Dr. Rebecca Robbins is a sleep researcher whose work examines the link between sleep and performance, as well as strategies for optimal rest and recovery. This year, she is partnering with the Beautyrest brand to put a renewed focus on sleep performance—noting the importance of how high-quality sleep can give everyone an edge to perform more effectively throughout their day and in their waking life.
Throughout the year, Dr. Robbins has helped us learn many new things on the topic of sleep, from the meaning of our sleep patterns to keeping up with your sleep while traveling. As 2017 comes to a close, we wanted to cover the topics that are top-of-mind for our fans.
Below are some common questions our loyalists have asked about sleep, answered by the expert herself:
Q: Do we need 8 hours of sleep?
A: The vast majority of the population needs between 7 and 8 hours of sleep for optimal health and performance. There are individual differences in sleep duration including the body’s need for sleep that will allow you to operate at your peak and wake up well-rested.
If your personal sleep schedule is vastly different from the standard 7 to 8 hours of sleep, you can start implementing a healthy sleep routine by adding 15 more minutes of sleep each night to your schedule. When you wake up refreshed, with minimal sleepiness during the day, you likely have hit your personal sleep need.
Q: How do I get my partner to stop snoring?
A: Snoring can be disruptive to bed partners. A low-cost approach to reducing snoring is to place a tennis ball in a sock and pin the top of the sock to your bed partner’s back. This can help the sleeper move to the side where snoring is less common. Although it can be normal, snoring can be a sign of an underlying sleep disorder. If the snoring is quite loud and interrupted by pauses in breathing, medical help is highly encouraged.
Q: When is the best time to buy a new mattress?
A: A mattress should last about 8 to 10 years, and if you’ve had your mattress longer, it may be time to get a new one. Investing in a mattress is a big decision! Invest in a mattress that will not only support your body but will also prevent motion transfer and promote air circulation, such as a Beautyrest Black Hybrid. It’s always best to test a few different mattresses to find the perfect feel for you. Also, be sure to properly care for and protect your mattress by ensuring it has an adequate bed frame and by following all care instructions included in the warranty.
Q: Can’t I just make up for lost sleep during the weekend?
A: Unfortunately, sleeping in is one of the worst things you can do for your sleep system. From a physiological perspective, sleeping in (or extending your bedtime more than 1 hour away from your normal wake up time) essentially tells your brain you have moved to a new time zone. The best way to make up for lost sleep is to maintain your regular sleep schedule and take a quick nap in the afternoon to recover lost rest.
Q: When I wake up in the middle of the night, how can I get myself to fall back asleep?
A: Awakenings from sleep are actually quite common. Waking up approximately 1-3 times per night should not be cause for concern and is often caused by too many liquids consumed close to bedtime. When you do wake up, just use the bathroom or get out of bed. Keep the lights low, and return to bed when you are tired.
Q: Why do we have dreams and nightmares?
A: We believe a large portion of dreaming takes place during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. While we are not certain about the reason for sleeping, the prevailing ‘science’ on dreams is a fun area of sleep medicine. Quite simply, we encourage having fun with dreams. Some claim dreams are prophetic, while others think they lack meaning all together. Interpret the movie theatre of the night, as dreams are often termed, as you see fit!