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5 Bedtime Habits That Will Help You Sleep Better

5 Bedtime Habits That Will Help You Sleep Better

Tired? Most of us are. With the pressures of everyday life and screens in our faces from the moment we wake up until our heads hit the pillow, there’s always something going on to distract us from one of the essentials of everyday life: sleep. We all know that sleep is necessary for maintaining productivity and health, and the Mayo Clinic suggests that we should be getting between 7-9 hours a night of good sleep. Sound impossible? You’re not alone, Americans get much less sleep than we did 40 years ago. Back then, we averaged 7.1 hours a night. Today, that’s dropped a full hour, to an average of 6.1 hours per night. Some of us get even less—30% of employed adults sleep only 6 hours or less daily. That’s scary—when you consider that fatigue and poor sleep can contribute to health problems, poor productivity, and workplace injuries. Here are just some of the issues insufficient sleep can cause:

  • Moodiness & Depression
  • Poor Memory & Cognitive Ability
  • Weight Gain
  • Type II Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Weakened Immune System

As you can see, not getting enough sleep doesn’t just affect your productivity at work—it has a negative impact on nearly every area of your life. So how can you fix your sleep? Here are 5 great bedtime habits that will help you make the most of your shut-eye.

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1. It’s Bedtime

The first sleep habit you’ll want to pick up is actually setting a bedtime—and sticking to it. You have to get up every morning at the same time anyway—why should bedtime be any different? Consider it part of your work routine, and you’re less likely to make excuses. Set your bedtime by counting back at least seven hours from when you get up and get used to the idea that you’ll need to get through an adjustment period. Once you’re used to going to bed at the same time, though, you’ll be glad you did.

2. Banish the Screens and Build a Ritual

It’s recommended that you turn off all screens and electronics a minimum of 60 minutes before you plan to go to sleep (bonus points if you can keep electronics out of your room altogether!). Use this time to create a ritual for yourself: brush and floss, wash your face, read a book to wind down (though not IN bed)—whatever works well to relax you. Light tricks the brain into believing you should be awake and alert, so keep the lighting soft. If you just can’t put your phone away at the end of the day, at least put it to good use and try one of the many sleep apps available. Artificial intelligence will analyze your sleep cycle and it is a great way recognize your habits while helping you decide how to tailor your sleep routines.

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3. Create a Haven

A key to great sleep is a comfortable sleeping space—and you’re in control. Investing in a good mattress is your first step. Think about it—you’re going to be spending a third of each day in bed, so your mattress should be contributing to high-quality sleep. Get yourself some comfy pillows and quality bedding that makes you feel good.

Once you’ve got your bed under control, think about the light and air in your room. Do you need a fan or white noise machine? Is the temperature comfortable? Ideally, you’ll be sleeping in a cool, not cold room with no visible light, even from an alarm clock. An eye mask or ear plugs can help block out any unwanted distractions. If the humidity of the air is an issue, you may want to consider a humidifier or de-humidifier—depending on the condition of the air and the season. It’s all up to you!

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4. Manage Your Meals

You shouldn’t be too hungry—or too full by the time it’s bedtime. Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine have negative effects on your sleep quality as well, so be sure you’re limiting these substances before bed. Harvard suggests avoiding caffeine for at least 4-6 hours before you intend to turn in for the night.

5. Tire Yourself Out

If you have trouble sleeping, you’ve got some work to do to establish a healthy routine. The first trick to try is simply tiring yourself out. Skip the naps, even when you feel like you need a quick pick-me-up—naps prevent consistency and can keep you from falling asleep.

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Exercise does double duty: it tires you out and helps regulate your sleep over time. That’s one of the many reasons it is so important to establish a regular exercise program. Your body and mind will thank you—just be sure to get your workout in several hours before bed.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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