December 2, 2023

You actually sleep quite well, but are you often tired during the day? With these 5 tips you will sleep more effectively and wake up more relaxed.

D u sleep quickly and lie at night not awake. You rarely have a nightmare and no pauses in breathing while snoring. In short: you sleep wonderfully.

And yet you don’t get out of bed in the morning, are rarely really awake during the day – regardless of how long you slept during the night? The case is clear: you sleep ineffectively! We explain how you can get more out of less sleep for your well-being.

In this article:

  • Can you sleep wrong?
  • Why is deep sleep so important?
  • How do you use sleep cycles for better sleep?
  • When does the deep sleep phase take place?
  • 5 tips to extend the deep sleep phase

Can you sleep “wrong”?

“Yes, you can actually sleep too long and at the wrong times,” says Professor Jürgen Zulley from the University of Regensburg, author and director of the “Sleep School”. Either way, you may have had enough sleep and still feel mushy.

Because it is not the number of hours spent in bed that ensures a really restful sleep. Rather, you have to follow your individual sleep rhythm. To find out, you have to know the architecture of sleep. It consists of different cycles that differ in the activity of the brain:

  1. During the sleep phase, the body relaxes, breathing becomes calmer, but sleep is still so light that you can easily be awakened from it.
  2. In the following light sleep phase, brain activity sinks to a low frequency, consciousness is switched off. When the body has reached the first deep sleep phase after around 20 to 30 minutes, and also the longest, which lasts around an hour , the body and mind are maximally relaxed.
  3. After a while you emerge from deep sleep and experience dreamy REM sleep (rapid eye movement). The brain activity accelerates considerably. Sleep researchers assume that information and emotional impressions from the waking time are processed during REM sleep.

Then it goes down again. During the night, deep sleep and REM phases alternate about 4 to 6 times, with the deep sleep phases becoming shorter and shorter and the REM phases longer. A sleep cycle is the cycle through all sleep stages, each of which lasts about 90 minutes. Our expert explains below how you can use these cycles optimally for your well-being.

Why is deep sleep so important?

The muscles are maximally relaxed in deep sleep. The EEG curve, which shows brain activity, is characterized by a calm wave pattern with deep valleys. The body also releases growth hormones, which stimulate the regeneration of all body cells and strengthen the immune system.

How can you use the sleep cycles for better sleep?

The most important requirement for getting up effortlessly: Let your alarm go off at the end of a cycle. Because if he brings you out of deeper sleep, the day becomes difficult. A cycle usually lasts about 90 minutes, but because the first is a little shorter, you will reach the most light sleep waking stages in five and a half, seven and eight and a half hours (plus approximate time to fall asleep) . If you’re still in the middle of vivid dreams when the alarm goes off, add a few more minutes to your sleep time the next day.

Tip: Do not use the snooze button on the alarm clock. You are just repeating the agony of being awakened and falling into a restless sleep that costs more energy than it brings.

When does the deep sleep phase take place?

Do you sleep in accordance with your cycles? Well! It’s even better if the rhythm is right. Your internal clock controls all biological rhythms. At night she pushes the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, at morning that of the wakefulness cortisol. In addition, it regulates the body temperature so that the lowest value is reached around three o’clock at night. “Biologically speaking, it’s the witching hour, that’s when you feel most uncomfortable when you’re awake,” says Zulley.

” The particularly restful deep sleep takes place in the first 5 hours and before 3 o’clock .” So if you stay up until well after midnight, you can forget the best quality sleep, even if you sleep until noon.

But don’t make the mistake of going to bed too early because you have to get out earlier or want to be particularly fit. This only works if you fall asleep straight away due to lack of sleep. More likely, you will lie awake, brooding, and sleep tense and restless. Because pre-sleeping doesn’t work anyway, you should go to bed at the usual time (note the cycle!) And make up for lost sleep by going to bed earlier the next night and taking a nap.

How do I extend my deep sleep?

What exactly can you do now to improve the quality of your sleep? With these 5 strategies you can get more rest with less sleep:

1. Make sure you sleep regularly : If you want to make the most of the hours in bed, you have to go to bed and – more importantly – get up at about the same time each day. Sounds stuffy, but unfortunately deep sleep in particular reacts sensitively to an unsteady life. The internal clock loves fixed habits because it is imprecise itself. This is not a design flaw, but necessary in order to adapt to changed conditions (longer summer days, new time zones).

Background: For most people, the internal day would be 25 hours long if sunlight did not keep the internal clock in rhythm. In the evening and morning types (technical jargon: owls and larks), the sleep-wake rhythm is up to 2 hours longer (owls) or shorter than 25 hours. In order to stay in time, your internal clock is even more dependent on external timers, especially bright light, contacts and regularity.

Even if you could manage your time freely, that can’t be brushed aside. Clocking sleeping and waking up to 24 hours is less of a social obligation than the strict 24-hour rhythm of body temperature.

If you see too little sun and live unsteadily, the two most important inner rhythms can diverge. The result: At some point you want to be active when it is witching hour for the body temperature. You freeze, feel energized and ill-tempered. Later on, you’ll be in bed when the temperature is on and you won’t get a good night’s sleep. On the other hand, a little regularity looks like the lesser evil, doesn’t it?

2. Take a nap on the weekend: on weekdays you are consistent, but on the weekend you don’t get out of bed. The internal clock reacts quickly to such a shift backwards. The harder it is for you to get up, the earlier you have to get out and the longer you stay in bed on the weekend, the harder you will pay for it on Monday. Better: Get up at about the same time on the weekend, treat yourself to a little nap as a luxury or go to bed earlier if you lack sleep. This is how you can have a relaxing power nap.

3. Make sure there is enough sunlight: Some can afford a little more irregularity with impunity if they expose themselves to bright light at the right time. However, normal lighting with a maximum of 400 lux does not work. The sun creates 1,500 to 100,000 lux. “Anyone who spends an hour outdoors before work is livelier during the day,” says chronobiologist Zulley.

If that doesn’t work, you can have artificial sunlight at the breakfast table or in the office after getting up . “For a positive effect, 10,000 lux must work for half an hour or 2,500 lux for two hours,” says sleep doctor Hans-Günter Weeß . You can also use it to move your favorite bedtime in small steps. If you want to hold out longer in the evening, you have to expose yourself to the light in the evening.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to iron out all the abuse of the internal clock with the artificial sun. If the system is overused (shift and night work), the bright light helps, but sleep and liveliness will still suffer.

4. Give in to your genes : The fact that there are 3 optimal wake-up times, as mentioned, does not mean that you can choose one. Only real short sleepers get by with 5.5 hours, late risers need 8.5 hours. Most people get along well with 7. It’s genetically determined – you can’t screw it up without paying. “Hardly anyone knows what it is like to be wide awake,” complains Thomas Wehr of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda.

In many experiments, the subjects’ sleep did not level off until they had caught up to 25 hours of sleep. To optimize your sleep, go to bed 1.5 hours earlier every evening for a while – as long as you lack sleep, it will not be difficult for you to fall asleep. Afterwards, always allow yourself as much sleep as you need if possible. Whoever sleeps too little over the long term carries a higher risk of becoming fat, forgetful and sick. After just 14 days with a daily sleep deficit of 2 hours you are as off the track as after a completely awake night.

5. Don’t sleep too much: Those who exceed their personal optimum will only get shallow, restless sleep. “If you oversleep for a very long time, you even fall asleep again in the morning,” says Weeß. “That totally upsets the internal clock, you wake up exhausted.” If, on the other hand, you keep the time in bed short, you will be awake longer, and this will extend the restful deep sleep at the beginning of the night. Not only are you fitter, but you also have more time. What more do you want

Regular bedtime, matching your individual biological rhythm, is the key to relaxed sleep that optimally regenerates the body. Try to compensate for a lack of sleep not by sleeping longer in the morning but by napping at noon. It is not the number of hours that makes healthy sleep, but the optimal sleep rhythm.

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