Sleep problems: Increasing crowds in the sleep laboratory

Sleep problems: Increasing crowds in the sleep laboratory

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Large crowds in the sleep laboratory

Around every fourth adult German citizen suffers from sleep disorders. In the meantime, more and more affected people are visiting sleep laboratories. The waiting times are long.

"Increasing waiting times in the sleep laboratories" It is not really comfortable in the sleep laboratory with the narrow bed and the many cables and medical devices in the room. Nevertheless, the 18 beds in the sleep medicine center in Nuremberg are always occupied, as senior doctor Dora Triché told the news agency dpa. In the past ten years, the number of patients has "increased significantly". And Thomas Penzel, board member of the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGSM), said: "We see an increase in waiting times in the sleep laboratories." There are currently 280 accredited sleep laboratories and sleep medicine centers nationwide. An average of 3.5 "polysomnographic measuring stations", i.e. beds with monitoring, are available in these. Although sleep disorders do not increase in Germany, attention to these problems is increasing, explained Penzel.

Various causes of sleep problems According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin, sleep disorders are among the most common health complaints in the population. Around a quarter of adults suffer from it, according to surveys. Over ten percent of those questioned stated that they often or permanently experience their sleep as not relaxing. So far 50 sleep disorders have been defined. Deprivation of sleep does not cause any damage in the short term, but it affects brain functions so that concentration, thinking and memory decrease. The causes of sleep problems range from permanent stress to excessive heat in the bedroom, too much alcohol or nicotine, excessive weight (obesity) to physical and mental illnesses. DGSM estimates that about one percent of the population needs an examination in the sleep laboratory.

Increased risk of heart attack and stroke The majority of Dora Triché's patients suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. During the night they keep breathing apnea. The expert sees a blue line on a computer screen that represents a patient's breathing. There are small rashes for every breath and then a continuous line. "The patient did not breathe here for 43 seconds," Triché explained in one case. This man has a breathing pause almost every minute, then wakes up briefly each time, and his blood pressure and heart rate rise. “It's always a body stress for the body,” says Triché. This increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke over many years.

The typical patient is male and overweight. Cologne-based sleep expert Alfred Wiater explained that such sleep-related breathing disorders have a significant negative impact on the cardiovascular system, life expectancy and performance. This is because the muscles that keep the throat open are less active at night, which is why the throat closes and less air flows into it. Your predisposition can play a role here, but also the muscle strength that is reduced with age or overweight, in which tissue also accumulates in the throat and makes breathing difficult. “Snoring is therefore a very common symptom. Not every snorer suffers from obstructive sleep apnea, but almost every patient snores, ”Triché explained. The typical patient is male and overweight, but women and normal people are also affected. A special mask over the nose, which directs ambient air into the airways with a slight overpressure, can help many. But the doctor explained: “The mask does not heal. You have to wear them for life like glasses. ”

People in industrialized countries sleep less and less Even without such severe respiratory disorders, many people feel tired and sleepy in the morning. According to some researchers, people in industrialized nations are sleeping less and less. It is unclear whether this is due to the stress in the job, shift work or increasing sensory overload. “More and more value is placed on the efficiency and optimization of our time. And now it's time for sleep, ”said Penzel of the Berlin Charité. "In our information society, we sleep one to one and a half hours less than in the 1960s," explained Geert Mayer, a sleep doctor in Schwalmstadt, Hesse. An average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep. "Six hours of sleep can be enough if you are fit and rested in the morning," says Triché. Even though the need for sleep tends to decrease with age, many older people complain of poor or insufficient sleep.

Ensure proper sleep hygiene The Nuremberg Clinic offers training for you and other groups such as shift workers. The doctor Kneginja Richter, who said that you can learn to sleep, teaches the participants in their courses how to ensure proper sleep hygiene - for example, to maintain a regular sleep-wake rhythm or not to read or watch TV in bed. In a guide, the DGSM has even more tips: The intake of stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol or nicotine should be reduced or avoided. Since stress is a common cause of sleep problems, relaxation exercises can sometimes help to reduce stress. Meditation or biofeedback are ideal for this. Patients with sleep problems should generally avoid taking a nap during the day, as this usually leads to additional impairments of night sleep. And if possible, those affected should get up and go to bed at the same times each day. (ad)

Image: Stephanie Hofschlaeger /

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