We need sleep, obviously. It is true that the consequences for not getting enough sleep are not always dramatic or instant. For instance, we will not burst into flames if we get three or four hours of sleep one night instead of seven or eight (and luckily so, otherwise parents of newborns would be on fire all of the time). But the effects are still there, and they are going to catch up with you eventually. If we are not resting properly, then that bleeds into our work life and our home life. It makes driving to and from work incredibly dangerous. To change the way we sleep, we must first debunk some common sleep myths:
Myth #1: I Will Just Make Up For It Later
We have all been there: it us 3 a.m. and you close your eyes and you feel tired, but sleep just is not happening. You are tossing and turning, so much that your partner is getting cranky, because they are trying to sleep too; they are just better at it than you are on this particular night. When the alarm clock goes off a few hours later, we get ready for work with bleary eyes and tired bones, telling ourselves that we can just make up for the lost time later. Scientists even have a name for this, and it is called “sleep debt.” The thing is, sleep debt is not a credit card you can pay off all at once. If you lose an hour of sleep a night for five nights, you would have to get five extra hours of sleep on the weekend. It is not impossible, but it can be hard to do that and still keep a regular sleep schedule. Sleeping until noon on Saturday might feel good in the moment, but then it is hard to go to sleep Saturday night, and then you end up sleeping late Sunday, and then guess what happens Sunday night? Yup, you are too awake to go to sleep, and the cycle starts over again.
To fight back, make your room as comfortable and cozy as possible. Put your cell phone as far away as possible, ideally in another room. If you need something to distract you while you wait for sleep, read a book or magazine. Start unwinding an hour or two before you go to bed with publications like Feed Your Mind. Be sure to focus on positive, happy thoughts rather than sad, negative ones. It is easier said than done, but practice helps.
Myth #2: There Are No Other Problems
The more we fight with our bodies in an attempt to get enough rest, the more uneasy we become. We may also try to convince ourselves that nothing else is wrong, and as soon as we figure out how to get enough sleep, everything will be fine and revert to normal. But that is not always the case; there is often an underlying issue that will still exist even if you are technically getting eight hours of rest a night. A common issue is sleep apnea, which is a sleep disorder that causes your breathing to stop and start multiple times a night. It get can serious if left untreated. If you have sleep apnea, you will need to see a doctor and that doctor may tell you to use a CPAP machine. The mask can feel uncomfortable at first, and you will probably need accessories like a CPAP cleaner, but once you get the hang of it, you will notice a big difference. Breathing better means sleeping better, and it also means you are less likely to snore so much and so loudly that you keep your partner awake.