Countdown to 2018: Sleep

There has got to be more sleep in 2018.  No, I cannot give extra hours to your day, but read on. There is a reason why sleep-deprivation is used as method of torture. Because it is. We’ve all been there – an all nighter to hand in an essay/dissertation by the deadline extended deadline. Endless meetings that stretch way into the small hours. Jetlag. Craziness at work, meetings, meetings, reports, deadlines, proofreading the one last time, sending the very last email just to make sure, stuff, dinners, early mornings, kids, checking if there’s something new on the internet, endless everything but no sleep. Herewith some tricks that might you get if not more, hopefully better, sleep.


Yes it’s lovely, we all know. One or two glasses of red in the evening to wind down before hitting the sack, what’s not to like? I’m the last person to preach about red wine intake to anyone, but it’s no good for your sleep. Yes, you will feel drowsy and relaxed, but your sleep will be of the chemical kind. I will not suggest milk thistle and such for the evenings, but remember that alcohol will literally strip you from any little energy you still have left, especially during the work week…


…which brings us to the importance of keeping a certain schedule and rhythm to your sleeping. Your brain will not be fooled by the lie-ins you give it during the weekend, especially if you’re sleeping away your hangover. Due to the very reasons listed above, it’s sometimes impossible to stick to the 7-8 hours of shuteye daily. Sleep when you can, obviously, but be aware that you cannot stock up on sleep. It needs to be done regularly.


Most of us firmly believe that the world will end the very moment we fall asleep at night. To prepare for this eventuality, we keep our mobile phones on our pillow just in case the Armageddon sends a text at 04:00 in the morning. There are jobs that sometimes require us to be alert for  the unexpected also during the night (I have one of those). However there are no jobs that require us to do this every night, always. 

Get an old-fashioned alarm clock next to your bed. Then leave your mobile, tablet and other devices outside your bedroom. I introduced a 22:30 gadget-curfew this year and have slept better since. I have alerts and sounds on loud in my phone in case the work calls, but gizmos don’t come to bed.


I am often asked where do I find the time to read. I, too,  used to think I don’t have time to read, until I conducted a little test and added up all the time I spent surfing the webs during the day. I shall not disclose the results here, but let’s just say that had I prioritised my time differently, I possibly would have dined with the Swedish Royal Family this weekend, upon receiving my Nobel prize for chemistry. 

I try to read about an hour before I go to sleep. Often this ends up being more. This is not dangerous. A book does not give the constant visual stimuli the way TV and screens do. Plus the whole point of surfing the internet is to surf, click away and well, surf, instead of focusing on anything in particular. You’ll end up dizzy, so don’t do it in bed. If you prefer reading books on Kindle/tablet, get an app that gets rid of the blue light. Read anything that takes your fancy, really. Work/university -related paperwork counts as well, but I try very hard not to bring work to bed. 

My Hall of Fame “Reading Before Sleeping During the Work-Week Books” include the autobiographies “The Price of Illusion” by Joan Juliet Buck and “The Woman I Wanted to Be” by Diane von Fürstenberg. Both books inevitably put me on a good mood, because these ladies have had the most unbelievable lives so far. The first is a former French Vogue Editor-in-Chief, the latter has the eponymous fashion line (love the silk jersey wrap dresses). You probably have to like fashion to fully appreciate the books (it also helps if you’re acquainted with minor European royals and aristocracy). General pop-culture knowledge (Jack Nicholson, Angelica Huston, Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz, Loulou de la Falaise, Yves Saint Laurent and such crowd) also helps. Both of the ladies are possibly highly privileged, but also fantastic examples of where determination, hard work and a network of fabulously famous people can land you. I like to think that a little glamour never hurt nobody – there’s certainly no excess in my humdrum life. 

Also, if you feel mid-way like tossing the books aside and shouting aloud “No way that happened!”, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Formidable stuff, in both English and French meanings of the word. 

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