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Sleep Fact and Fiction

Many Americans struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep each night. If you are one of them you may have heard conflicting information about what helps people sleep and what negatively impacts sleep. Read on to learn whether common sleep beliefs are fact or fiction.

Fiction: Alcohol Will Help You Sleep.

People commonly believe that drinking alcohol will help them sleep. The truth is that it helps people fall asleep but it disrupts the quality of sleep throughout the night. So, although you may fall asleep faster you will not end up getting a good night sleep. During a night of sleep your body goes through various stages. You enter rapid eye movement (REM) sleep about 90 minutes after falling asleep. This is when you dream and your body is restored. If you have had alcohol before bed you are likely to have disruptions in your REM sleep which will lead you to feel tired the next day. In addition, people who drink before bed also tend to be more likely to experience:

  • Sleepwalking
  • Talking in their sleep
  • Nightmares
  • Night sweats
  • Increase in sleep apnea

Avoiding alcohol before bed will help you get better quality sleep.

Fact: Caffeine Impacts Ability to Sleep.

Most people already realize that drinking caffeine in the evening will make it difficult to fall asleep. Caffeine is commonly consumed in coffee to help wake people up in the morning. According to the National Sleep Foundation it takes 6 hours for half of the caffeine to be eliminated from your body. They also report that 43% of Americans use caffeine during the day to combat daytime sleepiness. However, you may not want to have that afternoon cup of coffee if you are aiming to fall asleep at bedtime. Keep in mind that caffeine is also present in:

  • Tea
  • Soda
  • Chocolate

Avoiding all sources of caffeine a few hours before bedtime will help you fall asleep. In addition, tobacco and large meals in the evening are known to impact sleep and should be avoided.

Fiction: Exercising Before Bed Will Tire Me Out.

It is wise to exercise at some point during the day for your health. However, it is not recommended you exercise right before bedtime. Many people believe that exercising will make them tired so they can fall asleep. This is not true. Exercising will increase your heart rate, raise your core temperature and stimulate the release of adrenaline. Often people find they can’t settle down enough to sleep right after exercise. Therefore consider exercising earlier in the day so you can fall asleep at night.

Fact: Medications Can Disrupt Sleep.

If you are struggling to sleep and have already avoided alcohol and caffeine before bedtime consider taking a closer look at your medications. Evaluate both prescription and over-the-counter medications. Sleep disruption may be a side effect. Often an alternative medication can be used instead without the troubling side effect. Talk to your doctor to find out if you can change prescriptions so you can sleep better.

Fiction: My Mattress Will Last 20 Years.

To allow yourself the best chance of getting a restful sleep you should consider replace your mattress if it is old. The recommendation is to replace your mattress every 7 years so you shouldn’t expect the mattress you bought 20 years ago is still useful. Reasons mattresses need to be replaced more frequently than every two decades include:

  • Noticeable wear, tear and stains become apparent after years of use.
  • Pressure points develop causing you to wake up stiff and achy because your body is not properly supported any more.
  • Buildup of dust mites over time leads to an allergic response to your mattress.

If you are sleeping on an old mattress consider purchasing a new one. Contact us so we can help you find the mattress that will allow you to achieve a restful sleep.