There are countless ways to promote better sleep: but which methods actually work? Counting sheep, drinking a glass of beer as a nightcap or falling asleep watching TV - everyone has already tried one or the other old-fashioned trick to fall asleep better. Often without success. And no wonder, sleep researchers know these days. After all, many methods actually have the opposite effect. For example, television tends to be more stimulating than calming down. Alcohol helps to fall asleep quickly, but on the other hand it ensures less restful sleep. And counting sheep is a good approach, but usually distracts too little to really turn off. Incidentally, the whole thing could work better if you count in steps of seven, my experts say.
From the bag of tricks
But there are also slumber remedies that can really help. This includes, for example, the good old milk with honey: It contains the amino acid tryptophan, from which the sleep-promoting messenger serotonin is formed. The honey ensures a faster absorption into the blood. Even music has proven itself. It should be quiet and pleasing to the listener in the first place. It is also important that you focus on the piece and so stops the thought carousel in the head. Another type of sleep music has been studied by scientists at the University of Cologne and found to be effective. These are sounds of a certain wave range that corresponds to that of deep sleep. The meditative tones are barely audible throughout the night and should extend the sleep duration. Corresponding CDs (Somnia) are available in pharmacies. Experts confirm the benefits of light therapy especially in the case of disturbances of the day-night rhythm - for example among shift workers. Other alternative methods that can help with sleep disorders include hypnosis, acupuncture, and acupressure.
An often simpler and faster way to find a peaceful sleep, represent drugs from the pharmacy. Herbal supplements often help very well. Valerian, passionflower, hops and lemon balm are used as single or combined preparations. Valerian often helps alone in a simple sleep disorder. If a nervous restlessness is added, combinations can make sense. The special feature of the medicinal plants is that they only promote falling asleep when you are tired anyway. During the day they are more of a reassuring feature. Another advantage of the preparations: they usually show no side effects. Only very few people have allergies or stomach depressions. The latter can be easily prevented by taking the remedies after a meal. A habituation does not occur in the medicinal plants, so that they can theoretically be taken permanently. Nevertheless, should be taken from time to time a break. In many cases, it turns out that the affected person finds peace again without slumbering help. Synthetic antihistamines with the active substances diphenhydramine or doxylamine are more effective faster. These preparations are especially recommended for acute sleep disorders, that is, when someone needs help on short notice due to travel fever or test anxiety. Also, the remedy is indicated when patients are struggling with more persistent sleep disorders and suffer from acute fatigue. They can be taken in these cases for about two to three weeks. However, they should not be used for a long time, since there is a habituation effect and they do not work so well. It is also important to schedule a sleep period of eight to ten hours, as otherwise a so-called "hangover" can occur, which means that the drugs were still effective the following morning. However, the risk of morning drowsiness is lower in diphenhydramine preparations.
Attention side effects
In severe stress situations such as a family death or other traumatic experiences, the doctor often prescribes sleeping pills. These usually belong to the family of benzodiazepines. The preparations are extremely reliable and additionally slightly mood-enhancing. However, they produce a physical dependence in long-term use, which are accompanied by withdrawal symptoms at weaning. These can even increase the sleep problems. Therefore, it is particularly important to follow the dosing instructions and the recommended duration of use. Anyone who has been using such products for a long time should, together with the doctor, try to reduce the dosage slowly.