Do not spend more nights in white.

Do not spend more nights in white.


It’s official: the Portuguese are really bad in bed. At least as far as sleeping is concerned. We went to know the reasons, look for ‘cures’ and travel through the deep mysteries of sleep.

It had to be easy: a person lay down, fell asleep without needing flocks of sheep, and woke up ready for a new day.

If this is not your portrait, you are not alone: 47% of Portuguese sleep badly, according to data from the High Authority for Health.

The problem is not only individual: we are creating a country of sick people who sleep at the wheel and spend the day tired, irritable and unproductive.

“Portugal is a country deprived of sleep, and a country deprived of sleep cannot function,” advocates neurologist Teresa Paiva. And when you do not sleep? For when one does not fall asleep, the Portuguese are not in half measures: they attack immediately with medicines, of which we are one of the biggest consumers. In 2008, each Portuguese consumed on average two boxes of sleeping pills!

“We have deep disrespect for sleep in Portugal,” says Teresa Paiva. For us, sleeping is a time we spend doing nothing. But what is sleep for, after all? Answer: no one knows for sure. In fact, in terms of prehistoric survival, it even seems a highly contraindicated activity. Imagine: anyone who stretched out in the savannah for a very long eight hours would risk waking up in a lioness’s stomach … “If sleep is not an absolutely vital function,” said specialist Allan Rechtschaffen, “it is the biggest mistake evolution. Already committed. ”

Apparently, however, evolution does not make mistakes, and sleep is even vital. “During sleep, all that is essential to a good vigil is produced,” explains Teresa Paiva. “It is highly productive in metabolic, immune, memory, learning.”

Learning, yes: this is, by the way, one of the main functions of dreams, which explains why small animals and babies still dream inside the uterus. “The chick when it comes out of the egg already knows what to do,” explains Teresa Paiva. “This is because inside the egg he previously dreamed of the behaviors necessary for his survival. That is why all of us humans have those dreams in which we fall or are persecuted: they are dreams linked to our evolution as a species. ”

Some say that we dream to remember, to fix events in memory, or to forget, to free our ‘hard drive’. Another function of dreams is symbolic, yet another has to do with creativity. However, if you do not remember your dreams, do not grieve: we are meant to forget you. Because? It is not known … “Probably the function of dreams is fulfilled whether or not we are aware of them. The important thing is to dream .. ”


It is not just adults who sleep poorly. We pass our poor sleep hygiene to the children: they go to bed late and take the day to nod.

Here too, it may be a question of information: according to a study cited by Teresa Paiva, there is a relation between the children’s sleep and the social level of the family. The higher the family level, the more children sleep.

However, there are more co-relationships: the more television they see, the less they sleep, the fatter they are, the they sleep, and the less gymnastics they do, the less they sleep. And did you know that the more sleep the better grades have? “We are ruining the lives of our children by putting them to sleep on a little!” Warns Teresa Paiva. “This is terrible and unimaginable!”

Furthermore, women have many reasons to sleep poorly. Yes, there is ‘no-girl’ sleep: According to ‘Sleep to Be Sexy, Smart and Elegant’ [Ellen Michaud, Reader’s Digest], we women have several stages in life where we give sleep problems: during menstruation, Pregnancy and during menopause, we can spend several nights without sleep on the hormones …

It is now known that not sleeping also makes us … fatten. And you do not have to spend the night eating cheesecake ice cream. For both women and children or men, explains Teresa Paiva, “the interaction of sleep with food regulation and absorption is fundamental. Sleeping on little increases the intake and absorption of food and therefore, makes us fat. ”


Our society is definitely not one to fall asleep with the angels. “People live with immense concerns,” notes Teresa Paiva. “When I started doing medicine, the families’ drama was the alcoholic father, with stories of beating the woman and the children. Now the main drama is the unstructured families. There are more conflicts, smaller houses, very unorganized lives. The mother and father work, they arrive exhausted, and all this increases the levels of anxiety and the difficulties in sleeping. ”

Watching television at night will only worsen and reduce sleep time. Falling asleep on the couch also does not help: “This is a myth: do not sleep better on the couch than in the bed!” Defends Teresa Paiva. “On the contrary, when we move from the couch to the bed, we have already lost our pressure to sleep.” This is all the greater the longer the previous waking time: “if you fell asleep, however, you decreased the pressure for sleep.”

Milk and cookies, is another myth: “Milk will only make you get up in the middle of the night to go into the bathroom.”

Conclusion: If you’ve been spinning in bed for more than half an hour or spending hours in the clear thinking of what to say to the boss, do not reach into the box of pills any more. Think first of how you can make your life more sleep-friendly. And to begin with, how about going to bed a bit earlier today?