may be time to talk with a doctor at Iowa Sleep. Our trained professionals will listen to your sleep habits and work with you to adjust or change them as needed. At Iowa Sleep, we believe everyone deserves a good night’s rest, and we are dedicated to helping you sleep easier.