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Hand on heart: How many hours do you sleep every night?

Less than 7 hours?! Then you should read on now!

Because sleep is extremely important for your health. About seven to eight hours of sleep is optimal so that our body can really recover from everyday life, renew its cells and strengthen your defenses. 

However, there are many people in the world who suffer from sleep disorders. Falling asleep quickly and sleeping through the night is a real struggle for them. 

According to studies, there are even more and more people with sleep problems nowadays. 

Learn what you can do to improve your sleep quality in this article.

  1.   Why is sleep so important?

Restful sleep contributes to health and quality of life. We sleep for about a third of our lives, and that's a good thing. Because sleep problems or insufficient sleep can have a negative impact on your health and well-being. 

But why is sleep so important? 

Sleep is primarily for physical recovery. Vital processes take place during sleep, such as the removal of metabolic waste products, strengthening of the immune system and cell renewal. 

The nightly break is also essential for our brain. It needs time to process and store the impressions of the day. Those who sleep healthily and restfully can concentrate better in everyday life, have more energy and overall perform better. It also has an effect on emotions and mood. 

Healthy sleep means that we can fall asleep quickly, sleep through the night without any problems and wake up refreshed the next morning. Our sleep-wake rhythm is influenced by hormones. In daylight, the wakefulness hormone serotonin is released. When it gets dark, the body converts it to the sleep hormone melatonin and we become tired.  

The inner clock plays a central role in this. It influences when we prefer to go to sleep and get up. But our sleep quality also depends on our sleep hygiene. This refers to habits that promote healthy sleep and the environment in which we sleep.

  1.   Common causes of sleep disorders

You can't get a wink of sleep, even though you're actually tired. Then you start thinking about your life or work, roll from side to side in bed, fall asleep briefly and wake up again after a short time. During the day one is then unfocused, tired and less efficient. 

Psychological reasons are at the top of the list of causes of sleep problems. Stress, private worries or a job that doesn't make people happy keep many people awake at night. As soon as the body and brain get some rest, it starts thinking about life. Evening TV and computer use also causes sleepless nights. Caffeine, alcohol, drugs and medications can also be reason for sleep disorders. 

But did you know that a lack of nutrients can also cause sleep disorders?

  1.   What vitamins & minerals can help with sleep disorder?

Iron

The trace element iron plays a major role in healthy sleep. It is important for many metabolic processes, for example for the regeneration processes during the night. If there is an iron deficiency, the metabolic processes cannot run optimally, which can permanently lead to overtiredness and irregular sleep patterns.

Magnesium

Magnesium  is essential for our heart, muscles and bones. 

It slows down the release of stress hormones, night cramps and muscle twitching. It is also known to help our body rest and is therefore recommended to take especially just before bedtime. Therefore, if there is an undersupply of the mineral, our sleep quality also suffers and we have to struggle with sleep disorders.

Vitamin D

We suffer from a lack of  vitamin D  especially in the darker seasons. It is so important for strong bones and muscles and for our immune system. An undersupply of vitamin D can make itself felt, among other things, through an increased susceptibility to infections, muscle and joint pain, as well as through fatigue and sleep disturbances. Experts say that vitamin D is crucial in the regulation of the sleep-wake rhythm.

Potassium

Potassium serves our body as an electrolyte. Such electrically charged ions take over many important processes in our organism. Above all, potassium is essential in the regulation of water balance. It is also involved in controlling blood pressure and heart rhythm and helps to transmit impulses correctly between nerves and muscles. Potassium deficiency often manifests itself in muscle weakness, headaches, cardiac arrhythmias and sleep disturbances. Interestingly, despite physical fatigue, it still causes problems falling asleep. The body is then in a state of stress, signals and stimuli can no longer be transmitted properly. As a result, the sleep rhythm is significantly impaired.

Selenium

The trace element selenium is a component of many enzymes and accordingly integrated in numerous processes. The antioxidant effect of selenium is also significant. It protects our cells from free radicals. If we are deficient in selenium, this can be noticeable through spots on the nail, hair loss, joint complaints and fatigue, among other things. But our sleep quality can also be affected. Because due to the undersupply, our hormone balance comes out of balance. This also affects the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Restlessness and problems falling asleep are then the consequences.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C  is known for its antioxidant effect and positive influence on the structure of cell tissue, bones and teeth. It also supports the normal function of the immune system and helps protect the body's cells from harmful substances. 

But did you know that vitamin C also promotes the body's production of the "happiness hormone" serotonin? Serotonin has a calming effect on the body and is instrumental in the production of our sleep hormone melatonin, which in turn regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Vitamin C is therefore crucial for restful sleep.

B-Vitamins 

If one's own mental carousel does not want to stand still, increased mental stress with simultaneously insufficient stress management could be the cause. Some  B vitamins   such as vitamin B1, biotin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 contribute to a healthy function of nerves and psyche. They are also related to the metabolism of neurotransmitters of the serotonin, acetylcholine and adrenaline systems in the central nervous system. The biochemical processes of sleep take place in the nervous system, which is why B vitamins can significantly affect sleep quality. Even if you are only slightly deficient in B vitamins, this can already cause depression and also a lack of sleep. 

An optimal vitamin B concentration speeds up falling asleep and can improve sleep quality.

Zinc

Zinc is involved in the formation of over 300 enzymes and in many metabolic processes. It supports the functioning of the immune system, helps to cope with cognitive tasks and can protect our cells from oxidative stress. Deficiency of the trace element negatively affects the production of all hormones involved in healthy sleep. Serotonin deficiency, melatonin deficiency, dopamine deficiency... make a healthy sleep-wake rhythm impossible. Zinc, magnesium and iron are the most important trace elements for a balanced hormone level.

Pay attention to your sleeping habits

There are many ways to improve one's sleep patterns. You should make sure that you are not deficient in any of the above vitamins & minerals. They strongly influence your sleep quality and ensure that your nervous system, melatonin production and metabolism function normally. 

Otherwise, these tips can help you improve your sleep quality further:

  •     Ensure a relaxed environment
  •     Do not consume alcohol, coffee, tea, cigarettes 2-4 hours before going to bed
  •     If you wake up in the night, do not smoke, turn on the light or take the cell phone
  •     Avoid heavy, flatulent and very spicy meals right before going to bed.
  •     Be physically active in natural daylight during the day
  •     Do not engage in very strenuous physical activity before going to bed


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