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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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