Sound sleep at night : 12 tips from the sleep expert for a restful night

Sound sleep at night : More and more people have difficulty falling asleep or are constantly waking up during the night. A restful night’s sleep is extremely important for physical, mental and mental health. Fortunately, you can learn to sleep and sleep well again. 

Almost every tenth person in employment in India suffers from sleep disorders. This is reported by the health insurance company DAK in its annual report for 2017 . An enormous number – and especially alarming, since it has increased by 66 percent (!) Since 2010.

Sound sleep at night
Sound sleep at night : 12 tips from the sleep expert for a restful night

Experts distinguish between sleep problems and serious sleep disorders. Sleep problems can be of a temporary nature, for example related to an eventful phase of life, and can often be alleviated with simple means. Sleep disorders can be more persistent. The longer they last, the more they become noticeable during the day – with concentration problems, reduced performance and physical complaints – and in the worst case lead to illnesses. It is all the more important to recognize the causes.

Sleep disorders: a modern disease

Often it is private and health problems that concern us at night and thus deprive us of sleep. The digitalization of the working world does the rest – emails, SMS, messenger, social networks, the constant intellectual confrontation with professional appointments and conflicts – and also the individual lifestyle. We spoke with the psychologist Dr. Hans-Günter Weess, author and director of the sleeping center at the Palatinate Clinic in Klingenmünster.

“Tension and stress are the enemy of sleep”

Like Dr. Weess explains (and describes in detail in his latest publication ” The Sleepless Society – Ways to Restful Sleep and Increased Performance “), we live in a 24-hour non-stop society. “We hold video conferences with business partners abroad at night, edit the presentation for tomorrow in bed or communicate on the cell phone,” says Dr. Weeß. Shift work and the new media prevented a distinction between day and night and thus caused the loss of our biological structure. In addition, work densification causes stress: the natural enemy of relaxation. “But the only way to sleep is through relaxation,” warns Dr. Weeß. He also told us how to get there.

The tips from the sleep expert for a good night’s sleep

1. Put the cell phone away

Chatting with friends or reading news in bed can upset the mind. According to the expert, it is irrelevant whether the content is positive or negative – “even those who won the lottery will have difficulty falling asleep”. And there is even more reason to keep communication technology such as cell phones, tablets or laptops out of the bedroom: the blue wavelengths of light emanating from the screen. It has been scientifically proven that they inhibit the release of melatonin, the so-called “sleep hormone”, which regulates the waking phases in the human body and makes you tired in the dark.

The cell phone has no business in bed – away with it!

2. Commit yourself :: Sound sleep at night

The most common cause of not being able to fall asleep: nightly worries and thoughts that need to be actively freed from. “The diary method helps some,” says Dr. Weess, “So write things down and banish them from your head for the next few hours.” The “brooding chair technology” is also recommended: You sit down in a place (outside the bedroom!) And ask, ‘Is that NOW important? ‘, dealing with moving topics. “In most cases, the answer is no.”

3. Don’t think about sleeping

“If you go to bed to sleep, you won’t fall asleep,” warns the expert. The intent to make up for a bad night and catch up on sleep creates new stress. Better: go to bed earlier than necessary to be able to let your mind wander without time pressure and not think about sleeping at all. “The fact that it is easier to fall asleep while the television is on is due to the distraction from everyday worries,” explains Dr. Weess, “even if the program is only slightly stimulating.” At the same time, you don’t want to ‘finally sleep’. This is generally relaxing and thus promotes sleep.

Incidentally, the six to eight hours of sleep that are generally considered ideal – and can be stressful if you don’t have them again – are not generally applicable. “The optimal individual sleep duration is achieved when you feel well rested, efficient and emotionally balanced,” explains the sleep researcher.

It doesn’t always have to be six to eight hours to really feel well rested.

4. Introduce bedtime rituals

Whether reading, an audio book, evening walks or knitting – everyone relaxes something different. “So here the creativity of the individual is required,” explains Dr. Weeß. Sleeping rituals work in such a way that they herald the moment of going to bed. In this sense, relaxation and sleep teas and hot milk with honey are also effective. However, this is less due to their ingredients than to the ritualized process “and the fact to reflect and do something good consciously”.l

5. Avoid alcohol : Sound sleep at night

Who drank one over thirst sleeps like a baby? Mistake! “It can be easy to fall asleep in a frenzy,” admits Dr. Weesse, “but often leads to wakefulness in the second half of the night.” The reason: after a few hours, a kind of alcohol withdrawal begins, which can manifest itself as mild dehydration, perspiration and restlessness. If you want to avoid this effect, the famous glass at night in women should not exceed 125 milliliters; in men, double is still allowed. “In fact, only 100 milliliters promote deep sleep.”

6. Create a bedroom atmosphere : Sound sleep at night

Physical and mental relaxation are equally important in order to fall asleep. Therefore, banish things from the bedroom that you or your partner might remember from (office) everyday life. Disputes should also be avoided here. The furnishing should suit your taste and not depend on what is in online portals or similar. is described as promoting sleep. Ensure good darkening with curtains or blinds and a good room climate in the literal sense: the ideal room temperature for a good night’s sleep is around 16 degrees.

7. Get closer to the partner

It is not surprising that sex has a sleep-promoting effect: the muscles relax and happiness hormones are released, which make you happy. But it doesn’t always have to get down to business. Like Dr. Weesse, in his latest book, explains that the heat that comes from the partner’s skin opens the woman’s capillaries, which allows her to fall asleep faster. A hot water bottle has a similar effect, but cuddling is of course more beautiful – and also increases the production of the “cuddly hormone” oxytocin through skin contact, which has an anti-anxiety and calming effect.

8. Hold short power naps

In Asian countries, power naps are also on the agenda for working people, including Dr. Weess is a big supporter of the afternoon nap. It is intended to prevent physical illnesses and (not least, people with nighttime sleep disorders) to make them more efficient. The afternoon nap should be short. “Otherwise you run the risk of not getting tired in the evening,” he warns. Ten to 20 minutes are ideal for a Powernap. Dr. Wees’ tip therefore: first hold a keychain and then close your eyes. “If the hand muscles relax so that you drop the keychain, you were in the sleep stage two and had enough sleep.”

9. Adhere to regular sleeping times

“Man is a creature of habit,” says Dr. Weeß. Therefore, going to bed at around the same time can help. Almost more important, however, is the time to get up. Especially the disproportionately long sleep in at the weekend, especially on Sunday evenings, can make it difficult to close your eyes. There is a vicious cycle of pressure to catch up on any sleep and fear of not being able to fall asleep again. So it’s best to set the alarm clock at a reasonable time, even on weekends.

10. Be calm :: Sound sleep at night

It is true that it can help to exercise during the day to sink into the sheets exhausted in the evening. But be careful: Your workout will initially stimulate your circulation. Weeß. Two hours before bedtime, action films, heated discussions and loud music are also rather difficult to sleep.

11. Work with experts : Sound sleep at night

Those suffering from severe, long-lasting form of sleep disorders may be inclined to take medication. The problem: sleeping pills quickly lead to habituation, with the possible consequence that you can fall asleep even less naturally after weaning. Dr. Weess considers this symptomatic therapy useful at the beginning of sleep disorders in order to maintain the patient’s performance, but not as a permanent measure. At the Klingenmünster Palatinate Clinic, the psychologist offers sleep therapy groups in which people are often helped to fix or at least alleviate their problems after just two days. “The aim of the therapy is to adapt the patient to a metaphorical sleeping pill”, ie a package of individual mechanisms that lead to relaxation.

12. Treat physical ailments :: Sound sleep at night

Nocturnal cramps that keep waking you up can be easily managed with  magnesium capsules. Even better: a diet rich in calcium and magnesium. This has a positive effect on muscle relaxation. Another, rather underestimated reason for sleeping problems is freezing feet. They are interpreted by the brain as hypothermia and thus make it difficult to fall asleep – it is a kind of protective mechanism. Against the background of this explanation, the partner certainly understands when the loved one crawls into bed with socks.

But be careful: cold feet can result from harmless circulatory disorders, but they can also be due to illness. And there are many other physical causes (such as cardiovascular disease, hormonal disorders, inflammation, and more) that can lead to sleep disorders. 

In hardship cases, a thorough examination in the sleep laboratory is therefore recommended.

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