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3 Reasons you need to prioritize sleep if you want to be successful

3 Reasons you need to prioritize sleep if you want to be successful
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All to ofter we wear the ‘all-nighter’ as a badge of pride to our ability to work hard. Sure they’re needed from time to time, but any more than once or twice a year means you’ve got other issues. Lack of sleep isn’t a badge of honor, it’s something to be reviled since it harms us and how we think.

Next time you’re thinking about a night without sleep or with less sleep than needed remember these reasons why sleep is good for you and lack of sleep is going to harm your long term success.

1. Sleep consolidates memories

We all spend most of our day building new memories. From interactions with friends to new ways to accomplish our jobs to some random revolutionary thought we had while walking the dog. A day is full of memories and learning.

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The thing is that when we get the sleep we need after that day of learning our mind takes all those new memories and consolidates them for long term retention. Without proper sleep we simply won’t retain the things we’ve learned well.

Lack of sleep even transfers to the day after. Research suggests that even a single night of missed sleep inhibits our ability to build new memories. We simply can’t make new memories effectively which inhibits our ability to effectively learn. With much of our world changing so fast all the time no one can afford to have their ability to learn impaired and that’s exactly what you’re doing if you aren’t getting the sleep you need.

2. Lack of sleep may lead to Alzheimer’s

Even more alarming than simply having a hard time creating new memories and inhibited learning is that lack of sleep has been shown to have Alzheimer’s like symptoms. Even a sleep schedule change like jet-lag has been shown to have this effect.

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That means not only is our learning impaired but when we aren’t getting good sleep we’re actually more likely to forget things we’ve already learned. This is especially concerning for those that have a family history of the disease already since lack of sleep has been shown to accelerate the effect of Alzheimer’s.

If you find you’re forgetting names, places, events or skills that you previously learned check out your sleep schedule. It could be that the lack of consistent good rest is causing you to unlearn those things you already know.

3. It’s as bad as eating poorly for 6 months

It’s not just your memory that’s affected by poor sleep though, your health is put at risk by as little as a single night of poor sleep.

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One study has shown that one night of no sleep is as bad for your health as a poor diet for 6 months. In particular the night of missed sleep impairs your insulin sensitivity. This impaired sensitivity means your body needs to produce more insulin to keep your blood sugar regulated. Elevated blood sugar is a predictor of Type 2 Diabetes and obesity.

Yes, lack of sleep can help you gain weight as this lack of insulin sensitivity is often tied to increased appetite. Increasing appetite leads to weight gain and obese people take more time off work. Taking more time off work is going to impair your success at work and all of this is because of a single night of missed sleep.

Working all hours is not a badge of pride we should be wearing. It’s not a sign of success or dedication. Lack of sleep is going to harm our ability to learn. Our ability to recall things we have already learned and can lead to obesity which will mean less time at work and less work done.

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If you want to be successful it’s time to start prioritizing sleep. Set an alarm for your bedtime and go to bed. Get a full 8 hours a night. Doing this will increase your ability to learn and your health.

Featured photo credit: luisachesi via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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