Sleep disorders: causes and treatment

Sleep disorders: causes and treatment

Sleep is essential for our physical and mental recovery. But sleeping properly is – it seems – an art: For almost 8 million Germans, the nightly rest is torture. In total, physicians distinguish 88 types of sleep disorders, with problems sleeping through the night being the most common. Sleep is like a kind of “standby function” on the television, in which breathing, circulation and metabolic functions are reduced. With age, the average amount of sleep decreases physiologically, but prolonged sleep deprivation endangers our health.

Stress or needing to urinate at night

A distinction is made between falling asleep and sleeping through the night, waking up too early on the one hand, excessive sleepiness, snoringand sleep apnea on the other hand, as well as waking up disorders and nightmares. Stress and depression are the most common causes. At night, we think about the accumulated or suppressed problems during the day.

But disturbed sleep can also be an accompanying symptom of other diseases, e.g. B., the respiratory tract or the heart. Elevated blood pressure is also a common cause of insomnia. The urge to urinate at night, such as occurs with an enlarged prostate or itching as a result of skin diseases, can also disturb a good night’s sleep. In sleep apnea, short pauses in breathing occur in connection with snoring. People with restless legs syndrome (restless legs) have to walk around constantly at night.

According to a study in a sleep laboratory at the University of Göttingen, the causes are distributed as follows:

  • Psychological causes (anxiety neuroses, depression): 36%
  • Strain, stress: 24%
  • Organic diseases: 24%
  • Noise, shift work, etc.: 9%
  • Addiction, medication, alcohol: 7%


Lack of sleep affects the mind and heart.

Sleep disorders are not only the result of diseases. If our sleep is disturbed for a long time, it can lead to poor performance and increased susceptibility to illness and depression. Gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular diseases, neuroses, aggressiveness and anxiety disorders can also be the result. The need for sleep differs from person to person and changes with age: while a newborn sleeps an average of 16 hours, a 60-year-old gets by with 7 hours. According to experts, the lower limit of sleep requirements is five hours per night.

Counting sheep is of little use.

Not only serious illnesses but also everyday stress discontinuity in the daily routine, such as irregular meals, excessive alcohol and nicotine consumption, lack of exercise, extended business trips, or irregular going to bed, disturb our biorhythm, which in the long run causes disturbances in organ functions. The result: an increased release of stress hormones delays or prevents normal falling asleep and sleeping through the night.

Imagining pleasant situations or places, e.g. B. in nature, is better than the well-known “counting sheep”; according to scientists from St. Anne’s College at the University of Oxford, it should even keep you awake longer. The explanation: “Counting sheep” only causes additional stress. It is essential to forget everyday worries and relax.


Sleeping brothers from nature

The disadvantage of synthetic sleeping pills is often that they are addictive and disrupt critical deep sleep and dream phases. Natural sleep promoters such as valerian, on the other hand, are not addictive.

  • Valerian has a calming and sleep-promoting effect. Its ingredients only reduce hyperexcitability in the nervous system, e.g., B. occurs due to stress and daily worries. Soothing dragees made from dry valerian root extract or the combination with hops have a calming and stress-relieving effect during the day and prepare you to fall asleep in the evening.
  • In the case of nervous exhaustion and depressive moods, the addition of St. John’s wort is helpful.
  • Sleepless nights are often caused by restless stomach problems, alleviated by the calming and anticonvulsant lemon balm.
  • In the case of nervous restlessness, passion flower is also used, often in tea blends with valerian and lemon balm.

Sleep and nerve teas are also available as ready-to-cup versions. Homoeopathy understands sleep problems as a result of a disturbed mental balance. A general recommendation is difficult, however, since homoeopathic substances have very different effects on an individual basis and require a more extended discussion with the doctor.

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