“Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree; thy leaves are so unchanging…”
Or at least they are if you opt for a fake tree. A real tree tends to sit in the corner of the room, slowly turning brown and shedding pine needles all over the floor while the family argues about who has to drag it outside. The tradition of the Christmas tree is long and rich, and has resulted in some modern trees that run the gamut from breathtakingly beautiful, encapsulating everything that Christmas stands for, to just plain weird. Let’s take a tour around the world to take in the Christmas trees that are truly tree-mendous (sorry for the pun).
1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The 279-feet-high floating Christmas tree at Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was surrounded by fireworks during its inauguration on November 29, 2014. But even without the fireworks, it’s an eyecatcher.
2. Rockefeller Plaza, New York, USA
30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan is the home of US broadcaster NBC, and hosts one of the most recognized Christmas trees in the world. A tree has been placed there each year since 1933, and is usually a Norway Spruce. The 45,000 individual lights are switched on each year at an official ceremony, usually accompanied by a live concert (because nothing says Merry Christmas like Mariah Carey trying to sell a few more copies of her Christmas CD). Your own Christmas decorations are probably far less elaborate, but no less beautiful.Advertising
3. Trafalgar Square, London, UK
Christmas can be a time for gratitude, and this has led to the Christmas tree in London’s Trafalgar Square. The tree has been an annual gift from the people of Norway since 1947, in thanks for England’s help during WW2. Most trees selected for London are more than 60 years old, meaning that until recent years, the trees were actually growing during the war.
4. Galeries Lafayette, Paris, France
It would seem that the French prefer their Christmas trees to be more traditional, like the four-storey monster placed inside the posh Galeries Lafayette Department Store each year which you can see above. However in 2014, American artist Paul McCarthy was responsible for the massive inflatable “Christmas tree” installation in central Paris, which was criticized for its strong resemblance to a sex toy, and was later destroyed by vandals.
5. Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany
There’s a beautiful juxtaposition with the placement of the annual Christmas tree at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. The Christmas tree is a universal symbol of goodwill towards all men (and of course, all women), while the Brandenburg Gate was once the setting for Nazi ceremonies.
6. Lego Christmas Tree, London, UK
Perhaps the ultimate in plastic Christmas trees, this gigantic Lego construction was put up at London’s St Pancras International Station, where the Eurostar leaves for Paris. You might complain about having to take down your Christmas tree and pack away the decorations, but pity the poor people who had to dismantle this thing.Advertising
7. Floating Christmas Tree, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
While Brazil might not have a white Christmas, it doesn’t stop them from having perhaps the most amazing Christmas tree of all. Constructed on a barge anchored in the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, the tree boasts more than 3.3 million lights.
8. St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City
Christmas is a holy time for many people, and so it’s fitting that the Pope can look out his window and see this 82 foot beauty, which is a gift from the German state of Bavaria.
9. Monte Ingino, Gubbio, Italy
Why have one tree when several hundred are more impressive? On the slopes of Monte Ingino, just outside of Gubbio in central Italy, individual pine trees are fitted with lights in order to create one massive tree that stretched more than 2000 feet to the top of the mountain. It’s actually switched on remotely by the Pope, using a tablet computer. Ah, technology.
10. National Christmas Tree, Washington DC, USA
The President of the United States has many stressful duties to perform, so the official lighting of the National Christmas Tree is probably a welcomed relief. Each President from Franklin D. Roosevelt onwards has officiated at the lighting ceremony.Advertising
11. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, USA
Maybe the most environmentally friendly Christmas tree is one that lives all year round and is merely decorated during the festive season. This tree is more than 160 feet in height, meaning it dominates the landscape no matter what the season might be.
12. Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia
Christmas in Australia takes place during the heat of summer, and Melbourne has been known to reach more than 40°C (106°F) during the festive season. This doesn’t stop Federation Square in downtown Melbourne from hosting a beautiful Christmas tree each year, with confused children melting in the heat as they look at representations of a white Christmas.
13. Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain
The city of Madrid has opted for an environmentally friendly tree, since the tree in question is actually a glorious sculpture of metal and glass.
14. Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand
Unless climate change really kicks into gear, Bangkok is unlikely to experience a white Christmas anytime soon. That doesn’t stop the people of Bangkok from enjoying an annual gigantic Christmas tree, which is located at the entrance to the Central World Shopping Mall.Advertising
15. Comercio Square, Lisbon, Portugal
Europe’s tallest Christmas tree can be found in the Portuguese capital, and while the height varies slightly each year depending on the approved construction (since the tree is made from steel), it’s generally around 250 feet tall.
16. Murano Christmas Tree, Venice, Italy
Murano glassware has been prized for centuries, and the Venetian island has been the home of fine glass since 1291. So of course, why not make an entire Christmas tree of the stuff? The end result is striking, but perhaps a little too alien to be truly festive.
17. Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi, UAE
If you happen to lose a Christmas ornament, it’s no big deal. If any ornament is lost from the Emirate Palace Hotel’s tree, whoever is responsible might be facing jail time. It’s decorated with more than $11 million in jewelry and precious stones.
18. Dortmund Christmas Market, Dortmund, Germany
We’ve saved the biggest and the best for last. This tree uses an idea similar to the previously mentioned Lego tree, and is made of multiple smaller parts. This huge “tree” is in fact made of 1700 smaller pine trees, stretching some 150 feet into the winter sky.
Last Updated on October 16, 2018
The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight
It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.
“If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”
One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night. So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?
Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.
In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.
Table of Contents
Why you can’t sleep through the night
The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night. Here are the main ones that the average person faces:
If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.
Exposure to blue light before sleep time
We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.
While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.
Eating close to bedtime
Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.
Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.
Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.
In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.
The vicious sleep cycle
The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.
Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:
You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.
You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.
How to sleep better (throughout the night)
To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.
1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night
What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
- Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
- Find an activity that helps you to wind down – This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
- Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
- Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive
2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)
What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:
- Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
- Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
- Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
- Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.
3. Adjust your sleep temperature
Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.
Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.
Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature
Sleep better form now on
Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.
I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.
As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!
Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com