Are you too stressed out and can’t get enough sleep? Have too much to do and too little time at night to sleep? Have a baby or toddler who needs your constant attention at all hours? Or are you a night owl who likes to stay up late or even party it up all night long?
With all the sleep myths swirling around, it’s hard to know how much sleep you need each night to be as healthy and productive as possible. For instance, is it true that you can’t catch up on sleep on the weekends or that you can get by on less than six hours of sleep each night?
Oprah Winfrey’s sleep doctor Dr. Michael Breus recently revealed some insights into two of the biggest myths about sleep deprivation, as well as a few sleep hacks that actually work, according to a Daily Mail exclusive report.
Myth #1 Busted: You Can’t Make Up a Sleep Debt
We’ve all heard speculation about if it’s possible to “make up” sleep. For instance, if you only sleep a few hours a couple of nights during the week, some think you can make up those hours by sleeping more on the weekend when you have extra free time. Others say this is just a myth, and you can’t make up a “sleep debt.”
Dr. Breus, however, just busted the myth that claims you cannot make up a sleep debt. In fact, you can … however, doing so doesn’t completely make up for the lack of sleep.
“Many people build a sleep debt during the week — a growing deficit between the sleep you need and the actual amount of sleep you get,” he told the Daily Mail. “Research shows that after sleep deprivation, weekend makeup sleep doesn’t completely restore attention, focus, and other measurements of cognitive performance.”
That being said, Dr. Breus recommends reducing sleep debt as much as possible. Why? Because a sleep debt makes it harder to regulate bedtimes and wake-up times. This could lead to sleeping poorly during the week.
“In an ideal world, you should stick to within 60 minutes of your regular bedtime and wake time at the weekends,” Dr. Breus told the Daily Mail. “Focus on getting more of the sleep you need during the week.”
Myth #2 Busted: Sleeping Less Than Six Hours a Day Is OK
This other common myth is just flat out wrong. You should not sleep less than six hours a day. And while sleep requirements vary according to each individual, Dr. Breus is quick to point out that lack of sleep can cause serious health issues, not to mention productivity and performance problems.
“Sleep needs do vary person to person, but nearly everyone suffers deficits to health, well-being and performance when they regularly get less than six hours of sleep a night,” he stated. “Only a very small fraction of the population can function well and maintain good health on a sleep routine of fewer than six hours per night.”
So how many hours should you sleep each night? Ideally, about 7.5 hours, according to Dr. Breus.
“The average sleep cycle is 90 minutes long, and a typical night of sleep includes five full sleep cycles,” he told the Daily Mail. “So, if we apply some simple math, 90 x 5 is 450 minutes — or 7.5 hours.”
Helpful Sleep Hacks You’ll Never Forget
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Dr. Breus also shared some amazing sleep hacks that could help turn your life around, giving you more energy, increased endurance, and even a better attitude.
- “Nap-a-Latte”: If you’re tired during the day and need a quick pick-me-up, put three ice cubes in a cup of coffee, drink it quickly, and then take a 25-minute nap. “The caffeine then blocks the sleep-inducing factors, and the little 25-minute nap will give you enough sleep to feel better,” Dr. Breus said.
- Get Some Sunshine: Get in the sun for 15 minutes every morning to eliminate that “tired feeling.” This helps your body stop producing melatonin, which is known as the “sleep hormone.”
- Count Backwards: If you can’t seem to get to sleep at night, or stay asleep, Dr. Breus suggests you count backwards, starting from the number 300, in increments of threes. “It’s so complicated that you can’t think of anything else, while it’s so boring that you’re out like a light,” he told the Daily Mail.
- Try This Tea: Breus also recommends this banana tea recipe to get good sleep: “Take a chunk of organic banana, peel on, cut it in half, and with the stem and trip removed, brew it in boiling water for four minutes,” he explained. The magnesium in the tea water has a calming effect.