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4 tips against insomnia

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  • When are sleep problems dangerous?
  • 4 tips for problems falling asleep or staying asleep

Sleep is an essential part of life. And for good reasons. When you lack the quantity and quality of sleep, you are vulnerable to a range of health problems, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression, numerous studies show.

But even if you do everything you can to ensure a restful sleep, e.g. For example, if you exercise regularly, sleep on a regular schedule, don’t drink alcohol in the evening, sleep in cooler temperatures, and keep your room dark and quiet, getting a good night’s sleep can still be difficult at times.

When are sleep problems dangerous?

If this happens to you every now and then, don’t worry. “It’s like eating: a piece of cake or a missed meal are irrelevant,” says MH consultant W. Chris Winter, MD, neurologist, sleep specialist and author of numerous books about sleep, including The Sleep Solution, “Until both becomes the norm, it’s dangerous. The same goes for sleep.”

“You shouldn’t overestimate a single sleepless night,” says Dr. Winter, pointing out that the difference between lying awake at night and insomnia lies in the fear one brings to the situation. This means: If you become restless and worry that you might not get enough sleep the next day, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol – and you make it even more difficult for your body to get into sleep mode. Know: The body can withstand three to four nights with only short sleep phases, i.e. less than 6 hours, only after that does it become critical, says Professor Kneginja Richter, head of the sleep clinic at the Nuremberg Clinic in Spiegel.

4 tips for problems falling asleep or staying asleep

Still, it’s obviously annoying when you just can’t fall asleep. If this happens to you often, here are 4 tips on what you should do in this situation – and what you shouldn’t do.

1. Just enjoy the peace and quiet. Really.

Maybe you don’t think it makes sense to just close your eyes and go to bed, even if you don’t sleep. “But the truth is that rest is very beneficial from both a physical and cognitive perspective,” says Dr. Winter, “We place far too much emphasis on tips for falling asleep and forget that resting is an excellent way to relax the body and mind.”

“If we find it impossible to fall asleep, we just need to distract ourselves and get comfortable with being awake in bed. That’s nothing to be afraid of,” explains Dr. Winter, who also says that we should cross the term “turning off consciousness” off our list of goals when we go to bed. “I advise you, if you don’t mind lying in bed, being awake, thinking, meditating, praying, thinking about a celebrity crush…then stay there and relax,” says Dr. Winter.

Tipp: You can listen to guided meditations that help your body relax, for example, using a sleep mask with integrated headphones. If ambient noises such as loud neighbors bother you, earplugs with noise filters (e.g. from Loop) create the necessary peace and quiet. Scents also help to relax (e.g. the deep sleep oil from asmi nidra).

2. Stay away from screens

When you’re tossing and turning in bed and sleep is elusive, most of us want to reach for the TV remote or turn on our phone to pass the time by mindlessly scrolling. Don’t do it. You shouldn’t use electronic devices or screens with bright lights, advises Kuljeet Kelly Gill, a sleep doctor at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. The reason: The glowing light, also known as blue light, can disrupt sleep even more because it suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.

3. Use your bed only for sleeping

One of the biggest sleep missteps is using your bed for anything other than sleeping. “Just lie in bed to sleep,” advises Alcibiades J. Rodriguez, MD, medical director of the NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center-Sleep Center. (Okay, sex too.) Slipping into the sheets should always be a sign that it’s time for sleep. If you do other things right before bed, such as: For example, when you’re working on your laptop or snacking, your brain begins to associate your resting place with something other than what it’s actually intended for.

Whether you’re having trouble drifting off into dreamland at the start of the night or falling back asleep after waking up in the middle of the night, it can be helpful to stay in bed only as long as you’re actually asleep.

Experts advise that if sleep doesn’t start after about 20 minutes, “get up, get out of bed and do something relaxing that uses little energy and takes place in dim lighting, such as reading, meditating, or deep breathing,” adds Dr. Gill (Tip: Breathing trainers can help you get into a sleep-inducing breathing mode). And don’t look at the clock, adds Dr. Rodriguez added. Looking at the clock can increase worry and extend the time it takes to transition from wakefulness to sleep, studies show.

When should you go back to bed? Dr. Winter isn’t a fan of putting a time limit on the situation. “That just adds to the stress,” he says. “I would say go back to bed if you feel sleepy. If not, stay up as late as you want and don’t worry.” Because they prevent you from eventually becoming tired enough to find a relaxing sleep.

Remember: “It’s not a problem to lie in bed and not be able to fall asleep right away or to wake up in the night. Accept it,” says Dr. Winter. “What’s difficult is changing your attitude towards it.” Practice this and you will see: the more relaxed you are when dealing with difficulties falling asleep, the quicker and better you will find your way back to a relaxed sleep.

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