Sleep problems – what remedies really help
The business with sleep: Relaxing nights not for free
alerian for ten euros, special blankets for 200 euros or the luxury mattress for 8,000 euros – anyone looking for sleep problems on the Internet gets the impression that a good night’s sleep is not free.
Around the subject of sleep, an industry has been established that covers almost all aspects: programs measure the night’s sleep, dietary supplements are designed to help people fall asleep, and physical aids improve the quality of sleep.
Too few health services for people with sleep problems
Hans-Günter Weeß from the board of the German Sleep Society (DGSM), headquartered in Northern Hesse , sees sleep as being commercialized : “This is also easy because there are no adequate health facilities for people with insomnia,” he says. That was an indictment of the health system. Weeß is considered an expert in sleep. He is head of the interdisciplinary sleep center at the Palatine Clinic in Rhineland-Palatinate and author.
Sleep is more important than in the past – also through research. “We can prove very well that sleep is an important human repair and regeneration program,” explains Weeß. How many people this program is not running properly, is controversial. Weeß says: “Six percent of the population suffer from treatment-related sleep disorders, 70 percent suffer more than a year, 50 percent more than three years.”
Effect of many funds is not sufficiently documented
People who have or suspect they have sleep disorders often resort to pills. According to information from the Federal Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, 228 million euros will be spent on sleeping pills and tranquilizers per year – with a rising trend. The supplements are in the top 10 most over-the-counter over-the-counter remedies. “From a sleep medical expert’s point of view, we can only recommend the products whose effectiveness has been proven,” says Weeß. And if you look at studies, then there is no proof of efficacy for many herbal remedies. “If something helps, then high doses of valerian are most likely in mild sleep disorders.”
Even when going to the pharmacy you have to look carefully: “Each drug is tested and has a license,” says Ursula Sellerberg, spokeswoman for the Federal Association of German pharmacists associations. There are also supplements available, which include vitamins and minerals. The sleep hormone melatonin, for example, is available in both forms.
“Over-the-counter melatonin only seems to help in the event of sleep disturbances and insomnia if these occur during jet lag,” explains sleep specialist Weeß. Although prescription sleep aids are more effective, they can become more dangerous. “Primary sleeping pills, so-called benzodiazepines and also Z-substances, can lead to habituation and dependence.”
Mattress market is divided in half
Physical sleep aids are, for example, heavy blankets designed to create a sense of well-being. The effect of such aids is not proven, they can work anyway. “Anything that leads to mental, emotional and physical relaxation in the bed situation can help,” says Weeß.
Mattress manufacturers benefit relatively little from the new appreciation of sleep. According to the Mattress Industry Association, sound sleep is the main selling point, but retail sales fluctuate from year to year. “It happens, what you can observe in many industries: The middle breaks away,” said a spokeswoman. The market increasingly shares in low-cost and high-end manufacturers.
There was a boom in fitness bracelets. According to digital industry association Bitkom, 26 percent of Germans use it. The detection of sleep and sleep quality is one of the functions of the devices. Sleep doctors are not thrilled. Increasing self-observation is counterproductive: “Tension is the enemy of sleep,” explains Weeß. In addition, most sleep trackers were based on movement and pulse measurements, depending on the time of day. “In my opinion, these are” Stone Age methods “of sleep research.”
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Sleep lessons instead of pills
According to Weeß, sleeping arrangements are now the first choice in the treatment of sleep disorders. “The market is also growing, and it’s important to turn to people who have the psychotherapeutic and sleep medicine qualifications.” During the courses one makes the patient “to own sleeping pill”, as an example with relaxation coaching, thought stopping techniques and bed time restrictions. In two days intensive course you could help two-thirds of the participants to a much better sleep. Participants have to pay € 200 for this – again, sleep is a business.