What is the definition of good sleep? Most of us understand it to mean that we fall asleep quickly in the evening, do not wake up completely during the night or at least fall back asleep easily, do not wake up too early in the morning, and feel refreshed and fit. Regular sleep problems are not normal for healthy people at any age. But not every person needs the same amount of sleep – our internal clock ticks individually. And with age, the quality of sleep changes so sometimes we need a little sleep aid.
For example, children need much more sleep than adults. And in adulthood, sleep duration decreases until the age of about 80. Young children and older people also have a lighter sleep than teens and adults. This is because the duration of deep sleep phases changes throughout life.
Sleep well – sleep according to type
How much sleep we need to feel well-rested and fit in the long term varies from person to person. Most people (80%) need 7 to 8 hours of sleep. But not only the number of hours, but also the time when we go to bed is crucial.
There are two contrasting types here: the larks and the owls. Most of us, however, are mixed types. Early risers should go to bed early in the evening. Late types, on the other hand, are active in the evening, sleep later and would like to sleep longer in the morning. The problem: This desire is often not in line with our social requirements.
Sleep aid: Our days influence our nights
We can already set the course for better sleep during the day. How? Through exercise and sport, nutrition and balancing tension and relaxation.
Exercise and sport
- A good amount of exercise during the day is essential for a restful night. But timing also matters: Don’t exercise in the evening hours.
- A good mix of moderate muscle and endurance training is recommended.
- Build exercise firmly into your daily routine: Take walks and ride your bike where you can instead of driving or taking public transportation
- Eat as healthy a diet as possible with lots of fresh ingredients and avoid convenience foods.
- Regular meal times help your internal clock to stay in time.
- Choose a light dinner, avoid fatty and flatulent foods.
- Avoid alcohol (small amounts at most), caffeine and energy drinks in the evening.
Tension and relaxation
- Stress robs us of sleep. Therefore, try to avoid stress. Find out what exactly is stressing you out.
- Try to follow your own inner rhythm instead of the guidelines and expectations of others.
- Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation or autogenic training to find inner peace again and again.
- If you find that you can’t manage your stress on your own, seek psychotherapeutic help.
In the next and final part of our little sleep aid guide, you’ll learn how an evening ritual can help you get to sleep.
Dr. Michael Feld: Dr. Felds große Schlafschule, 2018
Stiftung Gesundheitswissen https://www.stiftung-gesundheitswissen.de/wissen/insomnie/hintergrund, Stand: 03. Januar 2023
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schlafforschung und Schlafmedizin e.V. (DGSM) https://www.dgsm.de/fileadmin/patienteninformationen/ratgeber_schlafstoerungen/2021-09-21_Ein-_und_Durchschlafstoerungen.pdf, Stand: 03. Januar 2023