Sleeping well is the prerequisite for optimal performance. Too little or bad sleep can make you irritable, unfocused and even sick. What you should know about sleep.
A clanking ring breaks from the dream. Again, the night was too short, tiered to drag yourself through the day. About one third of Germans regularly sleep badly or not. 15 percent even suffer from sleep problems requiring treatment.
A section of medicine, the so-called somnology, also called sleep research or sleep medicine, deals with the subject of sleep. Too little sleep can lead to obesity and hypertension or contribute to depression. The risk of heart attack and stroke is increased. Those who sleep too little often eat more than they need: lack of sleep can make them fat.
Why sleep is so important
Why we have to sleep at all, science has not been completely clear to this day. If sleep did not make sense, evolution would have made a grave mistake. Doctors think that the brain “cleans up” in sleep, processes the day and consolidates what has been learned. Especially for the brain development of children, he is very important. The body regenerates itself: it repairs damage to cells and forms new ones. Even the “beauty sleep” is not a myth. Those who sleep enough are fresher, more relaxed and healthier. Metabolism and immune system are boosted by slumber. Sleep more to be even healthier but does not work. Too much sleep, as well as too little sleep is associated with a lower life expectancy.
Different need of sleep
Each person has a different need for sleep, seven to eight hours are normal. This is partly genetic and little to influence. Some people can do with four hours, others sleep half of the day. The optimal sleep duration is achieved if you are able to perform well during the day without being tired. Temporarily compensates for lack of sleep: you just sleep longer. However, you can’t “sleep in”.
In the course of life, the need for sleep changes: babies sleep a lot. Children need about ten to twelve hours to be concentrated during the day. They only find their natural sleep after puberty. It is believed that in old age, the quality of sleep rather than the need for sleep decreases. Seniors are therefore often tired during the day: They compensate for the shortened night sleep with a long nap.
The sleep phases: deep sleep phase and REM phase
Every night, the body goes through a sleep cycle that consists of several sleep phases. Each sleep cycle lasts one and a half to two hours and we go through four to six cycles per night. At the beginning of the night the deep sleep phase lasts longer, in the morning the REM phase. The REM phase, English Rapid Eye Movement, so fast eye movement, is also called dream phase.
We dream in every sleep phase, but in the REM phase the most. In the REM phase, muscle tension drops to the level of the eyelids, blood pressure and heart rate. During sleep, the production of the “sleep hormone” melatonin is highest, the body temperature lowest. Towards morning, the concentration of the stress hormone cortisol increases: we wake up.
Because many people go to bed around eleven o’clock, the first and most intense deep sleep phase takes place before midnight. Therefore, the sentence comes from: The sleep before midnight is the healthiest. Night owls don’t have to worry though: it depends on the quality of the first sleep phase, not on the time of day. Four hours of good sleep is better than eight hours of bad sleep. Just as important is the regularity: a constant sleep-wake cycle improves the quality of sleep. If the “internal clock”, the circadian rhythm, disturbed, the deep sleep is flatter and less restful.
Sleep disorders: dangerous sleep apnea
A sleep disorder like sleep apnea prevents sleeping. Breathing weakens or stops. The brain awakens the sleep apnea to be sufficiently oxygenated. Although every person wakes up every night several times, he usually can’t remember.
Somnologists don’t call this wakefulness, but “arousal”. Only when one is awake for more than a minute, one wakes up “right”. Loud snoring and daytime fatigue are possible (but no evidence) of sleep apnea. Anyone who is afraid of being affected should consult a doctor. As you get older, waking up during sleep increases and sleep quality decreases.
So-called parasomnias, which include sleepwalking, are sometimes more exhausting for the partner or parent than for the person concerned, and most are not dangerous.
Sleep better: That’s how it works
Stress, mental problems, too much sport in the evening, pain and medication can disturb your sleep. Even bad sleeping conditions such as a false mattress, brightness or loud snoring of the partner worsen sleep. One should abstain from too much wine and beer anyway. Alcohol is a bad sleeping aid, you fall asleep faster, but the bottom line is you sleep worse. Anyone who wakes up frequently in the morning like a wheelchair and is constantly tired during the day should see a doctor. With appropriate treatment, you no longer have to dream of just going to sleep.