Those who suffer from insomnia often experience everyday life as the only struggle. A night that is too short may not be a problem, but anyone who repeatedly suffers from sleep disorders will soon be marked by it. The lack of regeneration affects the body as well as the psyche and it is often not easy to find the cause and solutions for it. If you suffer from insomnia, you are not alone: according to a survey by Techniker Krankenkasse, around four million Germans cannot sleep at night. About 1.4 million therefore resort to sleeping pills.
Problem child: When stress leads to sleep disorders
It’s often difficult to switch off after a hectic day at work. If there are also private problems, it’s easy to take your worries to bed with you. No wonder it’s hard to fall asleep. But sometimes it is also home-made stress that leads to sleep disorders: Anyone who spends hours playing exciting computer games or having fundamental discussions with their partner at midnight of all times will quickly lose their sleep due to this excitement. Incidentally, too much food and alcohol can also lead to restless sleep and waking up feeling exhausted – or even to becomes sleepwalker.
Lights off: consumer electronics and sleep disorders
Scientific studies have shown that anyone who is glued to their smartphone or tablet until the last minute before switching off the light often has less sleep. The main reason for this is the blue light of the displays, the wavelength of which keeps our sensitive nervous system awake. That’s why experts recommend packing away all technical devices at least an hour before going to bed.
Too many light sources in the bedroom can also lead to sleep disorders and make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. This applies to curtains that are too translucent and the street lamp in front of the window as well as to the small lights on electronic devices. Try making your bedroom completely dark so your body really knows it’s night time. If you are sensitive to light, you should spend the evening hours with the light as dim as possible.
Fidgety Philipp: When twitching legs trigger sleep disorders
You’re finally lying in bed, but suddenly you have an uncontrollable urge to move your legs because otherwise the tingling becomes unbearable? This unusual urge to move, which occurs primarily at night, is known as Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) and torments those affected both when they are awake and (if they are able to fall asleep) asleep. The abrupt movements then wake her up again and again and also disturb her partner’s night’s sleep. Various therapies are being tested against the neurological phenomenon, but there are even medications to counteract it.
Biorhythm: Sleep disorders caused by shift work and jet lag
Humans are known to be creatures of habit and each of us has ideal times for being awake and sleeping. Anyone who changes time zones more often due to travel or not regularly at the same time due to shift work can sleep, but may have to stay awake at night and catch up on sleep during the day, this can cause insomnia. How well people can cope with the deviations from their sleep rhythm and how well they can adapt varies from person to person – if you can cope with shift work and still get enough sleep at different times, you’re in luck!
Sleep worse on a full moon
When the moon is full, many toss and turn in bed all night, not sleeping – and feel exhausted the next morning. However, those who complain about the lack of sleep during the full moon often only get a frown. Scientists at the Psychiatric Clinics in Basel have now investigated this supposed myth and have found that there is in fact a connection between the full moon and sleep patterns. To do this, Prof. Christian Cajochen’s group analyzed the sleep of over 30 test subjects of different ages in the sleep laboratory. While they slept, the researchers carried out various measurements, such as brain waves, eye movements and hormone levels, both during the full moon and in other phases of the moon. The results show that our internal clock still reacts to the rhythm of the moon today.
- In this way, the scientists were able to prove that both the objective and the subjective perception of the quality of sleep changes when there is a full moon. During the full moon, activity in the brain areas associated with deep sleep fell by 30 percent. In addition, the subjects took an average of five minutes longer to fall asleep under the full moon and slept 20 minutes less on average. The subjects also reported worse sleep during the full moon and at the same time had lower melatonin levels – a hormone that regulates our sleeping and waking phases. “This is the first reliable evidence that the lunar cycle can influence the sleep structure in humans,” say the Basel researchers.
Warning signal: sleep disorders as a symptom
If there are no obvious reasons why you’re not sleeping well at night, and even after examining your possibly unfavorable habits you can’t find anything that could be causing your insomnia, it’s best to see a doctor. Sleep disorders can also indicate a disease, for example that of the cardiovascular system. If you also snore at night and have pauses in breathing, you may have sleep apnea and should do something about it. Conversely, it is unfortunately very common for existing illnesses to rob us of our sleep: Pain, such as that which causes rheumatic diseases or fibromyalgia, can certainly rob us of our sleep. The same applies to tinnitus that disturbs the nightly rest. Respiratory diseases such as asthma can also lead to problems sleeping. If you suffer from a chronic illness and also have trouble sleeping, discuss this with a doctor and don’t just accept it – there may be ways you can at least get a good night’s rest. Last but not least, sleep disorders may end up making you sick in the first place. Night regeneration is not a luxury but a necessity for physical and mental health. Lack of sleep promotes diseases from depression to high blood pressure and even cancer. That’s why you should never ignore sleep disorders.
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