Sleep research: tracking down causes of sleep deprivation
Some studies indicate that chronic sleep deprivation is very harmful to health. More and more people in Germany suffer from sleep disorders. Experts answer what could help those affected to find restful sleep again.
Lack of sleep is a serious health risk and no one can survive without sleep. But why people have to sleep has still not been clearly scientifically explained. However, it is proven that more and more people in Germany suffer from sleep disorders and a corresponding lack of sleep, with sometimes devastating health consequences.
Around 80 different sleep complaints are known in sleep research
Somnology - sleep medicine, sleep research - is devoted to the secrets of sleep and in this context also to the increasingly common sleep disorders. According to the experts, sleep problems should be examined medically as soon as they last longer than a maximum of one month, occur at least three times a week or have a disruptive effect on the profession. Around 80 different sleep complaints are now known in sleep research, which can range from difficulty falling asleep to difficulty sleeping through to sleepwalking. However, chronic insomnia can not only trigger concentration problems and accidents in everyday life, but also favors the occurrence of diseases such as high blood pressure, heart diseases such as heart attacks, gastrointestinal disorders and mental illnesses such as depression.
Stress is the most common cause of sleep disorders
Experts strongly recommend seeing the doctor instead of dealing with sleep disorders by taking sleeping pills on your own. Because these preparations sometimes have considerable side effects and also gradually lose their effectiveness with frequent use. Mental health and stress are the most common causes of sleep disorders, followed by pain and noise. When it comes to stress, the stresses at work and worries about the workplace are the primary cause of sleep disorders.
10 percent of Germans suffer from lack of sleep
Around ten percent of the population in Germany suffer from high-grade sleep problems, with the most common sleep disorder, insomnia (difficulty sleeping and staying asleep), affecting women about one and a half times as often as men, explains the President of the Sleep Congress, Svenja Happe. As a rule, sleep disorders increase from the age of 40 and about every third German has experience with sleep problems, according to the expert.
How much sleep a person needs can vary greatly from person to person. Short sleepers sometimes get by with five hours, late sleepers need up to eleven hours. Across Germany, the average is 7.25 hours, with women sleeping on average around an hour longer than men, as Svenja Happe explains.
Scientists distinguish between "lark" and "owl types"
The experts also differentiate between lark and owl types. Happe explains that lark types go to bed early and get up early, whereas owl types fall asleep and get up late. However, scientists find it difficult to explain why women sleep longer than men. Svenja Happe is of the opinion that this could be due to the smaller height of the women. Because with mammals, for example, the smaller they are, the longer they sleep. "For example, hamsters sleep longer than elephants," Happe explained. Also not yet scientifically justified is that the result of an Austrian study, according to which women sleep worse next to their partner, men do better. Here, too, the President of the Sleep Congress suspects evolution-related differences.
Prevention with autogenic training, muscle relaxation and sleep hygiene
In the opinion of the expert, measures such as autogenic training and muscle relaxation exercises are particularly suitable for preventing sleep disorders, but compliance with strict "sleep hygiene" should also be taken into account. “Sleep hygiene” includes, for example, maintaining regular bed times, refraining from taking longer naps during the day (not longer than 30 minutes) and heavy meals before going to bed. Svenja Happe told the “Nordsee-Zeitung” that affected people should refrain from drinking large amounts of alcohol and not exercise before going to sleep. The expert, on the other hand, rejected popular theories, such as "the best sleep is before midnight" and emphasized: "This is one of many sleep myths that need to be cleaned up. This default is nonsense. Just like the opinion that everyone needs eight hours of sleep ”. (fp)