What happens when you sleep?
"Whoever sleeps does not sin," they say, but in reality a lot happens when you sleep: While you don't seem to be doing anything, your brain actually goes through many phases. These are:
- Deep sleep: After falling asleep, the first deep sleep phase follows. Our body recovers. It releases large amounts of growth hormones to regenerate itself, bones, skin and hair grow and wounds gradually close. The immune system is particularly active, searches for viruses and unwanted bacteria and makes them harmless.
- REM: This is followed by the REM dream sleep, in which the eyes move very quickly under the lids, but you are almost paralyzed. This phase is elementary for mental health, because dreams are necessary to process what has been experienced and to relax mentally. The brain cleans up during this time and uses more energy than during the day. It deletes the unimportant and places the important in the long-term memory. What is learned is consolidated. Decisions are often easier the next day - according to the saying “I have to sleep over it one night”.
- Phase change according to a certain rhythm: The light sleep, deep sleep. and dream phases alternate in an approx. 90-minute rhythm, with deep sleep only occurring in the first two to three cycles.
- Low point at 3 a.m. At 3 a.m. we have our absolute lowest point: the melatonin level is at its highest. If we are awake at this time, we cannot concentrate and have a very long reaction time. The risk of accidents and injuries is highest! Those who do not go to bed in time before 3 a.m. also miss the important first phase of deep sleep.
The importance of the chronotype
But there are other aspects to consider when sleeping. For example, there are different chronotypes. A distinction is made between larks and owls - and mixed types: Most people are neither night owls nor morning larks, but lie in between with their “sleeping time”.
Chronotypes are genetically determined
And it is important to know that the chronotype is genetically determined and therefore unchangeable. Research on this topic is still in its infancy, such as Dr. med. Hans-Martin Beyer, Medical Director of the Enzensberg Medical Care Center in Hopfen am See and, as a sleep expert, also a member of the “Healthy sleep through inner order” network in Füssen:
“The topic of sleeping is very complex. We know that the chronobiology that determines the rhythm of sleep is genetically determined. In 2017, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded for research on chronobiology, and there will probably be many new findings in science in the coming years, because there are still many unanswered questions. If you want to read in on the subject, I recommend the books by Till Rönneberg 'Right to sleep' or 'How we tick'. "
The owls are evening people
So if it's after midnight and you're not tired yet, it's because of your chronotype. The genetic imprint of being active longer in the evening and only later being ready for bed can be found in every cell of your body. You have a longer inner day.
Habits also play a bit, e.g. B. when and how long you work. The good thing: If you have to get out early in the week, you can at least partially catch up on sleep as a night owl, unlike morning lark, on weekends to relax.
The morning larks are bad sleepers
Are you one of the morning larks that go to the nest at 21 p.m. but sing along cheerfully with the first birds? Morning types have a shorter day length. They are usually rested and fit in the morning and tired early in the evening.
At the same time, however, the larks are also considered to be more active overall; their rhythm is probably relatively firm overall, e.g. B. unlike night owls, wake up early on vacation. Regularity promotes sleep enormously.
5 X 5 tips for better sleep
So we have to admit that people are different and there are always different factors, especially when it comes to sleep. Therefore, we have put together a small overview below with 25 sleeping tips, but not all of them are valid for everyone.
The tips can certainly help to improve your sleep routine - unless there are serious physical or mental problems, then a specialist should be consulted.
Predetermined daily routine:
- Bedtime: The more regularly we go to bed and get up, the better our bodies can adapt to habits. This is especially true for the weekend.
- Daily routine: Regularity is also required in the daily routine. Work, meals and exercise should always be distributed in the same way throughout the day. If you want to get out early, you have to do important things the day before in the morning. If you still have to deal with unfinished business in the evening, you can hardly get to bed relaxed.
- Active everyday life: Movement makes you tired and can be easily integrated into everyday life. Instead of taking the lift, you simply climb the stairs, or you can make a phone call while standing instead of sitting. Exercise helps against stress, because during physical activity you can clear your head pretty well. The question remains as to when. Those who move moderately can do sports up to an hour before sleep.
- Power Naps: During the day, give in to fatigue instead of keeping yourself awake with coffee or other activities. However, a nap should not take longer than 30 minutes, as otherwise sleep will be impaired at night.
- Daily schedule: If you plan the next day the evening before, you are already mentally prepared for the tasks ahead.
After waking up:
- Get up immediately: If the alarm clock rings, you should get up immediately. If you stay there, you fall back into a light sleep. But it does not bring much anymore, it only disturbs the sleep rhythm.
- Wake-Up Call Light helps you wake up. Sunlight in particular is very useful. This is not so easy in winter. But there are alternatives. Other stimulants are fresh air and exercise.
- Be productive: For early risers, it is important to make good use of the time saved. Otherwise the brain does not understand why it should wake up so early.
- Regular sleep rhythm: You should go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including on weekends. If possible, not compensating for a lack of sleep with an afternoon nap, this disturbs the rhythm.
- Do not work in bed: The bed is only for sleeping. We can program our brains to equate bed and sleep if we do no other work there. This also means that you don't read in bed and that you don't stay lying down if you can't fall asleep. Get up better and do something. As soon as you feel tired, you go back to bed.
Before falling asleep:
- Find inner peace: Those who bring their daily stress into the bedroom have a problem at night. After dinner, you should only devote yourself to relaxation. Breathing exercises or the like can help here. A kind of preparation ritual 30 minutes before falling asleep gets your body and mind into a good night's sleep.
- Do not eat anymore: A light meal is ideal in the evening :; the last two hours before bedtime you shouldn't eat anything anymore.
- Move: before sleep feels good; especially if you spend the day sitting up. Yoga is a great help, especially for stress and problem-related sleep disorders.
- Sleep Diary: If you want to improve your sleep, you have to experiment a little. It is best to document your procedure in writing. So you can better understand what has brought the desired effect
- Counting sheep: It is actually supposed to help you focus on something else, because concentrated counting drives out agonizing and grueling thoughts from your head.
- Noise: If we are disturbed by noises in our sleep, we switch to a lighter sleep stage or even wake up. When sleeping, we find noise from around 50 decibels disturbing. For comparison: a busy road has 70 to 80 decibels. In the apartment or in the house you should therefore choose the quietest place as a bedroom.
- Room temperature: Our body temperature begins to drop in the late evening and reaches its minimum at around three in the morning. If you sleep in a room that is too warm, the body does not cool down sufficiently. If it is too cold, the body prevents it by heating. In both cases we do not reach the optimal sleeping temperature. At the beginning of the night, it should be pleasant under the covers: you don't freeze, you don't sweat. This is approximately the case at a room temperature of 15 to 18 degrees Celsius.
- Humidity: The air humidity should be between 45 and 55 percent. Air that is too dry can restrict breathing. In summer it is best to sleep with the window open (if the ambient noise permits). Alternatively, in winter you can ventilate well before sleeping and then close the window.
- Noise: Those who are easily disturbed in their sleep wake up quickly when, for example, the partner turns to the other side or when noise sources suddenly appear outside. Good sound insulation and - in a partnership - a wide bed with two slatted frames are recommended.
- Facility: When furnishing, the rooms in which we spend the day are often given more attention than the bedroom. We don't stay in a room that long. A calm environment as well as a suitable bed and a suitable mattress are important for a good sleep.
Nutrition / luxury foods:
- Dinner: Small bites make you tired. A snack late in the evening hardly hurts. However, large meals overwhelm the digestive system, which works at a low level at night. The ideal time for dinner is between 18 p.m. and 19 p.m., but at the latest two hours before bedtime. A high-carb, low-fat meal is recommended. When eating, you can take your time and relax.
- Drinks: Caffeine stimulates. Coffee or the like should therefore be avoided in the evening. Other drinks, however, calm down. The classic example is milk with a little honey. Alcohol often leads to a fallacy: since it relaxes, it is better to fall asleep. Overall, however, sleep is worse. You wake up more often and sleep less deeply. The overall fluid gain should be reduced in the evening. With a full bladder it sleeps badly. And who likes to get up in the middle of the night?
- Smoking: In some ways, nicotine works similarly to caffeine. It stimulates and, above all, disturbs sensitive sleep at the beginning of the night. In connection with alcohol, the effect is even increased.
- Herbs: Valerian, also in combination with hops, and amino acids: (such as arginine, glutamine and onithine) can help. Lavender, Swiss stone pine or hay are also thought to have a sleep-promoting effect.
- No wake-ups in the evening: At the end of the day, coffee and black tea should be avoided. Alcohol: may help you fall asleep in the first few minutes, but makes it difficult to find deep sleep afterwards.
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