Sleep is the elixir of life and we can not get enough sleep without sleep. After a good night's sleep, we feel fresh, rested and energetic. However, many people are particularly aware of the issue because they suffer from sleep difficulties.

What is sleep?

Sleep is important for recovery and helps us when we are feeling anxious, stressed or ill.

Using sleep diagnostics, physicians are trying to explore the phenomenon of sleep. Doctors used to assume that the entire organism is in reduced activity during sleep. Thanks to brainwave measurements, however, we now know that the brain also has a different functional state during this time.

Sleep is important for recovery and helps us when we are feeling anxious, stressed or ill. Sleep also helps a lot and it is important for the memory. The thought of being able to cuddle up to bed after a hard day fills us with joy. We can hardly control the processes during sleep. When we get tired, the body signals that we need a break. Now it's time to sleep so we can regenerate.

However, in sleep we are not as inactive as some believe. Even in sleep, the brain and metabolism work, albeit on the back burner. If we are overworked, the pineal gland shakes off the hormone melatonin, which prepares all body functions for sleep.

The energy turnover and all functions are reduced. Even body temperature drops slightly, blood pressure drops, and heart rate and breathing slow down. If metabolites have accumulated throughout the day and need to be broken down, fatigue sets in.

Function & Task

A newborn's sleep is determined by his or her internal clock and is distributed evenly throughout the day and night. The baby sleeps about 4 hours and is awake for 4 hours. With increasing age, the main sleeping period develops at night. However, not everyone likes to sleep at the same time. So there are nocturnal people and day people. Throughout life, the preferred sleeping time remains constant. It is an individual characteristic.

Neuroscientists are divided on the function of sleep for the organism. We know that we can not sleep in advance, nor do we become more efficient the longer we sleep. Some scientists believe that sleep is used to store memories, others suspect that their task is to erase them.

Sleep is especially important for the brain development of children. Cell damage is repaired, which is why the term 'beauty sleep' has a real relationship. If you sleep a lot, it feels better and more efficient. Sleep ensures the strengthening of metabolism and immune system.

But at some point the amount of sleep is sufficient. We will not become healthier if we sleep more than necessary. Too much sleep can even lower life expectancy, as recent research has shown.

Regardless, every person has a different need for sleep. On average, one adult can sleep seven to eight hours a night. The need for sleep is genetically conditioned and can hardly be influenced from the outside. There are people who get along with five or less hours of sleep, others need a nap for a good night's sleep.

The optimal sleep duration has reached the person when he is well rested, but not tired. During the night sleep man goes through a cycle, which is divided into several sleep phases. As a rule, we go through six cycles per night. Sleep researchers believe sleep is the healthiest just before midnight.

Diseases & complaints

If the sleep is prevented, we feel the next day. While occasional sleepless nights are not detrimental, permanent sleep deprivation has a significant effect on the organism, leading to vegetative and psychological symptoms. Affected persons are easily irritated, have unstable breathing and a restless pulse. They become suspicious and can even hallucinate.

Sleep is affected by many factors. Diseases of all kinds affect sleep. In case of infections, we have an increased need for sleep and sleep promotes health.

With increasing age, the person wakes up more often and the quality of sleep is worse. Sleepwalking is also a phenomenon that disturbs sleep but is not perceived as such by those affected. As a rule, it is safe.

Between the ages of six and ten, children often suffer from nightmares. Through the active visual and emotional brain elements, the dreamers appear very plastic. It may be the cause of stress and mental problems. The older the children get, the rarer the nightmares are. Most of the dreaming can remember the dream content very well after awakening. In the sleeping phase, in which nightmares predominantly occur, the sleeping ones experience the dreamed extremely intense. Also, psychotropic drugs can lead to nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder often show up by recurring nightmares.

Some sleep disorders can even become life-threatening, such as sleep apnea. In this disease, breathing becomes weaker and weaker. When the brain gets too little oxygen, the sleep apnea wakes up. This can happen several times during the night.

How healthy our sleep is, however, does not depend on when we go to bed, but on the quality of the first sleep phase. Bad mattresses, too much brightness, noises and medicines have an effect on the night's sleep. Food also affects sleep. However, many of these confounders can be eliminated.

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