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Sleep better: 6 tips on how to optimize your sleep

May 08, 2023Robert Barabas-Steiner

Healthy and restful sleep is of great importance for our physical and mental well-being. During sleep, our body recovers and regenerates. Processes are set in motion that are important for growth, tissue repair and strengthening the immune system. Sleep is also very important for consolidating memory content and processing newly learned information. During sleep, memories are sorted and organized, which leads to better anchoring in long-term memory. Furthermore, during sleep, the body regulates hormones (growth hormone, cortisone, melatonin) and nerve cells can recover and regenerate. The regulation of metabolism also plays an important role; studies have shown that lack of sleep increases hunger and blood sugar levels.

A connection is suspected due to the decline in daily sleep time over the last 30 years and the increased occurrence of chronic diseases. There are now several scientific studies that confirm this connection. These diseases include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, immune deficiency and depression. Studies have also shown that people who work nights and shifts have higher cortisol levels and increased inflammation levels than people who work during the day.

Sleep goes through different phases that differ in their activity in the brain and body. Here are the main sleep phases:

01 Awake state

The waking state is not a phase of sleep, but it is important to facilitate the transition to sleep. During the waking state, brain activity is reduced and the body begins to relax.

02 Light Sleep (N1)

In this phase, the body goes from being awake to being asleep. The sleep is still very light and it is easy to wake up. This phase accounts for about 5-10% of our sleep. Spontaneous muscle twitching is characteristic of this phase.

03 Medium deep sleep (N2)

In this phase, a deeper relaxation sets in. The eyes no longer move and the body slows down further. Medium-deep sleep makes up the majority of our sleep, 45-55%.

04 Deep sleep (N3)

During this phase, the body is in a deep sleep state. Brain activity is very low, breathing and heart rate slow down, and it is more difficult to wake up. Deep sleep accounts for 10-25% of our sleep.

05 REM sleep (rapid eye movement)

REM sleep is the phase of sleep in which we dream most intensely. During REM sleep, brain activity is similar to that during wakefulness, breathing becomes irregular and the heart rate increases. REM sleep usually occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep and is repeated several times throughout the night. It accounts for about 25% of total sleep.

Now that the general facts about sleep have been clarified, we would like to give you some tips on how you can achieve healthy and restful sleep.

Tip 1: Avoid screens

Nowadays, televisions, smartphones, tablets and computers are part of the normal evening routine. The problem is the blue light sources, which prevent the pineal gland from releasing melatonin and thus keep us awake. To reduce blue light, there are now settings on smartphones and tablets and so-called blue light filter glasses, which usually have orange lenses. If it is difficult to avoid exposure to blue light in the evening, these glasses are worth a try to help you sleep better. As an alternative to the evening routine mentioned above, you can also try podcasts, audio books or a classic book.

Tip 2: Optimize your sleeping environment

To get the most out of your sleep, the bedroom should be dark, cool, well-ventilated and quiet. Invest in a good mattress and pillows that support your posture and provide a comfortable surface for your body to lie on. Make sure you have enough space to move and turn comfortably.

Tip 3: Avoid alcohol and caffeine

Alcohol and caffeine can have a negative impact on sleep and lead to sleep disorders. Therefore, try to reduce or avoid the consumption of these substances. The half-life of caffeine is very long, so you should not drink any caffeinated drinks after 3 p.m. Drinking alcoholic drinks helps us fall asleep faster, but the quality of sleep suffers greatly because alcohol disrupts the deep sleep phase (N3).

Tip 4: Regular physical activity

Regular physical activity not only helps improve physical health, but can also help you sleep better. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day. However, plan your exercise so that you don't do it right before bedtime, as this can activate the body and make it harder to fall asleep.

Tip 5: Relax before going to bed

Before going to bed, it's important to relax and prepare your body for sleep. Therefore, avoid strenuous activities such as exercise or heavy meals close to bedtime. Instead, create a relaxation routine to prepare your mind and body for sleep, such as taking a warm bath, reading, or meditating.

Tip 6: Try nutritional supplements

You can also take nutritional supplements to help. Hops, lemon balm, valerian, passion flower and lemon balm have long been considered herbal sleep aids. Melatonin and tryptophan have also been well researched and can help shorten the process of falling asleep.

Try our Relax & Sleep to improve your sleep!

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