I can’t sleep

Not so long ago, I’ve had some terrible sleeping patterns. One night I would sleep quite well only to suffer sleeplessness the next. This lasted for quite some time and was very annoying. I just wanted to sleep better!

Oh, it's one of "those" nights

Oh, it’s one of “those” nights

Insomnia, or sleeplessness, can be very frustrating. And let’s face it: we’ve all experienced insomnia. That is why I looked around for solutions to the problem. So, if you suffer from sleeplessness I recommend you read on.

Before we can answer the popular questions “How can I sleep better?” or “What is the treatment of insomnia?” we need to understand what insomnia is and what are its causes.

The term “insomnia” is – scientifically – used to describe a wide range of sleep disorders. Medically, it can be classified into three types, according to how long the symptoms last:

  • Transient Insomnia: When it lasts for a few days to a few weeks
  • Acute Insomnia: Lasts for several weeks
  • Chronic Insomnia:  Can last for months or sometimes years.

The causes of insomnia are numerous. These include certain drugs, drinking alcohol, psychological disorders (such as schizophrenia and depression), hormonal changes during menstrual cycle and disruptions in the regular day/night cycle (called Circadian Cycle).

Apart from being an annoying situation in itself, it also may result in undesirable consequences. Research shows that lack of sufficient sleep may affect the integrity of the immune system. This can result in making the body more liable to viral infections and requires longer recovery periods. So you see it’s not just about feeling exhausted or in a terrible mood.

Before taking any sleeping pills, keep in mind that sleeping pills are tricky. If taken incorrectly, they might lead to dependence, aka addiction. Now, to answer the question “How to sleep better?” here are a few tips to help you sleep.

  1. Fixed sleeping schedule: Try as much as you can to sleep (and get up) at fixed times, everyday; even on weekends and holidays (I know it’s not easy!). This daily routine helps stabilize our natural sleep/wake cycle and enables you to sleep easier day after day.
  2. Monitor what you eat or drink: Do not sleep when you’re hungry, or when you’re full. Either situation can cause discomfort, which in turn makes sleeping almost impossible. Also, smoking (anything containing nicotine) and caffeinated drinks, obviously, will keep you awake. If you absolutely have to drink coffee, have your last cup early (2 PM) so that your body has enough time to get rid of its effects. Some drinks such as anise have been reported to aid sleeping.
  3. Set the mood: If you want to sleep better, your bedroom must be extra comfy and set in a relaxed mood. Turn the lights off, make sure it’s quiet and choose a mattress and pillow that are most comfortable to you.
  4. Exercise: The effort you make during exercise will help you fall asleep faster. Just make sure that your workout is not too close to bedtime which might have reverse effects.
Nothing seems to work

Nothing seems to work

At the end, I have a little piece of advice. If apparent causes of insomnia are excluded and the symptoms last for a long time, maybe it’s time to see a doctor. I wouldn’t recommend taking any sleeping pills or antihistamines without a prescription. Taking any medication without reason or for the wrong indication is not a wise choice and might make the case worse.


How to win an iPad in Egypt?

I was eating at a fast food restaurant a few months ago when I noticed a Coca-Cola ad for a scratch and win competition with the grand prize being an iPad.

Being the opportunistic human being that I am, I decided to try my luck. I mean I am eating anyway so why not get free stuff as well. I was pretty sure, actually 100% confident that my scratch and win card would not bring me the iPad. It’s some sort of belief that I have grown up with after seeing the enormous amount of competitions in Egypt starting from the famous “Bim-Bim” in the 1980s and “El-Sham3edan”. If you’ve lived through these times, you’d know what I’m talking about: No one ever won the grand prize, and when someone did, you could never know whether they truly won or it was just a play.

Anyways, I discovered later that this Coca-Cola competition was going on in many restaurants affiliated with the coke company. So, what happened next is that I was chatting with a guy that I know who happens to take orders in a famous fast food chain. We talked about the aforementioned competition and he said:

“We had this competition going on here too, but it ended a while back. You know what happened? After all the coupons were used by clients, no one got the iPad or the camera (the other worthy prize). We had them stored at the restaurant until 2 guys working at Coca-Cola came by, ordered two large meals and then gave us two coupons they brought along and guess what? These were the coupons for the iPad and the camera”.

Another person would have been shocked but for me, I’ve already made peace with the fact that companies in Egypt only use competitions for marketing and public image purposes without letting “strangers” win. Usually the prizes go to someone affiliated with the company such as the manager’s relative or friend or something. Or there’s the other scenario of “pretending” that someone won, making a fake interview with them to be published and then claiming the prize back.

It goes without saying that the guy I asked could have been lying or just making this whole thing up. Therefore, I wanted to put my own theory to the test. I went to a couple of adjacent restaurants and over a few days kept ordering one or two meals a day to see if I can finally prove myself wrong and win the iPad. However, the last of the coupons was scratched and I won different prizes ranging from an ice cream cone to another set of car sun shields, but not the coveted gadget. Wow! So, I asked the manager of the other restaurant, if anyone won the iPad, since the gift cards were finished. He said no. So, the coupons are finished but the iPad is just sitting there. How exactly are you supposed to win this?

I would love if anyone can share a true story about someone they know, a relative, a friend or anyone who has actually won an expensive prize. I’m not talking about famous bloggers who receive free stuff from companies for the purpose of marketing and forcing them, indirectly, to write great reviews about their products. I’m talking about average people like you and me.

So, back to the question that makes the title of this post: How to win an iPad in Egypt?

You can’t, just buy it.

For some people, the iPad is so important

For some people, the iPad is so important


Back when I was in high school, I remember the word “Globalization” trending nationwide. It was thrown at us on TV, on Radio, in newspapers and everywhere else. The word itself was usually associated in our school text books with the sentence “turning the world into a small village”. Of course such concept carried along hopes for global incorporation within financial and trade markets as well as the working force. That meant Globalization was supposed to make workers of any profession able to work in some other country by going through a much easier process. The same goes for business owners: they were supposed to be able to start new business outlets in other countries with significant ease, compared to pre-globalization days.
Remember I said “was supposed to”, because that simply didn’t happen. Now come on, everybody knows that the expected flow of workers and trade was from third world countries towards the west, namely USA and Europe. Now, let me ask you this: regardless of your profession, is it easy for you to work in USA or UK these days? NO. You probably have to go through tons of paperwork, examinations, licensing…etc.
Let me give you this example: I am a licensed pharmacist in Egypt. If I want to work as a pharmacist in USA I have to
1. Sit for an exam called FPGEE, which basically tests your scientific knowledge about pharmacy education and practice. There’s a big famous book called Comprehensive Pharmacy Review that you have to study for this exam. The exam fees are about 7000 EGP 
2. Sit for the TOEFL exam, since my first language is not English. This exam costs about 1000 EGP.
3. Send copies of my university transcripts, my pharmacist license and other documents to the authoritative body in USA. If you want to send your documents by DHL for example, it costs about 400 EGP per pack.
4. Start an internship in USA as a pharmacy trainee or intern. This means you have to keep contacting different pharmacies and keep nagging until you can obtain a place for training. This internship usually takes a full year.
5. Apply for working visa to be able to legally work in a pharmacy as an intern or trainee. I am not sure how much this visa costs so let’s put it as 1000 EGP.
6. Let’s not forget about the flight ticket (minimum 5000 EGP) and your living expenses at that time, which I’m not even going to include.
As you can see, roughly, I’d need about 15000 EGP and two years (one for studying and taking the exams, the other for the internship). Until I’m allowed to work in USA, that’s of course if everything goes as planned and money is not an issue. Easy huh?

I can go on and give you plenty of other examples but I think you already got the idea.
I can also claim that nearly every other profession will have similar or closely related procedure, whether it’s teaching, medicine, law practice or whatever. Now remind me again what was the word? Globa-LIE-zation. It’s all about LIE. It’s the lie of making the world a small close village.
On a second thought, it might be true. I mean for an US or European national, it should be great. Let’s take a look from the other point of view.
If you are an US citizen, you are automatically entitled to work in any Arab country for example. In addition, you’ll probably earn a huge salary that is at least 4-5 times more than what a national of the Arab country with your same qualifications would earn. This is something we call in Egypt the “foreigner complex” – “3o2det el khawaga”.
In the Gulf (Kuwait, Qatar, KSA, UAE…) almost all managerial and consultant positions are filled by foreigners from USA and UK. Many job posts I have seen directly ask for an US or UK professional, as if the citizenship guarantees its holder a job in the Gulf. Did I mention that a foreigner doesn’t have to go through exams, language tests, internships or any hassle at all? Usually the company sponsors his arrival and settling in, including all paperwork and procedures.

The bottom line: Globalization is a pure illusion that enables more control of the western world over third world countries. Long live globa-lie-zation.