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Sleep phases and waking phases

Sleep phases and wake phases: 3 tips for the inner clock

Our internal clock (also called circadian rhythm) regulates sleep and wake phases over a 24-hour period. In response to melatonin levels, most people are awake when the sun is shining and become tired when it is dark outside. Of course, we are no longer as dependent on the sun as our ancestors were, but the amount and duration of daylight still influence how we fall asleep, the quality of our sleep and our well-being, as well as the phases of sleep.

A regular rhythm of life also affects the phases of sleep. People who always get up in the morning around 7.00 a.m. usually get tired between 1.00 p.m. and 3.00 p.m. (also known as midday fatigue) and sleep soundly at night between 2.00 a.m. and 4.00 a.m.. But this is very individual - some people are simply "night owls", others are "larks". Our sleep-wake rhythm also changes throughout life: children need more sleep and are tired more often than older people.

Constant changes in the sleep-wake phases can permanently upset the inner clock and disturb the sleep phases. This is especially experienced by people who work shifts. We feel shattered in the morning when the sleep phases that allow the body to regenerate are interrupted. In addition, there are sleep deprivation symptoms in people who work a lot or believe they have to buy success with little sleep. In spite of everything, it makes sense to pay attention to regular sleeping times in order to be less tired during the day. Sometimes a few tricks or sleep advice can help to get your body clock working again.

Tip 1 for the waking phases: Walks in the morning

Those who have difficulty finding their rhythm in the morning and waking up properly should go for a walk. The sun's rays give energy and help to restart the daily rhythm. They signal to the brain that it is time to start the day. That's why we instinctively pull up the blinds or turn on the lights in the morning. In winter or in chronically dark rooms, lamps that imitate daylight also help us to be less tired.

Tip 2 for the waking phases: Scents

Fragrances are very helpful when waking up: The smell of lemons, oranges or grapefruit can increase the body's production of serotonin, a hormone that triggers feelings of happiness and thus makes us feel awake. Eating a grapefruit in the morning or squeezing lemon or orange juice into a smoothie has a similar effect. The scent of peppermint and eucalyptus also awakens the spirits and helps tiredness fade away. Peppermint even helps you perform better. Rosemary stimulates brain activity and provides a kick start to the day.

Tip 3 for the sleep phases: No artificial light in the evening

Too bright light in the evening hours can irritate the inner clock: The brain is fooled into thinking it is still daytime and it is harder to fall asleep. Artificial blue light, such as that emitted by laptops, tablets and mobile phones, has the strongest effect and leads to a lack of relaxation and prevents healthy tiredness. One should therefore turn off electronic devices at least half an hour before in order to become naturally tired and naturally go through all sleep phases.

In winter, our need for sleep is seemingly greater. Everyone knows how the winter darkness can depress mood and energy levels. Sometimes simple lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise or artificial light, help to revive spirits. Sleeping more doesn't help much: too much sleep can actually be unhealthy, regardless of the season. If you are still not rested and tired during the day after seven to nine hours of sleep a night, you should go to the doctor to be checked for a sleep disorder.