Did you know that you can’t survive more than eleven days without enough sleep? But who wants that?
But not every night’s rest is actually the same as healthy sleep. In order to start the next day with more energy, it takes a little more than a comfortable bed and the desire for pleasant dreams. We will show you what it means to sleep healthily and how you can achieve such sleep.
The most important facts in brief
- Healthy sleep is important for long-term health
- There are many factors that can influence healthy sleep, so make sure you take them all into account
- There are five sleep phases, which you go through during your sleep, sometimes even several times
What is a healthy sleep?
Maybe you’re wondering what’s so hard about that. Perhaps you also take the view that sleep must be healthy in any case. After all, you need it.
But many people repeatedly have great problems not only sleeping through the night, but also feeling really rested and fit in the morning.
From this you can tell if you have a healthy sleep:
- You fall asleep at night within the first half hour you’re in bed
- You don’t wake up at all in the night or only once for a short moment
- You can also fall asleep again immediately or quite quickly at night after the short wake-up
- You feel extremely fit and rested in the morning
In contrast, tension the next day, reduced performance and concentration problems indicate that you have not slept very well.
You must know that even repeated waking up does not necessarily indicate sleep disorders. During the night our body is in different sleep phases, which alternate again and again.
But this also means that you will then sleep deeper and less deep. If your brain is still working at full speed because the day was particularly exciting, these short waking phases can occur several times.
Backgrounds: What you should know about healthy sleep
If you want to learn more about healthy sleep, the next section is just right. It provides interesting background information that will help you understand the subject.
Which sleep phases are there?
When one speaks of a healthy and therefore restful sleep, this always means the undisturbed succession of the individual sleep phases. This is experienced by every person, regardless of age or gender.
Our body uses this phase to generate itself and to help us to get the rest we need. This happens in both psychological and physical terms.
The 5 individual phases of human sleep form a cycle that is repeated several times a night.
Such a cycle takes about 90 minutes, whereby only the three sleep phases light sleep phase, deep sleep phase and dream sleep phase are really relevant. Because these are repeated. The phase of falling asleep and waking up, on the other hand, is usually experienced only once.
The sleep phases and their characteristics
This is when your entire organism slowly comes to rest. Your muscles relax and your breathing becomes slower and calmer. You drift off into the actual sleep.
But this happens very superficially, so that the slightest noise or the slightest incidence of light will wake you up again.
Light sleep phase:
This second phase is characterized by the fact that your muscles are deeply relaxed. In addition, your consciousness is literally switched off and your brain only works in the low-frequency range, if you like.
Deep sleep phase:
The term actually speaks for itself. You are here on a very deep level of complete relaxation, both mentally and physically. In this phase there is no eye movement.
Your body temperature and blood pressure drop, your breathing and heartbeat are slow.
Dream sleep phase:
This phase is also called REM sleep because it is characterized by sometimes strong eye movements. While your muscles relax during this phase, your nervous system and therefore your brain is working at full speed. In this REM phase you dream predominantly.
Scientific studies have proven that your brain processes all the sensory impressions of the day during this sleep phase. In addition, your breathing becomes faster and shallower again in this phase.
In the morning, even your light and deep sleep will become shallow. This means that you will no longer sleep so deeply relaxed.
The first sleep phases at night are always the ones that are particularly long and intense. Therefore, the deep sleep phase in the first part of the sleep cycle is the one that is most relaxing for you.
How many hours do you have to sleep?
The answer to this question cannot be generalised. Because as different as we humans are, so different are our sleeping habits and the need for sleep.
While some people get by with only a few hours of sleep and are still in top shape, others need a few hours more to start the day full of energy.
How much sleep you need depends on how old or young you are. In addition, however, it is always to a certain extent also due to our genetic information, whether we belong to the “late risers” or rather to the “early risers” and “night owls”.
Basically, you can always depend on whether you feel rested in the morning or not. Otherwise, you can use the following guidelines to know how much sleep you need.
Depending on your age, you will need to sleep for different lengths of time to be considered healthy and optimal:
How much you need to sleep to be really fit and rested depends on your individual needs. Sleeping in because you might want to go to a big party at the weekend is not going to help you at all.
These times are only ever given as a guide. They can be extended or shortened by one or two hours for individual people. Under certain circumstances, external influences and living conditions are also responsible for this.
How long should one deep sleep phase per night be?
How long a deep sleep phase lasts per night can vary from person to person.
However, since this sleep phase is an integral part of the natural sleep cycle, it cannot be viewed in isolation anyway. The natural cycle of healthy sleep lasts between 60 and 90 minutes before it begins again.
In addition, the deep sleep phases in the first half of the night are longer and deeper. But the dream phases are shorter. In the end, each cycle lasts between one and one and a half hours.
However, the duration of the sleep cycle can also change somewhat with increasing age.
For example, while a small child only experiences the nightly sleep cycle three to five times, it usually repeats itself between five and seven times in an adult.
With increasing age, however, some people also reach the long deep sleep phase less and less frequently. This is often due to the shortened sleep duration at night and the additional nap during the day.
What to do for healthy sleep: Tips and tricks to help you sleep well
You want to optimize your sleep and make it healthier? Very well, then we have some important topics below that can help you achieve this.
What factors contribute to healthy sleep?
A healthy sleep is especially important for you if you want to experience your everyday life actively and energetically the next day. Because during sleep you not only recover in general.
Rather, your body needs this rest in order to regenerate all cells. By the way, you can best understand this when you look in the mirror in the morning. If you have slept well, the skin cells on your face should look fresher.
For a healthy sleep, however, your bedding and your sleeping environment are very important factors. They practically form the basis for whether you can enjoy your sleep phases undisturbed or whether you are perhaps struggling with sleep disorders.
With your bed, the first thing that matters is that you lie on a mattress that is adapted to your needs and requirements. Never the other way round! Which type of mattress is the most suitable one ultimately depends on your physical sensitivities.
For example, you will need a different lying surface if you suffer from allergies, severe tension or other illnesses.
Also very important is the choice of the best bedding for you. Your pillow and duvet should therefore be adapted to your sleeping habits and needs.
There are big differences here, for example if you sweat a lot at night or suffer from allergic reactions.
Besides the right bedding, the design of your sleeping environment is a very important factor for healthy sleep.
So you should never sleep in a room that is too bright, too loud or too warm. Better design your sleeping environment so that nothing can disturb your healthy sleep. It is therefore recommended:
- Doing without a running television set
- If possible, do not use electronic devices that emit a rather harsh light into the room
- If the noise level from the street is too high, sleeping with the window closed can be more relaxing
- You can achieve the ideal sleeping climate by airing the room again just before going to sleep
- Reduce the room temperature to 15° to 18° C if possible
- Make sure there is enough space in the bedroom, because rooms that are too small or blocked off cause unrest
- Paint your walls in pastel shades if possible, because they create a relaxed atmosphere
- Avoid large mirrors near your bed, as these can emit or amplify high-frequency radiation
There are many disturbing factors that affect healthy sleep. Therefore pay attention to the optimization of your sleeping environment.
Sleep hygiene always plays an important role. Insufficient air circulation can have just as disturbing an effect as dust mites or too small lying areas.
How do I avoid disturbing factors?
I guess there will always be nights when you sleep a little worse than normal. That’s nothing to worry about yet.
But when a certain regularity occurs here, you should become active. Because sleep disorders not only affect your performance and concentration.
Among other things, they also promote cardiovascular diseases, lead to depression and can trigger metabolic diseases.
In this case, in addition to a detailed discussion with your family doctor, you should always check your sleeping environment and adjust your sleeping rhythm.
Sleep rituals can also be particularly helpful here. However, regular use of medication is not recommended.
However, if your sleeping environment and bedding are at an optimal level, you should consult your doctor to find out whether your sleep disorder may also be caused by an illness.
Because often asthma, rheumatism, high blood pressure or even a heart condition can be the triggers.
Home remedies are always the better alternative to sleeping pills or other. Because there is always the risk of becoming dependent on medication or even alcohol.
At what time do I sleep best?
Perhaps you also know the old folk saying that sleep before midnight should be healthier.
But for this you must know that this popular belief still comes from a time when there was no electric light. Since then, sleeping habits have changed massively. Because we modern people are independent of daylight.
What remains is the human day-night rhythm. As soon as it gets dark in the evening, our body starts to produce more melatonin.
This is a sleep hormone that makes us tired and that our organism needs in order to switch to sleep mode.
If this does not succeed, perhaps because there is too much light in the bedroom from a running television or street lighting, your body produces the stress hormone cortisol instead of melatonin. As a result, your body does not rest and you cannot get a healthy sleep.
What time you go to bed is for
However, it should then be regularly at about the same time so that your body can adjust to it. This is known as a healthy sleep rhythm, which can be very different for each individual.
It is not the time of day that is decisive for healthy sleep. But the regularity and quality of sleep is.
Because you can sleep as late or as early as you want: If you don’t lie comfortably or if noise doesn’t let you rest, you will never be able to get a restful and healthy sleep.
Can a nap for a healthy sleep help me?
You probably know it too: The absolute performance low in the early afternoon, where our biorhythm gets stuck for the time being. If you then enjoy a sumptuous lunch, it is sometimes difficult to stay really fit.
But while it is normal and necessary in children, adults often cannot make their wish come true.
Children, on the other hand, generally need a midday nap because they have a greater need for sleep, which with increasing age not only extends to the night hours but also takes the form of a nap at midday of 1 to 2 hours.
Apart from everyday circumstances, an afternoon nap can only really bring back energy and concentration if it is kept short. Some also speak of power napping.
This means a short phase in which you close your eyes and give your body the opportunity to recharge its batteries.
This mini-sleep at lunchtime should never last longer than 10 to 20 minutes. In this short time, however, the midday nap is really effective, because:
- It brings back a heightened level of attention to you
- The nap has a very positive effect on your entire cardiovascular system, so that the risk of heart attack can be greatly reduced
- It helps you to reduce stress, as your heart beats more slowly during this resting phase and your blood pressure drops
- It increases the concentration of serotonin in the blood, which immediately raises your mood
- The nap improves your memory and retention
- It can promote your creativity, because after the short resting phase the brain activity of the right brain hemisphere increases
If you want to use such a mini-sleep at noon to regain strength and energy, you should not cuddle up in bed. Also avoid darkening the room or lying down on the sofa. Enjoy your power napping better in a comfortable sitting position.
It is also ideal to have a cup of coffee before your short midday nap. Since the effect of the caffeine only sets in after 20 to 30 minutes anyway, this is perfect timing for you.
Ideally you should use the time between 1 and 2 pm for a short nap of 20 minutes. If you do the power napping too late, after 3 pm, you will have problems sleeping through the night.
Immediately after the mini-sleep, make sure that your circulation gets going again. A glass of water with lemon can be just as helpful here as climbing stairs or stretching exercises.
What does a healthy sleep rhythm look like?
Every person has a different sleep rhythm. This is determined not least by individual working hours, personal life situation and personal habits.
In order to achieve healthy sleep, it is also important to raise the sleep rhythm to a healthy level. At this point, your inner clock, as the natural sleep-wake rhythm is also called, is also important. If this rhythm is disturbed, sleep disorders can occur.
The first requirement is that you know how much you need to sleep. For example, if you feel unspeakably tired despite going to bed early in the morning, you may want to shorten your bedtime a little.
However, if you have trouble falling asleep in the evening, you may want to skip the afternoon nap or replace it with a mini-sleep.
For a healthy sleep rhythm you should pay attention to the following things:
- If possible always go to bed at the same time
- Get up mostly at the same time
- If you have trouble falling asleep, go to bed a little later
- Abstaining from a long afternoon nap
- Support your inner clock with an optimal sleeping environment
- Don’t eat dinner too late, so that your body doesn’t run at full speed when it should be sleeping
- Adapt your sleep rhythm to your individual sleeping habits and needs
- Abstain from too much alcohol and tobacco consumption in the evening
- Avoid dozing off in front of the TV
- Observe the rules of optimal sleep hygiene
If you are looking for the optimal sleep rhythm for you, it can also be important to know what type of sleep you are.
Are you more of an early riser and are you more likely to have your performance peak in the morning hours?
Then you belong with the larks. But if your absolute peak of performance is in the afternoon and evening hours, you are one of the owls and will certainly not have to go to bed so early.
You cannot fight your biorhythm permanently. Of course you can change your own sleep rhythm for a certain time. For example, long journeys or shift work can lead to this.
Usually your body also gets used to the changed conditions to a certain degree. But over a longer period of time this does not work.
A healthy sleep is not only very important for your sensation and energy. Sleep is also vital and necessary for your health. There are several factors influencing this, such as your sleeping environment or your sleep hygiene.
If you have trouble sleeping, you should see a doctor. He will suggest treatments. However, if you only sleep restlessly from time to time, you can also use herbal household remedies. These are very helpful, but they are not addictive or will damage your liver.
Table of Contents
- 1 The most important facts in brief
- 2 What is a healthy sleep?
- 3 Backgrounds: What you should know about healthy sleep
- 4 What to do for healthy sleep: Tips and tricks to help you sleep well
- 5 Conclusion