When it comes to sleep, people don’t often give it much thought. Sure, most of us try to go to bed at a reasonable hour, and we’ve pretty much all heard that eight hours is best, but we don’t give too much thought to other habits or situations that may affect our ability to sleep. In fact, in many cases, we’re misinformed about what is helping (or hurting) our chances of that elusive good night’s sleep. If you’re interested in doing the best for your health and your sleep, consider these sleep myths- and what you should be doing instead.
Does Alcohol Help Sleep?
While it’s true that alcohol can help put you to sleep, downing a glass of wine or two before bed is not as beneficial as you might expect. When it comes to sleep, quality is just as important than quantity, if not more so. Alcohol, which happens to be a key ingredient in sleep aids, has a nasty side effect in that it keeps your body from producing melatonin. Melatonin is necessary for a good night’s sleep. There are other sleep aids that work against you as well. Alcohol hampers REM cycles and dreaming, ultimately leading to restless sleep.
What about Caffeine?
It’s common knowledge that caffeine can help you wake up in the morning and keep you moving throughout the day. However, too much caffeine at the wrong time can make getting to bed difficult. It takes the body several hours to burn off the effects of caffeine, which means even taking it in the afternoon (2-3 pm) can cause problems. If you absolutely have to have your caffeine fix, small doses throughout the day are better than large doses all at once- and still, try to refrain from drinking anywhere near bedtime. This advice goes for both caffeine and coffee.