World Sleep Day: 5 Common Myths About Sleep & How You Can Improve Your Sleep with Therapy

 In Inspiration

It’s World Sleep Day and in our fast-paced modern lives, sleep often takes a backseat amidst the chaos of deadlines, social engagements, and endless to-do lists. Yet, sleep is not just a luxury; it’s a fundamental pillar of our health and well-being. Unfortunately, misinformation and myths surrounding sleep abound, leaving many of us struggling to understand what truly promotes restful nights and rejuvenating slumber.

On the blog today Amy Townsend, a seasoned therapist shares insights and facts to unravel the mysteries of sleep. Through her practice, Therapy with Amy, Amy has encountered misconceptions about sleep that hinder quality rest. In this insightful blog post, Amy sets out to debunk five myths about sleep, shedding light on the truth behind these misconceptions and offering practical strategies for improving sleep quality.

So, if you’ve ever found yourself tossing and turning at night, wondering why sleep seems elusive, this blog will help to separate fact from fiction and set out how therapy can help to achieve a healthier relationship with sleep. Here’s to A better night’s sleep with Amy Townsend as our guide. >>

I’m Amy, a therapist who helps people struggling with stress, anxiety and poor sleep. My mission is to help you to feel calmer, sleep better & reduce overwhelm with compassionate & actionable support, so that you have more energy for the things you value most.

Sleep is essential to both our physical and mental wellbeing. If you struggle with poor sleep, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how much of an effect it can have on your mood, energy, memory and daily functioning.

Although awareness of the importance of sleep has increased, there are still several common myths that persist.

In this blog post, I discuss some of these myths and how therapy can help if you struggle with poor sleep.

 

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Common Sleep Myths

Myth 1: Insomnia is Uncommon

Poor sleep is a common problem with approximately a third of adults experiencing sleep problems at least once a week. Additionally, around 10% of adults meet the criteria for insomnia disorder.

Signs of insomnia include:

  • Finding it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep
  • Waking up too early and being unable to get back to sleep
  • Impaired daytime functioning, such as fatigue, irritability or difficulty concentrating

There are multiple potential causes of insomnia including stress, life changes, environmental factors and anxiety.

Insomnia is more common in older adults but can occur at any age and women are 1.5-2 times more likely to experience insomnia than men. It can be short-term (less than 3 months) or chronic (more than 3 months).

Even if you don’t meet the criteria for an insomnia diagnosis, you may still struggle with poor sleep. There are also several other sleep related disorders, such as sleep apnoea, narcolepsy and restless leg syndrome. In this blog post, I’ll be focusing on insomnia and general poor sleep.

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Myth 2: The Perfect Amount of Sleep is 8 Hours

Both sleep duration and sleep quality are important for healthy sleep.

Most people will need 7-9 hours of sleep and a small number of people will need more or less than this amount. So don’t stress if you don’t get exactly 8 hours sleep.

The amount of sleep you need also changes with age, decreasing as you get older.

But how can you tell if you’re getting adequate sleep? Here are a few initial questions you can ask yourself to reflect on how well you sleep:

  • Do you have enough energy during the day or is fatigue affecting your functioning?
  • Do you keep to a regular wake-time even on weekends?
  • Do you spend most of your time in bed sleeping and do you generally fall asleep within 30 minutes?
  • Do you feel satisfied with your sleep quality?

If you’re not happy with your sleep, it may be worth seeking support from your GP, as it is important to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Therapy with Amy Oxford

Myth 3: Alcohol Helps You Sleep

Although alcohol may help you fall asleep quicker, it severely disrupts your sleep later in the night. Alcohol is a sedative that is associated with fragmented, poor-quality sleep.

It disrupts your sleep cycle and leaves you feeling less refreshed. This is because it reduces the amount of time spent in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Even just a couple of drinks will impact your sleep.

Alcohol can also contribute to depression and anxiety, which can further impact your sleep and emotional wellbeing.

Try to avoid drinking close to bedtime to allow time for the alcohol to metabolise and be processed by your body. It takes an average of 1 hour to process 1 unit of alcohol, but this can vary from person to person, so be aware of the effect alcohol has on you as an individual.

Myth 4: The Brain Is Inactive During Sleep

Your brain does not simply switch-off when you are asleep, but cycles through different stages of sleep approximately every 90 minutes. There are two types of sleep: non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep, which has 3 stages, and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep.

Several important functions occur in the brain and body during sleep including:

  • Clearing neurotoxic waste from the brain
  • Memory consolidation which ensures information is moved from short-term to long-term storage
  • Prepares the brain for learning new things
  • Processing of emotional memories
  • Growth and repair

 

Therapy with Amy Oxford

Myth 5: You Will Always Be A Poor Sleeper

If you’ve struggled to sleep for a while, you may believe that you can’t be fixed.

You might have tried various sleep hygiene tips or hacks, such as pillow sprays and supplements. Unfortunately, these don’t tend to work for longer-term sleep problems.

Instead, evidence-based support can help you make sustainable improvements to your sleep over several weeks. This involves addressing the behaviours & thoughts that maintain poor sleep and creating healthy sleep habits to restore the body’s natural sleep mechanism.

How Therapy Can Help Improve Your Sleep

If you struggle with poor sleep or insomnia, don’t lose hope! There are effective things you can do to sleep better and feel more energised.

I’ve grouped these strategies together to form my 5 Pillars of Sleep. When working with clients 1:1, these are the areas we work on to improve sleep:

  • Knowledge: understanding sleep and debunking myths
  • Habits: healthy habits that support good sleep
  • Mind: managing stress & breaking the cycle of anxiety and poor sleep
  • Body: getting the body into a sleep-ready state
  • Behaviour: creating a strong association between the bed and sleep

I draw on various approaches including Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Hypnotherapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia, which is the treatment of first choice recommended by the NHS.

With compassionate and actionable support, I can help you to reduce overwhelm, sleep better and feel more energised – you don’t need to struggle alone.

To find out more information about 1:1 therapy head to therapy-with-amy.com. Do get in touch if you have any questions or are interested in working together to improve your sleep. You can also find me on Instagram where I share tips and insights about sleep, stress and anxiety.

Therapy with Amy Oxford
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