Many people who have trouble sleeping miss out by failing to do anything about it.

Never underestimate the importance of sleep. But, if you are having trouble sleeping you already know how important sleep is, right?

We now sleep, on average, 20 per cent less than we did a century ago. Back then we were more likely to sleep and wake in time with the natural rhythms of day and night. Researcher Stanley Coren has shown that a reduction of just 10 per cent can lead to sleep deprivation and impact on how we think and behave.

But information like this must not be taken too literally, nor over-dramatised. Sleep is vital, yes, but even though people in surveys are saying they sleep less well than they did, that doesn’t mean that a few hour lost sleep will do you serious harm. A shorter night won’t kill you, so a few late nights are no threat.

We all need the right amount of sleep, and it needs to be as reliable and regular. Though how much varies from person to person, it averages out at seven to nine hours for a healthy adult.

So you can forget those dangerous claims put out by some high-flyers that they can function well on half that. After all, you wouldn’t want a tired airline pilot (pun intended) or heart surgeon, would you.

This is Myth No. 6, and I explain it along with the other five in my post The common Sleep Myths that can harm your health.

Sleep is vital to your health and wellbeing, but it is persistently undervalued by many people. This is partly due to tenacious false beliefs.
It is critical to be well-rested. It affects not just how you feel, but also how resilient you are, and aspects of how you function, like reaction times, clarity of thought, and your problem-solving ability.

Believe the myths if you like, but, if you are having trouble sleeping, understanding that they are actually more like fairy-tales will help you improve your sleep and wake up to new beginnings.