Most people look forward to sleep after an eventful day. In the case of sleep disorders (insomnias), however, the upcoming night’s sleep brings worry and restlessness despite the greatest tiredness. Sleep disorders not only burden the body, but also the psyche. In the long run, sleep disorders make you sick. This ranges from headaches and gastrointestinal complaints to diabetes and obesity to stress and depression. Sleep pills are a short-term solution at best. Behavioral therapeutic methods such as sleep training have proven effective against sleep disorders. Around a quarter of all Germans suffer from insomnia.
How much sleep do you need?
The individual need for sleep varies and decreases steadily from the infant stage to age. An adult needs about 7 to 8 hours of sleep, an old person usually only 5 to 6 hours. This should be kept in mind when elderly people complain of insomnia.
During bedtime, people go through different phases of sleep, which differ in their depth of sleep. With normal sleep, the depth of sleep increases sharply after falling asleep, then decreases and changes to a mean constant sleep depth in the morning.
Difficulty Sleeping Through The Night And Difficulty Falling Asleep
Basically, sleep disorders are divided into two groups based on symptoms: difficulty falling asleep and difficulty sleeping through the night.
If you have trouble falling asleep, those affected cannot fall asleep at the beginning of their night’s sleep. They often toss from one side to the other for hours, very often problems falling asleep are characterized by brooding and increasing restlessness.
If you have trouble sleeping through the night, the natural flow of sleep is disturbed. Those affected wake up unnaturally often during the night and are then rarely able to fall asleep again quickly. In older people in particular, disturbance of sleep also manifests itself in a shortened night sleep and early awakening.
Sleep Apnea – When Snoring Disturbs Sleep
Sleep apnea is a common form of sleep disorder. This leads to nightly respiratory arrests with snoreers, which lead to a wake-up impulse. Sleep apnea is one of the most physically stressful sleep disorders. In the long run, sleep apnea, for example, increases the risk of suffering a heart attack.
Guide To Healthy Sleep
The detailed guide to healthy sleep provides you with all the information you need – so that you can finally wake up rested.
As the word sleep disorders suggest, those affected suffer from disturbed sleep. Those affected only very rarely have the feeling of being well-rested and productive. Fatigue is her constant companion. Sufficient sleep is essential for the body and mind. In the short term, sleep disorders lead to a drop in performance, irritability, nervousness, and inattentiveness. In the long term, the risk of serious illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks and strokes, increases.
Sleep disorders have a variety of causes. In the first place are stress and restlessness. This is followed by unfavorable sleeping conditions such as shift work with changing sleep times, unfavorable sleeping habits or environmental influences such as noise or heat. But physical illnesses such as pain or mental illnesses such as depression are also associated with sleep disorders.
One of the most common causes of sleep disorders is sleeping pill abuse. Even a relatively short use of sleeping pills – with some sleeping pills a few weeks is enough – leads to psychological or physical dependence on sleeping pills. As a result, sleeping pills are only suitable for a very short time and to a limited extent for self-treatment. And even under medical supervision, sleeping pills – with a few exceptions – should only be viewed as a last resort.
Overview Of Common Causes Of Sleep Disorders
- Mental problems such as family problems, professional worries, loss of a partner, fear of exams or very hard intellectual work can result in inner restlessness.
- Overstimulation from working too long, too hard, or watching TV for too long.
- Irregular sleeping times due to shift work or due to the time difference during a long-haul trip.
- Eating too heavily in the evening or consuming too much alcohol or caffeinated drinks.
- poor sleeping conditions such as noise, bad air, or poor mattresses (bed that doesn’t fit)
- Abuse of sleeping pills
- mental illness, especially anxiety disorders and depression
- physical illnesses (pain, cardiovascular disorders, gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases)
- hormonal influences and disorders, e.g. during pregnancy, during menopause or with thyroid diseases
- neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis
- Kidney and lower urinary tract disorders
- Prostate disease
- Side effects of medication (e.g. appetite suppressants, anti-high blood pressure drugs such as beta-blockers, asthma drugs)
- Movement disorders such as restless legs syndrome
- nocturnal events such as nightmares, sleepwalking or grinding your teeth.
When is sleep disorder treatment necessary? The Answer: If you sleep poorly for more than two weeks for no clearly identifiable and obvious cause, you should talk to your doctor about it. This is especially true if you feel not only tired but also irritable or depressed.
Medical Treatment For Insomnia
First of all, it is important to find out the reason for the sleep disorders. In the case of depression or chronic exhaustion, also known as CFS, psychotherapeutic treatment accompanied by medication is usually effective. If medication is the trigger for the sleep disturbance, the choice of medication must be adjusted.
In the event of a sleep disorder due to the abuse of sleeping pills, a medically supervised withdrawal is recommended. Depending on the duration of the abuse and the type of medication used, inpatient treatment may be necessary.
If your doctor cannot find a cause for the sleep disorder or if there is clear evidence of sleep apnea, an examination can be carried out in the sleep laboratory.
In most cases, however, the causes of insomnia are a lifestyle. This is why your doctor will very often recommend that you learn about sleep-inducing behaviors first.
Self-Treatment Of Sleep Disorders
Sleep is affected in a number of ways. You can do a lot for healthy sleep yourself if you encourage positive influences and reduce stressful influences. To help you treat sleep disorders yourself, you should take note of the following tips and information. You can find detailed information in the multi-part guide to healthy sleep.
Regular Rhythm Promotes Sleep
Always go to bed and get up at the same time: This recommendation is one of the most effective for correcting or preventing sleep disorders. In order to find the right times for you, you should experiment a little with the length of sleep and the times to go to bed and get up. In the best-case scenario, you should always go to bed as late as possible and get up at the earliest possible time.
Sleep Rituals Help
Sleep rituals have proven to be particularly effective for those with difficulty falling asleep. Basically, it is as we know it from children. A familiar routine in the evening makes it easier for children – as well as adults – to fall asleep. Asleep rituals should relax you to prepare your mind and body for sleep.
Sleep Killers Alcohol, Caffeine, And Nicotine
Many people think they can fall asleep better with a glass or two of wine. At least that’s true for falling asleep. However, alcohol disrupts sleep and often leads to nocturnal awakenings.
The invigorating effects of caffeine are familiar to most people. Caffeine is found in coffee, but also in black and green tea and in numerous lemonades. Nicotine also has an invigorating effect and therefore makes it difficult to fall asleep. In addition, the desire for the next cigarette ensures that sleep becomes less deep.
Conclusion: If you have insomnia, you should not drink alcohol, consume caffeine, and refrain from nicotine for about 3 to 4 hours before going to bed.
The Right Sleeping Environment
Make sure you can sleep undisturbed. The bedroom should therefore be consistently geared towards the rest of the night. This also includes banning the television, fitness equipment, and ironing board from the bedroom. Your bedroom should be quiet, dark, and about 18 degrees. You should feel good in bed. A sagging mattress or a creaking slatted frame not only puts a strain on the back but also reduces the quality of sleep.
More Tips For Self-Help With Sleep Disorders
- Relax physically before going to sleep, for example, take a warm bath (34-36 ° C, preferably with additives such as a lemon balm or lavender) or drink a glass of warm milk.
- Autogenic training can help against nervousness and restlessness. Also, relax mentally, do not discuss or think through serious problems right before bed.
- If you cannot sleep, you should get up and keep yourself occupied (such as making a soothing tea or reading) until you are tired again.
- Older people shouldn’t go to bed too early, avoid taking an afternoon nap and get up early in the morning.
- Ensure a healthy diet, sufficient exercise, and fresh air during the day.
- No heavy physical work or competitive sport before going to bed, because exertion initially stimulates the circulation and disrupts sleep.
Over-The-Counter Drugs Used To Treat Sleep Disorders
- Teas, baths, or medicines with valerian root, hops, lemon balm, and passionflower have a calming effect during the day and promote sleep at night, especially on the readiness to fall asleep. Medicines containing St. John’s wort can help if a depressed mood prevents you from falling asleep.
- If the herbal supplements are not sufficiently effective, short-term over-the-counter supplements, for example with doxylamine or diphenhydramine, can improve night sleep. But be careful: you should only use these drugs for a very short period of time!
They promote healthy sleep and prevent possible sleep disorders by sleeping regularly, following sleep rituals, avoiding stress and restlessness in the evening, and only consuming luxury foods such as alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine very moderately and not immediately before going to bed. The other tips mentioned under Self-help with insomnia also help to prevent insomnia.