Basically, sleep disorders should not be taken lightly, as they can severely impair physical and mental well-being in the long term. If you have persistent problems falling asleep, you should urgently consult your doctor. In principle, however, various sleeping aids can help us to fall asleep better.
Which sleeping aids are most suitable in individual cases also depends on the individual causes of the sleep disorders. In addition to sleeping pills, which should generally only be used very cautiously, there are numerous options to make it easier to fall asleep.
Some causes of sleep problems can be eliminated quite easily if those affected are aware of them, such as
- an unfavorable sleeping environment,
- Discussions before bed
- or a “wrong” mattress or pillow.
While other triggers are avoidable, they may also cause difficulties for those affected, such as medication, alcohol, drugs, stress, and overstimulation. There may also be a hereditary predisposition to sleep disorders, which is unavoidable.
Basic tips against sleep problems
However, a few simple rules can generally make it easier to fall asleep and improve sleep. The Medical Center for Quality in Medicine (ÄZQ) recommends not drinking any caffeine-containing drinks such as coffee, black tea or cola after lunch and drinking little or no alcohol before going to bed.
According to the experts, meals that are as light as possible should be chosen in the evening and mentally or physically strenuous activities before going to bed should be avoided if possible. However, regular physical activity is definitely rated as helpful, just not just before bedtime.
Good sleeping environment important
A good sleeping environment can make falling asleep much easier. That’s why work documents, laptop, television and cell phone have no place in the bedroom. In addition, the bedroom should be well ventilated (except in the case of allergies during pollen count) and have a temperature of 17 to 18 °C.
Mattress, pillow and blanket should be adapted to personal needs and, for example, the mattress should also match the slatted frame and the lying position. The materials can also play a role, especially with pillows, blankets and bed sheets.
Don’t go to bed awake
There is also little point in lying in bed wide awake and waiting for sleep. So you should only go to bed when you are really tired. According to the experts at ÄZQ, developing a personal bedtime ritual can also help.
If you don’t fall asleep after 15 to 20 minutes, the experts recommend getting up again, leaving the bedroom and only returning to bed when you are sleepy again. This procedure can be repeated if necessary.
Furthermore, a fixed sleeping rhythm with consistent sleeping times should be maintained as far as possible. If possible, do not take a nap in between, although a short power nap is allowed if you are too exhausted.
More sleep aids
Gentle yoga, breathing exercises and guided meditation are also worth trying to help you fall asleep. As little as ten minutes of yoga with specific exercises to calm and prepare for sleep can help. In addition, soothing music and nature sounds can also help you fall asleep.
A “nightcap” in the form of hot milk with honey is considered a well-tried household remedy. The effect is often attributed to the amino acid L-tryptophan, the precursor of melatonin, the absorption of which the honey is supposed to support.
In order to absorb enough L-tryptophan for a noticeable effect, however, extremely large amounts would have to be drunk, so that the supporting effect when falling asleep is probably more due to the warmth, security and possibly conveyed pleasant memories of childhood.
Medicinal plants can also help
Numerous medicinal plants can also serve as a sleep aid, but it should be borne in mind that the herbal active ingredients can also have side effects. Valerian, lavender, St. John’s wort, lemon balm, hops, chamomile and passion flower are particularly worth mentioning.
For example, a hop tea taken in small sips before bedtime can help you fall asleep. For this purpose, a teaspoon of dried hop cones is poured with 250 milliliters of boiling water and strained after about seven minutes of steeping.
Don’t hesitate to see a doctor
Under certain circumstances, however, the sleep aids are unsuccessful and permanent sleep disorders manifest themselves. Those affected should by no means hesitate to seek medical help, also to avoid long-term health impairments. (fp)