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Sleep – an underestimated helper for body and mind

Sleep problems are on the rise worldwide. Constant digital accessibility, stimulus overload and pressure to perform are just some of the reasons why people have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Around one third of all employees in Switzerland (around 2 million people) suffer from sleep disorders. These can sometimes result in significant physical and psychological illnesses. Among other things, effects on the immune system, hormonal balance and the cardiovascular system have been proven.

Why do we need sleep?

Sleep has mainly 3 main functions:

  1. Regeneration: The obvious and probably best-known reason why we need to sleep is recovery. During sleep, important processes in the body, such as the digestive and nervous systems, regenerate and our organs recover from the work done during the day.
  2. Processing emotions: Throughout the day, we experience a lot and are presented with thousands of impressions that trigger different feelings in us. We make decisions, learn and process information. During sleep, we have to sort out and consolidate these emotions and the knowledge we have acquired.
  3. “Cleaning” the brain: What sounds funny is actually possible for our head. During the day, harmful metabolic products accumulate in the brain. During sleep – and only during sleep – our brain gets rid of the molecular degradation products.

Sleep as a health factor

The fact that sleep is an important health factor has only in recent years increasingly become the focus of research – and also of the fitness industry. And rightly so. It has been proven that sleep is not only indispensable for our physical health, but also for our mental health. It’s not for nothing that sleep is referred to as the “jog of the 21st century”. If we don’t get enough sleep, or sleep of insufficient quality, it has a demonstrable effect on our cardiovascular system, our musculoskeletal system and our psyche. In addition, personal well-being and the ability to perform and concentrate are strongly influenced by sleep.

What can we do for better sleep?

Getting enough good quality sleep is therefore a top priority. However, this seems to be exactly the problem: 1/3 of the Swiss have sleep problems at least once a month, 16% chronically. 11% of the Swiss population takes sedatives/sleeping pills (Swiss Health Survey 2017). Meanwhile, there are healthy alternatives for better sleep. Here is a selection:

  • Create sleep routines: Humans are creatures of habit. Our brain can be “programmed” to a certain extent. If we create certain routines in the evening, our body notices after a certain period of practice that these are associated with sleep.
  • No intense exercise in the evening: Intense exercise – and we at Zenmove know this best – also means stress for the body. It should therefore be avoided at least 2h before sleep.
  • No smartphone in bed: Accessibility and screen time are stressful. And stress is the No. 1 sleep killer. Even if it’s hard: The smartphone should be consistently banned from the bedroom.
  • Alcohol / coffee / heavy meals: Even though the after-work beer makes you fall asleep faster, even small amounts of alcohol significantly disrupt sleep quality. The same applies to caffeinated coffee in the evening. Heavy meals should also be avoided in the evening to prevent the digestive system from running at full speed when it should be regenerating.