Land of Nod is such a comfortable place

SLEEPING: We spend on average a quarter of a century asleep

SLEEP, snooze, siesta….hand on heart, it is one of my favourite pastimes; which is quite convenient since we spend some 25 years of our lives doing it.

I have never been able to understand those that get up when they don’t have to, there is really nothing more indulgent than spending some quality time under a cosy, fluffy duvet. No innuendos intended, just pure blissful rest.

Unless insomnia hits, of course. Then the bed becomes a battlefield and the night your worst enemy. Margaret Thatcher and Napoleon survived on a mere four hours each night, which doesn’t necessarily weaken the case for a good night’s sleep.  But assuming you are not a Prime Minister or about to lead your country into battle, there are apparently some key steps to aid sleep.

Keeping a regular bedtime, limiting alcohol and cutting out caffeine after noon remain valid, but experts also say the temperature of the room is important.  A young adult can regulate blood flow efficiently between 18 to 30 degrees centigrade, but as we age this band shrinks to 23 to 25 degrees as the optimum temperature.

Some fresh air and a bit of exercise goes a long way to preparing the body, too. You should also avoid big meals before bedtime; not only does it wreck your sleep, it also wreaks havoc with your body, unless ‘Sumo’ is the look you aspire to; these wrestlers, too, invariably nap after a hearty meal…

Sleeping pills may seem a handy solution, but some suppress the ability to achieve Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, which is the restorative and crucial part of the sleep pattern. They can, of course, be habit forming and have been found to disrupt the grieving process in cases of insomnia following bereavement.

A natural alternative, melatonin (melatonina in Spanish), has recently been approved for sale without prescription in Spain. It regulates sleep and, as a bonus, is a powerful anti-oxidant with a capacity of reducing tumours.  On the downside, they are not as potent as a medicated tablet.

Staying on the natural path, a particularly ‘zen’ and well-rested friend bestows the merits of removing all electrical appliances – yes, even the mobile phone – from your bedroom to clear the disruptive Electro Magnetic Field.  So you may have to revert to an old-school alarm clock.  Just make sure it doesn’t tick too loudly since noises disturb sleep, even if they don’t wake you.

Oh, and if the other half snores, send them to the doctor as there may be an underlying medical condition.  Failing that, invest in some good earplugs.

Still in doubt over the importance of sleep?  Some cunning scientists recently revealed that a marriage where both spouses get a decent night’s sleep is more likely to survive than a sleep-deprived one.  It’s a good job we have these rocket scientists doing such important research, who could have guessed?

Other than that, it boosts the immune system, slows ageing (it’s not called beauty sleep for nothing), prevents diabetes, helps to keep you happy and your memory sharp.  I am a convert.  But if sleep still remains elusive, you can always pull out the nearest instruction manual for any appliance. That IS guaranteed to send you to the Land of Nod in record time. 

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