Sleep Fact or Sleep Fiction?

The sleep industry is rife with advice on helping you achieve just the right amount and quality of sleep. We hear more than our fair share of these so-called ‘Sleep-Truths’ here at Dormeo so how do you separate the Sleep-Truth from the Sleep-Fiction? Dormeo investigates…

“I have a bad back so I need a firm mattress”.

This is one we hear time and time again at Dormeo UK. We are not medically trained of course, and for some this will undoubtedly be the case (if in doubt, consult a medical practitioner) but it’s certainly not the case that one necessarily leads to the other.

The issue here isn’t generally one of ‘firm’ or ‘soft’ but one of ‘support’. The ideal mattress will provide support in the four crucial areas shown below:

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Clearly this isn’t a ‘one mattress suits all’ situation however, and which type of mattress provides the best support varies widely between people.

To illustrate the point, imagine someone with a very large build lying on a very soft mattress. Support will be severely lacking. In fact they are likely to sink so far into the mattress that if they don’t already have a bad back, they are likely to start developing one.  Similarly, imagine someone very slight lying on a very firm mattress. If they are not heavy enough for the mattress to ‘give’ at all, the result will again, be an achey back.

It’s for this reason that we recommend researching carefully which mattress to go for and why we at Dormeo offer our 60 Night Comfort Guarantee. Our memory foam mattresses are designed to perfectly contour and cradle your body and we grade all our mattresses ‘Soft’, ‘Medium’ or ‘Firm’ to help you make the right choice.

“Eating cheese at bedtime will give you nightmares.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, very little research has actually been carried out on this subject. The only study we could find was actually carried out by none other than The British Cheese Board who concluded that eating cheese before bed may actually aid restful sleep. Their sample size was small – only 200 participants – but not a single one reported having a nightmare after eating cheese before bed.

On further investigation, the idea that eating milk-based cheese before bed could actually help you sleep appears to have some basis in fact. Milk contains tryptophan – an amino acid that causes sleepiness and which has been found to be helpful in reducing stress levels. Perhaps this is the science behind another traditional ‘Sleep-Truth’ – that of drinking a glass of warm milk before bed.

“Exercising at night will help you sleep”.

There is plenty of evidence out there that people who exercise regularly often sleep better. The reasons behind this vary depending on the study you are reading, but the general feeling seems to be that exercising right before bedtime will actually disturb your sleep rather than aid it. Exercise will elevate your core temperature which, as we discovered in our recent blog post, Hot Days Cool Nights, makes falling asleep and staying asleep much harder.

On the other hand, exercise in the early-morning light has the added benefit of ‘resetting’ your circadian clock which will help you to sleep better that night.

“Waking up during the night means you’ll be tired all day”. 

For most people, this is pure fiction. For many, night waking is part of our natural sleep cycle. Many animals sleep this way and there is a ton of evidence to support the belief that sleeping through the night is actually a purely modern invention.

Historical evidence would suggest that 200 hundred years ago or so it was the norm for our ancestors to sleep for two, 3-4 hour periods per night, with a break in the middle where they were up and about. Rather like a siesta in reverse.

“You need prescription drugs if you suffer from insomnia”.

You only need read our recent interview with The Sleep Guru to know that this is pure fiction. Sleep medications are often designed for short-term sleep issues rather than longer-term conditions like chronic insomnia and often come with a whole host of unpleasant side-effects such as constipation, dizziness, dry mouth, headache and heartburn.

“Counting sheep can help you fall asleep”.

Despite being a traditional solution to sleeplessness, the thinking these days is that this may actually worsen the problem. The repetitive nature of counting sheep may actually make it more likely that your brain will latch on to far more distracting thoughts, thereby keeping you awake.

Experts also now advise that if you’ve been trying to fall asleep for 15-20 minutes unsuccessfully, it’s time to get out of bed and do something relaxing (without turning all the lights on!) before trying again.

What Sleep Facts / Fictions / Old Wives Tales did you grow up with or live by now? Tell us in the comments box below!

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