The most common sleep disorders - causes and first aid

One in five Germans suffers from sleep disorders, and problems falling and staying asleep are particularly widespread. Sleep disorders arise from a wide variety of causes and not only make you tired, but can also have numerous negative consequences on the quality of life, everyday life, performance and our health. We show the most common sleep disorders, possible causes and what you can do in first aid to sleep peacefully and restfully again.

Table of Contents

      1. Sleep disturbances
      2. causes of sleep disorders
      3. The most common sleep disorders
        1. Trouble falling asleep
        2. Trouble sleeping through the night
        3. Sleep-disordered breathing
        4. Disorders of the sleep-wake cycle
      4. Conclusion

      Sleep disorders

      We spend around a third of our lives sleeping - at least when we get to the average and recommended sleep duration of 7 - 8 hours. However, especially in hectic everyday life or stressful professional life, our sleep is often neglected and so in Germany every fifth person suffers from sleep disorders. A study by the DAK also shows that working people are particularly affected and that 80% of employees already suffer from sleep disorders and problems falling asleep and staying asleep. Women tend to be affected more often than men.

      We all sleep badly at one point and are tired, irritable and not very productive the next day. Having trouble falling asleep for a long time, waking up repeatedly or lying awake for hours not only harms our daily form, performance and psyche, but can also have serious health consequences such as an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and depression. What we can do to improve sleep largely depends on the type, severity and cause of our sleep problems.

      Causes of sleep disorders

      Sleep medicine distinguishes between more than 80 different sleep disorders. A sleep disorder is generally spoken of when we, as those affected, do not feel that our sleep is restful. Above all, problems falling asleep, difficulties sleeping through the night or disturbances in the sleep-wake rhythm are widespread and influence the natural sleep pattern so much that the quality of sleep is reduced and the night's sleep becomes less restful.

      Schlafstörungen: Gesunder Schlafzyklus, Schlafphasen

      There can be a wide variety of causes for each type and severity of sleep disorders. Factors such as environmental influences (e.g. light, noise, sleeping environment) or our own sleep behavior (going to bed, sleep hygiene) are rather harmless and we can influence them comparatively well. However, serious illnesses as well as organic or psychological circumstances can also have a negative effect on sleep and in this way put an additional strain on us.

      Important: Chronic sleep disorders can damage your health and significantly reduce your quality of life, so you should not take a lack of sleep lightly!


      The most common sleep disorders

      Chronic insomnia includes, among other things, problems falling asleep and staying asleep and is one of the most common types of sleep disorders. Many people are also affected by breathing difficulties during sleep or disorders of the sleep-wake cycle and sometimes even unconsciously suffer from the numerous consequences of these sleep disorders.

      #1 Trouble falling asleep

      Schlafstörungen: Einschlafprobleme trotz Müdigkeit

      Our internal clock is responsible for our body resting in the evening.With increasing darkness, the release of the sleep hormone melatonin increases, which makes us tired and sleepy - we fall asleep. Numerous external and internal influences can influence hormone levels and prevent falling asleep. If it regularly takes longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep after going to bed, health experts speak of problems falling asleep.

      Common causes: An irregular sleep-wake cycle, acute and chronic stress, the wrong diet or external stimuli such as bright light, noise and the sleeping environment can impair the hormone balance or disrupt the relaxation that is important for sleep .

      First aid: Observe general sleep hygiene, maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle, avoid heavy meals and foods high in caffeine and sugar.

      #2 Trouble sleeping through the night

      Schlafstörungen: Schlaflosigkeit, Durchschlafprobleme

      Problems sleeping through the night are particularly evident when those affected keep waking up at night and have difficulty falling asleep again. Our sleep usually follows fixed sleep cycles that include both light and deep sleep phases. Involuntary awakening from a deeper sleep phase in particular damages the quality of sleep, because body and mind regenerate during deep sleep. The awareness of the sleep problems can also lead to stress and excitement in those affected at night, which makes it even more difficult to fall asleep again. You can find more about the causes of nocturnal awakenings here.

      Common causes: External stimuli such as light, noise, temperature and sleeping environment, frequent urge to urinate, poor diet, physical complaints and stress can lead to sleep being disturbed and falling asleep again becomes a challenge.

      First aid: Observe general sleep hygiene and avoid potential disruptive factors before falling asleep. For example, reducing fluid intake in the evening, promoting relaxation and staying calm and relaxed even when awake at night.

      #3 Sleep Disordered Breathing

      Schlafstörungen: Schnarchen, Schlafapnoe und Atemstörungen

      Breathing irregularities and disorders are also common. These include, for example, snoring, but also the occurrence of breathing pauses, so-called sleep apnea. Snoring is usually expressed by the typical loud breathing noises, which, however, are due to narrowed airways and can thus directly affect your own sleep, but also that of our partners. Sleep apnea, on the other hand, describes the brief cessation of breathing with pauses of up to ten seconds. These pauses in breathing activate the brain and therefore repeatedly interrupt sleep.

      Common causes: The narrowing of the airways occurs e.g. B. by allergies or colds, but also unfavorable sleeping positions and malformations of the mouth and throat area can narrow the airways.

      First aid: Obesity, alcohol and nicotine consumption and an unsuitable sleeping position can promote breathing disorders during sleep. We have described simple tips against snoring here.

      #4 Disorders of the sleep-wake cycle

      Schlafstörungen: Störung des Schlaf-Wach-Rhythmus durch Jetlag, Schichtdienst

      Disorders of the so-called circadian rhythm occur particularly frequently as phased sleep disorders. It is not for nothing that people are said to be creatures of habit, because our internal clock controls our sleep-wake behavior in such a way that we become tired as darkness increases, sleep at night and wake up again at daybreak in the morning. If this rhythm gets out of balance, it is usually difficult to get a good night's sleep or to fall asleep at all.

      Common causes: Shift work in particular and traveling through different time zones mean that we have to be active or sleep at unusual times

      First aid: Avoid frequent alternations between sleeping and waking times, as this unbalances body and mind and prevents the development of a healthy sleep pattern. Also interesting: Relaxed sleep despite shift work.

      Nowadays there are already numerous dietary supplements and medicines that are intended to help you fall asleep and ensure a good night's sleep. However, many common and especially chemical sleeping pills can suppress natural sleep and also quickly become addictive. If you need help falling asleep, you should definitely pay attention to natural active ingredients and a natural mode of action. Depending on the cause and severity of your sleep disorder, even small measures such as changing your sleeping habits or the right sleep hygiene can improve your sleep in the long term and ensure that you can start the day full of energy in the morning. Sleep tight!

      Conclusion

      • Sleep disorders are widespread and already affect 80% of working people in Germany.
      • Sleep disorders can have numerous negative effects on physical and mental health and can arise from a wide variety of external and internal causes.
      • The most common sleep disorders are problems falling asleep and staying asleep, sleep-related breathing disorders such as snoring or sleep apnea, and disorders of the sleep-wake cycle.

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