Sleep Myths Busted: The Real Causes of Insomnia and How to Manage
Having trouble falling asleep? Difficulty staying asleep? Are your sleep concerns causing you distress? Here are 3 common myths about sleep that often contribute to insomnia.
Myth #1: My sleep must be uninterrupted in order for me to be rested and able to function the next day.
Our sleep occurs in cycles and we tend to experience 4-5 cycles each night. It’s common to wake up a few times during the night, especially at the end of a sleep cycle. These awakenings can be brief and you may not even be aware of them.
Sometimes when we wake up in the middle of the night, we get frustrated and worry about how our interruptions will affect us the next day. Worrying and catastrophising about waking up throughout the night often then prevents us from relaxing and getting back to sleep.
Tip: Acknowledge that it’s common to wake up throughout the night, to reduce your frustration when you do wake up. The less frustrated you are, the easier it will be to fall back asleep.
Myth #2: I need to nap to get myself through the day.
While you may feel recharged right after a nap, napping can affect your ability to fall asleep at night. Napping affects our sleep drive – our appetite for sleep. Our sleep drive is at its lowest when we wake up, and increases throughout the day so that we can fall asleep at night. Napping (especially in the afternoon or closer to bed time), reduces our sleep drive and makes it harder to fall asleep at night. Often when we have trouble falling asleep at night, we don’t feel well-rested the next day, and feel the need to nap again, creating an unhelpful cycle.
Tip: Resist the urge to nap, especially toward the end of the day, to maximise your sleep drive at bedtime!
Myth #3: Watching TV or viewing my smartphone or other device helps me to fall asleep.
While watching TV, viewing your phone or other screen device may be relaxing, the light emitted from screens actually wakes you up, as opposed to making you sleepy. When we see light, our body suppresses melatonin – a natural sleep hormone that our bodies release in darkness to help us feel sleepy. Therefore, exposure to light close to bedtime may prevent you from feeling sleepy.
Tip: Limit your exposure to light and screen time around bedtime to stimulate the release of melatonin and help you get to sleep.
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