Everyone has ideas on how to get a good night’s sleep – you can safely ignore these ones!
Fake news! When it comes to advice on how to get your best sleep, some of what we’ve read online has us scratching our heads in disbelief. Though perhaps well-intentioned, some advice simply doesn’t pass the tried-and-true common-sense test. We asked some experts for the worst advice they’ve heard – tips and tricks that should be ignored. These nuggets definitely qualify for the bad sleep advice hall of fame.
Just say no to bad sleep advice!
- Dispose of excess energy by exercising right before bedtime – While there might be some twisted logic to this, it doesn’t hold true. “Exercise is great at some point in the evening, and it can help you sleep better,” says Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert with Maple Holistics in Farmingdale, NJ. “But just like eating supper, it should be done in a timely manner. By the time you get to bed, you should already be past the post-exercise rush and ready for genuine well-deserved rest.” In other words, it’s time to wind down, not up.
- Trouble sleeping? Take a pill – It might be tempting to reach for a sleeping pill to help you get the rest you need. It’s a quick and easy solution, right? But it’s not a good idea, according to Backe. For several nights, even consecutive ones, pills might be an option, but as a part of your ongoing sleep routine? Nope. It’s not a good way to go about getting sleep. There are long-term issues around dependency and many users experience morning grogginess, which can impair cognitive skills, affect motor skills and your ability to drive.
- Get to bed early for a good night’s sleep – Some experts say you should head to be early to get adequate rest, but if that’s contrary to what your body is comfortable with, then skip it. Set a bedtime that allows you to fit in enough hours of sleep. “To be clear, this one is probably true sometimes,” says Backe. Getting to bed early can indeed be very beneficial when you feel tired. What you want to avoid is those times when you’re simply laying in bed wide awake. The key is don’t force something that’s not there. Try to stick to pre-determined bedtime.
- Have a nightcap – Sipping an alcoholic drink before bed might sound like it makes sense, since it acts as a tension reliever and is mildly sedating. But it’s not going to work. Though you might fall asleep quicker, its effects continue into the night and disrupt your sleep. Alcohol may cause your sleep to be lighter and increase chances of interruptions during the night. Not to mention, alcohol is very dehydrating and you’ll wake up not feeling not so ready to seize the day.
- Must get X hours of sleep – “One of the myths I often hear is that there is a right sleep pattern and a wrong one,” says Dr. Irina Zhdanova, a sleep and circadian clock expert, and CEO of ClockCoach. “This includes ideas on how many hours of sleep a person needs, how much time it should take to fall asleep, or with the advent of wearable sleep gadgets, how much deep or light sleep is required.” In reality, sleep needs are highly individualized and dependent on multiple factors. Every approach to sleep requires personalization. “The best comparison I provide is with food intake,” she adds. The same diet might keep one person slim, while causing another to be obese. A reasonable number of hours to sleep in a 24-hour period will never be the same for two individuals.
- Watch TV until you fall asleep – Nodding off to Jimmy Fallon or your favorite sitcom rerun may seem comforting, but it actually disrupts your sleep patterns, according to Karen Azeez, certified health coach, owner Wellbeings with Karen Azeez and author of the upcoming book, The Kindfulness Solution: Transforming Your Body and lLife through Greater Awareness and Self-Compassion. Even after you turn off your TV, all those power lights are like little lasers burning through your eyelids, keeping your room from being sufficiently dark. Follow the golden rule. Leave the TV in another room and keep the bedroom for sleep and sex only.
- Take a cold shower – The rationale behind this is that you’ll bring down your body temperature, which is helpful for sleeping. Not only is it unpleasant, unless you are in the midst of steamy summer heatwave, it will shock your system into alertness. A better option is a warm bath. It’s soothing and more relaxing than a chilly blast. When it comes to cool, apply that to the temperature of your bedroom. The sweet spot , according to the Better Sleep Council, is 65 degrees.
- Sleep with a slice of wedding cake under your pillow – Though the practice has been touted as a means for single women to dream about their future husbands, it’s just silly for many reasons. You can’t predetermine the content of your dreams and, more importantly, who wants a sticky, messy pillow? Eat your cake as an afternoon snack instead.
- Go naked in bed – Just 17% of Americans head to bed in their birthday suits. If you’re in that group, you’ll be happy in your nakedness and sleep well. If that’s not your thing, you’re unlikely to feel good foregoing your jammies. Stick to what’s comfortable for you.