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5 Things That Changed My Way of Thinking From Traveling Across Europe

5 Things That Changed My Way of Thinking  From Traveling Across Europe

I had the amazing opportunity to travel through Europe this summer. It wasn’t the typical destinations either. It was in the Balkans where some countries are barely touched by tourism. I got a glimpse into how life should be embraced. People that dealt with the rise and fall of communism, then lived through a war and still live with landmines just off main roads. The atmosphere of the past only revealed itself from bombed buildings and abandoned homes with bullet holes. The people reflected something much more inspiring.

1. The Past Shouldn’t Dictate Your Right Now

In Bosnia, we drove for two hours and didn’t see a soul. The houses had seen bombs and bullets. They were being devoured by nature. However, when we arrived in a village, city or campsite, people were warm to me. They were full of life and laughter. Initially, they were always a bit reserved at first but became playful and open pretty quickly. They were very community oriented and laughed with each other. At night in the cities, they gathered in squares and socialized. Despite their tumultuous past of post-communism, war and now poverty, it was amazing to see that their spirit was so alive. Many of us are so much more fortunate. Live life with laughter and warmth.in your heart no matter what is happening.

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2. It’s Not What You Have But How You Feel

In some of the poorest countries in Europe, it seems even more important to have a Mercedes. I’ve never seen so many of them in my life while going through Albania, Bulgaria and Romania. Some people have to live in their car because they can’t afford anything else. The smiles I got usually came from the guy driving an old Trabant or a horse and buggy. Every culture is guilty of wanting things. It’s letting them define you where the problem lies. I witnessed the incredible power of being content with what you have. I saw unwavering happiness for life in those kind of people. Being grateful for whatever you have takes away the feeling of not having enough. You likely have much more than many.

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3. Being Self Sustainable

In the high hills and deep valleys of Montenegro, people still live off what they can grow or farm. While it may be hard work, the families were connected and the food, unbelievable. Fresh goat cheese, vegetables and farm fresh eggs. These hearty people of the villages knew how to treat ailments with natural plants in the area and didn’t rely on society. They were happy, healthy people. While it’s not possible for all of us to own goats and have a garden, supporting local farmers by purchasing their produce is a good option. You support sustainable practise while enjoying farm fresh goods.

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4. Keeping A Sense of Community

The Balkans showed me a side of humanity that melted my heart. The togetherness of families and friends lit up all surroundings. Their uninhibited laughter and how they adored one another was deeply touching. They welcomed me into their lives as though I was family. Having a community of people around you gives a sense of security and belonging in the world. Make the effort to stay close to your loved ones. Help each other and have get-togethers. This is truly a secret.to fulfillment.

5. Honouring Your Roots

Horse drawn buggies and shepherds tending their sheep is still a way of life in the Balkans. They were proud people that were excited.to tell you about the best parts of their country. They value their past and keep on with family tradition. Knowing your roots allows you to have an identity of yourself. This allows for greater conviction in your life. Decisions are easier and you’re secure. You also have a rich family history. Be proud of where you came from and carry on a small tradition. Something as small as using your grandma’s pie recipe can make you feel like you’re a larger part of something.

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Loraine Couturier

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

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.[1] 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.

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.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

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.

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Medical conditions

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.

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    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.

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    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

    Reference

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