People who suffer from sleep disorders are often tired during the day and experience exhaustion (Zulley & Knab 2014). The global dimension of insomnia is a matter cause – people are already talking about a worldwide epidemic (Stranges et al. 2012). But why is restful sleep so important? And what can we do to ensure healthy sleep ourselves?
Sleep: Neither a luxury nor a waste of time
Nearly a third of our lives is spent sleeping. During sleep, our body cells renew and everyday impressions and information are processed. Too little, or poor sleep, risks not only difficulties in concentration, but also lower performance levels. Above all, sleep deprivation can put your health at risk, including a weakened immune system, headaches and tension. Moreover, links have been made between sleep disorders and psychological illnesses such as depression. And the digestive and cardiovascular systems also need rest.
Restful sleep follows different sleep stages: light, deep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. The phases change in a regular rhythm of about 90 minutes. We lightly wake from the REM stage before falling back into a deeper sleep. On average, adults sleep seven to eight hours. The actual amount of sleep required varies from person to person: some feel well rested after five hours while others need more than nine hours to get a good night’s sleep. Decisive for regeneration however, is not only the duration of sleep, but also the length of deep sleep which mainly happens in the first four to five hours after falling asleep.