How restorative one’s sleep actually is often depends on its quality. A regular sleep-wake cycle is essential for good sleep quality. However, our everyday life dictates our daily routine and therefore also our sleeping and wake-up times. Working hours, social obligations, family and leisure activities – all these factors influence how regularly we go to sleep and get up in the morning.
- Good sleep quality requires a regular sleep-wake cycle.
- Shift work increases the risk of health problems.
- Most physical regeneration takes place at night.
What are the effects of an irregular sleep-wake cycle?
Especially people who have a job with irregular working hours or shift work are familiar with the physical stress caused by this “mini-jetlag”. The shift in the natural bio-rhythm represents a major change for the human organism. And above all, as a result, the quality of sleep suffers significantly.
By nature, humans are considered to be active during the day. All physical processes are controlled by daylight. We need daylight for the production of various hormones, including the happiness hormone serotonin. The sleep-relevant hormone melatonin, in turn, is formed from serotonin. Regeneration at night is also a decisive factor. The body can regenerate and recover best at night. Night sleep is also essential for the brain and for processing new information and daytime impressions! But in people who work night shifts or alternating shifts, the biological internal clock loses its balance. This can often result in health impairments such as cardiovascular problems, sleep disturbances as well as digestive disorders or weight problems. The social environment also frequently suffers from the shifted times of day and night.
Not only physical, but also psychological stress can be a result of this lifestyle. The risk of depression increases, as does the degree of nervousness. On the other hand, stress resistance decreases. Those affected often try to bridge the tiredness with an increased consumption of caffeine, often eat fatty and quickly prepared meals or they might smoke a cigarette.
Tips for healthy sleep
Our body is a true miracle, also in terms of sleep. Although we can deal with less hours of sleep for one night without major consequences, this should not become a habit. Sleep experts therefore recommend:
- maintaining a regular sleep-wake cycle – even on weekends and holidays
- refraining from caffeine, alcohol and energy drinks from the late afternoon on
- not to consume fatty and opulent food late in the evening
- developing an evening ritual – the body gets used to it and adapts automatically to the “trained” bedtime
- to generally air the rooms well, and to keep the bedroom as quiet and dark as possible – the ideal room temperature for restful sleep is between 16°C and 20°C
- if you work the night shift, you can prepare your body the night before by rescheduling bedtime and getting up time
- informing the private environment about the shift schedule – this way it can be better taken into account
- developing a regularity despite shift work – this includes regular bedtime
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