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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

Poor Sleep Quality Comes from All the Things You Do Since Morning

Poor Sleep Quality Comes from All the Things You Do Since Morning

When I was twenty-something, I didn’t really care much about my sleep quality because I could recover very quickly even if I had a bad night’s sleep. Since my first son was born, it became a totally different story. Partly because I’m older now, partly because I’ve had many more responsibilities. I could no longer work as productively as I could before if I didn’t sleep well the previous night.

Video Summary

To make sure I slept well at night, I started to pay attention to everything I did throughout the day.  And unlike what most people advise us, it’s not just a good bedtime routine that helps, it’s about everything we do – from the moment we wake up in the morning to going to bed at night.

    Morning (7am – 12pm)

      Wake up at the Same Time Every Day to Build Patterns

      That means even weekends and days off. Why? Because our bodies are intelligently rhythmic and thrives on consistency. By waking up at the same time, we regulate the circadian rhythm that co-ordinates hormones and metabolism connected to sleep and wakefulness. Our bodies prepare to wake up around 1-2 hours before doing so, so making sure we wake up at a consistent time will be much easier and less stressful on these important rhythms.

      Making sure you wake up (and actually get up) at the same time every day will help you get a better night’s sleep later on as you build a gradual, strong desire for sleep during your waking hours. Try consistently for 1 to 2 weeks to allow your body to create the perfect rhythm.

      Eat Breakfast First Thing to Calm Your Brain

      Fuelling yourself for the start of your day is common wisdom but did you know that it can also positively affect your sleep cycle? It’s all down to our evolution.

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      Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan believes eating first thing in the morning actually calms parts of the brain that are linked to our caveman behaviour of preserving energy and avoiding predators [1]. In other words, by eating first thing, we’re reassuring the brain that there is a good supply of food causing it to remain in a relaxed state ready for sleep, which in our modern day case, is at the end of the day.

      Step Away from the Snooze Button. It Confuses Your Brain

      As mentioned above, our sleep patterns need to be consistent and nothing ruins that more than hitting the snooze button.

      In fact, using an alarm altogether may be doing more harm than good. This is because our bodies start to reboot around an hour before we naturally need to wake up. It’s in this phase that adrenaline and cortisol is released allowing us to get into a gradual lighter sleep and prepare for waking. An alarm can jolt our bodies awake too early causing that groggy feeling we often get that takes ages to shake off.

      The snooze button is an illusion. While we think we’re getting a few extra minutes of much-needed sleep, it’s really very bad quality sleep. If you do need to use an alarm, set it for the very last time you need to get up with no leeway for snoozing.

      Afternoon (12pm – 6:00 pm)

        Avoid Napping for More Than 20 Minutes. Otherwise You’ll Enter Deep Sleep

        Napping can be a good way to recharge as long as it’s not for more than 20 minutes. This is because longer naps cause us to start entering a deep sleep which can be harder to wake up from. This is why we can sometimes rise from a nap feeling groggy. Set a timer for 20 minutes so you don’t go over. This way you’ll feel much more refreshed when you wake up.

        If you do need to nap, try to avoid laying your head down later in the day. This is more likely to make it much more difficult to fall asleep at your usual bedtime and will disrupt your sleeping patterns.

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        Protein-Rich and Complex Carbohydrate Foods Make You Less Likely to Nap

        Our diet has a massive effect on our sleep quality but we often don’t consider this when grabbing lunch or snacking throughout the day.

        Protein-rich and complex carbohydrates foods (e.g. wholewheat pasta) take a longer time to be digested and make our blood sugar level increase gradually instead of suddenly compared to simple carbohydrates foods (e.g. cookies). This makes us less likely to become sleepy after lunch.  Taking a nap which can easily affect our sleep cycle, making it harder to sleep at night.

        Get Exposure to Natural Outside Light. It Synchronises Our Master Clock 

        The light we absorb during the day plays quite a big part in our sleep cycles. It synchronises what’s called our master clock which, amongst many things, allows our bodies to enter our sleep cycles efficiently. It’s part of the important circadian rhythm that regulates the body’s daily cycle.

        Aim to get bright outdoor light exposure for 30-60 minutes a day especially around midday.

        No Midday Coffee. It Takes Longer to Wear off Than You Thought

        We might feel we need a pick-me-up half way through the day (although this won’t be necessary once your sleeping patterns are well established) and we can instantly reach for the coffee granules.

        But reaching for that midday cup of coffee can create problems later on. Caffeine has a half-life of 3 to 5 hours meaning it takes this long for just 50% of the caffeine to wear off. The rest can still stay in our bodies for longer. You can see how drinking caffeine even in the middle of the day will cause havoc for sleeping later on. Save your coffee-drinking to mornings only.

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        Don’t Eat Too Little or Too Much. It Makes You Overeat/Undereat at Night

        The amount of food we eat at mealtimes is also conducive to how well we sleep at night. Regulating our eating is crucial if we want a good night’s sleep. Eating too little during the day will more likely cause overeating in the evening close to bedtime. Our bodies don’t have enough time to digest the food meaning a night of tossing and turning.

        Alternatively, if we eat too much for lunch, it’ll be hard to resist taking a nap, which can affect our desire for sleep at night.

        Evening (6:00pm – 12:00am)

          Do Exercise If You Want. It Doesn’t Affect Your Sleep

          While exercise during the day can help towards feeling invigorated, we often think going for a run or anything rigorous in the evening will have us bouncing off the walls when it comes to getting to sleep. After all, our body temperatures and heart rates rise with exercise not to mention adrenaline.

          However, this has actually found to have no effect on our ability to sleep even right before bedtime. Exercising at any time of the day will actually help induce sleep naturally so don’t be afraid to go for that evening run.

          Go to Bed at the Same Time Each Night. You’ll Be More Successful

          Like waking up at the same time, going to sleep at the same time makes for a more efficient sleep cycle. Scientists have even found students who go to bed at a consistent hour each night were more successful and healthy while those with irregular bed times less so [2].

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          Develop Your Own Bedtime Ritual as Your Brain Loves Consistency

          Creating bedtime rituals will help your mind unwind and prepare itself for sleep. Reading and meditating are two great ways to calm the mind before hitting the pillow and in turn creates a perfect entrance into deep, good-quality sleep. Try to stick with these rituals as much as you can since your brain loves consistency.

          Keep Your Alarm Clock out of Sight (but Within Reach) to Avoid Pressure

          Lying in bed and checking the clock can be a massive sleep-killer. If we can’t sleep it can cause anxiety not to mention the artificial light beaming from the LED halting the natural melatonin production needed to send us off to dreamland. Try turning your alarm clock around or if you use your phone, keep it well away from your bed.

          No Gadgets 30 Minutes Before Bed. The Blue Light Will Keep You Awake

          The blue light from smartphones and tablets reek havoc on our brains when it comes to trying to fall asleep. They suppress melatonin and wakes our brain up because it’s busy absorbing information when we check emails or social media.

          It’s important to, not only stop checking our phones around 30 minutes before we go to bed, but to also keep it out of reach. Late night texts, emails and messages can wake us up or our constant urge to check Facebook or Twitter in the middle of the night keeps our brains active so move it away.

          Avoid Hidden Caffeine Sources Like Chocolate and Ice Cream

          Avoiding caffeine before bed is an obvious one, but it might surprise you that a lot of foods secretly contain more of this stimulant than you think.

          Chocolate, energy drinks, flavoured waters, ice cream and even some pain relievers contain enough caffeine to keep you awake. Make sure you check nutrition labels on the foods you eat around bedtime to make sure they don’t interfere with your shut eye.

          Reference

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on February 20, 2019

          13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride

          13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride

          Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie can you help me fix my fear?”

          Why is this so critically important to you?

          The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

          Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share you with 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

          1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

          Right now around the world people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

          When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear like so many other emotions can mean so many different things to so many different people:

          • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
          • The man facing the judge.
          • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
          • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr Smith.”
          • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
          • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

          These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

          Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

          Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

          2. Accept Your Fear

          Firstly if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

          We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

          And here’s what can be done.

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          3. Get Some Perspective

          I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

          And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

          That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

          We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

          So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

          • Are you really at risk?
          • Will this kill you?
          • Which leads us on to..
          • If the worse was to happen what would it be?

          4. Hold a Hand

          As a coach, it is my job to holds someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

          Like the child petrified of the thunder storm or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

          We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

          Ask yourself:

          • If the worse were to happen, what would that be?
          • Could that really happen?
          • If the worse did happen, how would you recover?
          • If the worse were to happen, what would you need to do next?

          By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through it’s wily evil ways and move forward.

          5. Know Whose Hand You Hold Either Physically or Emotionally

          This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

          Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

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          The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

          It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

          For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

          Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

          6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

          I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

          Not everyone was looking for greatness, however they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

          Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in the 2nd world war. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind he was free.

          Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

          Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

          Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

          7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

          Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what hell you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

          I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music. hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

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          It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded that nothing stays the same and I can find away.

          One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

          Did that moment fix the disaster that my clients life felt? No, however it gave them a moment of calm and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

          It may feel like madness to do something you love, however it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

          8. Assume the Worse

          If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

          Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed?

          • Think about what age it may have made them feel?
          • Think about how they feel about champagne?
          • What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

          And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

          When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

          Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

          9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now.

          If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

          Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

          Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

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          10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

          One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

          11. Go with Fear

          When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

          I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

          Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

          One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

          However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

          We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

          12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

          And in that clients words “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

          The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

          What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

          13. Own Your Fear

          Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

          We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

          You can’t help but feel good when you see that can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

          More Resources About Fighting Fear

          Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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