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Damaging Sleep Myths Debunked!

According to the news this week, there is the potential that widely believed myths are damaging both our mood and our health, and not really helping with our sleep at all.

A research team from New York University have been busy debunking myths that we have believed for decades - maybe even centuries – and some of us might not be too happy about some of them!

However, the team did of course have our best interests in mind whilst carrying out the research, and they hope that by scientifically analysing and debunking these myths, they can help improve people’s physical and mental health.

Alcohol before bed boosts your sleep – actually, no it doesn’t. In fact, and this may come as quite a shock, but a little ‘nightcap’ before hitting the hay can actually significantly reduce the quality of rest that you experience that night. Though it may help you go to sleep quicker, the cons definitely outweigh the pros. First up alcohol before bed badly impacts the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, which is an important part for both memory and learning, and secondly, you will likely find yourself having to get up at 3am because your bladder is too full to allow you to rest comfortably! So, maybe you might want to swap your nightcap from a whiskey to a hot chocolate.

You only need less than 5 hours sleep – erm, again, no. The research team actually claimed that this myth was quite possibly the one that is most damaging to our health! Five or less hours of sleep actually increase our risk of developing cardiovascular diseases – heart attacks and strokes – and also gives us a shorter life expectancy. We should actually be sleeping for 7 or 8 hours each night!

TV in bed helps us wind down – the main issue with watching TV or even using your phone or tablet in bed before trying to get to sleep is that they produce what is called blue light, which delays the body’s natural production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Also, certain things that we watch before bed, such as dramatic shows or the news, can actually cause us to feel irritation, stress or adrenaline, all of which can stop us falling asleep.

Snoozing our alarms – yep, something 99% of us are likely guilty of on a morning. Hitting that good old snooze button to get that last precious 5 minutes in bed! Well, according to the researchers, the best thing to do when our alarm goes off is to actually get out of bed and expose ourselves to as much light as we can, preferably natural light if possible. Pressing the snooze button and dozing back of for 5 minutes may seem like a good idea, but you actually only enter into a light state of sleep, which, when woken back up from, can make us feel groggy and even more grouchy than if we had gotten up as soon as our alarm went off.

How many of these myths are you guilty of believing? Maybe the way to improving our physical and mental health is a hot chocolate, followed by some relaxing music, sleeping for 7.5 hours and getting up as soon as the alarm sounds? It’s got to be worth a go, surely!

 

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