It seems like everyone is talking about sleep.  We talk about not getting enough, we talk about what we would give for a good night of it, and we talk about the serious health consequences of the lack of it.  But even with all this talking, there is still a lot of misinformation and myths that are taken as truth when it comes to sleep.  Here are 4 of the most common sleep myths and the truth behind them.

1.     Alcohol makes a great sleep aid.

While it is true that alcoholic beverages like beer and wine can make you feel drowsy, they don’t actually help you get the sleep you need.   Having a few drinks before bed can make you fall asleep faster, but it will also impact the overall quantity and quality of your sleep by increasing the number of times you wake up over the course of the night.

Rather than using alcohol as a sleep aid, look at other things that may be stealing your sleep and talk to your doctor if you feel you are consistently not getting the sleep you need.

2.    Everyone has insomnia sometimes, so it isn’t a big deal.

It is true that everyone has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep from time to time.  This doesn’t mean, however, that everyone has insomnia.  Insomnia can be a sleep disorder in its own right but it can also be a symptom of other sleep disorders.  Most importantly, it can be a big deal and should be taken seriously.   Prolonged insomnia means you aren’t getting the sleep you need which opens you up to all the health consequences that come with sleep debt.

If you are experiencing recurrent issues falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting as much sleep as you need, talk to your doctor.  Finding the underlying reasons you are losing sleep is crucial in order to safeguard your health.

3.     Exercise helps you sleep, no matter when you do it.

While it is true that exercising helps improve your sleep, there are times that it is better to do it than others.  Exercising close to bed time can actually keep you from falling asleep, even if it makes you tired.  In preparation for falling asleep, your body temperature decreases.  Exercising too close to bedtime can actually raise your body temperature and keep this natural process from kicking in.

Find ways to get your workout in at least two hours before you plan to head to bed and get the sleep benefits of exercising without impacting your ability to fall asleep.

4.     I don’t need as much sleep as other people; I am ready to go with only a few hours a night.

While it is true that individual sleep needs vary from person to person, the range that they vary isn’t that wide.  Not getting the sleep you need impacts your mood and memory immediately but it also increases the likelihood that you will be diagnosed with serious health problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Make sure you are getting the sleep you need to safeguard your health, which is generally 7 to 9 hours a night for adults.

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