Sleep problems - causes, symptoms and therapy

Sleep problems - causes, symptoms and therapy

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Most people understand sleep problems as simple sleep disorders. In fact, this means different forms of sleep disorders (dyssomnia). Corresponding disorders, in addition to problems with falling asleep themselves, can also manifest themselves in abnormalities during sleep. A good example is grinding your teeth or speaking in your sleep. A particularly dangerous sleep disorder is sleep apnea, in which life-threatening breathing interruptions occur during sleep. This article tells you what other types of sleep problems there are and how they are treated.

Useful information: The term dyssomnia is derived partly from Latin and partly from Greek. The prefix dys is of Greek origin and means "bad" during somnus is the Latin variant of the word "sleep". The latter is also the name of the Roman god of sleep, Somnus. His Greek counterpart, the god Hypnos, gave hypnosis its name. Incidentally, hypnotherapy is a popular therapeutic measure for the treatment of sleep disorders.

The study of sleep behavior is the subject of sleep medicine (somnology), which despite clear advances in knowledge in the past few decades is far from being finished with its research into sleep. Special structures and functional mechanisms of the brain play a crucial role here, and their decoding has not yet been fully completed. To date, we only know that sleep is controlled by the so-called sleep center in the brain. This is composed of neuronal structures of the central nervous system in the back of the hypothalamus and thalamus. Both sections belong to the midbrain (Diencephalon) and use appropriate nerve signals to regulate the day-night change, also known as the circadian rhythm, which in turn controls the sleep-wake rhythm.

Two hormones play a major role in the biochemical activation and termination of sleep. While serotonin, as a calming hormone, plays a key role in initiating sleep, a release or inadequate inhibition of the stimulating noradrenaline leads to wakefulness. The hormone is sent by the reticular formation in the brain stem as a messenger substance to the thalamus and hypothalamus in order to wake up the sleeper.

Up to this point, sleep itself is maintained by highly complex brain processes which, like sleep, switch between different radio stations or radio frequencies and cause a change in brain wave patterns. A distinction is made between the phases that occur in non-REM sleep (Non Rapid Eye Movement) and in which no rapid eye movements take place, and REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), for which rapid eye movements are typical. The different sleep phases can be expressed in five stages, which merge into one another after waking.

  • Stage I - Non-REM sleep phase one: When awake, there is a frequency of attention in the brain, which is represented by beta waves (14 to 30 Hertz). In periods of rest, as well as during the initiation of sleep, the frequency drops into the range of alpha waves (eight to 13 Hertz). A condition that usually occurs sooner or later when you relax and / or close your eyes. During the first non-REM sleep phase, the brain changes from alpha waves to theta waves (four to seven Hertz), which reduces muscle tension and slowly reduces the conscious awareness of the environment. A light sleep occurs as a transition from waking to twilight. At this stage, there may be a tendency to fall asleep if the decrease in muscle tension is not smooth enough.
  • Stage II - Non-REM sleep phase two: The brain remains on the frequency of the theta waves and thus stabilizes sleep. This process takes up about 50 percent of total natural sleep and is usually associated with K complexes and sleep spindles. These are special wave patterns, some of which exceed the theta wave range and are sometimes due to the last sensations from the environment.
  • Stage III - Non-REM sleep phase three: The brain changes from light sleep to deep sleep. To do this, the theta wave frequency is changed to delta waves (0.1 to four Hertz). The muscle tension, which was already significantly reduced shortly after falling asleep, now usually continues to decrease. With dyssomnia, which cause a lack of relaxation of the muscle tone, sleep disorders such as sleep walking or gnashing of teeth occur during deep sleep. These are not infrequently the expression of an eventful dream event that can start in the deep sleep phase.
  • Stage IV - Non-REM sleep phase four: Some authors now count the fourth phase of non-REM sleep to phase three, because in principle there is a short phase of light sleep before a second, more pronounced deep sleep phase takes place. Non-REM phases two and three repeat before the final phase of the sleep cycle, REM sleep, finally occurs.
  • Stage V - REM sleep: The sleep phase characterized by rapid movements of the eyes includes the so-called dream sleep. This is where the particularly intense dream event takes place, which we usually remember after waking up. In contrast to the non-REM phases, the frequency of REM sleep lies in the range of the beta waves characteristic of the waking state, if not in the range of the gamma waves (over 30 Hertz). The brain is extremely active during REM sleep, which sleep researchers are always fascinated by. However, since it was still not possible to fully decipher what exactly happens during REM sleep and the intense recovery that the body experiences in this phase is in clear contradiction to the greatly increased brain activity, REM sleep is sometimes also called paradoxical sleep.
  • In the case of a healthy sleep rhythm, the sleep cycle described lasts about 90 to 110 minutes and is repeated about five to seven times, with the deep sleep phases becoming shorter as sleep progresses, while the REM phases become longer. It becomes apparent that sleep disorders not only shorten this natural sleep rhythm, but can also completely confuse it. Whoever wakes up while sleeping has to start all over again regardless of the sleep phase in which he was before waking up. Dyssomnias can also interfere with, if not completely prevent, the next phase of sleep, which then reduces the recovery achieved during sleep.

    What are dyssomnias?

    Very few are likely to be familiar with the term dyssomnia, although a significant proportion of the population claims to suffer from it. Even though most sleep disorders are still acute, the percentage of sleepless people in Germany is very worrying. According to statistics from the Robert Koch Institute, around 25 percent of Germans suffer from sleep disorders. A total of 11 percent of those affected also state that their sleep is not restful in the long term.

    However, the fact that dyssomnia has become a widespread disease does nothing to change the potential risk posed by sleep disorders. If these are chronic in nature, there is a serious risk to life for those affected. Because a permanent lack of sleep or sleep quality reduces life expectancy enormously and can also cause serious health problems such as depression, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. The spectrum of possible sleep disorders can be roughly divided as follows:


    An insomnia, also known as a hyposomnia or agrypnia, occurs when the person concerned does not get enough sleep for certain reasons (e.g. noise pollution or poor sleep hygiene). These are classic problems falling asleep and staying asleep. A distinction can be made between primary (paradoxical) and secondary (idiopathic) insomnia. There is a primary insomnia with inexplicable problems falling asleep and staying asleep, the cause of which cannot be found. A secondary insomnia, on the other hand, always has an obvious physical or psychological cause. A special form of insomnia is the parasomnia.


    This form of insomnia is associated with undesirable behavioral problems during sleep. These include, for example

    • Nightmares (nightmare),
    • Breathing interruptions during sleep (sleep apnea),
    • Bedwetting (Enuresis nocturna),
    • Night fear (Pavor nocturnus),
    • Sleep paralysis (sleep paralysis),
    • Sleepwalking (lunatism),
    • Speaking while sleeping (somniloquie)
    • and gnashing of teeth while sleeping (bruxism).


    Hypersomnia is popularly known as addiction to sleep. Behind this are sleep disorders, which are associated with increased daytime sleepiness and can sometimes lead to pronounced daytime sleep. Typical hypersomnia are among others

    • Sleeping sickness (narcolepsy),
    • Sleeping Beauty Syndrome (Kleine-Levin Syndrome),
    • behavior-induced sleep deprivation syndrome
    • and disease-related hypersomnia.

    Circadian sleep-wake rhythm disturbances

    With this form of sleep disorders, there is interference between sleep and wake times. As a result, sufferers cannot sleep when it is desirable or necessary, but are not fully awake when it is necessary in everyday life. With appropriate dyssomnia, the sleep rhythm is not tied to day and night changes. The most well-known forms of circadian sleep-wake rhythm disorder are jet lag and shift worker syndrome.

    Other sleep disorders

    In addition to the sleep disorders shown, there are some sleep phenomena that are not assigned to either of the two dyssomnia variants. This applies, for example, to snoring (rhonchopathy). Medicine describes such phenomena as "norm variants of sleep without illness value", whereby both norm variants can indicate certain health problems.

    How do dyssomnias develop?

    Ultimately, individual causes are often responsible for the character of a dyssomnia. Unfortunately, these cannot be diagnosed for every sleep disorder for the reasons mentioned above. For example, primary insomnia is based on an inexplicable sleep disorder. Patients feel that their own sleep is inadequate here, even though it should be medically unremarkable, sufficient and relaxing.

    Lack of sleep hygiene

    The term sleep hygiene describes the way in which we take care of our sleep. Regular sleep times are an essential basis for healthy sleep hygiene. So if you go to bed repeatedly at different times, your brain usually has difficulties adapting to a regular sleep pattern in the long term. In the majority of all cases this leads to problems falling asleep and staying asleep. If different time zones or working hours are involved, circadian sleep disorders are also conceivable.

    Likewise, an unsuitable sleeping environment, for example due to strong noise pollution at the sleeping place and the individual activity immediately before falling asleep, can have a detrimental effect on sleep hygiene. The following factors are part of poor sleep hygiene:

    • Extreme time zone changes (more than two to three hours time difference),
    • high noise or pollution at the sleeping place,
    • mentally demanding activities before sleep (for example watching TV or working on a PC),
    • long sleep a day,
    • Shift work,
    • late bedtime,
    • constant sleep breaks
    • or too short sleep.

    Psychological factors

    The cause of the psychological factors is greatest for sleep disorders. It's hardly surprising when you consider that sleep is generated by the brain. One of the most common causes of dyssomnia is mental stress. Difficulties falling asleep and sleeping through occur again and again due to stress. It does not have to be everyday stress that causes sleep problems. Likewise, subtle stress, such as financial worries, inner unrest, family anger, permanent noise pollution or a foreign environment, can increase the stress factor for the psyche to such an extent that acute insomnia develops. However, this form of insomnia usually only lasts for a few days to weeks and resolves itself as soon as the stress situation is resolved.

    On the other hand, the situation is very different in the case of psychological stress caused by trauma. While temporary everyday stress usually only leads to acute sleep problems, serious psychological trauma can lead to chronically disturbed sleep, which in addition to mild sleep and sleep disorders also causes serious parasomnias such as severe nightmares or bedwetting. For example, such causes come into question

    • domestic violence,
    • Mobbing,
    • Cases of abuse
    • or deaths.

    In addition, mental illnesses are also conceivable as triggers of sleep disorders. These often cause disturbances in the biochemical substance balance of the brain, which ultimately also affects the function of the sleep center in the brain. Classic diseases that disturb the patient's rhythm of sleep are:

    • Anxiety disorders and phobias,
    • Depressions,
    • Tendencies towards brooding,
    • Psychoses,
    • Personality disorders
    • and behavioral disorders.

    By the way: Another factor that can be counted among the psychological factors in the case of sleep problems is the so-called sleep conditioning in childhood. Healthy sleep is significantly influenced by our early childhood education. For example, if a child experiences regular sleep rituals and a comfortable sleeping environment, insomnia occurs less frequently in adolescence and later in adulthood. Missing sleep rituals or the absence of familiar objects in the sleeping environment, on the other hand, greatly favor children's sleep disorders.

    Physical factors

    The physical causes of insomnia sleep disorders are physical diseases. Lethal familial insomnia is particularly critical here. It is triggered by transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (short: TSE). Behind this is a disease that leads to spongy changes in the brain tissue. The disease results in usually fatal insomnia that can last for several years and ultimately result in a chronic and fatal lack of sleep. Apart from that, less life-threatening illnesses are also conceivable as triggers of sleep disorders. These include in particular neurological diseases, heart and thyroid diseases, such as:

    • Dementia,
    • Encephalitis,
    • Epilepsy,
    • Colds,
    • Heart disease,
    • Parkinson's
    • or hyperthyroidism.

    Hormonal imbalances in the body, such as those associated with hyperthyroidism, are not infrequently a reason for sleep disorders. This is especially true for women, for whom fluctuations in the hormone balance can cause both sleep and cycle-related and pregnancy-related problems as well as menopausal symptoms. Similar to some mental illnesses, an unbalanced hormone level can attack the biochemical processes in the brain.

    Exceptional cardiac arrhythmias up to cardiac arrest during sleep, as are typical for sleep apnea, in turn indicate the presence of heart diseases. Depending on how far the disease has progressed, such sleep disorders or sleep abnormalities can be life-threatening. Colds and other respiratory diseases, such as damage to the respiratory center in the brain, which often occurs after a stroke or as a result of a brain tumor, often lead to breathing interruptions or even the notorious snoring due to weakened breathing.

    For both sleep disorders, anatomical malformations such as a different shape of the palate or the suppository are also possible causes. An enlargement of the tongue or tonsils can also be particularly responsible for sleep apnea. Due to the volume, the airways are narrowed here too. This is especially true for the supine position, where an enlarged tongue slides deeper into the throat and thus blocks the airways. Furthermore, malformations such as an excessively large mandible angle, polyps or a curvature of the nasal septum as the cause of sleep apnea cannot be excluded. Grinding of teeth is often caused by a deviation of the bite position from 0.1 millimeters.

    Influence of substance

    Chemical substances, even in medicinal form, can have a significant impact on the development of sleep disorders. According to the guidelines of the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine, amphetamines and other chemical drugs, such as ecstasy, crystal meth and cocaine, are particularly poisonous for healthy sleep. In addition to sleep disorders, breathing interruptions or sudden death during sleep can also occur.

    In addition, stimulants and stimulants such as ritalin, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol are often responsible for sleep disorders. In the area of ​​medication, in particular

    • Antidepressants,
    • Sedative,
    • Beta blocker,
    • Muscle relaxants
    • and sleeping pills,

    who often cause disturbed sleep. This may seem contradictory for sleeping pills and sedatives, but since these drugs have a high habituation effect, patients who are dependent on sleeping pills tend to base their sleep times less on the sleep-wake rhythm than on their own daily routine, which in turn can affect the sleep routine. In addition, people who have stopped taking sleep medication usually have problems finding their way back to a natural sleep pattern.

    The reason for sleep disorders due to the influence of substances can be found in the biochemistry of the brain. Chemical substances influence the release of messenger substances, which are required to maintain the sleep-wake rhythm. With muscle relaxants, on the other hand, drug-induced relaxation of the respiratory or pharyngeal muscles is sometimes responsible for sleep disorders such as snoring or sleep apnea.

    Eating habits

    Eating or drinking at night, as well as poor nutrition and food allergies also affect a person's sleep. Especially at the age of four, children often experience nutritional or allergy-related sleep disorders. However, wrong eating habits and allergies often make restful sleep difficult in adulthood.

    Overweight also plays a special role in snoring and sleep apnea. The additional weight load presses on the respiratory tract during the night lying position and can make breathing difficult. Sleep apnea is often associated with increased daytime sleepiness, making obesity a serious cause of sleepiness.

    Concomitant symptoms

    Of course, the primary complaints of the respective sleep disorder are characteristic of sleep problems. In bruxism, this is gnashing of teeth, in somniloquia, speaking in sleep, and in sleep apnea, the noticeable breathing disorders or breathing interruptions. In the case of insomnia and circadian sleep-wake disorders, the side effects are more difficult, which are mainly noticeable after sleep, i.e. during the day. These include above all

    • Exhaustion,
    • Fear and panic attacks,
    • Eye bags,
    • High blood pressure,
    • Memory loss,
    • Mood swings,
    • disturbed sleep-wake rhythm,
    • Heart stumbling (arrhythmia),
    • Difficulty concentrating,
    • Coordination disorders,
    • A headache,
    • Circulatory problems,
    • Drop in performance,
    • Muscle and nerve disorders,
    • increased irritability,
    • Dizziness,
    • Sweating,
    • Daytime sleepiness,
    • inner unrest,
    • Behavior changes,
    • Personality disorders
    • and perceptual disorders to hallucinations.

    It is not difficult to see that most of these side effects are related to impaired brain function. The reason for this is the biochemical brain processes, which are disturbed by sleep disorders and thus impair the cognitive and motor functions of the brain. This shows how much disturbed sleep affects the body's processes.

    The psychological loss of function can even go so far that it leads to serious changes in behavior and personality. The social consequences of chronic sleep disorders are devastating as well. People with narcolepsy, in particular, are often afraid to go public because they fear falling asleep at unfavorable moments. This often happens in the course of monotonous activities or sleepy conversations, which means embarrassing situations, especially at work or social interactions.

    Sleep disorders are also very problematic in private life or relationships. Snoring, speaking while sleeping or sleepwalking not only affect the sleep of those affected, but also keep partners and family members awake. Concomitant symptoms such as mood swings or increased irritability as a result of lack of sleep can also cause conflict potential with close people.

    Motor disorders due to sleep problems also increase the risk of injury in everyday life and can jeopardize the fitness for work of those affected. In the area of ​​physical health, the risk of heart problems due to dyssomnia should not be underestimated. This can even go so far that, in addition to high blood pressure, serious cardiac arrhythmias arise, which can sometimes be life-threatening.

    Important! Chronic sleep disorders increase the risk of heart and brain infarction by up to 70 percent! Also complaints like

    • chronic blood pressure disorders,
    • Be burned out
    • depressions
    • and diabetes mellitus

    in people with persistent sleep problems much more often than in people with healthy sleep. Therefore, please take the corresponding symptoms seriously in the long term and seek medical help in the event of chronic insomnia!


    Despite the extensive list of possible accompanying complaints, the all-clear can be given for temporary dyssomnia. As long as sleep problems do not last longer than four weeks and do not occur more than three nights a week, there is usually no need to worry. There are stressful phases in life, such as pregnancy, examination anxiety or short-term appointments that can occasionally trigger an acute sleep disorder. However, the situation is different with permanent sleep problems that last for several months or even years. Here, a medical clarification by a neurologist or sleep specialist with appropriate therapeutic measures is essential to ensure the patient's health in the long term.

    The most important specialist medical facility for examining sleep problems is the sleep laboratory, to which people with chronic dyssomnia are now referred by default to get the complaint under control. Appropriate laboratories can now be found in every major university clinic and have the necessary equipment to make a reliable diagnosis.

    In the sleep laboratory, those affected are first given sleep questionnaires that are used for their medical history. The Pittsburg sleep quality index or the Epworth sleepiness scale are often used here to determine how the sleep problems are. In addition, patient-led sleep protocols help to give doctors an overview of sleep hygiene, sleep duration and sleep efficiency.

    In the next step, equipment measurements of sleep behavior are common. They are performed as part of cardiorespiratory polysomnography. At night, patients' sleep is examined in more detail using recording methods such as electrocardiography (EKG), electromyography (EMG) and electroencephalography (EEG) in order to determine existing sleep disorders and their extent. In addition, blood pressure measurements can be carried out or, if there is a specific suspicion, urine samples are taken and blood tests are carried out, which then provide information about possible infectious diseases or the influence of substances through medication, intoxicants and stimulants.

    The length of time spent in the sleep laboratory for the examinations varies greatly. Often, those affected find it difficult to sleep at all on the first night outside their own four walls, which is why at least two nights are usually set in the laboratory for reliable diagnosis. Only then can therapeutic steps be discussed and initiated.


    Depending on the existing sleep disorder, various measures are available for treatment. In many cases, the use of medication is essential. However, sleep problems are one of those health problems in which alternative healing methods also achieve great success. Private measures on the part of the patients are also extremely important in order to go back to an orderly sleep routine.

    Healthy sleep hygiene

    No matter what form of dyssomnia it is - try to actively counteract your sleep disorder with proper sleep hygiene. Create a relaxing sleeping environment that is always well ventilated, protected from light and free from noise. In addition, regular sleep times are essential and the last activities of the day should also be carried out in a quiet routine to prevent sleep disorders.

    Also try to stop any brooding before falling asleep. If the brain activity is too high, it is difficult for the mind to find sleep. Sleep disorders are therefore preprogrammed and can become subacute to chronic if you are prone to brooding. For prevention, meditation is a great way to get your thoughts under control. In doing so, consciously reject any thought of yourself and thus give no clue to brooding.

    In the case of mental stress, you should always strive for a prompt solution to the problem situation and not put pressure on your body through permanent everyday stress. The inner restlessness opens up all kinds of sleep disorders at such moments, which is problematic not only for the treatment but also for the prevention of dyssomnia.


    In the case of more profound psychological causes for sleep problems, such as repressed psychological trauma, but also in the case of chronic stress due to stress and substance dependencies, only specialist psychological care can be considered for the treatment of the sleep disorder. The aim of the treatment here must be extensive behavioral therapy, which in addition to therapeutic discussions also includes training on improved sleep hygiene. Hypnotherapy is particularly popular in this regard. It can turn numerous sleep disorders for the better by suggestively influencing the subconscious and, according to patients, is extremely successful. Since hypnosis is directly aimed at the behavior of those affected, it works particularly well in improving sleep hygiene.

    The same also applies to the psychological and psychological consequences of sleeping sickness. Coping strategies should not be missing to improve the handling of the disease. For example, social fears in therapy have to be reduced to protect patients from isolation. Concomitant complaints such as depression or pronounced mood swings also require therapeutic treatment, which does not exclude drug therapy.

    Medical therapy

    Chronic or disease-related cases of insomnia often require the use of strong medication. Among others, the following are possible:

    • Antidepressants,
    • Antihistamines,
    • Antipsychotics,
    • Benzodiazepines
    • and sedatives.

    Many of these preparations can only be taken for a short time, since certain ingredients in the medication can lead to drug dependencies. Chronic sleep disorders are therefore not suitable as an area of ​​application.

    Unfortunately, there are not many treatment options available to treat hypersomnia per se. Only drugs, which mostly consist of amphetamines, can counteract the insomnia. In addition, therapy against symptoms of daytime sleepiness (for example hallucinations, cataplexies or sleep apnea) is possible. Here medicine usually also works with antidepressants or so-called stimulants. The latter have a stimulating effect on the organism like amphetamines and can artificially increase the nerve and muscle activity of hypersomnia patients. Be careful when taking appropriate preparations, because amphetamine-containing agents in particular have a very high addictive potential. The sleep disorder could quickly turn into a drug addiction, which experience has shown to end in a vicious cycle.

    Operations and corrective actions

    Occasionally, surgical intervention or the use of certain devices to improve sleep is necessary to treat sleep disorders. For sleep apnea, snoring, and gnashing of teeth, for example, there are some aids that prevent breathing disorders. Auch spezielle Geräte, die eine Rückenlage und damit ein Aufkommen von Schnarchen oder Atemproblemen verhindern, sind erhältlich.

    Ferner sind Atemmasken eine gute Hilfe, welche bei Schlafapnoe im Falle eines Atemaussetzers die Luft- und Sauerstoffzufuhr gewährleisten. Sofern Ihre Hypersomnie sehr umfangreich und mit Schlafapnoe oder Kataplexie verbunden ist, muss ebenfalls abgewägt werden, ob das Tragen einer Atemmaske während des nächtlichen Schlafs sinnvoll ist. Sie kann neben schlafbezogenen Atemstörungen nämlich auch die für Hypersomnie typischen Muskellähmungen kompensieren, welche gelegentlich lebensbedrohliche Atemstillstände provozieren.

    Bei Zähneknirschen im Speziellen verordnen Zahnärzte für gewöhnlich eine Aufbissschiene. Diese verhindert, dass es durch nächtliches Knirschen zu einem übermäßigen Verschleiß des Gebisses kommt. Auch dämpft die Schiene das akustische Knirschgeräusch, was für Partner der Betroffenen als große Hilfe empfunden wird.

    Polypen sowie vergrößerte Rachenmandeln als Ursache für Schlafapnoe oder Schnarchen lassen sich dagegen nur chirurgisch entfernen. Ebenso ist eine operative Korrektur von Fehlstellungen und Fehlbildungen möglich. In Abhängigkeit von einer zugrunde liegenden Erkrankung ist ferner eine Operation von Tumorerkrankungen im Gehirn oder auch verletzungsbedingten Schäden am Atemzentrum denkbar. Ebenso erfordern bestehende Herz- und Gefäßerkrankungen wie Arterienverkalkung (Arteriosklerose), Koronare Herzkrankheit oder krankhafte Herzrhythmusstörungen eventuell einen Eingriff. Letztere lassen sich möglicherweise nur durch Einsatz eines Herzschrittmachers behandeln.

    Physiotherapie und Bewegungstraining

    Yoga, autogenes Training, progressive Muskelrelaxation oder physiotherapeutische Maßnahmen liefern Schlaflosen oft hilfreiche Entspannungsmethoden, die allesamt zu einem erholsameren Schlaf führen können. Zudem regt die Bewegung zu mehr gesunder Aktivität an, die idealerweise in einem beruhigenden Spaziergang vor dem Einschlafen mündet. Der Körper ist durch die Bewegung dann erschöpft und gleichzeitig mit Sauerstoff versorgt, was der erleichterten Schlafeinleitung dient.

    Gleiches gilt natürlich auch für Sport, wobei hier darauf zu achten ist, es nicht zu übertreiben, um keine Stresssituation für den Körper zu provozieren. Auch sollte die sportliche Betätigung etwas zeitversetzt zum Schlafrhythmus stattfinden, da extreme körperliche Anstrengung die Ausschüttung von Stresshormonen Adrenalin und Noradrenalin ankurbelt, was der Schlafeinleitung wenig zuträglich ist.


    Nehmen Sie in den letzten Stunden vor dem Einschlafen weder schwere Nahrung wie Fleisch oder Weißmehlprodukte, noch koffein- oder alkoholhaltige Getränke zu sich. Trinken Sie stattdessen lieber einen beruhigenden Tee oder essen Sie einen leichten Salat. Ihre Verdauung wird es Ihnen danken, indem sie Ihren Organismus während des Schlafs weniger in Unruhe versetzt.

    Mit Blick auf Sodbrennen, das ebenfalls schlafraubend sein kann, sollten zusätzlich säurebildende Lebensmittel und Gerichte wie Tomaten oder scharf gewürzte Speisen gemieden werden. Und auch viel Zucker beinhaltende Lebensmittel wie Süßigkeiten, Marmelade, Honig, Gebäck oder gezuckertes Obst (zum Beispiel aus der Dose) sind zu meiden. Denn die erhöhte Zufuhr von Zucker führt nachts zu Schwankungen im Blutzuckerspiegel, was das Ein- und Durchschlafen aufgrund plötzlicher Energieschübe erschwert.

    Es gibt aber auch Lebensmittel, die einen guten Schlaf unterstützen. Hierzu zählen vor allem Produkte, welche die Aminosäure Tryptophan enthalten. Der Proteinbestandteil fördert nämlich die Ausschüttung des Glücks- und Schlafhormons Serotonin, was zur Beendigung von Ein- und Durchschlafstörungen natürlich besonders wünschenswert ist. Zu finden ist Tryptophan in zahlreichen Nahrungsmitteln, wobei vor allem leicht bekömmliche Lebensmittel wie

    • Ananas,
    • Avocado,
    • Bananen,
    • Cashewnüsse,
    • Datteln,
    • Fisch (Thunfisch und Lachs),
    • Geflügelfleisch,
    • Haferflocken,
    • Naturreis,
    • Sojaprodukte
    • und Walnüsse

    zu empfehlen sind. Von Erbsen, die zwar ebenfalls viel Tryptophan enthalten, jedoch gleichzeitig vermehrt zu schlafstörenden Blähungen führen, ist hingegen abzuraten.


    Es gibt zahlreiche Heilpflanzen mit schlaffördernder und beruhigender Wirkung, die im Übrigen auch häufig Bestandteil natürlicher Schlafmittel sind. Besser ist es allerdings, die Kräuter als Tee zu verwenden, um einer Arzneimittelsucht vorzubeugen und bewusst auf die reine Kraft der Kräuter zu setzen. Zu den klassischen Schlafkräutern zählen dabei:

    • Baldrian,
    • Fenchel,
    • Hopfen,
    • Johannis herbs,
    • Kamille,
    • Katzenminze,
    • Lavendel,
    • Melisse,
    • Muskatellersalbei,
    • Passionsblume
    • und Zitronenmelisse.

    Neben der Verwendung als Teekräuter kann man die Heilpflanzen auch in Form von Tinkturtropfen einnehmen. Selbst eine Anwendung im Bereich der Aromatherapie ist nicht ausgeschlossen. Ganz im Gegenteil, vermögen es die aromatischen Düfte vieler Heilpflanzen (wie der Passionsblume) verknüpft mit einem bewussten Schlafritual, Geist und Seele noch besser zu entspannen.

    Seit einigen Jahren besonders gefragt sind Aromatherapien in Kombination mit Klangtherapie. Die Behandlung muss dabei nicht einmal von einem Fachmann durchgeführt werden, sondern kann ganz simpel aus eigens geschaffenen Schlafritualen bestehen. Sei es nun das ätherische Öl im Duftschälchen oder die entspannende Lieblingsmusik – bei der Aroma- und Klangtherapien können Sie Schlaf und Schlafeinleitung buchstäblich selbst komponieren. Achten Sie aber darauf, wirklich nur beruhigende Düfte und Melodien zu verwenden, um adäquat abschalten zu können.

    Tip: Ergänzend zu ätherischen Kräuterölen aus bereits genannten Kräutern bieten sich bei einer Aromatherapie gegen Schlafstörungen auch Benzoe, Weihrauch und Ylang-Ylang als Duftöle an. Diese verströmen einen besonders entspannenden Duft, der das Ein- und Durchschlafen ebenfalls erleichtern kann. (ma)

    Author and source information

    This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


    • Jürgen Staedt, Dieter Riemann: Diagnostik und Therapie von Schlafstörungen, Kohlhammer Verlag, 1. Auflage, 2006
    • Thomas-Christian Wetter, Roland Popp, Michael Arzt, Thomas Pollmächer: Schlafmedizin, Urban & Fischer Verlag/Elsevier GmbH, 2019
    • Heinrich F. Becker et al.: S3-Leitlinie: Nicht erholsamer Schlaf/Schlafstörungen, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schlafforschung und Schlafmedizin (DGSM), (Abruf 01.07.2019), DGSM
    • Alexander Prehn-Kristensen et al.: S1-Leitlinie 028-012 „Nichtorganische Schlafstörungen“, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie, Psychosomatik und Psychotherapie (DGKJP), (Abruf 04.07.2019), AWMF
    • Franziska Rubin: Medizin für einen guten Schlaf, ZS Verlag GmbH, 1. Auflage, 2018

    ICD-Codes für diese Krankheit:G47ICD-Codes sind international gültige Verschlüsselungen für medizinische Diagnosen. Sie finden sich z.B. in Arztbriefen oder auf Arbeitsunfähigkeits­bescheinigungen.

    Video: Sleep disorders and treatments (May 2022).