Learning About Sleep: Myths & Good Sleep Hygiene

Katie LairdPsychotherapy

Myth: Your brain and body can adapt to getting less sleep.
Research shows that long-term insufficient sleep can have a negative impact on metabolism, the immune system, cardiovascular system, hormone production, and mental health. 

Myth: Snoring is normal, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Light snoring is not a cause for concern, but loud, frequent snoring can indicate that there is a problem. The individual may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is a serious breathing disorder that prevents one from taking in enough oxygen.  Positive airway pressure devices can help treat OSA. Anti-snoring mouthpieces, mouth exercises, and losing weight can also help alleviate snoring. 

Myth: Being able to fall asleep anywhere, anytime indicates that you are a great sleeper.
Extreme daytime sleepiness suggests that you may not be getting enough sleep, have insomnia, or a possible sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Sleeping on a random schedule can also be associated with circadian rhythm disorders and narcolepsy.

Myth: Napping during the day makes up for poor sleep.
Napping too much during the day can throw off your sleep schedule, as it makes it harder to get to sleep at night. Quality sleep at night is characterized by moving through the stages of sleep; this typically does not occur during a nap. For a quick boost of energy, it is best to nap earlier in the afternoon and keep it to 30 minutes or less.

Sleep Hygiene: 

  • Keep a consistent schedule for going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
  • Take 30 minutes to unwind at the end of the day by reading, journaling, stretching, relaxation exercises, or listening to music.
  • Avoid your cell phone, television, laptop, and other devices 30-60 minutes before bed, as it promotes mental stimulation that makes it harder to get to sleep.
  • If you have not been able to fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and read, stretch, do a breathing exercise or something that calms you in dim light. This promotes a healthy association of being in bed and actually being asleep.