3 Common sleep myths to forget about in quarantine

We’ve all heard that cheese before bed gives you nightmares, alcohol can help you get a better night’s rest, and that we need eight hours of sleep each night, but is this true? In some cases, these claims are little more than old wives’ tales and by following some, you could actually be disrupting your sleep.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the science behind some of the most common sleep myths, so we can put them to bed once and for all.


It’s perhaps one of the most common sleep myths around, and many people assume that eating cheese before bed can give you a bad night’s rest. But, if you find yourself waking up from dreams of monsters and ghouls, it’s probably down to something other than the full camembert you ate before heading to bed.

This myth was debunked back in 2005, when the British Cheese Board conducted a study to find out if cheese before bed can really cause nightmares. They gave 200 participants 20g of different types of cheese before bed for a period of a week. Overall, 72% of them reported sleeping well each night and, of the 67% who said they could remember their dreams, none of them reported having any nightmares.

Interestingly, this myth does have some merit. The same study found that, although eating cheese didn’t cause bad dreams, there was a correlation between the types of cheese people ate and the content of their dreams. The results showed that:

  • 85% of female participants who ate Stilton reported unusual (but not scary) dreams,
  • 65% of participants who ate Cheddar had dreams about celebrities,
  • Over 65% of participants who ate Red Leicester reported dreaming about their old school days,
  • 100% of female participants who ate British Brie said that they had relaxing dreams, but male participants eating the same cheese reported cryptic dreams,
  • Around 67% of participants who ate Lancashire cheese said they had dreams about work,
  • And over 50% of participants who ate Cheshire cheese said they didn’t dream at all.

While the claim that eating cheese before bed seems to be a myth, there does seem to be a correlation between types of cheese and the content of dreams. None of them seem to be particularly bad, though. So, if you’re experiencing scary dreams, it’s probably down to something other than your love of cheese.


You’ve probably heard that adults need eight hours of sleep each night to avoid the risk of over or under sleeping. But, is this true?

Research published by the Nature and Science of Sleep concluded that there is no correct number of hours you should sleep for each night, and that the optimum number of hours can vary depending on factors such as your age, health, and lifestyle. For example, high performance athletes should get more hours of sleep each night to account for their energy usage and focus during the day. Therefore, the amount of sleep you should be getting each night depends entirely on who you are. To find out how much sleep you need based on your age, take a look at our handy chart below:

As a general guide, healthy adults should aim to get 7–10 hours of sleep each night. This means, if you find yourself sleeping in for a bit or waking up a little early, you don’t need to worry about getting your full eight hours. Experiment a bit with your sleep times and track how alert you feel each day to find the optimal sleep time for you.


Some people say that drinking acohol before bed can help you sleep and, although this might feel like the case, a little tipple on a night could actually be giving you a worse quality of sleep. Research conducted by the Sleep Disorders and Research Centre of the Henry Ford Hospital found that, although alcohol helped participants fall asleep quicker, it resulted in lighter sleep and more disruption during the later stages of sleep. This, combined with more frequent toilet trips throughout the night, could cause significant disruption to your rest, and you’ll probably wake up feeling tired in the morning.

So, if you’re thinking of having a glass of wine tonight to help you sleep, you might want to try a cup of warm milk instead.

Sharing a bed is still Popular

Two years after we last asked the question ‘Do you sleep in the same bed as your partner?’ as part of our monthly poll series, it was reassuring to see that the statistics had barely changed – and yes we do still enjoy sharing the bed with our partner!

Just over half (51%) still snuggle up to each other in bed (47% in Feb 2015). Good news as sleeping with your partner can actually benefit your health and increase the odds of your having a longer lifespan. This is because people tend to feel more secure and safe when in a relationship, decreasing the levels of stress hormones and increasing oxytocin, the love hormone – leading to less interrupted sleep.

However bear in mind that around 50% of sleep disturbance is caused by sharing a bed with your partner. If you find your sleep is disrupted on a regular basis by a snoring partner, a duvet hogger and a bed companion who frequently tosses and turns it may be worth considering a larger bed or even separate bedrooms.

How To Avoid Too Many Sleepless Nights This Christmas

At Christmas it can be extremely hard trying to maintain a good sleep routine.

If we’re not socialising and going to parties, we’re over indulging on food and drink or worrying about presents and what time the turkey needs to go in the oven!

Here’s our top tips to stay on top of your sleep and make it through the festive season awake and alert.

1. Stick to Routine
Try as much as possible to keep regular sleeping hours – we know it can be hard when you’re staying up late for Santa, but going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time, all the time, will programme your body to sleep better. Also, regular, moderate exercise such as swimming or walking can help relieve the day’s stresses and strains. But not too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake. A good brisk walk is ideal to stop you feeling sluggish after a hefty Christmas dinner!

2. Create a Restful Environment
Keep the Christmas decorations to the other parts of your home – your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep and it should be neither too hot, nor too cold; and as quiet and dark as possible.
It might also be handy to keep some ear plugs handy to block out the sound of your partner’s alcohol or feast-induced snoring!

3. A Comfy Bed
Make sure your bed is comfortable.  It’s difficult to get deep, restful sleep on one that’s too soft, too hard, too small or too old.  It should be as big as possible so avoid partner disturbance. Perhaps a new bed should be on your Christmas present list!

4. Don’t Over-Indulge
Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, can play havoc with sleep patterns.  Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but will interrupt your sleep later on in the night. It is hard in the party period but try to swap to water a couple of hours before bedtime.

5. Make Time for ‘Me’ Time
Try to relax and insist on some ‘me time’ before going to bed.  Have a warm bath, listen to some quiet music or do some yoga – these all help to relax both the mind and body.
It’s also important to resolve arguments before bed. Ongoing conflicts are not conducive to putting you in the right frame of mind for sleep!

Facebook Is Ruining Our Sleep

In his groundbreaking book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman wrote, “Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.”

He’s referring to two famous dystopian novels here: George Orwell’s 1984, in which a totalitarian figurehead called Big Brother, monitors people’s lives, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, which describes a less sinister future in which there is no need for tyranny because all forms of entertainment pacify and ruin humanity.

In modern society we never have a reason to be bored. Fueled by BuzzFeed headlines and 24-hour news channels, it appears Huxley’s version of the future is here. And while society inhales the nugatory and negligible, the importance of sleep drowns in this sea of irrelevance.

How often do you scan Facebook or Twitter within one hour of bedtime? People have, as Postman pointed out, an infinite appetite for distraction. That hunger for diversion can negatively impact our lives if we let it get out of hand. In my opinion, it’s not just our sleep that is suffering – our lives are suffering. When we’re not fully rested, we are mediocre versions of our best selves.

For those who wish to discover their highest potential with one change, I recommend the following course of action: stop amusing your sleep to death. If you want to know how to sleep better, give this healthy sleep habit a try: avoid any and all screens within one hour of bedtime. That means no smartphone, tablet or TV. You shouldn’t even have a TV in your bedroom because, like all the devices mentioned, it emits daytime spectrum blue light. This type of light mimics sunlight and tells your body it’s daytime so the brain should stop producing melatonin, a hormone that is essential for sleep. Although Huxley’s version of the future might be coming true, I am reminded of how Big Brother watched people in their homes – through telescreens.

What should you do instead of screen time? Read stories from real books (not kindles, etc.). You might start with 1984 or Brave New World. Most experts don’t recommend reading self-help, business books or any non-fiction right before bed because that type of literature often makes you think of how to apply the leanings to your own life – a distraction that can keep you awake. Instead, grab a work of fiction. Fiction novels often quiet the part of your brain that criticizes.

Are you amusing your sleep to death by gobbling up blue light from your smartphone or TV before bedtime? Eliminating screen time within one hour of bed can put you on the path to healthier sleep and a future in which you feel fully rested – and that sounds like a happy ending to me.

The 3 best habits for healthy, restful sleep

1. Reserve your bed for sleeping

If you’re tempted to crawl into bed with your laptop to punch out a few last work emails, don’t..

For those of us who struggle with sleep, it can be helpful to set aside the bed as a place of rest. If we get used to doing work or other activities in or around bed, it could make it harder to fall asleep there.

This is where smartphones and tablets can become a problem. “When people can’t sleep, what do they do? They pull out their phones and start scrolling. But that’s in direct conflict with stimulus control, which says you reserve the bed for sleeping.”

2. Clear away distractions

Another component of good sleep hygiene is preparing for sleep by decreasing our exposure to stimulating content, like TV, social media, and the news, as we get closer to bedtime. Some experts suggest avoiding devices for a couple of hours before bed.

When you’re going to bed, you want to do things that are relaxing, like reading a book. You want to gradually transition into sleep; you don’t want your mind to be stimulated.

3. If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and do something else

Tossing and turning? The best solution might be the one you’d think of last — get out of bed.

If you can’t sleep, good sleep hygiene suggests that you get up, get out of bed, and do something else, something relaxing, like going and reading a book.

When we’re struggling to sleep, trying to force our brains to shut down only causes the mind to work harder and get frustrated. If you’re having a hard time powering down, then, try distracting yourself with an easy, relaxing task. You might be surprised to discover how quickly your eyelids start to feel heavy.

Sleeping Problems

Most people need between five to nine hours sleep a night to function. Generally, eight hours is seen as the ideal, but everyone’s different.

Sleeping problems or sleeplessness, difficulty sleeping or getting to sleep, is often referred to as insomnia.

clockOften stress and anxiety  can lead to sleeping problems. As the stressful situation passes, a more regular sleep pattern should return.

Irregular sleep patterns can also be related to depression.

If you’ve been feeling down for a couple of weeks and have been unable to sleep speak to your GP.

Factors that can disrupt sleep include:

  • asthma and breathing disorders
  • pregnancy – during the third trimester of pregnancy sleep is usually dramatically reduced
  • stimulants in the blood stream like caffeine and nicotine
  • some prescribed and over the counter drugs
  • some forms of the contraceptive pill
  • decongestants and pain and cold relievers
  • jet lag.

Impact of poor sleep

Problems getting to sleep, waking early or not being able to sleep throughout the night can affect your general wellbeing.

Effects of insomnia include:

  • decreased concentration levels
  • decreased energy levels
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty remembering things.

How to improve your sleep quality

Try to set routines. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning.

This helps your body clock get into rhythm and makes sleeping feel more natural. Avoid sleeping during the day, because it makes it harder to fall asleep at night.

Process the day’s thoughts and feelings and then let go of them. If it helps, write things down or talk about them with someone you trust.

Learning meditation is a very useful tool for stilling the mind and relaxing the body. It can be a very effective way to release tension and de-stress.

What you can do to manage insomnia

  • Implement routine: Try to go to bed and wake at the same time daily.
  • Limit the bed to sleeping: Try not to study, watch TV, read or eat in bed
  • Exercise: Do some exercise during the day to induce tiredness.
  • Relax before bed: Have a warm bath, listen to soothing music, use deep breathing techniques, yoga, tai chi etc.
  • Avoid naps: Napping during the day may minimise your ability to sleep at night.
  • Minimise anxiety: Try not to tackle anything that may cause stress & anxiety just before bed time, or write down any worries you may have.
  • Avoid stimulants: Avoid having caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, cola) or cigarettes before bed. [NB: alcohol may make you drowsy but can disrupt sleeping patterns.]
  • Warm and soothing drinks: Warm chamomile or peppermint tea or a milk-based drink may help you sleep.
  • Lavender: Lavender is considered a natural sedative, so sprinkling some oil on your pillow may assist.
  • Natural Remedies: Valerian is considered a non-addictive, sleep-inducing herb that also assists in relieving stress and anxiety and is available at supermarkets or pharmacies. St John’s Wort is another natural product which is used to treat anxiety, stress & insomnia, but is unfortunately not available over the counter in Ireland.
  • Sleep in a well ventilated room, that’s neither too hot nor cold
  • Avoid excessive exercise just before going to bed
  • Avoid eating a heavy meal late in the evening
  • Play soft gentle music. The heart actually follows the beat of the music so high-energy dance music revs you up, while slower more peaceful music helps you unwind.

If none of these help, do consult your doctor.

Circadian rhythms

Circadian rhythms are daily cycles based on a 24-hour period, which are strongly influenced by regular changes in the environment like night and day.

This natural cycle helps coordinate regular bodily functions like appetite, energy, mood, and sleep.

It does this by regulating the timing, amount and quality of the hormones and neurotransmitters the body produces and releases.

Out of sync

When our body is out of sync with this 24-hour cycle, we can be at risk of developing circadian rhythm disorder. In the short term we may experience circadian disruption, like jet lag following long flights.

Functioning as a time-keeping mechanism for the mind and the body, the suprachaismatic nuclei (SCN) synchronize the 24-hour periods. They control most other rhythms of the body by working with time-keeping genes and hormones, like melatonin.

Together they coordinate the daily rhythms and cycles that control the rise and fall of hormones, chemicals and neurotransmitters that determine waking times, sleep, appetite, sex and other key aspects of our lives.

Sleep-wake system

Many of the rhythms of our body and mind are synchronised with nature. For example, when our biological clock is functioning properly, the urge to wake up will start to increase in the morning, as the sun is rising.

The circadian system and the sleep-wake system then prompts our bodies to produce cortisol, serotonin, and other hormones that wake us up, increase blood pressure and cause body temperature to rise.

Likewise, at sunset, the body receives another cue and responds to the lack of sunlight by producing and releasing the hormone melatonin. Unlike at sunrise, this leads to a decrease in blood pressure and allows the body to prepare for and eventually fall into sleep.

Importance of sleep

Sleep is a crucial part of our daily lives. It helps restore energy, keep memory functioning properly, and helps to heal our bodies. When sleep is disrupted or deprived, we don’t feel as alert, we are easily agitated and all of our actions seem slow.

Stress and aniexty caused by work, family, and daily life commonly lead to sleeping problems.

People’s lives have become much more fast-paced. Hectic work schedules little time to unwind and relax. We get less sleep as a result, causing many of us to feel exhausted.

When our bodies are out of sync with the 24-hour circadian rhythm cycle, our hormone and neurotransmitter release is negatively affected. This can cause our bodies to suffer from a circadian rhythm disorder (CRD), which can sometimes trigger depression.

To avoid developing CRD, try no to take naps during the day and allow yourself time to wind down before going to bed. Exposure to light in the mornings, exercise and a healthy diet can also help.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is closely related to CRD. During the winter months, our bodies receive insufficient amounts of light.

This can cause malfunctions, resulting in the production of the wrong hormones at the wrong time of day.

Research also shows that without sunlight, the brain doesn’t produce enough serotonin, which can trigger depression.

The symptoms usually diminish as the days get longer, although many SAD sufferers note brief (one to two-week) periods of SAD-like symptoms in the summer.

Bipolar disorder is different to major depression in that it is marked by episodes of euphoria or mania. These episodes can last for hours, days or even months.

In almost all cases of bipolar disorder, depressive and manic episodes are seasonal, leading doctors to make a connection between the disorder and CRD.

Less daylight

In autumn and winter, as daylight decreases, bi-polar sufferers enter a depressive phase, and require increased intervention.

Those with the disorder also suffer from sleep problems and feel worse at a particular time of day. Because these symptoms reflect a circadian rhythm disorder, doctors have found success by treating bipolar disorders with bright light.

A Guide For Various Sizes of Mattresses In Ireland

Families comprise of various sizes and so does the mattress on which we spend a great deal of time. According to studies, on an average we spend 8-12 hours on bed – sleeping, watching TV, reading and occasionally stress-eating. So buying the right mattress plays an important role in this scenario. But before buying mattress in Ireland, it is important that you know how much sleeping space you need and how many types of mattresses are available according to size. It is recommended that you buy the one, keeping you needs in mind.

Mattresses in Ireland

So, how many mattress size exists that you know of, twin, double, king sized, super king, but how much do they differ and which one is for you? Here is a guide for you to see and choose for yourself

1. Single or cot (75X190 cm)/ (30 X 75 In)

It the smallest size mattress possible and is most suitable for one child, unless the child need considerably large sleeping space. It can easily fit in your child’s room leaving plenty of space for other stuffs such as study table, wardrobe, toys and also provides playing space.

2. Twin (90X190 cm)/ (35X75 in)

This one is 5 inches lwider than single one and is perfect for your child to sleep on, especially if he/she has a furry friend as a sleeping partner. It may also be considered for youself if you live in a studio apartment. Its compact size ensures enough clearance for keeping other stuffs.

3. Small double/ (120X190 cm)/ (47X75 in)

It is 12 inches wider than the previous one and is ideal bed for your guest rooms and for freshly graduates who are new in the world of self-dependence and loves to spend a great deal of time on bed while studying, sleeping, eating, taking naps and watching TV.

4. Double/Full (135X190 cm)/ (53X75 in)

Double or full mattress is 6 inches wider than the small double and thus, provides ‘just sufficient’ space for a couple. It is a smart choice for you and your partner, if you guys loves to sleep close together. However, it does not provides enough room for your child or pet.

5. King sized (150X200cm) /(59X79 in)

As the name ‘king’ suggest, this mattress outnumber the last one both in terms of length and width. It is ideal for couples with child, who prefer to keep them on bed instead of cot or cradle. This is a ideal choice for you, if are considerablt taller and own a spacious master bedroom.

6. Super King (180X200 cm)/ (71X79 in)

It is the largest sized mattress that you can get in Ireland and is 12 inches wider than the previous one. This mattress provides ample amount of space for the your child and yourselves without compromising your sleeping space. Due to its large size, your loving pets can also find a warm corner besides you during winter.

So, before buying mattresses in Ireland, consider your option and calculate your space and make the right choice for you and your family.

mattress buying habits for november

On the back of our ‘Maybe time for a new mattress campaign’ which ran throughout  nov we wanted to find out “when you last bought a mattress, what did you buy?”

And here are the results:

A third of you will buy  a mattress with a divan base and nearly a quarter bought with a frame. It was reassuring to see that just over half of you do buy a mattress with some kind of base but nearly a third (30%) buy just a mattress.

When buying a new bed it can be false economy to change only the mattress and keep the original base, especially if you are buying a divan set. The old base could reduce the useful life of the new mattress as well as the comfort and support it can offer. It can also invalidate manufacturers’ warranties or guarantees. A bed is a mattress and a base working together – don’t consider them in isolation.

How to keep warm on a cold winter’s night

  • Wear night clothes such as pyjamas or a large T-shirt to keep you warm. Natural fibres such as wool, cotton or silk will keep you warmer than synthetic materials.
  • Have a warm bath just before you go to bed. This will gently warm and relax you to help you feel sleepy.
  • Have a warming, milky drink.
  • Try to take some exercise which will get the circulation going to help keep the body warm – but don’t do vigorous exercise too close to bed time as you may feel too invigorated to sleep.
  • Keep the bedroom warm, but not too hot, and free from draughts.
  • Look for a mattress which has a thicker side for use during the winter. A soft sleeping surface is a better insulator than a flat one. Use a fleecy underblanket to retain the heat.
  • Choose a duvet with a high tog rating or use several layers of bedding rather than one single layer. Layers will trap warm air and are easily removed if you get too hot.
  • A hot water bottle is an ideal way to keep warm once in bed. Make sure it has a cover on it to avoid scalding and also so that it won’t feel cold in the middle of the night. Electric blankets are ideal. Underblankets will warm the bed up before you retire for the night, while overblankets maintain a constant temperature throughout the night.

What is sleep?

Sleep is the mysterious shift in consciousness that our bodies require every day. It’s vital for our health and wellbeing, and not only do we function less well when we don’t get enough quality sleep, but it can lead to long-term health problems. That’s why we need to do all that we can to ensure that we enjoy quality sleep and deal with any sleep problems.

The Sleep Cycle

During sleep our heart rate drops, our body temperature falls and we experience complex changes in brain activity. An EEG (electroencephalogram) gives us an insight into the brains electrical activity when we sleep:

  • When we first fall asleep we enter non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. NREM is divided into three stages: – NREM1 – NREM2 and – NREM3, each stage becoming progressively ‘deeper’.
  • Stages 1 and 2 are light stages of sleep from which we can be easily roused.
  • Stage 3 is a deeper stage of sleep from which we’re more difficult to rouse, and some may feel disorientated if woken from this stage of sleep.
  • Generally, after going through the NREM stages, we enter stage 4 which is known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which the EEG shows as being similar to wakefulness or drowsiness. It is during the REM stage of sleep that we dream.
  • Each cycle lasts around 1½ hours and we need to experience all four stages in order to wake up rested.
  • A good night’s sleep consists of five or six cycles, whereas disturbed sleep consists of far fewer.

Sleep is largely controlled by sleep pressure, and the circadian rhythm, or our body clock, which is a 24 hour cycle that regulates all our biological and physiological processes. It anticipates environmental changes around us so that our bodies can adapt to them.

In ideal situations, the circadian rhythm will naturally rise in the early morning, promoting wakefulness and alertness, and will reach a peak in the evening. After a waking period of around 15 hours the pressure to sleep becomes greater and greater, in other words, we get tired. With the onset of darkness, the circadian rhythm drops to the lowest level and helps to maintain sleep.

To ensure you experience good sleep it’s essential to follow good lifestyle habits and to eliminate the factors that are causing you disturbed sleep. For example making sure that your bedroom is the right environment, looking at the lighting in your home, and avoiding foods and drinks that can hinder sleep.