How do I stay still in my sleep

Sleep disorders: danger to the heart and circulation

Status: 02/18/2019 09:02 a.m.
Sleep disorders can have dangerous consequences.

Many people cannot fall asleep, wake up again and again during the night or find their sleep duration too short. According to experts, more than ten percent of Germans suffer from unspecific sleep disorders. Less than 42 hours of sleep per week is considered a lack of sleep. Those who often sleep poorly, cannot fall asleep or stay asleep, have an up to 30 percent higher risk of developing a serious cardiovascular disease such as heart attack, heart failure or stroke.

Physical causes of insomnia

Often a sleep disorder has physical causes such as diabetes, asthma or a thyroid malfunction. Depression, changing working hours and shift work can also lead to sleep disorders. During sleepless nights, it can lead to a depressive mood. Those who are still awake between two and four o'clock at night tend to brood over problems that usually do not seem so threatening during the day.

In women, menopause can be the trigger. The women then have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke because the vascular protective effect of the estrogens is no longer available. In addition, blood pressure often rises during menopause.

Important for the immune system and skin

Sleep is important to staying healthy:

  • When we sleep, the immune system is particularly active in fighting viruses and bacteria. This is why we often feel so tired when we have a cold, for example.
  • During sleep, the skin regenerates and new skin cells are formed. This ensures a fresh look in the morning. When there is a lack of sleep, the skin looks worn out.

Obesity from not getting enough sleep

Those who sleep an average of less than six hours a night also have an increased risk of developing a sugar metabolism disorder. In addition, the forces dwindle in the long run.

Many people with insomnia also have food cravings after a good night's sleep, especially for sweet and savory foods. The reason for this lies in the brain: the more tired we are, the more rewards it wants. Snacks act like rewards. And even one night with too little sleep is enough to mess up the feeling of hunger. That affects the figure and body weight.

Little sleep, more pain

Lack of sleep makes us more sensitive to pain. US researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have shown this in a study. After a sleepless night, the skin is more sensitive to temperatures. What was bearable yesterday suddenly hurts. The lack of sleep in the brain disrupts the processing of pain signals.

High blood pressure at night

In people who sleep poorly, blood pressure stays too high at night and does not go down. If you don't sleep well, your heart rate stays at around 80 beats per minute instead of dropping to 50 to 60. Both have a negative effect on the blood vessels - the risk of arteriosclerosis increases.

Breathing pauses at night (sleep apnea) are particularly dangerous. The disease increases blood pressure, which can lead to arteriosclerosis and eventually a heart attack or stroke. The risk is three times higher in people with frequent nocturnal pauses in breathing.

Treat sleep disorders

If previous illnesses and snoring are excluded as causes of sleep disorders, doctors recommend restriction therapy, relaxation methods and medication:

  • Restriction therapy: The aim is to build up the highest possible sleep pressure. In addition, those affected go to bed later than usual and get up earlier. This should approximate the time spent in bed to the time actually slept. Sleep should be at least six hours. The therapy may only be carried out under medical supervision. It is considered effective, but demanding - many of those affected break it off.
  • Relaxation procedure: With just 30 minutes of meditation per day, those affected can learn to calm down, even if they are under time pressure while falling asleep.
  • Sleeping pills: You should not take sleeping pills for more than ten days and then stop taking it for at least as long. So-called benzodiazepines are particularly dangerous because they can be addictive.
  • Antidepressants: Antidepressants are also used in small doses to promote sleep. They should only be taken in consultation with the doctor. The effect usually takes days to weeks.
  • Natural medicine: A walk before going to bed, a footbath to warm your feet, nothing to eat four hours before going to bed or medicinal plants such as passion flower, hops, lavender, valerian and lemon balm have a slightly stimulating effect.

So far, poor sleep has not been recognized as a disease by health insurances and has not been taken seriously by many doctors, experts criticize. In fact, sleep disorders are so serious as a risk factor that they should be given more attention. For women going through menopause, hormone therapy could be useful at times.

Tips for healthy sleep

The German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine gives these tips for a healthy sleep:

  • Get up at the same time every day.
  • Sleep in a comfortable bed.
  • Darken the bedroom properly, for example, set an alarm clock with a bright display to one side.
  • Only go to sleep when you are really tired.
  • Do sports regularly.
  • Perform relaxation rituals before going to bed, for example 30 minutes of meditation.
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks or medication for at least four hours before bedtime.
  • Do not smoke just before sleep.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption or give up alcohol altogether.
  • Avoid sleeping pills or use them sparingly, for a maximum of ten days in a row. Never take with alcohol.
  • Getting up when you can't fall asleep.
  • Do not look at the clock when falling asleep so that there is no time pressure.

Sleep in four phases

During sleep, the body processes experiences and gives strength for the next day. It goes through a cycle of four phases:

  • The Sleep phase takes 5 to 20 minutes.
  • In the Sleep phase The body relaxes even more, the pupils become narrower, the eye movements come to a standstill, loud breathing noises can be heard when snoring.
  • In the Deep sleep the body gathers new strength and recovers. The heart beats more slowly, the blood pressure drops.
  • In the Dream sleep phase the muscles remain slack, the body reflexes are switched off. This is what the brain works for: the pupils dilate, the eyes roll quickly and uncontrollably (rapid eye movement).

After about an hour and a half, the cycle starts again. Until you wake up, the phases are repeated up to five times.

Experts on the subject

Dr. Holger Hein, internist, pulmonologist, allergist, sleep medicine
Bahnhofstrasse 9
21465 Reinbek, Germany
(040) 722 83 93

additional Information
German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGSM)
DGSM office, c / o HEPHATA clinic
Schimmelpfengstrasse 2
34613 Schwalmstadt-Treysa

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Visit | 02/19/2019 | 8:15 pm