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For A Sound Night’s Sleep You Need A Good Mattress And Enough
To Eat

Norderney, Germany (dpa) – You spend a big part of your life in bed, right? So – are you making the most of it? The secrets of a good night’s sleep are a good mattress and sensible eating habits.

So say German sleep researchers who have become experts by examining what people say helps or doesn’t help.

Too many people give too little consideration to the quality of their bedroom furniture, said Traudl Kremnitzmueller of the Institute of Applied Consumer Research (IFAV) in Cologne.

“To lie properly means to relax properly, and that can only be on a mattress that supports a person’s body,” she said.

A heavy meal and too much alcohol will also thwart a restorative night’s sleep, said Professor Juergen Fischer, chairman of the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine.

Individuals need different amounts of sleep, he said. Men need on average, seven to eight hours, women a little more. Sleep is a special state of the brain that is particularly active at certain stages.

Sleep is generally divided into five phases, said Fischer. In the first two stages a person sinks into a light sleep, the muscles relax, breathing and pulse rate becomes regular. In the third and fourth phases of deep sleep, a sleeper can only be woken by a loud or unusual noise. The heart beats more slowly, blood pressure sinks. This is the phase in which the body regenerates. In phase five a person dreams.

Dreams are an important part of healthy sleep. “The brain is almost as active at this time as when a person is awake,” said Fischer. During dreaming, a person’s impressions of the day are processed, new things are memorized. The muscles are completely relaxed and hardly able to move. The eyes move quickly under closed eyelids. That is why this is called the REM (rapid eye movement) phase of sleep.

A sleep must be long, deep and undisturbed to allow for physical regeneration in the deep phases of sleep, and for spiritual relaxation in REM sleep. For a refreshing sleep, it is important that the architecture of the sleep phases remain intact,” said Fischer. Anyone frequently disturbed in these sleep phases will wake up in the morning unrefreshed.

The right bedroom furniture is an important prerequisite of a good night’s sleep, said Kremnitzmueller. “A comfortable bed in a slightly darkened room are particularly important.” When buying a new mattress, you should test it to ensure that shoulders and hips can easily sink into a side position.

The mattress should also be the right size – 20 to 30 centimetres longer than the sleeper’s outstretched body and at least 95 centimetres wide. The more centimetres width, the more comfortable it will be.

But even the best bed will be uncomfortable if placed in the wrong environment. Contrary to the old-fashioned view that a bedroom should be as cool as possible, sleep experts today set the ideal bedroom temperature at 16 to 18 degrees C. Any cooler and the body tenses rather than relaxes.

“Fresh air should not be confused with a draught,” said Kremnitzmueller. A bed should be placed at least 60 centimetres away from a window. A bedroom should have as comfortable an atmosphere as possible so there should be plants, but not too many and not with strong scents. A few plants giving off oxygen can even improve the room climate.

A heavy meal before bedtime will lead to a sleepless night. If you feel hungry before bedtime, should eat a small snack with milk products, advises Fischer. Alcohol does not contribute to a restorative night’s sleep. Although it might help you to fall asleep, it often makes you wake up in the night.

Coffee and cigarettes should also not be consumed a few hours before bedtime. Caffeine and nicotine are both stimulants.

Fischer advises little relaxing sleep rituals to aid a good night’s sleep such as taking a warm bath and a quarter of an hour’s reading.

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