Can you catch up on lost sleep? Will a cup of warm milk send you to la-la land? Are naps only for babies? Brush up on your shut-eye smarts below.
1. Warm baths help.
True. The warm water raises your core body temperature, and as you cool down the drop in temperature puts your brain in sleep mode. (And yes, a shower works too.) Try it an hour before bedtime for the best results.
2. Sleeping in makes up for hours lost.
False. You may temporarily feel more rested, but chronic sleep deprivation and its detrimental effects on health can’t be reversed by catching a few extra hours of sleep on Sunday. Aim to get seven to nine hours every night for optimal health and mood benefits. To ensure you get the best night’s sleep, keep your space tidy, cool, and as dark as possible. And, of course, be sure your bedding and pjs are super-soft and sweet smelling by laundering them with fabric softener and a scent-booster in a luxurious, layered scent you find soothing.
3. Naps are for babies.
False. They won’t make up for chronic sleep deficits, but research shows that a 20- or 30-minute siesta can improve alertness, mood, and performance.
4. Counting sheep is a crock.
False. Focusing on a mundane task like counting helps block out mental distractions that may be keeping you awake. Try counting backwards by threes. It takes more focus than counting up, and it’s so boring that you’re likely to fall asleep in no time.
6. Warm milk is a natural narcotic.
False. Moo juice offers tryptophan, an amino acid that’s touted as a natural sleep aid. But scientists agree that there isn’t enough of it in cold or heated milk to cause drowsiness—any benefits are more likely derived from the comforting feeling of a warm
5. Beauty sleep is real.
True. When you sleep, the body can focus more on cell repair (skin included) as opposed to other “daytime” functions, such as digesting that hamburger you ate for lunch. And who doesn’t look better after a full night’s sleep? A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that well-rested individuals were rated as more attractive than those who skimped on sleep.
7. Aromatherapy can encourage ZZZs.
True. Studies have shown that certain scents, such as lavender, can promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. An easy way to bring the scent to bed: laundering your sheets with lavender-scented fabric softener sheets.