Happy Birthday America!
Well, it was another late night and another early morning for me. I was up at 6 AM after getting to sleep at 1 AM. That is why I’m posting in the afternoon rather than the morning– I needed to wake up! I was also preoccupied with baking this morning. I wanted to make this awesome chocolate banana swirl cake for my houseguests (ok- it’s really for me, but my guests can have some.) The recipe is from Fine Cooking magazine and it’s awesome! However, I am sorry to report that because of the very decadent nature of the cake, I could not pass it off as a breakfast item and must wait for dinner for my first piece. Sniff, Sniff.
So, back to my bleary-eyed morning. What is it about the American lifestyle that makes us sacrifice sleep to do other things? Last night, I was up late working – yes working! – on my vacation of all times. Not happy about that at all, especially because I have company. Although, I do get to take an extra vacation day to compensate. I also stay up late to write blogs and other articles and for the typical leisure activities. But work-related items seem to be keeping me up late the most.
Like many Americans, I have fallen into the pattern of staying up a little later each night yet getting up at the same time, or worse, getting up earlier. This lack of sleep is really taking a toll on me. I mean, they don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing! My skin definitely looks a little duller, my eyes are not as bright and perky, and my temper is a little shorter. I also tend to rely more on caffeine to get me through the day.
What I really need is a French night’s sleep.
A recent survey showed that the French spend more time sleeping and eating than anyone else among the world’s wealthiest nations. The French sleep an average of 9 hours a night – compared with my 6-7 hours! They also spend more than 2 hours a day eating, but that’s for another post!
At this point in my life, I can’t even imagine getting 9 hours of sleep at night – unless I was sick of course. I think my body would go into shock. But I definitely need more than my average of 6-7 hours of sleep.
So, how do I get a better night’s sleep? First, I need to spend less time working at home and take more time for me at home. For example, the French are all about their leisure time and wouldn’t even think about bringing work home. I’m sure this has an impact on their healthy sleep patterns not to mention their trim waistlines. And, unlike Americans who have the more work is better mentality, the French and many other Europeans work fewer hours a week and get more vacation time each year.
10 TIPS TO GET MORE SLEEP
If you are like me and need more sleep, Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat, offers these tips on how to catch some zzzz’s like our French neighbors.
- Move! No, not your house, move your body. Studies have shown that exercise, in addition to burning calories, makes it easier to fall and stay asleep.
- Say no to caffeine and other stimulants. They can make you jittery and interrupt your sleep quality and ability to fall asleep.
- Keep a consistent sleep pattern. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
- Reserve the bedroom for sleeping only. Nuff said.
- Try herbal tea. Chamomile, anise, valerian and fennel-blend teas are known to help relax and make sleep come easier.
- Turn off the lights earlier. Lights signal to our brain that it’s daytime and can interfere with our bodies’ ability to wind down for sleep.
- Turn off the computer and TV at least a half hour. Both tend to keep our mind active, the last thing we want before bedtime.
- If you can’t sleep for a full half hour, get up and read a book or listen to soothing music for a little while. Staying in bed will only make you more restless. And, staring at the clock does not help either.
- Avoid large meals before bedtime. Have dinner at least two-to-three hours before going to bed.
- Create a sleep environment. Keep the bedroom dark, well ventilated, and cool. Try white noise or a fan if necessary.
Sleep long and soundly everyone!