Health

Lack of sleep – When the doctor prescribes sleep

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"Who reset the clock?" Due to the time shift, we hardly get any sleep at the moment – and then we have to leave the house earlier in the morning. It's that time of the year when we think about our sleep more often than usual. And that's a good thing.

Did you know that the average time we spend sleeping in bed is getting less and less? 30 years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Swiss slept 40 minutes longer every night. Today, a majority doesn't manage the recommended eight hours and a slight lack of sleep is almost de rigueur. It tells the world that we are active, popular and busy.

But what are the health consequences of lack of sleep?

Numerous studies have shown that: Fatigue is not harmless to our health. The impact on our immune system is alarming. A chronic lack of sleep results in a high probability of developing cancer, cardiovascular diseases or Alzheimer's. Metabolism, blood sugar control and the feeling of hunger also get confused. Lack of sleep is therefore partly responsible for diseases of modern civilization such as overweight and diabetes. After decades of research into sleep, the US scientist Matthew Walker is convinced: There is hardly an area of physical and mental health that is not highly dependent on sleeping behavior. A typical bad mood after a short night is harmless – but in the long term, fatigue makes us sicker, more depressed, more nervous and more aggressive. "The doctor should prescribe sleep," concludes Walker.

Why fatigue increases the danger of addiction

The connection between fatigue and the small pleasures with which we sweeten our daily lives is interesting. For example, tiredness makes it more likely that we will eat high-calorie snacks like chocolate. After all, when we're tired, and energy is running low, the consumption of coffee and energy drinks rises. We let ourselves go and slip into an unhealthy lifestyle that overwhelms the body: a vicious circle.

Am I getting enough sleep?

The rule of thumb of sleep researcher Walker is simple enough. "If you'd sleep on without the alarm clock, you've simply not had enough sleep," he explains. If you can barely make it out of bed day in day out, you should rethink your habits and your priorities. Listen to your body and treat it to some more recovery time. It'll boost the quality of your life – right from day one.

Tips & tricks: How to sleep better

  • Choose a fixed period to sleep and set an alarm clock to remind you to go to bed. To wind down, a personal evening ritual that you look forward to can also help.
  • Don't use the snooze button – it's better to place the alarm clock on the other side of the room so that you have to get up right away.
  • Do sport, but not just before you go to bed. The best time for sport is the early evening.
  • Treat yourself to an hour offline before you go to bed. The blue light from televisions, computers, tablets and smartphones inhibits the secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin.
  • And in case you want to know more about your sleep: Analyze your personal sleeping behavior using a sleep app such as "Sleep Better," "Sleep Cycle" or the snore tracker "Snore Clock."

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