Many people suffer from sleep disorders – in Germany about 25 percent, among shift workers even almost 40 percent.
They lie awake for hours on end, feel as if they’ve been tired the next day and panic in the morning before the next night.
- Too little sleep makes you sick
- Too little sleep makes stupid
- Insomnia has many faces
- Simple solutions
- Less is more
In our modern industrial society, the days of sleeping well seem to be over.
In the course of globalization, flexibilisation of working hours and 24-hour service, the night is increasingly being turned into day. Many people therefore suffer from sleep disorders and lack of sleep.
Not being able to sleep is not only annoying, but also extremely unhealthy. Chronic sleep disorders impair performance, concentration and reaction ability as well as the general well-being.
And this has serious long-term health consequences: Too little sleep can lead to psychological disorders such as depression.
Too little sleep makes stupid
“Perhaps the sleep instinct is less like the eating instinct than the sex instinct,” explained the well-known American sleep researcher William Dement. “Without sex, life is not beautiful either, but unlike lack of food, it is not threatened by it.”
William C. Dement is considered a pioneer in sleep research. He established the first sleep research center at Stanford University in 1970. In 1975 he founded the American Sleep Disorders Association, which he presided over for 12 years.
His scientific studies revealed that if the brain doesn’t get enough rest at night, it tries to sleep during the day. Anyone who does not take this fact into account damages his brain permanently. Dement’s conclusion: Sleep deprivation makes you stupid.
The sleep researcher is also certain: “Never before has the gap between medical research knowledge and actual application been so wide. Far more people could be helped than is the case.
The tricky thing is that patients are treated for cardiovascular diseases, immune system disorders, poor performance, but very often the sleep disorder that causes the complaints is not recognized. For the patients often a true odyssey on their therapy path.”
Insomnia has many faces
But what is actually a sleep disorder? Sleep researchers use this term to describe conditions that prevent a person from sleeping soundly.
They are therefore very tired during the day. Sleep medicine distinguishes up to 80 different forms of sleep disorders.
General disturbances of the sleep-wake rhythm are often found in people whose inner clock is disturbed by shift work, frequent travel or similar.
Anyone suffering from mild sleep disorders can improve their sleep with just a few simple means: Warm baths at 34 to 36 degrees with lemon balm, hops or valerian additives, evening walks, autogenic training or other muscle relaxation training, sleeping cool at night and a good mattress can already help.
And if you really can’t sleep at all, you should rather get up and distract yourself with a boring activity instead of lying in bed brooding or getting annoyed. After some time (almost) everyone will get tired again.
Less is more
Those suffering from chronic sleep disorders can try a treatment by sleep deprivation, the so-called sleep restriction therapy. Sleep shortening is the keyword.
Patients lie in bed at night under therapeutic supervision for several weeks only as long as they actually sleep. Under certain circumstances, this can only be two to three hours. Day after day, the sleep period is extended until a normal sleep rhythm is gradually restored.
Narcolepsy on the other hand should be treated with medication. Behavioral therapy measures also help to better cope with the disease.