Sleep through problems make for restless nights
Sleep disorders come in different forms and variations. Some people can’t fall asleep, others have trouble sleeping through the night, and still others lie in bed for hours after waking up and can’t get out of bed. It’s especially annoying when you fall into bed tired at night, close your eyes, fall asleep and then – in the middle of the night, long before the alarm clock rings – wake up again. Instead of falling back asleep immediately, you then lie awake in bed, tossing and turning from side to side, patting out your pillow, but just can’t find your way back to the land of dreams. If this scenario happens more often during the week and several times a night, it can even lead to physical illness or depression. Even sleep-through problems that do not occur quite as often rob us of energy and strength for the next day and make us react much more irritably in stressful situations in everyday life. We explain when it is a case of pathological sleep-through problems, which should be examined by a doctor, and which tips help with occasional sleep-through problems.
What sleeping through the night does not mean
Sleep well, means sleep through?
Only the one who sleeps through also sleeps well and wakes up refreshed? You can’t really say that – because every healthy adult person wakes up to 30 times during the night. However, these are only short waking phases, lasting up to 3 minutes, which are usually not remembered the next morning. These waking phases were very important for hunters and gatherers, especially in the past, in order to check the situation at night and to recognize dangerous situations. So the fact is – no one sleeps through from morning to night, and that’s normal and a good thing.
Sleeping through the night is not the same as sleeping for a long time
During sleep, we go through different phases characterized by varying degrees of sound sleep. After we fall asleep, we first enter a light sleep before reaching the deep sleep phase. Only then does the dream phase or REM sleep follow, in which our muscles are completely slack, but our brain, heart and lungs are completely active. Going through these phases is called a sleep cycle, lasts 90 minutes and repeats 4 to 6 times a night. During the first three hours of our sleep, the duration of deep sleep is the longest and most important for our recovery. So if you sleep only 6 hours instead of 8, it’s no cause for concern because your body has long since replenished the necessary energy reserves. Sleeping through the night and feeling refreshed in the morning does not mean sleeping late!
No one sleeps through every night!
You had a stressful day, one cup of coffee too many and there was trouble at work – now you’re lying in bed and after finally falling asleep, you keep waking up? In stressful phases of life, it’s quite normal to have trouble sleeping through the night in between and it’s far from a cause for concern! The less you think about it and put yourself under pressure to fall asleep again, the faster you will find your way back to sleep. If you can’t fall asleep at all, get up, stretch your legs and then go back to bed. In any case, there is no one who sleeps through every night – no reason to panic!
What is meant by sleep through disorder?
Symptoms of a sleep-through disorder
So the fact that you can’t sleep through the night from time to time is annoying – but quite normal. We only talk about a sleep-through disorder if you wake up three times a week within a period of four weeks and then can’t fall asleep anymore. In a milder form of sleep disturbance, those affected can no longer fall asleep for 20-30 minutes, while others lie awake for 1-2 hours at night. Especially if similar problems with sleeping through the night have already occurred in the past, it may be a sleeping through disorder. Causes can be emotional stress or underlying diseases, such as cardiovascular problems, blood pressure or regulation disorders. Or quite banal reasons such as a loudly snoring partner – for which, however, there are then remedies such as snore stoppers.
Effects and consequences of insomnia
Not being able to sleep through the night leads to daytime fatigue and concentration problems. Long-term consequences of a sleep disorder, if you have not been able to fall asleep for weeks or months, can also be a permanent feeling of exhaustion, irritability and depressive moods. If you suspect or know, for example through the use of a sleep tracker, that you are suffering from sleep disturbance, you should definitely consult your family doctor. In the case of physical deficits, he or she can either help you immediately or otherwise refer you to a psychiatrist or a sleep clinic. The causes are therefore very different, but in any case sleep disorders can be treated.
Tips for sleeping through the night
Don’t put pressure on yourself
First of all, all tips that also ensure a relaxed and quick fall asleep are helpful. It is important to maintain regular evening rituals, pay attention to your own bed hygiene, go to bed at the same time every day, avoid digital media as much as possible before going to bed, and stop doing any stressful activities at least an hour before going to bed, but relax. Darken your bedroom or use a sleep mask in a pinch. If you are cold, use an electric blanket or a weighted blanket. If none of this has helped and you’re lying awake in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, just get up for a minute. After all, compulsively trying to fall back asleep has never led anyone to the land of dreams.
Relaxation exercises for relaxed sleep through the night
People are becoming more and more detached from nature, its cycles and rhythms. In the case of problems falling asleep or sleeping through the night, other causes such as stress or not having a clear head in the evening usually prevent relaxed sleep. Also a lack of evening routine is often the reason why many people sleep badly on ordinary nights and also during full moon. Therefore don’t blame the moon for your bad sleep – and don’t inform yourself about when the next full moon is – but try to improve your bed hygiene instead, by e.g. always get up and go to bed at the same time.