Common Sleep Myths for Better Slumber, Debunked
Overcome common misconceptions about rest and get better sleep that leaves you energized with these tips.
Sleep. It’s the most natural state of body and mind. Why, then, is it the center of so many misconceptions? One of my favorite myths about sleep is that as long as you get enough of it, you’ll feel refreshed. Not true. Haven’t we all had nights when we went to bed at a decent time only to wake up after eight hours feeling like we barely nodded off? Of course, the converse of that is the idea that you can somehow get your body accustomed to sleeping for short periods without any ill effects. Again, that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.
The Sleep Foundation has debunked many of these common myths, such as:
- Your body adjusts to getting less sleep
- Adults need only up to five hours of sleep each night
- The timing of sleep is irrelevant
- The number of hours, not the quality, of sleep matters
The bottom line is that getting a certain amount of time in bed every night isn’t the entire solution. Going to bed at the same time every evening isn’t enough, either–even though a nighttime routine is considered fundamental for good sleep quality.
This doesn’t mean that your sleep quality is destined to remain at the will of the sleep gods. You can check all the right boxes and still sleep terribly. Alternatively, you can feel refreshed in the morning even if you didn’t sleep well. I got home late the other night and fell into bed, feeling exhausted. When morning came, I felt amazing, even though I knew I shouldn’t.
These elusive mysteries of a perfect night’s sleep have not only kept me awake at night but have also prompted me to embark upon pilot studies and clinical trials to get to the bottom of the issue.
What I’ve discovered is that there is no quick fix. Sleep isn’t a formulaic experience with guaranteed outputs based on specific inputs. It’s a holistic affair that demands a holistic approach.
Sleep strategies and your circadian rhythm
Before jumping into some suggestions for improving your sleep through more comprehensive means, it’s worth discussing this subject’s importance.
Your body runs on a 24-hour circadian rhythm. When your sleep is disrupted or lacking, you’re at greater risk for unwanted responses, such as slower reflexes; mental responses, such as the inability to remember information; and emotional responses, such as uncontrollable outbursts. You gain all the benefits of good sleep when you lean into your circadian rhythm.
What sleep health steps should you consider taking? Try these strategies:
1. Reframe your relationship with sleep.
Start by eliminating the subconscious negative thoughts impacting your ability to get adequate sleep. For instance, instead of telling yourself, “It’s late. I’m going to wake up tired tomorrow, just like usual,” tell yourself, “This night is different from the others, and I’m not going to struggle to get rest.”
The trick here is to be genuine and intentional with your thoughts about sleep. Internalizing the intent behind your behavior will enable better results. Consequently, putting optimistic input into your head will help you chip away at your preconceived pessimistic notions about your sleep output.
2. Complete a small task or two before bed.
Worry can inhibit sleep. Your head hits the pillow and then your brain jumps into action: “Oh, you’re not going to rest tonight. You didn’t finish your to-do list. In fact, I’m going to remind you of everything you put off today and everything you have to do tomorrow.”
I’ve found that the way to combat this type of sleep obstacle is by doing something minor. Sometimes, just looking over my calendar for the next day helps me relax. Even if the calendar shows a stressful, packed schedule, I feel more clear-headed about it.
3. Design your sleep environment thoughtfully.
Where you sleep matters. Think about using products beyond a supportive bed and mattress to foster comfort and peace. Take infrared blankets and sheets, for example. Many brands claim to have “cooling” sheets. However, you should search for bedding products specifically infused with infrared technology to reap the most thermoregulatory benefits.
Choosing CELLIANT IR bedding and sleep products that help regulate body temperature while maintaining comfort allows you to wake up well-rested. With a few effective sleep accessories such as these, you might find a noticeable increase in the quality of your sleep.
Nothing can replace that wondrous sensation of waking up energized and alert. By switching up your sleep habits and ditching common misconceptions about sleep, you might end up experiencing the grandest of all achievements: opening your eyes before your alarm goes off–and being OK with it.
Seth Casden is the CEO and co-founder of Hologenix, a materials science company dedicated to developing products that amplify human potential, including its flagship innovation CELLIANT®. CELLIANT’s science-backed infrared (IR) technology improves health and wellness by promoting restful sleep and enhancing performance and recovery. CELLIANT’s natural blend of IR-generating minerals is embedded into fibers, yarns and fabrics, powering bio-responsive textiles. CELLIANT is a key ingredient used by world-class brands in products spanning apparel, sleepwear, bedding, upholstery, uniforms and medical supplies. Before founding Hologenix in 2002, Seth earned a degree in business administration and worked in private equity. His mission is to innovate infrared textiles that improve the quality of peoples’ lives. This article was originally published on Inc.com.