Chris Idzikowski (Director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre) gives expert video advice on: Does counting sheep really send you to sleep?; Can you sleep standing up?; Can you sleep with your eyes open? and more...
Does counting sheep really send you to sleep?
Counting sheep is not a bad one. Anything to distract the mind. Particularly if someone gets worried about not sleeping I always say to them "don't panic," but over and above that that "don't panic" becomes, well, what kind of technique can you use to distract yourself from thinking about not going to sleep. I'd actually go for controlled breathing as a mechanism, but counting sheep is as good as any as long as it doesn't irritate you. A visual scene that you can engage in, and engage in with great depth, is a good way for many insomniacs to go to sleep.
Can you sleep standing up?
Now I don't know for sure. There are certainly stories about soldiers being able to march while they're asleep, so I'd tend to think along the lines that there could be situations where one's so sleep deprived that one can actually end up sleeping in that kind of state. But my initial reaction is probably not; it's more of a maybe.
Can you sleep with your eyes open?
It's certainly possible to have one's eyes partly open and remain asleep, and if one thinks about sleep walking, again sleep walkers are looking to see what they're doing and there are even instances of potentially sleep driving. So yeah, eyes can remain open during sleep.
Can you die sleeping?
You can die during your sleep. In fact that was once an argument for not treating some of the sleep disorders, its a pleasant way to go. But the reality is that its probably the uncontrolled physiology that takes them that way but its certainly a common time.
Does eating cheese before bed give you nightmares?
I suppose it has come from somewhere in the past because, say tea, at one point in time was toxic, and people used to have all kinds of problems with that. I've not read the historical source of where cheese was regarded as being bad. I sometimes wonder, whether in the 1950's when people were alerted to the effects of cheese on a particular type of antidepressant which is associated with a high increase in blood pressure. Whether that particular public health campaign didn't impact the general view that cheese might impact on dreaming and nightmares.
What do dreams mean where you are falling?
A falling dream doesn't mean anything, but when one goes to sleep because one get this release in muscle tone, the brain may partly interpret that, or react to that, and then intrepret it as a sense of falling. So in itself, it means nothing. It's just a reflection of awareness of oneself during a time where one is going to sleep.
Is it harmful to go to bed on a full stomach?
Yes it is because it's possible to bring up stomach contents it's one of the things that disturbs sleep. So it may not necessarily awaken someone but awakening feeling fatigued and tired, particularly if there's a sore throat, implies that stomach contents have been rolling back a little bit during the night. So best not to go to bed for nighttime sleep with a full stomach.