14/06/2016 10:35 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST

Nine Myths About Good Sleep That Indians Need To Junk Now

Zhang Peng via Getty Images
CHENGDU RESEARCH BASE OF GIANT PANDA BREEDING, CHENGDU, SICHUAN PROVINCE, CHINA - 2015/09/21: Baby Pandas of three year old, sleeping on bed in nursery room. Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, founded in 1987, is a non-profit research and breeding facility for giant pandas and the worlds only museum that focuses entirely on the endangered giant panda. According to the census of 2014, there are only 1,864 giant pandas alive in the wild. (Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Everyone wants a good night's sleep but not everyone gets it. Too often, this simple and basic desire proves to be elusive. Stress, hectic lifestyles, lack of a proper routine usually get the blame but, in the process, we often tend to overlook some simpler and obvious reasons that could be coming in the way of sound and reinvigorating sleep.

People in India do not tend to think much about how to prepare for a restful sleep. At least that is what Dr Manvir Bhatia, a senior neurologist and sleep specialist who has founded the Neurology and Sleep Centre in New Delhi believes. “Sleep in India is regarded as a pleasurable activity, or a luxury, but never a necessity,” he says.

We are willing to spend a bundle of money on the latest top-of-the-line mobile phone, but will sleep on the same mattress that belonged to our grandmother. “Let’s face it, no one who has 1 lakh rupees in hand will think of buying a mattress first – after all it’s not an exciting category,” says Dr Himanshu Arora, physician and a consultant with the Sleepwell mattress company.

Fact is, that a cup of warm milk or a soothing shower may help lull you to sleep but they can never be as effective as the right pair of pajamas or the ideal mattress. Here are nine common sleep myths that we need to forget right away:

Free pillows are awesome! Not. For a good night's rest, a well-chosen pillow is half the battle won, according to Alphonse Reddy, founder of the online mattress retail brand, Sunday. “People tend to opt for the free pillows that come with the mattress you’ve bought," he cautions. "They don’t realise that nothing is actually free."

Sleeping in your birthday suit is better than clothing Sleeping naked won’t solve your sleeplessness either. “Your sweat is less easily absorbed by your bed linen,” says Dr Arora.

The higher the thread count, the better your bed-sheet's quality A higher thread cotton count doesn’t necessarily make for better quality sheets (though, as a rule, try to stick to anything over a 200-thread cotton count). “It’s actually the quality of fibre you use that makes a difference – cotton, cotton-poplin, even bamboo,” advises Reddy.

Silk and satin jammies are the way to go Save those for wintry romantic vacations. In a tropical country like India, cotton and other breathable fabrics work better at night. “It is a common phenomenon to sweat when we sleep,” says Dr Bhatia. “Which is why, air conditioning or not, fabrics that allow your skin to breathe work best. Loose clothing made of material like cotton absorb the sweat and cool you down, ensuring your sleep isn't interrupted on account of feeling too hot.”

Pillows don’t ever need to be changed “It is ideal to invest in excellent pillows and change them every two years,” says Reddy. According to Dr Arora, an ideal pillow should cover the area between one’s head and neck. “Imagine yourself lying on your back in bed. Now think of the four points where your body curves, and the first big one is where the head joins the neck,” he says. “Whatever you use has to support and sustain the weight of the head and the neck.”

Sleeping without a pillow is better for you If you’re thinking of sleeping without a pillow, perhaps you shouldn’t. “It’s common in India to recommend sleeping without a pillow, but it actually depends from person to person,” says Dr Bhatia. “For a person used to sleeping with a pillow, a new unnatural strain on the neck is uncomfortable and can cause many sleepless nights.”

For snorers, a plumper pillow (or two) might even be better as it helps free the breathing passage.

Mattresses are like heirlooms – best passed from generation to generation A mattress is the base of a good night’s sleep when it comes to your bed. “Unfortunately, the average Indian loves his or her bargain, and that gets in the way,” Dr Arora cautions. “Passing it through generations is a bad practice." Reddy claims that he has observed many Indian clients who invest heavily in the bed itself, but never on the mattress. “You spend eight hours on that mattress, even more when you’re just lounging around after work. You need to get one that’s worth every penny,” he says.

The same mattress works for everyone Not true. “Everyone’s needs differ based on age, weight and other requirements,” says Dr Arora. “For example, older people prefer a firmer mattress as their bones get more brittle with age, however younger people might prefer a softer mattress.”

Hard mattresses are better for you Pick up a mattress that takes the shape of your back’s natural alignment instead of adjusting to a cheap cotton or jute fabric that takes time to settle into. If your body is used to a harder mattress, buying a soft one that you sink into will prove very uncomfortable and vice versa. When you are buying your mattress, lie down on it instead of just patting it down with your hands. Try to comprehend how your body feels on this surface –“it should be a lifting feel, not a sinking one, almost like a car seat that comfortably holds your weight instead of letting you sink into it,” explains Dr Arora. “An uneven pressure on your back can even hamper your blood flow to the rest of the body and irritate various pressure points causing you to suddenly wake up.”

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