Duerme. Duérmete ya, hijo mío.

This little saying gives the lyrical basis for the Spanish translation of Sleepyhead, except stripped down to just “Duérmete ya”, an imperative translating as “Sleep now”, there is also a sense of urgency.

Science writer Pere Estupinyà and yours truly at Espacio Fundación Telefónica in Madrid on 25 October 2018 for the Spanish launch of Duérmete ya. Photo Ricardo Domingo. Courtesy of Fundación Telefónica.

This is appropriate, as a campaign to improve sleep would probably achieve greater benefit for public health than any other single intervention. The work of epidemiologist Francesco Cappuccio and colleagues over the last ten years and more has clearly established that sleep deprivation (where there is routinely less than 6 hours a night) significantly increases the risk of obesity (by 57%), hypertension (up 21%), type 2 diabetes (28%), coronary heart disease (48%), stroke (15%) and premature death (12%). In fact, there is no health concern for which improving sleep would not be a sensible prescription. Elizabethan dramatist Thomas Dekker had it spot on:

Do but consider what an excellent thing sleep is…that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.

My Spanish publisher Blackie Books have done a terrific job with my book, producing a beautiful cover and generating plenty of mainstream publicity.

In particular, I enjoyed being interviewed by Ima Sanchís of La Vanguardia. I’ve never been posed such a troublesome series of pointed questions, like her last one: What are we for?”

I checked with my brilliant interpreter Emma Soler and this was indeed the question. I began an answer, with no idea of where I was going, and found my way – quite miraculously – to something I was happy with. Whether I’ll still be happy when the article is published remains to be seen.


Duérmete ya
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