Expert lectures on sleep disorders at the Pharmacon Congress
There are numerous sleep disorders and just as many recommendations for possible treatments. More than half of adults in Germany want a more restful sleep. Regularly too little sleep, or a sleep disorder, can have health consequences. Those who sleep less have an increased risk of metabolic or cardiovascular diseases. But it is not always an actual sleep disorder. Professor Hans Förstl from Klinikum Rechts der Isar in Munich reported on the "Pharmacon Congress" in Schladming about the latest findings in sleep research.
In his lecture, Förstl reports that age-related changes occur in every person's sleep. This is not a cause for concern. Studies have shown that the sleep stages alternate between light and deep sleep phases. In between are the REM phases (rapid eye movement). These sleep phases are responsible for recovery and regeneration. In infants, half of the bedtime is characterized by this phase. This phase decreases with increasing age. According to Förstl, sleeping long enough is not only good for your well-being. The central nervous system carries out extensive and very effective detoxification processes in these phases.
How sleep detoxifies the brain
According to Förstl, the spaces between the cells in the brain filled with brain water are responsible for the natural detoxification process. These rooms would expand in deep sleep. As a result, metabolic products that are no longer required can be released from the brain tissue into the veins of the brain at double speed, where they are then transported away. This is a possible explanation for the fact that healthy sleep can prevent dementia in old age.
When does poor sleep become a sleep disorder
"Many patients complain of poor sleep in the pharmacy," wrote the Federal Association of German Pharmacists' Associations (ABDA) in a press release on the previous day. This is also because older people in particular overestimate their own need for sleep. However, a sleep disorder requiring treatment only exists if there are problems falling asleep or staying asleep on at least three nights a week for at least three months and this affects the patient during the day.
Beware of sleeping pills and sedatives
In his lecture, Förstl warns against the long-term use of sleeping pills and sedatives. You would rather have an anesthetic effect and not promote healthy sleep. Under these conditions, a detoxifying effect of sleep on the brain is also not expected. The potential for dependency, especially with benzodiazepines and so-called Z substances, is also great. "These substances disrupt the sleep architecture and prevent the brain from being cleared of deposits," explains the expert. According to Förstl, the medicinal substances quetiapine and mirtazapine have had positive clinical experiences in the treatment of sleep disorders.
Appropriate measures for sleep disorders
The current guideline on sleep disorders of the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGSM) recommends detailed sleep medical advice and behavior therapy. Before that, however, a thorough diagnosis is important to determine where the individual sleep problems come from. In his lecture, Förstl advises: "The bed is only there for sleeping." It should not be used for watching TV or playing on the smartphone, otherwise it will lose its role as a habitual place of rest and sleep.
People with poor professional qualifications are particularly vulnerable
According to Förstl, people with poor professional qualifications and insecure positions are particularly susceptible to sleep disorders. People who can always be reached should also be included in the risk group. The more unqualified and socially weaker a person is, the worse he sleeps. Sleep disorders would occur more frequently among workers than among academics. Föstl also warns of a vicious circle: "Sleep disorders make you fat and whoever tries to get them under control with one or three wheat beers in the evening or a booze of herbs will make it worse." (Vb)