Skip to main content

Self-help program

What are the prerequisites for good sleep?

Sleep pressure

Sleep pressure, or homeostatic sleep drive, is the need for sleep. The longer you stay awake, the more sleep pressure builds in your body and the longer your next sleep cycle will be.

In order to achieve between seven and eight hours of sleep in the night, you need to be awake for between 16 and 17 hours. In addition to being awake, the build-up of sleep pressure depends on how active you are during wakefulness.

Circadian rhythm

A circadian rhythm is a natural process that regulates those functions of the body that make it possible to fall asleep and stay asleep. The main regulators of circadian cycles are light and social interactions, such as going to work.

There are a number of natural, internal processes that follow a circadian clock and help with falling asleep. Examples include a decrease in body temperature, a decrease in the secretion of the stress hormone and an increase in melatonin secretion.


Relaxation is a prerequisite for good sleep. Falling asleep and staying asleep can be very challenging if either your mind or your body is too alert.

Stress, for example, is known to increase sympathetic nervous system activity and lead to heightened arousal. What this means in practice is an elevated heart rate, heightened blood pressure and increased muscle tension.

Prerequisites for sleeping

  • Sufficient build-up of sleep pressure during wakefulness
  • Correct timing of sleep in the circadian cycle
  • Relaxed mind and body