Sleep is something that affects everyone. We know very well that sleep is part of our existence like breathing, even if we are not necessarily immediately aware of the functions of sleep.
But although everyone has to sleep, everyone deals with it differently. Especially when it comes to being able to sleep as well as possible. Some people stick to the suggested number of hours of sleep meticulously, while others do without television an hour before going to sleep. But is that enough? Use ear muffs for sleeping
A personal relationship with sleep
As far as we have dealt with the topic of night rest in the past, it is not always easy to determine what constitutes healthy sleep. We are looking in vain for a generally applicable definition and research in this area is still limited.
Perhaps this reluctance has something to do with the fact that the subject of sleep - what is healthy or normal - is so subjective. Regardless of whether we attach an important or a secondary role to our sleep - we spend an average of a third of our lives sleeping. That is precisely why nobody can actually say this discussion is unimportant.
In summary, if we have been sleeping on average 23 years of our lives, then sleep must surely be very important, right?
Some claim that those who sleep too much miss their lives: Napoleon was known for dismissing too much sleep as a waste of time. Others, however, are very keen on adhering to the exact sleeping times, as this should benefit productivity and creativity.
The problem starts with the definition
So what defines healthy sleep? It is not easy to find something new without clearly defined terms. Accordingly, one could perhaps say that healthy sleep is simply the opposite of sleep disorders or problems - that is, bad sleep.
To make matters worse, most people are not even aware of whether they are sleeping well or poorly. Because like so much in life, the term “health” is perhaps just one expression on a continuum.
The WHO defined the term health in 1948 as follows:
Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not the mere absence of illness or ailment.
Daniel J. Buysse went even further and, among other things, dealt with the definition of sleep health in his work. He describes it as a multi-dimensional pattern of sleep-wakefulness, adapted to individual, social and ecological requirements, which brings physical and mental well-being with it.
In his opinion, good sleep is characterized by subjective satisfaction, appropriate timing, appropriate duration, high efficiency, and sustained vigilance during waking hours.
Trend research sleep
Science never sleeps - a lot has happened in the last few years, especially in the field of sleep research. More and more people are interested in how important good sleep really is. Above all, it is important for many of us how we can optimize our sleep. In today's society there are more and more problems with insomnia and poor sleep.
The demands of everyday life on each individual are not exactly decreasing either - perhaps this is precisely why it is important to ensure a relaxing, good balance. It is not for nothing that this is one of the most important functions of sleep.
But healthy sleep is not only an important issue for stressed people. We want to give our children the best possible support. To do this, we need to know whether the television in the children's room is really such a good investment. However, results from the field of various diseases and how they are influenced by sleep are also extremely interesting.
How do you recognize good sleep?
Almost every day we get new advice about our night's sleep and how we can (apparently) improve it. Opinions on sleeping times, lighting conditions, mattresses, etc. are increasing in number. Getting enough sleep is the most important thing for our health - but too much sleep is not recommended.
So here we have another topic where there seems to be more than one truth. But how does research actually define good sleep? A useful (albeit not validated) tool that helps measure sleep quality is the SATED scale. The 5 key dimensions described can give us an initial indication of what makes good sleep:
1. Satisfaction with your own sleep
Of course, the subjective perception of sleep is also very important here. When you constantly feel like you can't sleep or feel well
If you don't recover at all, it certainly contributes to poor sleep health.
The task here is to find out why this feeling is due. Whether really bad sleep is the problem or maybe something else (e.g. depression, poor lighting in the room, restlessness of our sleeping partner ...) plays a role.
2. Wakefulness in the waking hours
If you feel excessively tired during the day, you should double-check. If phases of careless dozing accumulate, this could also indicate a poor sleep.
Tip: The popular afternoon nap shouldn't cause you any problems.
3. Timing of sleep
Many people have difficulty falling asleep or are suddenly wide awake in the middle of the night. A poor sleep-wake cycle could be responsible for this.
During sleep we find ourselves in a loop of repetitive phases: dream sleep, light sleep, deep sleep. If you feel anything but awake in the morning, it may be that you have just woken up from a period of deep sleep.
4. Sleep efficiency
There are big differences, especially when falling asleep. Some people lie down and fall asleep immediately, others take a little longer. The intensity of sleep cannot be standardized either.
In short: sleep efficiency describes how well (or poorly) the time of rest is used. Of course, this aspect is not that easy to influence.
5. Duration of sleep
How long do you sleep a day? It would be healthy to sleep between 6 and 8 hours. All times between these two sizes are considered a healthy sleep duration.
Regardless of these categories, which are supposed to give us only one direction, the greatest predictor of healthy sleep is of course our personal assessment. Most of the time we can tell very well whether we feel rested or totally exhausted. With our sleep calculator you can find the right bedtime for you.
Conclusion: how important is sleep for our health and well-being? When you have a healthy sleep rhythm, you feel more efficient, more resilient and more creative. But aside from these short-term factors, sleep can do a lot more.
Healthy sleep is also strongly related to various clinical pictures. B. with the metabolic syndrome (Jennings), depression (Baglioni), coronary heart disease (Hoevenaar-Blom), diabetes and hypertension (Vgontzas).
Circumstances that are indirectly influenced by poor sleep, such as the increased risk of accidents, bad decisions in the business world, etc., have not yet been taken into account here.
It is easy to see why it pays to be interested in the topic and why it is so important that research continues to be conducted here.
Even if good sleep is actually just an idea that is almost impossible to achieve in the real world, it is worthwhile to stay tuned here. Because only when we can define what good or healthy sleep actually is, can we also determine whether we have problems here or not.