When it comes to sleep, there is a lot of misinformation out there! Sleep is something that every single person does naturally, so naturally, there are a lot of myths (and grave mistakes!) when it comes to sleep.
We can't understate the importance of doing your own research. The sleep you need varies from the sleep your partner, friend, family members need because we are all biologically unique. There are countless variables that will affect your sleep that won't affect others, and vice versa.
The bottom-line: there is no one-size-fits-all method for changing your sleep.
In saying that, there are some common sleep myths and mistakes that we feel pretty comfortable busting (for one and all!)
5 Common Sleep Myths and Mistakes
1. "You should stay in bed when you cant fall asleep"
According to experts, this is one of the biggest sleep mistakes! Staying in bed staring restlessly at the ceiling (or worse - the time on your phone), is not healthy for your sleep. You'll condition your brain to understand that bed is where you can't fall asleep, or that it's the place to toss, turn and overthink - guilty!
If you're awake for 20 minutes or just feel restless, it's time to relocate! Head to the living room, spend some time reading or stretching and keep the light minimal. When you start to feel yourself drifting, head back to the bedroom and try again.
The more you avoid your screen, the better! So aim for mindless, tech-free tasks, or try some stretching like Legs Up The Wall pose.
2. "It doesn't matter how you feel when you go to bed"
If you're going to bed feeling anything less than calm, we can just about guarantee you're not sleeping. Anger and other emotions like stress and anxiety activate our fight-or-flight response and send us into a no-sleep-feeling-stressed spiral. The result? You'll be stuck in a repetitive cycle of waking up tired.
One of the most important things you can do at night time is wind-down your mind and keep it clear for a peaceful sleep. Never go to bed anxious or angry. If you can feel your emotions getting in the way of a good night's sleep, we have some suggestions.
Journalling: Write down your thoughts on pen and paper to put them physically out of your mind. Get it all out on paper and decide to come back to it later so you can sleep well.
Practise Gratitude: Write a list of things you're grateful for to reconnect with the positive things and people in your life. You'll feel an instant boost of joy when you reflect on the good things. One of our favourite quotes: When you focus on the good, the good gets better! Live by it!
As they say, it's not worth losing sleep over.
3. "You must get 8 hours of sleep every night"
While '8 hours of sleep' is the generalised version, most people need between 7-9 hours. You could need more or less, depending on a number of factors including gender, age, hormones, mental health - there is no fixed recipe!
The important thing when it comes to sleep is aiming to be consistent with sleep/wake times, and getting good quality sleep. Deep and REM sleep are where it's at! You should aim to repeat your 90 minute sleep cycles (uninterrupted), around 5 times a night, but this could look different for everyone.
It's also worth nothing that oversleeping can be just as bad as under-sleeping. Oversleeping can disrupt your sleep schedules and natural Circadian Rhythm, but also be an indicator of other things that could effect your health, such as lower-quality sleep, deficiencies or sleep apnea.
When it comes down it: You need to get the right amount of sleep for you, and that is the amount of sleep that you feel has you rising and shining! It's important to feel good when you wake up in the morning.
4. "You can catch up on sleep on the weekend"
Sleep is not like a credit card.
There is no such thing as a sleep debt - we are telling you right now! One of our least favourite sleep myths. You simply can not catch up on sleep. Changing up your sleep routine in your day-to-day life only causes more disruption and increased tiredness.
There is SO MUCH benefit to keeping the same (or as consistent as possible, because hey, we're human!) sleep and wake times every day of the week.
Don't make Monday worse than it needs to be - go to bed and wake up at a regular time whenever possible.
5. "You don't need a bedtime routine"
Everyone, and we mean EVERYONE, needs a bedtime routine. You are innately trained to operate with a bedtime routine as a baby, and all through childhood. Your parents would practice your routine by drawing you a bath, dimming the lights, reading you a bedtime story that lulls you into a soft slumber.
So when do we stop? At what age do we stop reading ourselves bedtime stories? Adults, much like children, can seriously benefit from a sleep routine. Winding yourself down from the day and signalling to your brain that it's time to sleep is important at every age.
Our Circadian Rhythms love nothing more than regularity.
Your bedtime ritual doesn't have to be the same as anyone else's. There are many different ways to wind down. The trick? Find a routine that works for you, and start small! If you ask us, your sleep routine should be the highlight of your day. It's committing time to you. Take a warm bath, read a book, enjoy a herbal tea.
Whatever relaxing looks like to you, your sleep routine is the time to do it! Who says you have to wait to the weekend to chill out?