Tiredness: Are We Sleeping Too Little?

Sleep is important for health, well-being and performance. But the Germans treat themselves little sleep in the world comparison. Why is that?

Our neighbors seem to sleep better. While the Dutch bring on average to at least eight hours and twelve minutes per night, we cut Germans below average with about seven hours and 45 minutes. This is the result of a US study that analyzes the sleep behavior of 20 industrial nations with the help of an app. The bottom is the Asians; People in Singapore and Japan are asleep for just seven hours and 24 minutes.


Even if the differences do not seem big at first: Already half an hour less sleep restricts our efficiency, write the US researchers in the journal Science Advances. And in the long run, the sleep deficit is bad for your health.

Sleep deficit with serious health consequences

If you want to stay healthy, you should sleep at least seven hours every night until you reach old age. In the long term, a deficiency increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders and mental illness. For example, bad sleepers suffer from depression twice as often. Overall, people who sleep less than six hours are about 13 percent more likely to die prematurely than people who sleep more than seven hours.

Experts from the US Sleep Foundation have therefore issued new recommendations on this topic. Adults are advised to sleep as much as seven to nine hours a night, and seven to eight when they are older.

Early onset of work and school stress late types

Many can only dream of that. According to the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGSM), 4.8 million Germans suffer from treatment-related sleep disorders. The problem is criminally underestimated. We need to become more aware of the importance of adequate sleep for health and well-being.

The psychologist and head of sleep medicine at the Palatine Clinic Klingenmünster has been looking for a long time for the causes of the lack of sleep of his compatriots. In his book on the subject he comes to the following conclusion: work and school begin in Germany too early in international comparison. Two-thirds of Germans are chronobiologically late types, so-called owls. If they are forced to get up early, their efficiency suffers. He is convinced that a later start of school would have a positive effect on the grades. But it will not change that fast. Getting up early is still considered virtuous in Germany.

Many sleep less for the career

The need for sleep is individually different and – like the chronotype – genetically conditioned. In addition, age and gender play a role. Older people need less sleep than younger, women 20 to 30 minutes more than men. But who needs a lot of sleep, has considered us lethargic and lazy. The society is just wrong.

A low need for sleep, on the other hand, is equated with efficiency. But only a few can sleep less than six hours without being tired during the day. Despite this, half of all executives sleep less than six hours, one-third even less than five, according to polls. This gives them more time to work, often more successful in their job. Many take chronic sleep deprivation into their care – “social jet lag,” as the psychologist calls this phenomenon.

Disturbed sleep due to sensory overload

The international comparison has also revealed that the Germans go to bed later. The time to fall asleep is obviously determined by the environment and social norms – and often postponed against one’s own needs.

Sleep disorders are increasingly affecting younger people too. Among other things, he sees the cause in the overstimulation caused by electronic media: Anyone who watches three films in the evening or chats until two o’clock does not have to be surprised if he gets too little sleep.

Fatigue with fatal consequences

Chronic sleep deprivation is fatal not only for those affected themselves. According to the research organization RAND Europe, tired workers cost the German economy around 57 billion euros every year. Those who do not calm down at night are more likely to be absent and work less effectively than sleepy colleagues. Companies lose 200,000 working days per year.

Also underestimated: the dangers in traffic. Here more people die as a result of lack of sleep than through alcohol. According to a study of the German Aerospace Center, almost every fifth accident is fatigue-related, at night it is even 42 percent. Every sixth fatality goes back to drivers who fell asleep behind the wheel.

Medical help looking at sheep disorders

So when should people who sleep poorly seek help? Experts speak of a needy therapy, if the affected person sleeps so badly at least three times a week that affects him during the day.

First contact is then often the pharmacist. First, I recommend herbal remedies with valerian, hops, lavender or passionflower. Even soothing teas or baths can help because of the associated rituals. He also advises to take unfavorable habits and replace them with sleep-inducing ones. For example, turn off the TV.

Break the thought carousel

People with sleep disorders can switch off poorly. Still in bed, her thoughts and feelings revolve around everyday problems. And anyone who puts himself under pressure because he desperately wants to fall asleep, stays awake. In special seminars, those affected learn to relax better.

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