If you thought drinking too much coffee or staying up too late are the biggest mistakes you’re making in terms of getting a good night’s sleep, there might be something else to think about.
There are most likely plenty of us that find ourselves completely exhausted at the end of the day, yet are somehow unable to fall asleep and end up staring at the ceiling completely frustrated.
Luckily international sleep expert – and sleep doctor to Oprah Winfrey herself – Dr Michael Breus has revealed to Be that often the biggest sleep mistake people make is actually going to bed too early.
“It’s actually the opposite of what you might think and it sounds counterintuitive,” Dr Breus, who recently designed a luxury bed for Princess Cruises, tells Be.
Well he’s got our attention, especially considering the impact sleep deprivation can have on basically every area of your life – from immune function, reaction time, moodiness, perception, comprehension and decision making.
Quite often people will feel tired early in the evening and think that by going to bed early they will be able to catch up on all their sleep. Sadly this rarely works, according to Dr Breus.
“What invariably happens is they get into bed and they are physically exhausted and their brain won’t turn off. They sit and stare at the ceiling for 2-3 hours,” he tells us.
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“What people don’t realise is there are two systems for sleep, sleep drive which makes you fall asleep and your circadian rhythm - the thing that tells your body when it’s time to sleep."
“Just because you have a lot of drive doesn’t mean your rhythm is there yet. There is a balance that has to be achieved, so the biggest problem is going to bed too early and it just becomes frustrating.”
Everyone has a different sleep need with some people feeling rested after just six or seven hours, while others need a solid eight or nine to wake up well.
So in order to make sure you get enough or the right kind of sleep, Dr Breus suggests if you ever feel the need to go to be earlier than normal, try throwing in a little bit of physical activity.
“Stay away from caffeine because that lasts for hours, instead maybe just duck outside, go for a walk to the letter box, just something to give yourself a little activity to carry you to your bedtime then you’ll be exhausted, it will be the right time and you’ll fall asleep much easier,” he says.