Sleep Disorders: Causes, Therapies And Self-Help

Not falling asleep, do not sleep through, snore, tingle up and down with tingling legs, go away several times a day – sleep problems have many faces and many causes

Restless nights: Too much coffee, stress, pondering, pain – find your sleep disturbers

• Sleep Disorders: Overview

• Why sleep is so important

• Sleep disorders: diagnosis

• Causes: life situation, shift work

• Causes: sleeping pills and other medications

• Causes: depression, fears

• Sleep related disorders: snoring, sleep apnea

• Sleep Disorders: Restless Legs & Co.

• Sleep disorders: narcolepsy, parasomnias

• When physical illnesses disturb sleep

• Sleep disorders: therapy and self-help

• Sleep disorders: specialist literature

Lack of sleep (insomnia) – what exactly is that?

  • Definition: At least three times a week over a period of one to three months, there may be an insomnia and / or insomnia or early morning awakenings (according to ICD-10, ICSD-3)
  • Sleep disorders are not caused by other physical or mental disorders.
  • Consequences: Unsatisfactory sleep duration or quality affects health and performance during the day. It can lead to considerable suffering.

Affected: About six percent of the population.

  • Diagnosis: doctor’s consultation, sleep questionnaires, sleep diary for 14 days, if necessary, actometry (movement measurement, rest and activity profile during the day and at night over 14 days) and further examinations if required.
  • Course: An insomnia can occur acutely and subside, under certain conditions (physical, mental and mental mismatches), but also become chronic.
  • Therapy: self-help measures such as healthy lifestyle and sleep-promoting behaviors (“drowsiness”); control of sleep duration initiated with the physician / therapist (controlled sleep stimulation and sleep restriction), cognitive behavioral therapy. If necessary, short-term medical prescription of a sleeping pills, possibly supporting herbal remedies.

What sufficient sleep does us all good, scientists are constantly gathering new insights:

Learning in sleep – because our brain not only creates mental order at night, but also processes the freshly taken more intensively.


Slimming in your sleep – if you do not sleep too little and not too much, you will lose weight more easily.

Staying young and beautiful while sleeping – our grandmothers already knew that.

And: To mental and physical fitness come as a plus of good sleep a strengthened immune system, mental balance, better organ and metabolic functions.

One or the other restless night – Everyone knows that

Stress, job hassles, private problems, travel fever, joyful anticipation of an important event last into the night. Even a cold or itchy rash let us sleep badly again and again.

It can also be just the old, out-of-date mattress or the new street lamp in front of the bedroom window, which makes for nocturnal restlessness.

The infection heals, even with the help of sleep, the excitement sets, a new bed rest relieves the back.

Then many find their way back to their usual sleeping rhythm. However, it is very different from person to person. Just as there are early risers and night people, so is the amount of sleep that someone needs to be fit in the daytime, individually different.

Powernapping: Shut down and get fit

Close your eyes in the office?

Does not make a good impression, but fit and balanced. What speaks for a short nap.

The right amount of sleep is – within wide limits – individual

Restful sleep: neither too little nor too much – and good

Well and good, but not for us, in the face of such reports, about a third of people will say. You suffer from insomnia and just want to sleep properly once again: Not too little and not too much, somewhere around the seven hours maybe, fall asleep immediately, sleep through without interruptions, wake up in the morning, focused, active and in a good mood make your day.

Too many people, however, take their lack of sleep as given or try to treat it with sleeping pills themselves – often without lasting success or with only getting worse sleep problems. Because there are many different causes for sleep disorders. Therefore, it is important to get this on the track. With the right diagnosis, effective therapies can usually be found.

Test: Are you suffering from a sleep problem?

There are certain indications for certain sleep disorders. Our test will tell you if you may be affected

The most common sleep problem at all: too little or bad sleep

Most people who complain of poor sleep suffer from insomnia, insomnia characterized by (individual) lack of sleep. They have difficulty falling asleep and / or wake up one or more times at night. Then sometimes they are awake for a long time. Others sleep soundly, but then get restless early in the morning and can no longer sleep.

Persistently interrupted or shortened nights can be the expression of a so-called secondary insomnia, which has concrete causes. Wrong sleeping habits and external disturbing factors are the trigger. Often there are also physical, neurological or mental illnesses behind it. The sleep disorder is once a symptom of certain diseases.

On the other hand, lack of sleep can also promote them, such as hypertension or depression. Only rarely can no causes be found for insomnia (primary insomnia). However, medical professionals have noted that sleep-related worries often lead to disturbed sleep.

Sleep Disorders: Do not take lightly

Not restful sleep not only affects everyday life but may also lead to serious health problems: A vicious circle can arise (see animated graphic). Important: Make “common cause” with your doctor and pack the evil at the root.

Consequences: Acute lack of sleep or chronic insomnia, possibly with loss of health and quality of life sleep-inhibiting behavior, e.g. Consumption of coffee, alcohol, etc. Effects on body and psyche over-excitation, nervousness, tension unfavorable sleeping habits, e.g. bed times irregular, too long Sleep disturbing thoughts e.g. anger, brooding, exaggerated expectations.

Persistent sleep problems? For safety’s sake clarify.

Sleep Disorder: When to the doctor?

Everyone who sleeps badly should become aware. If no obvious triggers such as stress or an infection can be found for acutely occurring sleep problems, it is important to find out about other possible causes, especially if the sleep disturbances last longer.

If, for at least one month (see above), you have not been able to find a continuous, restorative sleep for three nights or more a week and feel tired and powerless or even nervous and irritable during the day, doctors are talking about a sleep disorder. Even if you have the impression that you sleep well, but suffer from heavy daytime tiredness, this is often an indication of a disturbed sleep. In all cases, you should definitely go to the doctor.

Main causes of insomnia

• Living habits, stimulants such as coffee, alcohol, smoking

• Sleeping environment

• Disruptions in the sleep-wake cycle due to jet lag, shift work

• Medicines, sleeping pills

• Cardiovascular disorders

• Respiratory, lung diseases

• Heartburn, gastrointestinal disorders

• Chronic pain from rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic joint diseases, osteoarthritis

• Fibromyalgia Syndrome

• Headache migraine

• Hormonal influences, for example during menopause

• Thyroid disease

• Urinary urgency, kidney disease, prostate

• Neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease

• Chronic fatigue syndrome

• Tinnitus

• Stress, mental stress, burnout syndrome

• Depression, mania, anxiety disorders

• Cancers

• Pregnancy

Special forms of disturbed night sleep

  • respiratory disorders such as snoring and nocturnal breathing (sleep apnea)
  • Movement disorders such as Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Sleepiness (narcolepsy)
  • Nocturnal events during sleep (parasomnias) such as sleepwalking, anxiety, enuresis, teeth grinding

Strategies against snoring

Snoring disturbs. And it can hurt your health. What causes the phenomenon, what helps against it

Sleep apnea

It comes in sleep again and again to dangerous breathing misfires. Common Symptoms: Sleep disorder, snoring and daytime fatigue

Snorers and people who have longer breathing pauses at night often do not consciously feel disturbed in their sleep, but more so do their fellow sleepers. However, one’s own sleep quality suffers considerably, especially with sleep apnea, which can lead to serious health problems.

Even with parasomnia, those affected usually do not wake up, but can endanger themselves and others through their nightly activities. In addition to sleepwalking, gnashing of teeth or enuresis are among these disturbing disturbances, which are often not noticed by those affected.

The syndrome of restless legs, often referred to by the English term restless legs, belongs to the series of so-called sleep-related movement disorders. Once the sufferers lie down, an unpleasant tingling in the legs prevents them from falling asleep. It often only improves when they get up and walk around. The night sleep is interrupted in this way several times. Other problems from this group are nocturnal muscle twitching or sometimes violent movements of the limbs during sleep.

An increased need for sleep a day, a so-called hypersomnia, is an often-characteristic consequence of such nocturnal unconscious or conscious interruptions. Under narcolepsy, physicians understand an extreme need for sleep a day with regular sleep attacks. They can be associated with other complaints such as sudden muscle relaxation, hallucinations and a disturbed sleep.

Important note: This article contains only general information and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. He can’t substitute a visit at the doctor.

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