We all know that getting enough sleep at night is vital to our health, but many parents find it difficult putting this knowledge into practice. Misconceptions about this important topic abound. With Daylight Saving Time right around the corner, it’s time to separate sleep myths from facts.
1. Falling asleep very quickly (“before my head hits the pillow”) is a sign of normal sleep.
Falling asleep can actually take anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes. If you’re going to bed and falling asleep almost immediately, you’re likely suffering from sleep deprivation but are not realizing it. Your body is telling you that it needs more sleep than you’ve been getting.
2. You should be sleeping soundly, not waking up during the night.
Waking one to three times during the night is normal. Sleep professionals suggest that a night of healthy sleep is actually comprised of three to five sleep cycles. Between each sleep cycle, you may close to waking up or wake up completely. Waking up at night is only a problem if you consistently have trouble falling back to sleep.
3. It’s OK to sleep less hours during the week because you can make up the time by sleeping in on the weekends or taking long naps.
If your body requires eight full hours of sleep and you average about five or six each weeknight, you’ll be at least 10 hours in sleep debt by Friday. Trying to make up for lost sleep time during the weekend will likely disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythms, which will make it harder for you to main regular sleep schedules in the future.
4. If you’re having trouble sleeping, you can take sleep aids.
Most sleep aids contain antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine. If you suffer from severe allergies that keep you tossing and turning at night, for example, these sleep aids can be helpful. However, using them regularly can inhibit the repairing, restorative sleep process your body requires. Additionally, taking antihistamines at night can leave you feeling groggy during the daytime.
5. Adults can get by with six or less hours of sleep.
The typical adult requires about seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Children and teens need from between eight to 12 hours of sleep per night. Research has shown that a very small portion of adults can thrive on six hours or less of sleep.
Learn more ways to get a healthy night’s sleep and discover more resources about sleep from The Family Institute.