Different Sleeping Habits from around the World

I didn’t write the following article.

We all have different habits when it comes to sleeping. This is true not only in terms of individuals but also between different cultures and countries around the world. Based on statistical information, sleeping habits can vary quite widely from one country to another.

Fascinating statistics

According to the results of tests carried out by Sleep Cycle, people across the world tend to get the best sleep on Wednesday nights. The results also showed that worldwide people tended to wake up in the best mood on Saturday mornings yet tended to spend the least amount of time in bed on Sundays. It may be something to do with the Monday blues, but the figures showed that countries around the world get up earliest on Mondays, with South Africa waking first at 6.09am.

The survey also looked at the quality of sleep that people from around the world enjoy on average, and it showed that those getting the best quality sleep were not necessarily those getting the most amount of sleep. For example, out of fifty countries that were surveyed as part of the project Slovakia was identified as top of the list when it came to average sleep quality. On average Slovakians go to bed at 1.03am and rise at 7.18am, which is just over six hours sleep on average. At the bottom of the list in 50th place was Malaysia, where people tend to get an average of just over seven hours sleep.

The UK came in at 45th place on this list with an average of just over seven hours sleep per night. While nearly at the bottom of the list when it comes to sleep quality, people in the UK can help to improve quality of sleep by investing in a more comfortable bed or mattress such as those available from Bedstar. This can make a big difference to comfort, support and overall quality of sleep.

Ireland fared even worse than the UK in the rankings, coming in at 49th place out of 50 with an average of nearly seven and a half hours sleep per night.

Pumpkin spice latte season

As pumpkin spice latte season approaches and I continue to avoid Starbucks I thought it was time to get on with making my own coffee.

I followed the following recipe from foodnetwork.com but it basically comes down to the following:

1 or 2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree (can from Waitrose)
1 or 2 tablespoons of sugar
1 cups soy milk
1/2 tea spoon vanilla extract

mix them all up and heat them by either steaming with a frother or in the microwave.

Add a shot or two of espresso.


Homemade pumpkin spice latte. It only takes two tablespoons of pumpkins so freezing the rest. #coffee

A photo posted by Joanna Booth (@stillawake17) on

Book Surgery: editing services

August 31 is the six year anniversary of Ephemeral Digest. In that time I have been a book reviewer, Books Editor and a writer. My first job after six years of university was as head of documentation at a software company. I read through style manuals and wrote and organised help text and testing documents. 13 years on and I am still copyediting work on magazines, for charities and for corporate and personal clients.


As a Books Editor I receive self-published books that I just can’t review or write about because they lack professional editing. I decided two months ago to offer editing services so that I wouldn’t have to be tempted to provide unsolicited criticism.

I have obviously not being offering my help loudly enough because I continue to receive manuscripts that I just can’t promote. I am therefore setting up a service to not only provide editing services but also a book surgery to help authors understand how to unlock their potential

Right there.

The biggest problems I have encountered are, in no particular order:

  • Poor cover designs
  • Mistakes in the text – whether spelling or grammar
  • Holes in the plot
  • Weak and inconsistent characters
  • Incoherent and irrational structures
  • Dialogue that isn’t believable and isn’t consistent
  • Police and other services’ procedures that aren’t accurate

I can help fix all the above or find you someone who will.

At the end of each month I will present a Book Surgery that assesses one piece of written work and offers advice on what to do next. To apply, email joanna@ephemeraldigest.com with the subject Book Surgery. You can also fill out the form at the bottom of this page.

For a professional editing service, I offer the following:


I will check your text for spelling, grammar, understanding, and consistency.


Whether you are working on a fiction or a non-fiction manuscript, I can provide feedback on what will make your work even better. Before you send anything to a publisher why not have a professional pair of eyes check that everything is in order.

Use the following form to ask for the Book Surgery, sample edit or a quote. Typical cost is £100 for 20,000 words. Sample edits are free.

What I look like

I read someone’s post about how they hated having their photo taken and it reminded me of how I felt about my appearance.

Actually, it reminded me of how I felt about other people’s.

I saw a documentary about the smallest man alive a while ago and he met the tallest man alive. Both were so beautiful and kind and loving. How could anyone not love these people? They deserved love. If they deserved love, I deserved love.

I saw another show about burn victims and there was a little girl just four years old who had most of her face burnt terribly and was writhing and screaming in agony in the hospital. What kind of person would not love that little girl more than anything? She deserved love.

There was a man who because of cancer had no nose. Who was I to worry about the size of my nose?

Another man had his jaw smashed off in a car accident when he went flying through the windscreen.  He had to wear a prosthetic so as not to provoke the responses of horror from others. How arrogant and shallow would I have to be to worry about any problems with my jaw?

I cut my hair as short as possible to donate it for wigs for cancer patients and as it grew out the appearance niggled at me. I then saw a woman on Instagram with no hair due to chemotherapy. She looked amazing. If I could love her and her appearance then why would I worry about mine?

It made me realise I was very grateful for my hair.

The bigger thing I realised was that I was not interested in hearing from anyone about my appearance because if they could judge me, what would they say about that four year old girl? What about the littlest man in the world or the woman without hair?

That’s my standard. Those people deserve to be loved and if people can judge me then they are judging those beautiful people who have gone through so much, too.

I’m not here to judge others’ appearance, I’m just passing through.

Being positive and offering editing services


Almost two years ago now, I started to hunt for every book / fictional work that mentioned or was set in Bristol. I turned this into the Best Bristol Novel search. It turns out the best way to do that was to become the Books Editor of a magazine. Since I only write about Bristol authors or relevant Bristol fiction, I overwhelmingly come across more and more Bristol novels.

I also come across novels that could do with some editing. A friend book blogger tells authors that she only accepts professionally edited works but I often get sent books unsolicited so I don’t have much choice. I can’t find it in me to send back criticism or what I feel would be good advice, because however well-intentioned, it still feels like spreading negativity.

Instead, I will focus on what I can do, let people know that I offer editing services ranging from copy editing to story structure suggestions.

If people feel they need some help with their writing then they can contact me at joanna@ephemeraldigest.com for a quote or some advice. This isn’t just for Bristol writers and sending me your manuscript doesn’t mean that I will write about you. This is a service I am offering so that when I receive something full of mistakes I won’t have to point them out. (Aside: Would you point them out?)

For a wider range of what is available to writers, also check Book Helpline (Disclaimer: with whom I occasionally work**) for a comprehensive description of what they offer in story advice and text editing.

Unsolicited advice

Now here is some unsolicited but relevant advice: If you are going to send your writing to an agent or a publisher then check with a professional about whether it needs some editing. It doesn’t have to be me but it should be someone. Don’t ask your friends or your writing group as they are more likely to be nice to you. If you send me, or any editor, work that it is self-published and riddled with mistakes or bad writing then it will be a wasted chance to get reviewed or to get coverage in the media.

There is a lot of competition out there so don’t waste your opportunity to get published professionally.

For a quote, contact me at joanna@ephemeraldigest.com.

** For who afficionados, Sentence First has some good news.

Animals we use

I thought I had posted this as a draft but alas my iPhone app published it instead. Apologies for the randomness. I was at breakfast a few weeks ago and couldn’t help but notice that all items, even in veggie-friendly places, overwhelmingly rely on animals.

every single breakfast item relies on animals  


Crocheted rib cowl

Not sponsored and even though I mention brand names, there are no affiliate links or anything of the sort

I’ve not written much about any type of craft recently but thought I would mention this new crocheted rib cowl that I’m making for the second time.

I started to crochet less than a year ago because I was looking to make a baby blanket and I wanted to make one like the ones my friends Kimberlee and Mouse made for their babies. I couldn’t find any knitting patterns that were similar and then discovered Granny Squares. It was a bit of a revelation. Well, for the next 11 months or so, I didn’t know there was more to crocheting than Granny Squares. I bought lovely yarn and made many. At some point I moved on to another project and part of the reason was that my baby had arrived and her wonderful auntie Jenny had already crocheted her a perfect blanket herself so I wasn’t as motivated as I had been.

Lois's baby blanket from Auntie Jenny

The granny squares are still unjoined but I learnt to love crochet.

I have found that it’s easier for me to crochet than knit because the project isn’t as likely to unravel. When I’ve crocheted enough, I take out the hook, pull the loop to make it longer, and put it all away for another day. With knitting, and especially lace knitting, there is so much that can go wrong and with my sleep deprivation and lack of energy, I just couldn’t find it in me to make some of the more creative stuff.

Crochet seems to be more comforting, mindless (depending on the pattern – see Sophie’s Universe) and quicker for me.

Unlike with knitting, where I already knew some of the basic stitches, I found crocheting harder in terms of learning the physical process of it. There was a proper learning curve with in-built frustration and lots of repetition required to perfect / learn the techniques. I could create a chain with no problem but then making the magic circle was incredibly tough for me and also learning how to hold the yarn with the right amount of tension.

I used two books I borrowed from the library and plenty of YouTube videos. I still couldn’t do a magic circle until I found a new technique from one of the most amazing CALs (crochet a long’s) I’ve ever been part of and read. Hours and hours of work have contributed to this tutorial for the Sophie’s Universe project. Also, this Facebook group of crocheters is genuinely the nicest group I’ve belonged to. There is rarely any arguing at all and the members spend a lot of time supporting each other and praising everyone’s work. It also represents a hell of a lot of countries.

So here we are to the mindless but great crocheted rib cowl:


Crocheted rib cowl in Skeino

Finished rib cowl in Skeino


I had some luxurious and beautiful yarn by Skeino that I wanted to make sure I used up so I found something that I thought would be easy and that I would wear. I mainly scrolled through Pinterest while nursing Lois.


yarn skein

Skein of Skeino from Yarnbox March




Half-way through the Skeino crocheted rib cowl

I am now making the same cowl but with Manos del Uruguay yarn from the Clasica range.


boxed yarn

Manos del Uruguay yarn, Clasica, from Yarnbox April shipment


Crocheted rib cowl in Manos Clasica


Half-way through crocheted rib cowl in Manos Clasica

I’m not sure it’s turning out as nicely so will see. I may even try to find a different pattern but so far the actual crafting itself is nice.

After writing this I remembered a competition that Deramores had for blogging about a trend and the chance to win £500 worth of yarn. The competition is now closed but there are six blog posts about different trends and the rib cowl is one of the ones written about – crocheting that looks like knitting. If you’re interested, the blogs are here. They seem to be great crafty blogs too.

The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds and how men get to speak while women stay silent


The following are some thoughts after seeing the show:

I have just watched the Secret Life of 4 Year Olds which is based on observation over two weekends, each six months apart, observing children. The men with PhDs, who said they had never been able to listen to children like that before (this group of children wore microphones), were the only ones who commented on behaviour while the female teachers were not shown expressing any opinion even though they had a lot more contact with children this age. This felt one-sided. 

The children were fascinating but I won’t comment on their behaviour. 

Channel 4 describes the show as follows: 

 This documentary follows 10 four-year-olds as they meet at nursery, exploring how children make and break friendships, share, stand up for themselves, and find their place in a new social group.

Dr Paul Howard -Jones is from the University of Bristol and one of two educational neuroscientists who observe the children from behind the scenes by observing the action on monitors. The show cuts away at regular intervals to the two male scientists reacting to the children while watching them and listening on headphones. 

Jones said :”Even though I wasn’t interacting with the children, I found myself becoming incredibly involved, emotionally, in the narratives that were developing for each individual child.”

The other scientist was Dr Sam Wass from the Cognition and Brain Science Unit at Cambridge University.

The two women who do interact with the children are “highly trained teachers” and their profiles are not posted on the website and their opinions are not sought. 

 The questions I have about this show 

 1. How much of children’s  behaviour is copied from their carers? 

 2. How can the scientists draw conclusions from the children’s actions without seeing how their carers behave? 

3. Do the teachers agree with all the conclusions?

 4. what do the teachers have to add about individual children and group behaviour based on their experience and education?

5. What do they think about the limitations and benefits of filming  children over such short periods of time?

How dumb do you have to be to call a baby lazy?

The first person who implied my seven day old newborn was lazy was the midwife. She was teasing, supposedly, and when talking about how Lois slept a lot she said “it’s a hard life, isn’t it?” in a sarcastic tone. She was a very helpful health professional who showed me how to breastfeed, checked that we were both ok and made sure I knew what to do in an emergency. She was brilliant but there was still something in her tone that implied my child, any child that age, was lazy.

Today on instagram, a woman with a baby born under a week ago called her baby lazy for sleeping all the time. She probably meant to be funny and cute but she made me angry.

A woman in a blog post a few months ago didn’t know why people were criticising her for saying her two-year-old had nothing to worry or get upset about and then listed a whole host of reasons that effectively made fun of him for getting upset at things like having a green rather than a blue sippy cup. He had told her jokingly that he’d been having a tough day so she wrote a blog post mocking him. She didn’t understand the criticism.

My child is just over three weeks old. She can’t hold her head up and can’t control her body movements and has no control of her life at all. She is defenceless and vulnerable and has to sleep a lot and feed to grow. I don’t think it’s easy to grow a whole body from nothing. I think the energy it takes induces lethargy to the extent that the only time in my life I can remember being like that is when I had the measles and thought that I might be dying.

Growing is tough for a little baby. Losing the few things that are familiar to you in a world you simply can’t understand must be tough for a two year old. Life doesn’t feel easy for a lot of the time but when you’re little, things being different to normal are unexplained and can bring on a terror close to thinking you’re going to die.

A mum walked out of St Michael’s Hospital two days ago with her four-day-old baby in her arms. The police found and identified their bodies in the last 24 hours. That baby was utterly defenceless and had no chance and no choice.

Not lazy. Just growing and defenceless.

What does 4G testing mean for Bristol?

This post was not written by me


The rise of the famed 4G mobile internet network has a lot more significance to the smartphone users of today than just a flurry of Kevin Bacon adverts.

Short for fourth generation, 4G provides mobile internet at considerably faster speeds than its predecessor, 3G, averaging around six megabytes per second compared to the average speeds of one megabyte per second during the 3G era.

While it may not sound like much, this increase in speed has given rise to a whole new host of opportunities for those who browse on the go. Whereas 3G could scarcely do more than open an email or allow a user to access a relatively uncomplicated website, 4G is apt for video streaming, video calls and more.

But how has 4G affected Bristol? In August of this year, mobile telecommunications giant O2 announced that they were commencing 4G testing in the area. At the time, the company kept quiet about testing, choosing to tell their followers on Twitter that anybody experiencing 4G was doing so because of the testing.

However, keen to outdo their competitors Three and EE (Everything Everywhere), O2 soon began bringing their services to the city. Masts are now springing up everywhere around the city in locations such as Ashton Road, which has already proven to have speeds far higher than the aforementioned average of six megabytes per second.

A test taken in the area this August near the Dovecote Pub revealed that smartphone users could actually achieve download speeds of up to 57.3 megabytes per second, while upload speeds of 21.9 megabytes per second were equally as impressive. With speeds faster than those afforded by most home broadband packages, the rise of 4G could mean big changes for Bristol.

As one of the most populous areas of Britain, Bristol has its fair share of mobile internet demands, particularly in city centres where Wi-Fi facilities can only do so much. This gives Bristol’s residents the chance to take on all that the internet has to offer, with the mobile internet offering of today extending beyond just communication.

The online gaming world, for instance, has only grown in popularity thanks to the the availability of wireless internet and the new range of choice out there. For example, games at MrSmithCasino have come a long way in recent years, moving away from traditional slot games to incorporating gamification and working to many topical themes.

So whether we’re gaming, talking to our friends on Facetime or just checking our emails, the rise of 4G can only be good news for Bristol.