Sleep awareness week: misconceptions and myths
We all know how important a good night’s sleep is. Whether you sleep like a log or burn the candle at both ends, getting regular and consistent sleep gives your body time to restore and repair. In fact, the time you spend snuggled under the covers is an essential for maintaining good health.
Even though most of us know that good sleep is important, there are still a lot of myths and misconceptions about what ‘good sleep’ actually means. If you’re wondering how much sleep you should be getting every night or need some advice on getting into a healthy sleep routine, we’re here to help. For this year’s Sleep Awareness Week, we’re busting common sleeping myths to give everyone a chance at a good night’s rest.
Myth: everyone needs 8 hours of sleep
It’s commonly thought that everyone needs 8 hours of sleep every night. While there is a grain of truth to this (adults typically need between 7-9 hours of night time rest), the amount of sleep we need varies from person to person. Some people need more sleep, while others need less. It’s important to listen to your body and figure out what works for you.
If you find yourself regularly feeling tired during the day, you should think about changing your sleep cycle to ensure you’re getting enough rest. Consistency is key. Try to maintain a regular wake-up time and go to sleep when you feel tired at night.
Myth: you need to make up for poor quality sleep by getting more the next day
We often talk about ‘catching up’ on sleep if we haven’t got enough rest the night before. While it can be tempting to get into bed early or take an afternoon nap, it’s usually best to try and maintain consistency. Our sleep expert, Stephanie Romiszewski, says:
“Try not to continuously change your sleep behaviours to get quicker results – our bodies need consistency. You can train your brain to sleep when you want to, but this takes time and patience – preventing you from tossing and turning at night.”
Instead, get into bed when you feel tired and keep your usual wake-up time. Forcing sleep and regular changes to your sleeping patterns may interrupt your routine even more.
Myth: your body can get used to functioning on less sleep
While it is possible to train your body to sleep at consistent times, it’s not recommended to get used to functioning on less sleep than you need. As our sleep expert says:
“Chronic sleep deprivation isn’t good for you and a consistent lack of sleep over a long period can cause real illnesses. This will only happen if you are regularly restricting yourself from sleeping, and therefore getting much less sleep then you need (this amount is different for everyone).”
Instead, find a sleep cycle that works for you and make sure that you stick to it as much as possible. You’ll find that you feel more alert, healthier and restored.
Myth: a bad night’s sleep will affect your health
While chronic lack of sleep is likely to affect your health, poor quality sleep once in a while won’t make you ill or harm you significantly. In fact, we’re all likely to experience a bad night’s sleep every now and then.
You might feel groggy or a bit ‘off’ the day after a bad sleep, but your body will recover when you return to your regular sleeping pattern. Just remember that while it could take a few days to recuperate after sleeping badly, consistency is important to keep your routine sleep cycle.
For more tips and advice on getting a great night’s sleep, visit the Bensons for Beds blog.