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Better sleep: Restful sleep can be learned with these methods

Sleeping lady

Unfortunately, not everyone can sleep well. Even younger people complain about lack of sleep due to real problems falling asleep and sleeping through the night. We tell you how to sleep better and what can help you with insomnia.

We spend around a third of our lives in bed. But this time is anything but wasted! Because while we supposedly do nothing but a dream (if we even remember our dreams ), vital processes take place in our bodies.

In the horizontal plane, the organism recovers from all the hardships of everyday life – and looks more beautiful, and lives healthier and longer.

This is what happens in our body when we sleep

  • Hormones, especially growth hormones, are released during deep sleep in particular, which slow down the aging process. They ensure that cells grow, build up, and are literally repaired while we sleep. This also promotes the repair of muscles – for example after an intensive training session – as well as muscle building. In addition, it strengthens the bones and ensures that more energy is obtained from fat. Research on cyclists showed that when they raced after a night of high levels of deep sleep, they felt less physically exhausted. In plain language: Training effects are only converted into a higher performance during sleep. So it can make sense to forgo a training session in favor of getting enough sleep.
  • During sleep, the brain processes the experiences of the day. Information and facts that we have stored in the temporary storage of our memory during the day are now transferred to long-term memory. Our brain decides what can be deleted and what should be saved as a memory.
  • During sleep, our immune system is strengthened by large numbers of immune-active substances being released. These increase the immune system and increase the chance of fighting infections.
  • Body cells renew themselves, muscles grow, and proteins and new blood are formed. And you can even lose weight while you sleep if you eat carbohydrates in the morning, eat your fill at lunchtime with a light mixed diet, but choose recipes with plenty of protein in the evening.
  • A study from the USA says: Good sleep can even prevent cancer. Scientists at Stanford University (California) have discovered that irregular sleep changes the hormonal balance – less melatonin and cortisol are then produced. Unfortunately, melatonin scavenges harmful free radicals, and cortisol helps killer cells attack mutated cancer cells.

Combat sleep deprivation – this is how it works

Lack of sleep is a widespread disease these days: According to the 2017 health report by DAK-Gesundheit, 80 percent of Germans suffer from occasional problems sleeping and falling asleep, and one in ten people even struggles with severe sleep disorders and lack of sleep.

The modern lifestyle is to blame: noise at night, stress, and poor sleep hygiene rob us of important hours of sleep and not only make us literally look old!

After numerous scientific studies have already shown that chronic lack of sleep is harmful to health, Swedish researchers are now also emphasizing the importance of well-known beauty sleep.

If you want to be beautiful, you have to sleep

As part of their study, scientists from the University of Stockholm had 122 test subjects rate photos of students with varying levels of sleep based on their attractiveness. Some of the people pictured had previously received adequate sleep (i.e. seven to nine hours), while others had received insufficient sleep (i.e. four hours or less).

The result: Dark circles are a turn-off! The less the person had slept, the less attractive they were rated. The respondents also showed less trust in the sleepless people, and they were also assessed as unhealthy. From an evolutionary point of view, this makes sense:

“An unhealthy-looking face – whether from lack of sleep or other reasons – could activate the defense mechanisms against illness in others,” explains study leader Dr. Tina Sundelin and her team share their findings in the journal ‘Royal Open Science.

Ironically, you shouldn’t let that keep you from sleeping! Long-term sleep deprivation only harms health and appearance if it is chronic.

This is how lack of sleep affects your health

  • Dark circles under the eyes are one of the first signs of lack of sleep, but pale and dry skin also makes itself feel quickly. A hat full of sleep can also fix that: A growth hormone is released during sleep, which regenerates the skin naturally. The hormone is produced in the deep sleep phase, so if we are constantly deprived of this phase, wrinkles will form.
  • However, a regular and sufficient sleep routine is not only good for your appearance: if you repeatedly sleep badly or little, you not only constantly struggle with exhaustion, but also with concentration problems and mood swings. You also become more susceptible to illness and have to reckon with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

These methods will help you sleep better

  • Stick to regular bedtimes and maintain your sleep rhythm, which depends on what chronotype you are: owl or lark. You should close your eyes for at least seven hours a night because statistically, you live longer if you sleep between seven and eight hours a night. By the way: On average, Germans fall asleep at 11:04 p.m. and wake up at 6:18 a.m. – almost optimal!
  • Banish electronic devices (smartphone, TV, tablet,…) from your bedroom. The bed should be reserved for sleep and sex. Cell phone radiation in particular can lead to sleep disorders, as an American study found out. According to the study, those test persons who were exposed to mobile phone radiation before going to bed needed more time to arrive in the first deep sleep phase and slept in the deepest sleep phase, the so-called REM phase (REM = Rapid Eye Movement), for significantly less time than their unstressed peers.
  • You should avoid heavy meals, alcohol, sports, and exciting films or series before going to bed – this makes you more awake than you would like and tiredness the next morning is inevitable.
  • Your bedroom should be cool and darkened and you shouldn’t be disturbed by loud noises. The body can best produce the sleep hormone melatonin when it is dark.
  • Remove make-up from your skin – when the dirt from the day before clogs your skin pores, even the deepest beauty sleep can no longer help.
  • Don’t take a long nap – otherwise, you won’t feel the pressure to sleep in the evening. Power napping, which lasts a maximum of 20 minutes, is sufficient.
  • Anyone who sleeps badly three times a week, and that for three weeks in a row, should have a check-up in a sleep laboratory.
  • If you fly a lot, you may struggle with jet lag more often. Depending on whether you are flying west or east, you can adjust your sleep schedule or eat when you are tired or awake.
  • Natural sleep aids such as valerian or melatonin can put the body in a relaxed state and increase the willingness to sleep.

Eating better means sleeping better

Would you have thought that the meals we eat also affect the quality of our sleep? According to studies, a higher fiber intake can lead to better, i.e. longer and deeper, sleep.

Try to draw your energy primarily from valuable fiber sources, consume less sugar and eat less saturated but more healthy unsaturated fatty acids.

Good sources of fiber are:

  • Whole grain bread and rolls
  • Legumes – such as peas, beans, lentils (e.g. beluga lentils)
  • Unhusked brown rice, for example, black or red
  • Fruits – such as apples, pears, kiwi, persimmons (preferably unpeeled!) as well as berries and citrus fruits
  • Vegetables – such as artichokes, carrots, and celeriac, as well as cabbages such as cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts

You can find less sugar in:

  • Legumes – such as peas, beans, lentils
  • natural yogurt and quark
  • Noodles, cooked al dente – even better: cooled, e.g. B. in pasta salad
  • Potatoes cooled – e.g. B. as a potato salad or fried potatoes

Contain less saturated, but more healthy unsaturated fatty acids:

  • Vegetable oils – such as olive or canola oil
  • Avocados and Olives
  • Nuts and seeds – like walnuts, almonds, or sesame seeds
  • High-fat cold-water fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, and salmon)

Have trouble sleeping because of your partner? Why you should rather sleep alone

Of course, it’s nice to snooze in the arms of your loved one after a long cuddle session. But is that good for our sleep? Because even if the rose-colored glasses are still firmly on your nose: Many of your partner’s nocturnal habits can put your patience to the test.

Some people steal the covers from their bedfellows while they sleep or spread out, while others have to go to the toilet more often at night, which should bother light sleepers. Don’t even think about how snoring noises can negatively affect your own sleep and, above all, bring the suffering women an hour or two of beauty sleep.

When sleepless nights in bed with your partner take over and you want to avoid an argument right away, it’s time to have a conversation. Here you should suggest to your partner to spend the night in separate beds. And that means anything but the relationship!

Just because you don’t spend your sleeping hours on the same mattress doesn’t mean that you suddenly have less physical contact.

  • With separate beds, you can create fixed cuddling rituals that ensure that intimacy is not lost – for example, every Sunday afternoon, as a romantic end to the weekend.
  • Dates for sex may seem stuffy, but save love if there is no opportunity for regular sweethearts in everyday life.
  • Incidentally, separate beds do not have to be a permanent solution either: If an alternative room is available for sleepless nights, the whole thing can even be an advantage, as the Freiburg psychotherapist Andrea Kuhnert explains to the ‘Badische Zeitung’: “One should not be dogmatic about the marriage bed. Basically, a phase of sleeping separately can bring fire and tension back into the relationship,” says the relationship expert. This is even confirmed by a study by the University of Vienna in 2014. The researchers actually only wanted to examine the sleep quality of spouses, but in the course of the study it turned out that a common bed can even kill the desire for sex, while separate sleeping places for providing more passion.

Can you sleep in?

Especially before big celebrations such as birthdays, weddings, or the New Year’s Eve party, we would like to have had a good night’s sleep so that we can turn night into day. How nice it would be to just sleep an extra hour or two a few days beforehand so that you can book this into a sleep account and call it up if necessary.

Unfortunately, pre-sleeping in the sense that we fill a battery or something similar by sleeping for a long time does not work. It is more effective to catch up on lost sleep. Sleep researchers have found:

Anyone who accumulates up to five hours of sleep deficit over the course of a working week can reduce this negative effect by around 80 percent if they sleep just one to two hours longer on Saturday night.

If you still have the feeling that you haven’t gotten enough sleep at lunchtime, then just try a siesta! Because what the Spaniards can do is also good for us: the midday rest gives you new energy that you can use sensibly in the afternoon and evening.

This traditional midday rest, which is also practiced in other warm countries, lasts three hours. If you don’t have time for extensive relaxation, try a power nap. Lie on your ear for 20 to 30 minutes and then get up immediately – without delaying the alarm clock or tossing and turning in bed. You will be in top form – and the coming night is yours!

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