Sleeping is part of good health and is just as important as a balanced diet and sufficient exercise.
When I go to bed, I start thinking about everything and I lie there brooding. And when I finally sleep, the slightest noise wakes me up.
The importance of a good night's sleep is often underestimated. It is a myth that everyone needs 8 hours' sleep. Short sleepers often get enough with 6 hours, while long sleepers sometimes need 9 to 10 hours of sleep. Approximately one third of people experience sleep problems. These are often temporary and the result of a particular event. For 15% of them, it becomes a chronic problem.
Sleep – together with a healthy diet and sufficient exercise – is essential for good health. By sleeping, you give your body the necessary rest to recover physically from your daytime activities. During sleep, your inner batteries are recharged so that your body can function normally again afterwards.
A good night's sleep also ensures better resistance and concentration. In addition, it contributes to your mental health: people who sleep well feel better in their own skin.
On average, a person needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep. But the need for sleep is very personal and different for everyone. Your age also plays a role. As you get older, your sleep becomes more interrupted, lighter and shorter. Not only does it take longer to fall asleep, but your sleep also becomes shallower. Often, 6 to 6.5 hours of sleep is enough for older people.
Normal sleep has a fixed pattern and is made up of four to five sleep cycles of 90 to 120 minutes each during the night. Each of these sleep cycles is in turn subdivided into different stages:
You have a sleep problem if you have been sleeping badly for a long period of time and also experience discomfort during the day and function poorly as a result. For example, sleep problems can lead to fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability and mood swings.
Stress, noise, staying up too late, exercising or working before bedtime are common causes of disturbed sleep.
Sleep problems can take different forms. Different types of sleep problems are:
If you suffer from long-term insomnia, it is advisable to consult a doctor, who can investigate any medical causes. Problems with your thyroid gland, respiration, heartbeat or sugar regulation can be at the basis of insomnia.
Sleep medication can be a temporary aid to get through a difficult period. However, it is never a permanent solution. There are also serious risks associated with long-term use. Therefore, certainly do not take any medication without the advice of a doctor.
You can discover your sleep profile by answering questions on the sites Mini-sleep test and Sleep test (both in Dutch). These will give you advice tailored to your sleep profile. A sleep diary can give you insight into your sleeping pattern, your sleeping habits and the cause of disturbed sleep.
At Sleep well you can find numerous tips about good sleep habits. You will also find a Sleep well Do-book, a Sleep diary, sleep tests and a knowledge test about 10 sleep myths. (Dutch)
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