Restful sleep: why it is unevenly distributed

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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What do income or educational qualifications have to do with healthy sleep? Quite. This is what points German Society for Sleep Research at its annual day of action on June 21 [externer Link]. This year’s theme is: “The right to sleep”. A clear indication that not everyone has the same opportunities when it comes to sleeping well.

On average, a third of all German adults suffer from sleep disorders. You rarely have a truly peaceful night. Five to ten percent of Germans still have it Sleep disorders that require treatment.

How education and sleep are related

Professional stress, family conflicts, social pressures: all of this negatively influences sleep, explains Hans-Günter Weeß, head of the sleep medicine department at the Pfalzklinikum Klingenmünster. In addition to these factors, social conditions also play a role, says the sleep researcher. “In fact, if we have a higher level of education, we are more likely to sleep well and healthier than if we have a lower level of education.” Because the level of education also has to do with your health concerns.

Shift workers particularly suffer from sleep disorders

In addition to education, our work situation also influences who gets to sleep and who stays awake. High pressure on deadlines, few opportunities for breaks, high pressure to perform and a high level of stress are sleep robbers, regardless of level of education: “Those who have to be particularly hardworking are ‘rewarded’ for having worse sleep”, says Hans-Günter Weeß.

People who disrupt their sleep-wake cycle through shift work are at particularly high risk of sleeping poorly or too little. Among them, 31% sleep less than six hours, says Weeß.

Middle-aged people sleep less than older people

Differences in sleep duration also become apparent when looking at household types: This confirms this current figures from the Federal Statistical Office [externer Link]. It’s no surprise that couples with children are the ones who sleep the least. There are clear differences between the sexes. Women suffer from sleep problems more often than men, sleep researcher Christian Benedict confirms in an interview with Tagesschau. Working mothers, in particular, are under enormous pressure to perform well: “They should progress in their own careers, be as successful as men and be emancipated”, says the expert. “But there’s still family you need to take care of.”

Also in relation to age, i.e. stage of life, middle-aged people are less privileged when it comes to sleep, explains sleep researcher Hans-Günter Weeß: “Interestingly, middle-aged adults are those who sleep less and older people, where we come from. We know from basic research that they may need a little less sleep, but they sleep much, much more than middle-aged people.”

Sleep problems during menopause

💬 BR24 users like “Allegra_A” You mentioned menopause in women and its impact on sleep in the comments. The team of “Your Argument” added:

In women, sleep tends to worsen during menopause. This is due, among other things, to hormonal changes, which can cause hot flashes, for example. O Many women’s sleep is interrupted or relieved; some people have more difficulty sleeping. If the body only produces a small amount of the sex hormone progesterone, its calming and sleep-inducing effect is missing. If there is also a high level of mental stress, this will also be noticeable in restless sleep. 💬

Electronic media – the new sleep thieves

The environment also influences sleep, says psychologist Markus Specht, who runs a sleep center in Wiesbaden. Because our modern society would have created many new sleep thieves. These are mainly electronic media. “When using media, we have an increase in the internal activation of the nervous system, an arousal that, of course, also disturbs sleep.” Anyone who surfs the Internet late at night also disrupts circadian rhythms, i.e. the natural sleep-wake rhythm.

Another sleep thief is the way we in modern society change our environment through air pollution, noise and constant light. In fact, people in metropolitan areas sleep worse than people who live in rural areas. Global warming is also causing sleep problems, says Markus Specht. “Perhaps indirectly, but people who are already affected by sleep disorders, in particular, experience an increase in sleep disorders as a result.”

The reason for this could be concerns and fears about the future, but also the increase in temperatures themselves, which lead to warmer nights. This trend is likely to continue and deprive more and more people of a good night’s sleep. The average sleep need should be around eight hours of sleep. On average, Germans manage even more than that: 8 hours and 37 minutes. However, this excess sleep is actually unevenly distributed.

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