The medical doctor Ingo Fietze founded the first sleep laboratory at the Charité Berlin in 1989 and has headed the sleep medicine center there since 2005. He also advises the German Olympic team of athletes and the Berlin State Ballet on the subject of sleep. He knows how important sleep is for daily work, why sleep disorders are treated so rarely in Germany and how best to find rest.
ZEIT ONLINE: Suppose tomorrow is an important work date or a very busy day and you are awake for hours at night - what can you do about it?
Ingo Fietze: Not being able to sleep from excitement can happen to anyone. If that happens more often, you might be a sensitive sleeper. Some simply fall asleep in the evening, regardless of whether they are annoyed or the partner snores. Others cannot sleep well from birth if the light is on or the bed is too hard. Many people only become sensitive to sleep in old age. This is not yet a disease, but a property like sensitive skin. If you lie awake at night, you should relax and wait until you get tired again. If it happens permanently, you have to look for help.
ZEIT ONLINE: The excitement is often accompanied by the pressure to fall asleep quickly in order to be fit the next day. Then you roll around in bed before an early shift and constantly calculate how many hours are left before the alarm clock rings.
Info Fietze, born in 1960, heads the Charité sleep medicine center in Berlin. He was a member of the board of the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine and is the chairman of the German Sleep Foundation and the Association Germany Sleeps Healthy.
Fietze: If you constantly look at your watch and watch how you only have four, only three, and only two hours of sleep, then it won't work. Expectation pressure is an opponent to sleep. You only have a 30-minute window to fall asleep about every two hours anyway. We get tired every 90 to 100 minutes, and then it is important to take this opportunity.
ZEIT ONLINE: That means if I can't fall asleep in the first half hour ...
Fietze: ... then read a book, make a nice film or podcast. And as soon as you realize that you are getting tired: zack, lights off, laptop too. But it is important that you are already in bed. The biggest mistake is to fall asleep in front of the TV in the living room. If you then wake up on the couch, go to the bathroom and change, you often miss the time window in which you could fall asleep again.
ZEIT ONLINE: So instead of turning to one side in front of the other, prefer to watch a series in bed?
Fietze: No, no series! You always want to watch the next episode. And it shouldn't be too exciting, that is, no crime fiction or dramatic feature films. Talk shows work well or even animal films. At best there is a speaker with a deep, sonorous voice. For example, I fall asleep with Bob Ross.
ZEIT ONLINE: You mean The Joy of Painting , this television painting course with more than 400 episodes in which Bob Ross paints live oil paintings and comments on them. What's so comforting about it?
Fietze: I like to watch him paint. You think he is almost done and then he starts painting over again. Somehow interesting, but not too exciting either. His comments and the monotonous German translator's voice are pleasantly sleepy. But that shouldn't be too boring, otherwise you think about everything in the meantime or start to get upset.
ZEIT ONLINE: And what if it does not work with Bob Ross?
Fietze: Then you have to say to yourself: It just won't work with sleep today. Accept the misery and try to take it as calmly as possible, as long as it rarely occurs.