Humanity is divided into two categories: those who rise late, and those who rise early. – Achille Campanelli
I write these words while the rest of my family is on a football field. It’s Sunday and 8:38 PM! I have nothing against football matches and the enthusiastic attendance of the fans, what I cannot understand is why Portuguese society insists on such late hours of the night…
The theme of activities scheduled at “unusual” times is that they affect our sleep, not just on an individual level, but as a society. Sleep is a multidisciplinary activity because it affects all aspects of health. The quantity and quality of our sleep affects physical and mental performance, makes our immune system stronger, our metabolism more efficient and improves our ability to inhibit some chronic diseases.
On average, we will spend a third of our lives sleeping. Oura Health, a technology company that sells a ring capable of monitoring many biological variables, including our sleeping habits, analyzed 220,000 people in 35 countries. In general, Asians sleep less than Americans and Europeans. The country that topped the podium with the best sleep rate was New Zealand, while Portugal came in 23rd place with an average of 6.6 hours of sleep during the week. On the weekend, we improved a bit (quite a bit) as we were able to get 7.1 hours of sleep.
For me, the most interesting thing to study is not just the time we spend sleeping, but the times we sleep and wake up. In this case, we have similar patterns for South Korea, Hong Kong, India, and Japan, all of which are countries with lower statistics on healthy sleep hygiene. On average, a Portuguese person goes to bed around midnight and wakes up around 7:30 in the morning.
Going to bed later is associated with poorer sleep quality. We’re spending more time tossing and turning in bed! We couldn’t recover at the weekend.
Now that we know the importance of a good night’s sleep for our physical and mental health, for our learning ability and quality of decision-making, and even for our mood, it would be desirable to rethink this habit. Why do we insist on maintaining and defending these late hours as if they are something desirable and positive? Why do we think that going to bed late is an asset, when in reality it negatively affects us?
In 2021, the Portuguese spent 77.43 million euros on sleeping pills, or 6.45 million euros per month on “medicines” that help us sleep. Wouldn’t it be better to create habits and schedules that are more aligned with our responsibilities and lifestyles? Is it really necessary to schedule Sunday football games at 8:30pm?
Sleeping early reduces negative thoughts and feelings of anxiety and improves our ability to deal with emotions. Northwestern University School of Medicine showed that “night owls” are 10% more likely to die prematurely than people who go to bed early.
For this and all other reasons, it seems appropriate as a society to rethink our schedules, for the sake of our health and our relationship with our bed! Because we have all heard that “early to bed and early to rise is healthy and makes you grow”.
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