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When we’re young our parents told us things that we just believed without a doubt. Yet as adults we’ve begun to realise that perhaps not everything they told us was 100% true. Here are some of the sleeping myths we’ve grown up believing that are actually completely untrue:

1: Sleeping Tablets Give a Good Night’s Sleep

When we’re struggling to get sleep at night it can be tempting to just take a pill that sends us off to sleep. However, using a sleeping pill is only likely to get you 25 minutes extra sleep on average. True, you will get to sleep quicker than you might without the pill, but you’ll get less overall quality sleep and might impact your health if used too often.

2: Cheese Will Give You Nightmares

Cheese will, in fact, not give you nightmares or vivid dreams. This is a complete myth with no scientific basis. Some studies have found that those with a healthier diet might have better dreams than those who binge eat late at night though.

10 Things You Thought Were True About Sleep

3: A Hot Bath Before Bed Helps You Sleep

Actually, you should have a hot bath around an hour before bed to get the benefits of an easier sleep. This is because a bath will raise your core temperature and you need this to drop to get off to sleep.

4: Alcohol Will Help You Sleep

True, alcohol will get some people to sleep quicker, but you will have less overall REM sleep over the night due to the dehydration that alcohol causes. Once the alcohol starts to wear off in your body you’ll find yourself waking up a lot easier.

5: Teenagers Are Just Lazy

We often give teenagers a hard time for sleeping a lot, but they need this sleep! Puberty causes a lot of hormonal changes in the body and this includes wanting to go to sleep later and getting up later.

6: Good Sleep Needs to be Unbroken

Some believe that sleep is better undertaken in two four hour blocks rather than eight hours altogether – this is how our ancestors did it. However, work and social commitments mean we tend to sleep in one large block.

7: Counting Sheep Makes You Sleep

Having trouble drifting off? Many will tell you to count sheep. Yet counting sheep can cause you to take longer to get to sleep as you’re concentrating too much. Instead you should try to picture a serene holiday destination in your head that feels pleasant. This will make you relax and get to sleep easier.

8: You Don’t Dream

Just because you don’t remember them, doesn’t mean you don’t dream at night. In fact, everyone has as many as 4-6 dreams at night. As the night progresses our dreams will get longer and if you wake during a REM dream you’ll be more likely to recall it.

9: You Need 8 Hours of Sleep a Night

You might need 8 hours of sleep a night or you might need only 6 hours – it really depends on the person. What is far more important is that the amount of sleep you get is of a good quality instead.

10: You Can Make Up Lost Sleep

If you sleep less one night, many think that you can simply make up for it at the weekend. However, this isn’t true, once sleep is missed it’s gone forever. Plus, sleeping altered sleeping patterns at the weekend can be bad for your sleep pattern. Going to bed late on a Friday and getting up later the next day will make it harder for you to sleep on the Sunday night before work.  

What is true though is that the quality of your mattress will have a major bearing on your sleep pattern. If your mattress is over eight years old, or starting to feel uncomfortable, it’s worth checking it out. It might just be time for a new one.

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