The column by the sleep pope Hans-Günter Weeß – Afternoon nap is healthy, full moon disturbs sleep? Researcher busts 7 sleep myths

1. “Full moon disturbs sleep” – not finally clarified

Many Germans, but especially people with insomnia, claim that the full moon makes it harder to sleep. They received scientific support for the first time in 2013 from a study by the Basel chronobiologist Christian Cajochen. He studied 33 people and found that during the full moon they slept 20 minutes less and took an average of five minutes longer to fall asleep.

However, these results could no longer be confirmed in a Munich study in 2014 on over 1000 test persons. At the end of 2014, another study was found, this time from Budapest, this time with just over 300 subjects, which again showed a slight effect of the moon on sleep. What is correct now?

According to studies, the moon leads by two to one. On closer inspection, however, one has to realize that the effects described in the studies are not large and do not correspond to the assessments of many people. Because: In none of these studies did the moon cause sleepless nights, nor did it significantly shorten sleep.

Therefore: stay calm when the full moon is shining outside at night. Otherwise you run the risk of actually getting a sleep disorder through a self-fulfilling prophecy!

2. “Sleep before midnight is important” – not true

In sleep medicine, we distinguish between different types of sleep. The early type, also known colloquially as the lark, quickly produces melatonin as dusk falls and tires early. He can go to bed before midnight and wakes up in the morning with the first rays of the sun. The late type, on the other hand, also known colloquially as an owl, only gets tired late in the evening. His sleep window and best time to fall asleep is often after midnight. In our society, work and school often start too early for owls. The alarm clock rings too early, they haven’t had enough sleep and suffer from chronic fatigue.

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Sleeping shortly after falling asleep is most important for physical recovery. A lot of deep sleep occurs in the 90 minutes after sleep begins. It doesn’t matter if we go to bed before or after midnight. Because humans are diurnal creatures, it is important for deep sleep that we sleep at night when it is dark and have regular going to bed and waking up times. However, the exact time – whether before or after midnight – is not important. Because the depth of sleep is regulated by the inner clock, which ticks unperturbed.

So if you are genetically an owl, you will sleep soundly even after midnight. What matters is regularity and sleep at night. The popular saying “Child, go to bed before midnight” lacks a meaningful background and is more suitable for getting children to bed on time.

3. “Alcohol is a good sleep aid” – not true

To get straight to the point: alcohol is not a good sleep aid. Only in small amounts can it promote deep sleep. For the man, there is no more alcohol than there is in a quarter of wine. Even less for women: No more alcohol than in an eighth of a liter of wine. Anything above that can promote psychological relaxation and thus falling asleep, but then leads to deep sleep suppression. In the second half of sleep, increased waking reactions, sweating and nightmares are the norm. Sleep is less restful overall.

4. “Anyone who wakes up at night should stay in bed” – remains open

There is no clear “yes” or “no” here. Anyone who is awake at night, feels comfortable in bed and is not brooding is welcome to stay in bed. On the other hand, if you are brooding, restless or even struggling to sleep, you should get up. Otherwise, our unconscious learns that the bedroom is an uncomfortable place. Future sleep disorders are inevitable. But please don’t do anything strenuous outside of bed. No housework, no home office, no internet and of course no sports. Otherwise you will become a shift worker and after a short time your body will automatically wake you up every night to carry out these activities.

5. “A nap is refreshing and refreshing” – true, but with limitations

A nap is healthy and prolongs life. It also increases performance and creativity for the second half of the day. However, it must not last too long, otherwise some people will feel even weaker than before. For people with insomnia, naps should be avoided if possible, but should not be taken after 3 p.m. if unavoidable. It can relieve too much sleep pressure for the night, thereby increasing and maintaining the sleep disorder.

6. “Tv sleep is the best sleep” – not true

All of Germany sleeps best in front of the television. Sleeping in front of the TV is the number one sleep killer for many. People with a sleep disorder should avoid it as far as possible, otherwise they run the risk of further intensifying and chronicifying their sleep disorder.

7. “You can catch up on sleep” – not true

Lack of sleep leads to drowsiness and reduced performance during the day. Lack of sleep and sleepiness can promote accidents at home, at work or on the road. You cannot undo this. Although you can sleep longer at the weekend and thus reduce daytime sleepiness, you can no longer compensate for the lack of regeneration during the working week due to shorter sleep episodes. If you only eat unhealthy food in fast food restaurants during the work week, you cannot compensate for this unhealthy diet with a high-quality organic diet at the weekend either.

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