Why we often go to bed too late voluntarily, how this affects our bodies – and how we can change it.
Finally. Everything is finally done. The children are asleep, the laundry is hung up, the kitchen is tidy, the last job email has been sent. Finally peace and quiet – and tiredness at the end of a strenuous day immediately sets in. But many don’t give it a chance: Sleep? I can do it later, they think. Now it’s my turn for the first time!
Browse through online shops. Scroll through the Instagram feed. Chat with friends. Eat something again, drink a glass of wine or a cup of tea. Then off to the sofa, watch your favorite series. Wonderfully cozy, the evening could go on forever. And he often does that too. Although we know very well that the morning will punish us with thick circles under the eyes, weakness and irritability. Why are we doing this to ourselves?
I-time instead of sleep
Behind the delay in sleep there is often the need to treat yourself to something at least in the evening: free time, freedom, joy. “In everyday life we always give in to pressure: we are given tasks and react to them. We are in reaction mode all day, ”explains the Berlin philosopher and motivational coach Dr. Christian Weilmeier. That’s not bad in and of itself, he says – as long as there are first-person moments in the treadmill.
“Everyone needs time for themselves,” emphasizes the 55-year-old. Thinking about something in peace, reading, doing sports, painting, learning a new language, just doing nothing – I-time is very individual. “What is important here is the feeling that you are only doing something for yourself. That you leave the reaction mode at that moment. Is completely with yourself. Then you can refuel. “
But only if I-time is not at the expense of sleep! “Body, mind and mood suffer when we sleep too little,” explains Prof. Dr. Ingo Fietze (61), head of the Interdisciplinary Sleep Medicine Center at the Berlin Charité.
Optimal: 7.5 hours
The reason: In deep sleep, the breakdown of proteins, which the organism needs for cell growth and the repair of cells that have been damaged during the day, is slowed down. In addition, the brain uses bedtime to clean up: nerve cells that die during the day that were subjected to heavy loads shut down and regenerate during sleep.
“7.5 hours of sleep are optimal, and it should definitely be at least six hours,” says Fietze. “Everything below that damages the immune system, metabolism, heart, circulation and brain.”
Sufficient sleep is just as much a part of a healthy life as a balanced diet and exercise, emphasizes the expert, everyone has to be clear about that. “Even if you still want to have some time for yourself: If you are tired, you should go to bed! The period of fatigue lasts 20 to 30 minutes, after which you are wide awake again. The next phase of tiredness only begins after an hour and a half – and then it is usually too late for the six hours of night sleep. “
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Sounds logical. And sensible. But what about the longing for me-time? Do I have to put up with the fact that I don’t get it? “On the contrary: you have to take an active part!” Emphasizes Christian Weilmeier. But not only in the evening, when we are no longer productive anyway and often just hang in front of a screen.
“Divide the I-time into smaller units and distribute it over the day.” Get up 20 minutes earlier and do yoga. Going for a walk during your lunch break, letting your thoughts wander, talking to a friend on the phone. Take vocabulary cards with you to the office, look at them every now and then, repeat at the end of the day and enjoy the sense of achievement.
Set the alarm clock
“Having time for yourself for several hours at a time is unrealistic: your job, children and household take up too much time,” says Weilmeier. “But if I have little me-times distributed over the course of the day, at the end of the week I had a lot of alone time.”
To avoid the I-stay-alert trap in the evening, you should set an alarm clock. Not when you get up in the morning, but when you go to bed, which is healthy for you. When the doorbell rings: computer off, television off, get ready for bed. If this routine works for children, it will work for you too. Not always, but more often.