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Sleep disorders are one of the most common reasons for visiting a doctor in Europe. Instead of sleeping pills, alternative methods are increasingly gaining attention. This sleep documentary looks at new therapeutic approaches such as sophrology and light therapy.

We spend around a third of our lives asleep. But more and more people suffer from exhaustion, insomnia, sleep apnea or even narcolepsy. The result is millions of sick days, and economic losses in the billions. In extreme cases, sleep problems can affect the metabolism, leading to obesity, diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease.

Sleep is absolutely essential – yet the average sleep per night is barely seven hours. That figure is lower than ever before. The topic has been the subject of intensive research for several years, with studies showing that humans have an internal clock based on what are known as circadian rhythms. This discovery was considered so important in preserving sleep that it was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2017.

Numerous new studies are exploring alternatives to sleeping pills, which can often lead to serious side effects. Such drugs make sleep more like narcosis, without providing us true rest. Thanks to advances in medicine, we now know the decisive role sleep plays: During this time, the brain clears itself, making room for new thoughts.

Researchers have also been able to confirm that there are alternatives when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. Among those considered effective are polyphasic sleep (consisting of short naps), light therapy (using blue daylight to synchronize the body’s internal clock) and lightly electrified helmets that stimulate the brain’s hormonal activity. These inexpensive techniques, which are free of side effects, are becoming increasingly popular worldwide. Large companies like Google, Facebook and other firms with a modern outlook are experimenting with light and using innovative office designs, including nap pods or bunks, which allow employees to take short daytime naps. These are just some of the approaches covered in this look at the “gentle sleep revolution.”

Deutsche Welle

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