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10 Strategies to Beat Insomnia and Sleep Better

10 Strategies to Beat Insomnia and Sleep Better

It has been estimated that almost 40% of people get less than the recommended amount of sleep per night, thanks to a busy schedule and a culture that never slows down. Insomnia actually affects one-third to one-half of adults in the United States, and about 15% of those people will experience severe distress because of lack of sleep.

Insomnia can have both internal and external factors, and once these factors have been identified, it becomes easier to control the problem. Here are 10 strategies to help you break the vicious cycle of sleeplessness, and start getting your best sleep without turning to medication.

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1. Stop Worrying About It

Those who struggle with sleep generally dread night time, as they stare at the clock which induces anxiety, fear, and anger. Approach bedtime with the thought that if you have a terrible night’s sleep , tomorrow night you may sleep better—rather than the thought that you’ll have a bad day because of your lack of sleep.

2. Practice Your Relaxation

When you’re stressed or feeling anxious, your body will release hormones which will make falling asleep more difficult. Instead, try to take part in relaxation techniques such as meditation or progressive muscle relaxation to help you release the tension of the day and fall asleep.

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3. Find Your Perfect Pillow

When your pillow supports your neck in the proper way, your sleepless nights can turn into meaningful rest. Those who sleep on their back will need a thinner pillow with more neck support. Side sleepers will need a firm pillow to fill the void between the ear and shoulder. Lastly, stomach sleepers will need a thin, soft pillow that won’t strain the neck. If you think you have the right pillow but aren’t sleeping well, pay attention to how you wake up and adjust your pillow accordingly.

4. Learn to Recognize Your Stress

Know when you’re starting to feel stressed out about not sleeping with indicators like rapid breathing, an elevated heart rate, and muscle tension. Once identified, aim to control these symptoms to bring your stress level down to something that is normal. You can do this by meditating, soaking in a warm bath, or reading a book right before bed.

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5. Establish Your Routine

Try to go to bed at the same time every night, and get up at the same time every morning, for the entire week. When you stick to a schedule, you’ll feel more alert than if you sleep on a varying schedule throughout the week.

6. Get Out of Bed if You Can’t Sleep

If you’re lying in bed, restless, for more than 20 minutes, go and do something else, except using electronics. This will help to break the association of the bed with negative emotions. Try to read or journal, but be mindful that you still should be relaxing.

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7. No Electronics

This includes watching television or playing on your computer, smartphone, and iPad. Though many people see these things as aids in relaxing, they actually secretly remind us of everything that you should be doing. Additionally, the blue light that is emitted from the device tells the body that it should be awake.

8. Aim to Exercise Between 5:00 and 7:00 PM

You should not be taking part in any strenuous activity before 3 hours of going to bed. The exercise will elevate your body’s core temperature for 5 to 6 hours, disallowing you to feel sleepy. A low body temperature helps to bring on the drowsy feeling.

9. Avoid Caffeine After 2:00 PM

Caffeine can affect a person for up to 6 hours after their last sip. Consuming caffeine too late in the day can wreak havoc on a person’s sleep cycle. After a sleepless night, one may feel dependent upon caffeine to survive the day, but indulging too late in the day will give you another sleepless night.

10. Keep the Room Cool

Ideally, keep your sleeping area at 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Beware, though, a room that is too cool will keep the body from relaxing as it will go into protective mode trying to defend the core temperature. If the temperature is too high, it may induce nightmares!

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Sasha Brown

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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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