Is it hard for you to fall asleep or sleep through, or do you have other symptoms? Sleeping problems are manifold. With the sleep test, you will find out if you might be suffering from a sleeping disorder and what you can do to ensure healthy sleep.
1, 2, 3…. 99 – do you often find yourself counting sheep until you finally drop off to sleep? Or do you wake up during the night for no reason and toss and turn in bed? Problems getting to sleep and sleeping through are the most common forms of sleeping disorders. Medical professionals call it insomnia. As a rule, it can be treated successfully. Insomnia can have physical, mental or external causes.
Causes of insomnia
- Disturbing influences like noise, light and room temperature
- Strenuous situations and stress
- Mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety disorders
- Pain and physical causes like sleep apnoea, restless legs syndrome, hormonal imbalances and cardiovascular illnesses
- Medication and in the long term also sleeping aids
- Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine
- Lack of exercise
- Unfavourable sleeping patterns, shift work and jetlag
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Are you at risk?
People who do not sleep enough are less efficient. According to experts, their potential dwindles by more than 70 per cent. However, how many hours of sleep is required varies from person to person and decreases with age. The following applies to 18 to 64-year-olds: seven to nine hours should suffice. The decisive factor is how you feel during the day. The sleep test gives you an initial indication of how restful your sleep is.
Sleep test – and then?
The sleep test helps you to assess the degree of severity of your sleeping problem. The test result shows suitable tips on how to sleep better. Plus you get a personal recommendation on whether or not it would be advisable to go to a doctor. Only he or she can make a diagnosis and clarify the cause of your sleeping disorder.
Why do we sleep?
It is clear that restful sleep is the key to our health – it rejuvenates us from head to toe. While we are sleeping peacefully, highly active processes take place inside us. The brain sorts out what we experienced during the day and comes up with creative solutions. Body cells renew themselves, muscles grow, protein and new blood are created. The immune system also ramps up during sleep. If we do not sleep enough or restfully, tiredness is not the only thing which torments us the next day – our whole “system” runs on empty.
What are sleeping disorders?
This is a collective term for sleep disturbances and the sleep-wake cycle (body clock). Medical experts have identified about 90 different sleeping disorders. Based on their symptoms, they are divided into six categories:
Insomnia: problems falling asleep and sleeping through
Respiratory disorders during sleep: nightly interruptions in breathing due to sleep apnoea syndrome
Parasomnias: undesired accompanying symptoms while sleeping like sleepwalking, nightmares, snoring, teeth grinding and talking while asleep
Sleep-related movement disorders: restless legs syndrome and involuntary periodic movements of the limbs
Circadian rhythm disorders: disrupted sleeping pattern, for instance due to jetlag or shift work; also see the blog on melatonin
Hypersomnias: falling asleep involuntarily during the day, e.g. narcolepsy, permanent sleepiness
Sleep deprivation makes us sick
Sleeping disorders are one of the most common reasons for a visit to the doctor. One in two people occasionally suffer from them. 10 per cent are affected by a chronic sleeping disorder. If the sleeping problems last for more than three months, they are deemed to be chronic. The consequences are memory problems, high blood pressure, heart diseases, narcoleptic attack, diabetes, depression and anxiety. Do not just take medication if you have a sleeping disorder because it is not a long-term solution to the problem. Try herbal remedies instead. More information is available in our blog “Natural sleep remedies”. As a first step, we recommend that you take the sleep test, in order to be able to assess your sleeping problem.
Stress-induced sleeping disorders
Stress is a common cause of sleeping disorders. It leads to high tension in the body, and the mind is wide awake. This makes it twice as hard to switch off and fall asleep. You should therefore try to reduce stress in your daily life. Make sure you take breaks during the day and perform a calming ritual before going to bed. It is also important not to ponder over your sleeping problem. Other suitable ways of reducing stress are sport and relaxation methods like yoga and meditation. You can read more tips on your own test result sheet.
Somnologist, Daniela Janssen
Daniela Janssen (lic. Phil. somnologist and psychotherapist FSP) is a member of the Specialist Somnology Team at the Zentrum für Schlafmedizin Hirslanden Zürich (centre of somnology). She advises adults, young people and children with sleeping disorders. As a psychotherapist, she also works in her own practice. Daniela Janssen was available to the editorial team in an advisory and editorial capacity for this article.