Sweet dreams
by Dr John Winsor - The Sunday Times of Malta

The quality and quantity of sleep we get is very important. It is during sleep that our batteries recharge and our brain sorts out the day’s accumulated problems.

During the day millions of bits and pieces of information are fed into the average brain. After 16 hours of this, the brain becomes information-logged. It needs a rest.

Just as different brains do different things with the same information, so different brains need varying amounts of time in which to recover from the input of all this information. The amount of sleep varies just as much as fingerprints vary.

A newborn baby needs 15 hours sleep a day, while the average amount of sleep an adult needs is eight hours. Some people may get by with three, while others may need ten.

There are many ways to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep.

First, make sure that you are tired when you go to bed.

You need to be physically tired — not just mentally tired. If you try to go to bed after working on books and paperwork for hours, you’ll probably find that the problems of the day insist on popping into your head.

Try going for a walk, or doing a few exercises before you try to sleep.

Also remember that your bed — and bedroom — must be comfortable if you are going to sleep well.

Good beds are not cheap, but you will probably spend a third of your life in it, so don’t cut corners too much. You will need to be warm if you are going to sleep properly. If you don’t like too many blankets on your bed, then what about hot water bottles, electric blankets or even bed socks?

Stuffy bedrooms are difficult to sleep in, so make sure that there is plenty of ventilation.

There are many things that may keep you awake at night. Pain, of course, will prevent sleep. Many muscular aches and pains seem worse at night than during the day. If this is the case, ask your doctor if a couple of soluble aspirin or paracetamol tablets will help eradicate your pain permanently.

Hunger can also keep you awake. Try a milky drink and a couple of biscuits at night, but try to avoid heavy meals, or meals containing lots of spicy food.

If you live in a noisy house or area, then earplugs may help (you can get these from your local chemist), or double glazing may cut down the amount of noise from outside.