interview with a sleep expert


- Sleep psychologist and company founder of Samina -

A holistic view, sensitivity, reflection, and expertise: For more than 40 years, Prof. Günther W. Amann Jennson has approached the highly complex topic of sleep from a number of different levels. We sat down with the sleep psychologist to discover everything you need to know to have sweet dreams and enjoy better all-around sleep.


Hello Mr. Amann-Jennson, how did you get involved with the topic of sleep?


I ran a psychological practice in Feldkirch in the 1980s. Within the first few years, I noticed that patients with mental, psychological, and health problems had one common denominator: poor sleep. This was my starting point in the world of sleep. 40 years ago, sleep problems weren't really an issue. Even today, sleep rarely gets the attention it deserves from the medical field – only lately have we have seen things starting to change. Nevertheless, studies now show that 80 to 90% of all people have trouble sleeping.


You're considered a visionary in your field, and your multiple award-winning SAMINA concept gives credibility to your work. Which of your ideas have already materialized, and which are still driving you?


My initial goal was to find ways to help people improve their circadian rhythms. In simple terms, the idea was to significantly improve sleep. My second idea was a lot more imaginative. I wanted to provide therapy to people during their sleep. 40 years ago, people just shook their heads and asked, "How can you give therapy to a person who is asleep?" Today, at SAMINA, we offer a range of passive therapies. Incidentally, the right nightwear is also a type of passive treatment. Because once we're asleep, we can no longer change anything. This is something people must understand. Sleep comes, but you need to prepare for it – or be perfectly equipped, so to speak.


Why is sleep so important?


Sleep recharges us physically, mentally, and emotionally. It balances out the energy we expended throughout the day. Sleep is also vital to a properly functioning immune system. While in deep sleep, our brains rid themselves of harmful toxins which (among other things) can cause dementia. This is a highly complex process. In order for it to work, you must get enough sleep.


Why has sleep become such an important topic in recent years?  


Simply put, because we are no longer able to sleep. Society has become more aware of the importance of sleep. Health-conscious people - such as biohackers who strive to measure and improve their body functions - are now "awake." These functions include sleep and heart rate variability, which is used to determine how well our bodies recover. An ECG is taken, which monitors the intervals between two heartbeats. New technologies allow for variability to be measured extremely accurately. The higher the variability, the better your body functions. These findings are helping shine a spotlight on the importance of sleep.


„The right nightwear is also a type of passive treatment. Because once we're asleep, we can no longer change anything. This is something people must understand. Sleep comes, but you need to prepare for it - or be perfectly equipped, so to speak.“

You've already written a few books. Can you tell us a little bit about them?


My latest book, "Music Therapy During Sleep," explores a revolutionary idea: what do people need to move from a fitful to a peaceful state and thus improve the quality of their sleep? One of the best tools is music. Research on the effects of music studies the extent to which music improves our wellbeing, health, and sleep. Our online magazine also covers all the interesting aspects of sleep, and the things that help with sleep problems and disorders.


One can train with you to become a sleep coach. A whole new profession! Please tell us more about it.


In the past, everyone would have wondered why a person needs a coach to sleep. From my point of view, the background is easy to understand. Sleep plays a massively subordinate role in the training to become a doctor or a psychologist/psychotherapist. At the same time, sleep is a condition that must be thought about in depth. Classical medicine, or even a family doctor, knows too little about sleep and, in my opinion, it is not an ideal partner for people who have stress-related sleep disorders. So my thought was to create a new position, that of the sleep coach. The job of a sleep coach is similar to that of a sports coach. A sports coach tries to improve athletic performance and the sleep coach tries to create the sleep-biological conditions so that people can sleep.


What exactly happens to us while we sleep?


Everything is different during sleep. Our body functions, such as the heartbeat, breathing, muscle tension, are reduced. The hormonal situation changes. Sleep builds a wall of perception. The moment I fall asleep, I am more or less disconnected from the outside world. My conscious mind is no longer present; at most, my superconscious and subconscious minds are active. The second, relevant characteristic of sleep is that it is reversible in any case. No matter how deeply a person sleeps, they can be woken up.


Why do so many people have difficulty sleeping?


A number of factors must be reunited in order for you to sleep - and these factors have changed dramatically in the past 40 years. In today's world, getting a good night's sleep is a form of art. Sleep no longer comes automatically - you have to plan it. This is the only way to combat stress, or the biggest adversary of sleep. Stress releases hormones that make it difficult for people to fall asleep. Beyond a certain level, stress induces a "fight or flight" response that is impossible to ward off. We then find ourselves in a permanent cycle of stress which not only has a negative impact on our health (cardiovascular, digestive, hormonal, and immune systems), but also -and above all - on our sleep. We all suffer from chronic sleep deprivation.


„The closer something is to your body, the more it affects your sleep. Your underwear is your second skin, your nightwear is your third skin, and your bed is your fourth skin. Ideally, these layers will interact with each other.“

How can I improve the quality of my sleep?


Sleep occurs in stages. There's the falling asleep stage, the light sleep stage, the deep sleep stage, and the dream (REM) stage. These phases must be in an orderly relationship to each other and from this it can then be accurately deduced whether a sleep is qualitatively good or not. I've been measuring sleep for more than 20 years and I rarely come across someone who sleeps really well. Our latest innovation is called the "SAMINA Sound Light Sleep System." It is a combination of music and colored light therapy. Music and light are the ideal mediums for controlling "fight or flight" responses. Fortunately, today we no longer have to fight or flee, but the response continues to be active - it's simply part of our biological makeup.


What role does nightwear play in a good night's sleep?


Our body temperature changes during sleep. This is the main reason why we use nightwear (instead of sleeping naked). 70-80% of people today experience pain in their back, muscles, or joints. Sleep is vital for reinforcing these areas. In other words, for repairing joints, rebuilding muscle tissue, and eliminating things that we no longer need. This makes sleep the ultimate detoxifier. If you use nightwear made of a material that can absorb the half or whole liter of sweat that the body secretes overnight, then the conditions of your sleep are completely different. The "climate" of your bed is actually vital to the proper functioning of your body, including its detoxification process and the regeneration of its organs. The closer something is to your body, the more it affects your sleep. Your underwear is your second skin, your nightwear is your third skin, and your bed is your fourth skin. Ideally, these layers will interact with each other.


Which materials do you recommend?


Natural fibers are best, as they "communicate" naturally with the body. In fact, the more natural the fibers, the more they resonate with our bodies. Another important factor when choosing materials is the ability to regulate body temperature and moisture. One of the primary functions of nightwear is to absorb moisture, or the film of moisture that forms on the skin. Sleeping naked is not a good idea on hot and humid nights as you've probably opened a window or set up a fan, which subsequently creates a draft. The moment a layer of sweat forms on your skin, your body begins to cool down.

Nightwear is of course designed for the night, when your body temperature drops. When it's really hot, people think they don't need nightwear. However, the right fiber can help keep your body cool.


How much sleep should we get per night?


The rule is quite simple: for every two hours awake, we need one hour of sleep. This is a law of nature. From a purely statistical point of view, people who get 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night are the healthiest and live the longest. In my opinion, this is the perfect amount of sleep. But we also need to think about the quality of sleep. It's no use sleeping 8 hours if it's the wrong kind of sleep.


„Rule of thumb for better sleep: Go to bed at the same time, and get up at the same time.“

What contributes to healthy sleep?


Healthy sleep depends on a number of key factors. In particular, the conditions of your sleeping place (i.e., your bedroom) are of the utmost importance. Your sleeping place must be optimized if you wish to get a good night of sleep. Rule of thumb for better sleep: Go to bed at the same time, and get up at the same time. Ideally, your bedroom should also be quiet and dark. 90% of people have far too much light in their bedrooms at night, which may disrupt their sleep. In addition, your sleeping place should have plenty of fresh air (without pollution). We generate many air pollutants ourselves by keeping synthetic and chemical materials in our bedrooms. And finally, your bed itself plays the most important role in ensuring you get restful, restorative, and bioenergetic sleep.


What sleeping position do you recommend for restful sleep?


There are 34 different sleeping positions. The best known are the supine, prone and lateral positions. Each sleeping position has advantages and disadvantages. The supine position is ideal for orthopedic regeneration. Orthopedically, the worst position a person can take is the prone position. Since I cannot lie frontally on my pillow because then I suffocate, the prone position causes me to turn my head to the side, thus putting a strain on my cervical spine. This way, problems move from the upper cervical spine to the lower lumbar spine. Many lower back problems are related to this sleeping posture. A recent study shows that in the side position the process of brain detoxification is supported. However, the fact that you consciously sleep more on your side unfortunately cannot be programmed. Therefore, I claim, wisdom and intelligence of nature support us during sleep quite intuitively, if all conditions are right - even with the right posture.

Thank you very much for this fascinating interview!

Nightwear for a restful sleep

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