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Everyone has slept badly at some time or another: you toss and turn restlessly, wake up in the middle of the night or fall asleep much too late. Problems falling asleep and falling asleep again after waking up through the night are widespread. Experts distinguish between around 50 different forms of sleep disorders. Many are treatable. If no physical or mental illness is involved, simple measures can often help to significantly improve the quality of sleep.
Those who sleep badly are usually "not quite there" the next day. The performance is impaired: You feel unfocused, limp, easily irritated and tired.
It gets even worse if the sleep disorders persist over a longer period of time: Anyone who lies awake constantly, tosses and turns and can no longer find his way to sleep - and that for four weeks on at least three days a week - is likely to suffer from insomnia: a chronic sleep disorder.
The causes of sleep problems are manifold. They can be triggered by stress and worry, by (undetected) diseases or unfavourable sleeping conditions. There is therefore no one therapy for sleep disorders. Rather, you should look individually at which (stress) factors and possibly health problems make it difficult for you to fall asleep and sleep through the night.
With our 10 tips you can set the course for a restful sleep yourself.
However, if you suffer from insomnia for many weeks, ask your doctor for advice - so that physical causes can also be ruled out.
+++ Read our magazine article "Stress: Symptoms and consequences of stress on body & psyche" +++
Your bedroom should be an oasis of peace and relaxation, where you like to retreat and gather new strength.
A desk, clotheshorse and unfinished paperwork have no place here. They would (subconsciously) remind you of all the to-dos, obligations and worries that you already have during the day.
Create a calming sleeping environment with cool colours like white, grey, soft green or blue, little decoration, tidy or closed cupboards and a cosy bed with a good mattress.
A well-tempered room makes it easier for you to fall asleep and sleep through the night. 16 to 18° C are ideal. Before going to bed, air the room with the window wide open for at least five minutes.
To avoid being disturbed by external influences, darken the windows with curtains or blinds.
If possible, switch off all unused electronic devices: they often emit light and noise that cause diffuse disturbance. The quieter it is, the better you sleep. Reduce all acoustic stimuli to a minimum.
Do not use a television, smartphone or tablet before going to bed. They make you restless, "give you a rush" and disturb the night's rest. The blue light components also prevent the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
If you do need to take a quick look at the mobile phone display, it is best to switch to night mode. This filters the sleep-disturbing blue component out of the light.
Regular, moderate exercise improves sleep patterns. Your body is challenged by the exercise without being overburdened and "longs" for its night's rest and regeneration.
But don't train late in the evening - this has the opposite effect: you are activated and only find your way to sleep later.
+++ Read our magazine article "Exercising at home without equipment: 6 simple fitness exercises" +++
There are numerous medications for sleep problems. Although they provide the sleep you hope for in the short term. However, you should only take them in consultation with your doctors and not for too long - to avoid psychological and physical dependence.
In addition, the sleep problems often return as soon as you stop taking the sleep medication. Behavioural therapy or the exclusion of diseases promises a longer-lasting success in this case.
A sleep diary can help you to find out which factors and influences are causing you to lose sleep.
You write down in the morning and evening how you slept and how often you were awake, how recovered you feel and of course what happened during the day.
After about two weeks you can evaluate this diary (also together with your doctor).
Those who celebrate a small ritual before going to bed give their body and their psyche a fixed frame – now it is clear: it will soon be bedtime. Choose something where your thoughts can come to rest: Drink a hot cup of milk, write in your diary or do a relaxing breathing exercise, for example.
Firm sleeping habits support a healthy sleep. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time, even if it is difficult at first - your body will adopt this rhythm and your well-being will increase.
A midday nap in between is tempting, but not a good idea for chronic sleep disorders. Although you will be recovered for a short moment, the night's sleep will be significantly delayed and shortened. Your rhythm is confused. In the end you may even be less recovered. It is better to hold out during the day and fall into bed exhausted in the evening.
Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation or a walk will help you to calm down and get rid of annoying thoughts that prevent you from falling asleep.
Many people suffer from acute insomnia when they are stressed out: for example, problems at work, a move, a fight or money worries. As soon as these triggers have disappeared, the sleep disorders usually disappear into thin air.
However, if a problem is bothering you for a longer period of time, it is advisable to tackle it or come to terms with it in a way that is acceptable to you. Here, talking therapy can be a good support to improve your sleep and quality of life in the long term.