5 sleep myths a sleep expert wants you to stop believing

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Sleep coach Felicia Ovin took to the Stylist Live LUXE stage to debunk the sleep myths that continue to get in the way of us getting a good night’s rest. 

If there’s one topic that’s sure to start a conversation, it’s sleep.

From podcasts and books to courses and clinics, has grown exponentially in the last few years, as more and more of us search for the solution to our sleepless nights.

With so much information flying around, it can feel overwhelming (even stressful) to sort through all the facts, which isn’t conducive to achieving restful sleep. And that’s where sleep coach Felicia Ovin comes in.

Talking at Stylist Live LUXE stage on Saturday (9 November), Ovin took us through the sleep myths she wants us to stop believing.

1. Less than 1% of people can survive on six hours of sleep

“I don’t want to scare you, but when we start sleeping less than seven hours a night, we can start looking at the brain and see the impairments at a physiological level,” Ovin explains. “It affects our cognition, it affects our attention span in our day-to-day life, and there is a linear with the amount of sleep that we get and how long we live. Shorter sleep leads to a shorter life.”

She continues: “Most of us need between seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Children need more, but adults need between seven to nine hours. That’s just the way it is.

“You always meet those people that say ‘I manage fine on six hours’ – there’s less than 1% of the population that can do well and live healthily on six hours of sleep. It might not be that you’re noticing it, but it’s having an effect on our bodies.”

Felicia Ovin on stage at Stylist Live LUXE.
Felicia Ovin on stage at Stylist Live LUXE.

2. You can’t catch up on sleep

“We can’t catch up on sleep – it’s virtually impossible,” Ovin says. “We can do it on a next day basis, but for every one hour of sleep lost a night, we need about four days of consistent good sleep to catch up on sleep, and to restore those levels.”

3. Alcohol doesn’t help you sleep better

“A lot of us use wine or alcohol as a sedative to help us sleep, and I want to differentiate between sedatives and sleep – they’re not the same thing,” she explains. “Alcohol will help us fall asleep, but it’s actually not helping us fall asleep naturally. We’re essentially disrupting the sleep cycle and dropping down to a deeper state of sleep too soon in the night, and not letting ourselves go through the stages.

“When we disrupt that sleep cycle, we shorten the amount of sleep cycles we get in a night, we’re more prone to waking up in the middle of the night because we’ve pushed forward the amount of sleep that we’re getting in the night, and we’re not getting the same depth of sleep.”

She continues: “The biggest effect alcohol has is on our REM sleep, which is our rapid eye movement – a lot of us associate it with our dream state – and it’s essential that we get that part of our sleep during the night.”

4. Women actually need more sleep than men

“Not only do we need at least seven hours of sleep, we probably need a little bit more,” Ovin says. “The reason for that – science isn’t completely clear on why yet – but some of the initial preliminary findings are showing that it’s because of our hormone levels.”

5. Power naps can actually make sleep deprivation worse

“There’s a reason for napping during the day if you have the ability to, but there’s a fine line,” she explains. “If you’re a healthy sleeper, napping is okay, but if you’re sleep deprived, what napping does is that it takes away from the sleep you could be getting at night – so it offsets the quality sleep you could be getting at night by taking naps during the day.”

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Images: Bronac McNeill

If you have would like to discuss your sleep concerns with Felicia, please submit a consultation request on https://www.learningtosleep.co.uk/book-a-sleep-coach. Add the code STYLIST in the Message box to receive a 50% discount on the call (from £24.90 to £12.45).

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