If you’ve had a bad night’s sleep, you may see it in your face the next morning. But chances are the rest of your body—including your brain—is paying for it too. No matter who you are, sleep is essential for good health. It can help you make memories and good decisions, and it can help prevent illness. If you’re not sure you believe in the benefits of a good night’s sleep, these facts just might change your mind.
MYTH: I do fine on just a few hours of sleep.
FACT: Adults typically need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Sleeping less can affect your mood, memory, energy level and productivity.
A chronic lack of sleep is also linked to serious health conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, depression and heart disease. And once you have these problems, getting too little sleep can make it harder to manage them.
MYTH: If I’m not sleeping enough during the week, it’s OK to catch up on the weekend.
FACT: While sleeping in on a weekend may seem like a sound strategy, keeping a regular bedtime and waking schedule—and sticking with it as much as possible—is a better plan.
Changes in your sleep schedule, even if you’re supposedly catching up, can interfere with your sleep cycle, which may mean more lost sleep and fatigue in the long run.
MYTH: Exercising before bed will help me sleep.
FACT: Physical activity can be a sleep aid—but only if you time it right.
Exercising close to bedtime can invigorate you and make getting to sleep more difficult. If you normally work out at night, try switching to a morning routine. If you have to wait until later in the day, try not to exercise for at least three hours before you hit the sheets.
Get more shut-eye If you’re having trouble drifting off, simple changes may help. Try these:
Relax before bed with a good book or a warm bath.
Avoid naps, particularly after 3 p.m. If you do nap, keep it short—limit it to no more than 20 minutes.
Don’t eat a large meal or drink too many fluids close to bedtime.
Source: National Institutes of Health