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No More Insomnia! Get A Good Night’s Sleep With These 5 Unconventional Tips

No More Insomnia! Get A Good Night’s Sleep With These 5 Unconventional Tips

Have problems falling asleep or sleeping through the night? You are not alone. 30 to 35% of people suffer from bouts of insomnia[1]. That’s a whole lot of people tossing and turning through the night. That’s 3/10ths of the population fighting mental fog and fatigue during their waking hours. Lack of sleep contributes to an array of health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. While you may be tempted to reach for a pill to drop you into a deep sleep, try these 5 unconventional tips first, and you may be able to trick your body into a restful slumber.

1. Immerse your face in cold water

Just when you thought splashing cold water on your face would wake you up, it actually can put you to sleep! Known as the Mammalian Reflex or Response[2], immersing your face in cold water for 30 seconds will lower your heart rate and narrow your blood vessels, causing reduced blood flow to the limbs and reserving more for the brain and heart. It basically signals your body into a relaxed hibernation mode. The colder the water, the faster the heart rate will slow. Brrrr.

2. Breathe using the 4-7-8 method

The 4-7-8 breathing method[3] by Dr. Andrew Weil, a supporter of holistic and integrative medicine, encourages you to focus on your breath and relaxes you, much like meditation. It is based on Pranayama Yoga breathing techniques, and it’s easy to learn. Dr. Weil suggests sitting up straight and holding your tongue against the roof of your mouth, behind your teeth, while practicing it.

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The steps of the 4-7-8 method are:

  1. Inhale through your nose for a 4-second count.
  2. Hold that breath for 7 seconds.
  3. Then, exhale your breath slowly for an 8-second count.
  4. Repeat these steps 2-4 times.

This calming breath technique will have you snoozing in no time at all. Dr. Weil suggests practicing this technique before bedtime for 4-6 weeks to experience its full benefits.

3. Skip that hot shower

You may think that nice hot shower will help you sleep, but exposing yourself to a rise in body temperature disrupts your body’s natural ability to produce melatonin[4]. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that is made by the pineal gland in your brain. It regulates your body’s internal clock. Two hours before your regular bedtime, the melatonin levels in your body rise to aid your body in shutting down for the night. Bright lights and warm temperatures can disrupt your natural melatonin production.

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Aim to have that hot shower at least two hours before you plan to hit the sack, giving your body ample time to cool down. An alternative suggestion would be to blast yourself with cold water at the end of your hot shower for that Mammalian Dive Reflex, if you think you can take it.

Other ways to boost your natural melatonin are to get sunshine and exercise during the day and to keep the lights dim and your bedroom cool at night.

4. Write down your thoughts

Journaling right before you go to sleep can ease your fears and anxieties and help you to drift off quicker. Writing about your day’s problems literally gets them off your chest. Writing a nightly gratitude list can help you focus on positive thoughts and make it easier to fall asleep.

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Research shows[5] that people who kept a nightly gratitude journal slept longer and had a better quality of sleep. Now that is something for which to be thankful!

5. Tense and relax your toes

While you don’t want to participate in any rigorous exercise before bed, the simple act of tensing up your toes and relaxing them for a count of up to ten can ease the tension from your body and allow you to fall asleep faster.

You can use this progressive muscle relaxation technique throughout your body. Lay down and close your eyes. Begin at your scalp and slowly work your way down, focusing your attention on each section of your body, from your eyelids to your throat, your shoulders down to your fingers, your chest all the way to your knees, and finally, down to your toes. You will find yourself more relaxed and sleepy.

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Consider using one of these unconventional sleep hacks before you reach for those pills to battle another sleepless night. Changing your habits and thoughts or even taking a cold-water douse may prove to be a better alternative than side-effect ridden drugs for helping you drift off to a peaceful night’s slumber.

Featured photo credit: Workandapix via pixabay.com

Reference

[1] American Academy of Sleep Medicine: Insomnia Awareness Day Facts and Stats
[2] American Psychological Society: The Mammalian Diving Response: An Enigmatic Reflex to Preserve Life?
[3] Dr. Andrew Weil: The Art and Science of Breathing
[4] John Hopkins Medicine: Melatonin: Does It Work?
[5] PubMed NCBI: Gratitude Influences Sleep Through Mechanism of Pre-Sleep Cognitions

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Sally White

writer, artist & blogger

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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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