In Germany alone, one in five people now has trouble sleeping. In Switzerland, 6.3% of the population suffers from a pathological sleep disorder. The trend is rising, with the proportion of women affected higher than that of men. While most people have a hard time sleeping occasionally, if this problem persists for several weeks it is considered to be a chronic sleep disorder.
A chronic sleep disorder can affect everyday life. Lack of sleep damages our ability to concentrate, negatively impacts our immune system and can worsen anxiety. Since this is a widespread problem, in this article we’ll explain why people have trouble falling asleep and give you a few tips on how you can get to sleep faster.
What types of sleep disorders are there?
Sleep disorders come in different varieties. It is now believed that there are over 50 different types. Among the most common are:
- Insomnia: difficulty falling asleep, constant waking throughout the night and too short sleep phases
- Apnea: breathing pauses and regular, loud snoring
- Movement disorders: restless legs, tingling in the legs and teeth grinding
- Circadian rhythm sleep disorder: when the regular rhythm is interrupted by external influences, such as traveling
Difficulty falling asleep
Difficulty falling asleep is considered a disorder when the affected person takes more than 20 minutes a day to fall asleep for a period longer than four weeks. As a result, the next day the affected person suffers from fatigue, lack of concentration, increased blood pressure and is more easily irritated than usual. In addition, people with these problems often suffer from daytime fatigue and are more susceptible to falling into a microsleep.
What are the causes of problems falling asleep?
Difficulty falling asleep can be caused by both external or internal causes. These can be due to hormonal changes or have other mental or physical causes.
- We often suppress the urge to sleep: our body tells us when it feels sleepy, but we ignore it because we either still have work to do or are otherwise preoccupied. However, if the signals are ignored, our brain reacts to this situation by releasing stress hormones, which wake us up again. This then makes it difficult for us to fall asleep when we do finally go to bed.
- Substances that keep us awake: Consuming stimulants too far into the day, such as energy drinks and coffee, makes it difficult to fall asleep in the evening.
- Blue light: The light from screens, monitors and televisions affects the production of the sleep hormone melatonin and prevents us from falling asleep.
- An irregular bedtime: by keeping a regular sleep rhythm or evening routine and going to bed at around the same time each night, you train your body to go to sleep
- Stress: stress is one of the most common causes of poor sleep. Life’s pressures, anxiety, and the feeling of being overwhelmed make it difficult to fall asleep and make interrupted sleep up more likely
- Restlessness: restlessness at night can manifest itself in an increased urge to move, irritability, and can make us sweat. In this case, relaxation techniques can help calm the body down.
How can I fall asleep? - Tips
With the help of a few techniques, you should manage to fall asleep faster at night. It's best to try these methods for a while to find out which one works best for you personally.
Let your room air out before you go to bed
Having enough oxygen in our bedroom benefits our sleep and helps us sleep through the night. Before going to bed or when sleeping, it is best to leave your window open or cracked. The optimal bedroom temperature for sleep is 15 to 18 degrees, so in winter it is better to let your bedroom air out beforehand and then leave the window closed at night.
Read or listen to music
A good and consistent routine helps us fall asleep faster. By consistently reading something or listening to soft and relaxing music before going to bed every day, over time you train your body to fall asleep faster. At the same time, reading also boosts memory, so it's doubly worth reaching for a book before sleep.
Try a calming beverage
Drinking certain teas or milk with honey calms the mind and puts us in the right frame of mind for sleep. At the same time, you should avoid caffeinated tea or coffee, as these have the opposite effect. Mint, lemon balm or chamomile tea are recommended by sleep experts.
Develop a bedtime routine
A bedtime routine is something that can vary from person to person and should be adapted to everyone’s personal needs. That said, going to bed and getting up at the same time every day can be helpful for those who suffer from sleep disorders. If at all possible, this routine should be adhered to on weekdays and vacations.
Avoid caffeine before sleep
Caffeine makes our heart beat faster and increases our pulse rate, both of which should be avoided at all costs before going to bed. Stop drinking caffeinated drinks at least six hours before your bedtime to allow your body to wind down.
No heavy meals too close to bedtime
If you have a heavy dinner or eat a filling late at night, you’ll have problems falling asleep or staying asleep for a long time. If you have dinner late, keep it light to avoid feeling bloated and so that your digestion doesn’t have to continue working while you’re trying to sleep.
Change your bedding regularly
Everyone should change their sheets every week for sanitary reasons, but a fresh pair of sheets also increases our sleep comfort. Of course, you don’t have to change your linens every day, but a fresh set can work wonders.
Take a warm shower or bath before bedtime
Taking a warm bath or shower raises our body temperature. We then feel tired when the body works to bring our body temperature back down after we’re finished. So enjoying a warm shower or bath can help us fall asleep feeling more relaxed.
Take some time to relax before bedtime
Many people try to take care of a few things right before bedtime. However, this has a negative effect on our sleep, because our mind remains in work mode for some time afterwards. In addition, the blue light from the computer or smartphone screen tricks our brain into thinking that it’s still daytime. We need to give our body some time to shut down before asking it to fall asleep.
Zizzz products for better sleep
When you ask “How can I fall asleep,” consider first that our body temperature and that of our bed play an important role in this. Lying in fresh bed linens can be very relaxing and help us forget our everyday worries. Due to their temperature-regulating properties and breathability, bed linens made from natural materials are the most suitable for this purpose.
That is why at Zizzz we offer bed linens made from organic percale and satin. Our duvet covers, pillow cases and fitted sheets are made in the EU from GOTS-certified organic cotton, which has been grown without the use of any chemical fertilizers or harmful pesticides. We also have duvet covers for children, also made with GOTS-certified organic cotton.