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6 Things Only People Have Bad Night’s Sleep Would Understand (And Ways to Alleviate It)

6 Things Only People Have Bad Night’s Sleep Would Understand (And Ways to Alleviate It)

If you suffer from insomnia or you have to do shift work, then you will know all about a bad night’s sleep. If you have a newborn baby, the situation may be even worse. Join the club of 50-70 million Americans and 5 million in the UK who cannot get a decent night’s sleep. 20% of these are getting less than 6 hours sleep a night.

There are various causes such as too much Internet, email, stress, alcohol, and a host of other problems which are all stopping us from getting our share of sleep which is vital to proper functioning.

Most medical experts say that those who suffer from sleep problems are prone to more depression, anxiety and poorer health overall. Add in diabetes, obesity and heart problems and you will begin to see why this is a very worrying trend. The CDC estimates that this is a pubic health epidemic. Here are 6 things that only people with sleep problems will understand and also 4 ways to alleviate the problem.

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1. You know that tomorrow is going to be hell.

As you lie there tossing and turning and having tried everything from hot milk to sleep aids which become less and less effective, you wonder, why me? Then you start worrying again about how bad all this is for you and that tomorrow will be all the more difficult and stressful. You just know that you are going to get exhausted more quickly and that you will have problems in concentrating at work or in studying. You will be in a bad mood as well.

2. You love your baby but…..

If you are a new parent, the constant interruptions from the crying newborn have a detrimental effect and may be worse than getting no sleep at all. This interrupted sleep is about the same as getting 4 hours sleep and you just cannot function on that. Many parents often feel anger towards their newborn child building up and this makes them feel guilty which, in turn, disturbs their sleep when they do manage to fall into a fitful slumber.

3. You do not get much sympathy.

Everybody has their own remedy. They will recommend homeopathic treatments, yoga, melatonin and a host of other remedies which will vary from grandmother’s recipes to New Age discoveries. None of them work for you and people just shrug their shoulders and more or less tell you to get on with it! There is very little support and even doctors do not give this medical disorder the attention it deserves.

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4. You are not so sure about sleep aids.

How can you sort out the facts from the hysteria about sleep aids? You do all the research in your waking hours and you get all the scary stories about the health risks. Then you do more research and Big Pharma reassures you that disastrous side effects are few and far between. Yet, as you count the 456th sheep, you cannot dismiss the stories of the death of Heath Ledger who took an overdose of prescription meds which included sleep aids, of course.

5. You are more accident prone.

You are also keenly aware that lack of sleep causes accidents. You reflect bitterly that the some of the biggest accidents in history were caused by sleep deficits. The big ones such as Chernobyl, the accident at Three Mile Island and the Exxon oil spill all were connected with a lack of sleep. On a more mundane level, you worry that while driving tomorrow, you may become just another statistic in the annual 100,000 road accidents.

6. You may be causing irreversible brain damage.

Now I know that the latest experiments were done on mice but experts are alarmed that the same process may be happening in humans. Researchers at the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania have shown that a lack of sleep in mice causes irreversible damage in certain brain cells. These cells are the locus ceruleus (LC) neurons which wakefulness seems to destroy and there is no chance that they will be reborn or replaced. Another study at the University of Surrey (UK) suggests that sleep is needed to clear your brain of all the toxins which have been linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s.

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4 Ways To Alleviate The Problem.

There are lots of sites which will tell you how many hours of sleep you should be getting. I would advise you to treat this advice with some caution because the number of hours is only a vague indicator. What counts is the quality of the sleep you are getting. If it is a deep and restful sleep, the number of hours will be mostly irrelevant. Here are 4 ways to help you sort out the problem. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all so you may have to experiment with what works best for you.

1. Examine your lifestyle.

There is usually a compelling reason why you cannot sleep. It could be related to stress and worry. You need to look at these factors carefully. Regular bedtimes help as does a special routine which helps you wind down towards blissful sleep. Maybe you are exposed to too much artificial light just before bedtime. That may mean changing your routine a bit.

2. Change your sleeping accommodation if necessary.

As regards the bedroom, you should try and improve it as far as possible. Is it noisy and if so, could you move to another room? There may be problems with the temperature- a fairly cool one of around 18° is ideal and it should be in total darkness. Try black out curtains or a face mask if there are no real blinds on the window. The idea is to get as much sunlight during the day and as much darkness towards evening so that the melatonin substance which induces sleep can kick into action. That melatonin is vital and I can tell you that smartphones, TV and computers all interfere with its release. If you take your smartphone to bed, you are asking for trouble!

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3. Look for natural sleep aids.

Prescription sleep aids may work for a time but there is no magic cure. It may be time to look at natural alternatives. There may be something that can work for you. I take Valerian or melatonin tablets and they have usually worked. These do not work for everyone. You can try taking some warm milk before bed and/or a banana snack. Magnesium can help the brain to relax and can be found in green leafy vegetables or just by taking a magnesium supplement. Taking a hot bath with lavender oil can also help to relax and calm some insomniacs.

4. Nap wisely.

Although naps are encouraged in some workplaces to renew energy, insomniacs are advised to avoid regular napping. Experts say that when you nap for more than 30 minutes, you tend to fall into a deep sleep and when you wake up, you may feel groggy and very unproductive so it seems to have the opposite effect. Naps can be useful though when you limit them to less than 20 minutes and provided you do not take them late in the afternoon or evening or falling asleep in front of the TV near your bedtime. If you avoid these traps, you can help to keep to your regular bedtime schedule and avoid upsetting your wake sleep cycle which is essential for restful sleep.

What helps you to get off to sleep? Let us know in the comments how you deal with insomnia.

Featured photo credit: Insomnia persists/ Quinn Dombrowski via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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