Every week Edwin de Vaal (47), general practitioner in Nijmegen, answers a frequently asked or striking question from his practice. This week is: What is sleeplessness and what can you do about it?
The CBS states that 2.9 million Dutch people in 2018 had sleeping problems.
De Vaal: "On average, an adult needs between seven and eight hours of sleep per night. The exact amount varies per person. It is quite normal for a small child to sleep more and an elderly person only six hours. As you get older , you just need less sleep. "
See also: CBS: 2.9 million Dutch people had sleeping problems in 2018
"Whether you sleep enough has basically nothing to do with how many hours you spend at night, we look more at how you function during the day. Most people know exactly how much sleep they need to rest. It is very normal to wake up at night and then go back to sleep, but you often don't remember that. "
When sleep deprivation becomes a problem
"If you notice that you have concentration problems during the day, fall asleep more easily or are short and also sleep less well at night, then that may indicate a lack of sleep. We only speak of a sleep problem if you really suffer from it for a longer period and become tired, which has an effect on your daily functioning. "
"There are roughly four causes that prevent you from sleeping well. Jet lag or, for example, the transition from summer to winter time can cause a disturbed biorhythm. In addition, certain medicines or agents such as coffee and energy drinks can cause sleeplessness."
Children with sleeping problems
- About a quarter of all children regularly have problems sleeping, according to research from the Erasmus MC. A total of 871 children participated in the study, six percent of whom used melatonin every week. In many cases it is used by children with autism or ADHD. The use of 'screens' for sleeping also has a negative effect on sleeping, according to research by the RIVM.
"Certain circumstances also sometimes lead to sleep deprivation, such as a snoring partner or other sleeping environment with strange noises. But the most common cause, however, is tension and stress, which makes it harder for you to fall asleep and wake up faster and worry more."
What you can do yourself and when you should ring the bell
"To be able to sleep well, it is important that you prepare before you get to bed. Do not expect that if you are still exercising hard at 10.30 pm or are at a party, you can go to sleep half an hour later. All the tension has to get out of your body first. "
What you can do yourself with insomnia
- Avoid strenuous physical or mental exertion one hour before bedtime
- Turn off all screens such as the television and telephone half an hour before bed
- Relax your head by reading something relaxing or listen to quiet music
- Make sure you have a pleasant sleeping environment and only use your bedroom for sleeping and making love
- Follow a digital sleep training if necessary
- Begin to get used to the normal rhythm at the end of your vacation
"Turn off all the screens, from television to mobile phone, half an hour before you go to bed. Stop drinking caffeinated beverages and create a relaxed atmosphere in the bedroom. So don't go to work or study in bed. It can also help to half an hour to read - from a book, not from a screen - to calm your head. "
See also: 'Insomnia is the most important predictor for developing depression'
"If, despite these tricks, you are still unable to sleep over a longer period of time and you are not performing well during the day, then that is a reason to go to your doctor. He or she will discuss the cause and work with you you can search for a solution. "
Be careful with sleeping pills: They are addictive
"I don't prescribe a sleeping drug so quickly, because these are addictive. Especially if you use it for more than two weeks, it is difficult to stop it later. The chances are that you can no longer live without it and you will also notice even during the day - often unknowingly - the effects. "
See also: 'Sleeping pills are not the solution for sleeping problems'
"Elderly people over the age of sixty who use a sleeping aid daily are at extra risk. Their liver and kidney functions are slowly deteriorating, which means that medicines are less likely to break down. As a result, the concentration of the sleeping aid in their body increases and therefore also the inducing sleep during the day. effect thereof. "
"This increases the risk of accidents. Not just on the road. People also fall faster, which in turn gives more bone fractures. It may even be the case that they subsequently die from complications."
"In the event of stress or stress, there is a good chance that you will not be prescribed a sleep medication or only briefly. In the case of insomnia due to psychological complaints, the doctor will refer you to the practice assistant. Such a person will look at your situation with a fresh look and discuss how you sleep. Nowadays you can also follow an online training explaining how you can sleep soundly. "