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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

Good Sleep Habits You Need (And Bad Ones to Avoid) for Energy

Good Sleep Habits You Need (And Bad Ones to Avoid) for Energy
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Good sleep habits are essential to wellness and healthy living. There are many people who think it’s perfectly fine to function on six or seven hours of sleep. Others seem to believe that an all-nighter like we tried to pull in college won’t affect us.

Though we’re all busy people, staying up at all hours to meet those deadlines will impact your life, which is why it’s important to develop better sleep habits.

In this article, we’ll look into how bad sleep habits affect your mental and physical health and the good sleep habits you should take up to be energetic every day.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

If you don’t have good sleep habits, your professional and personal life will be at risk. Even the most subtle signs of exhaustion can set off major signals to others.

You might be going about your day, believing everything is fine after skipping some hours of sleep, but later, you’re overwhelmed, and your mind is clouded.

People around you will notice if you’re a bit off or can’t keep up at work. If you feel the need to take a nap because you’re tired, that means you didn’t sleep well the night before.

This is an example of a bad sleep habit: you stayed up too late, so the next day, you try to catch up a bit to get through, so you nap for ten minutes, then twenty minutes, and then an hour!

The National Sleep Foundation says that if you nap due to tiredness, you’ll end up entering a cycle of sleep that will mess with your sleep/wake schedule[1].

Scientists call this your circadian rhythm, which is a 24-hour internal clock and cycles between sleeplessness and alertness at regular intervals. The clock exists within the brain and determines how much or little energy you’ll have at various points of your day.[2] Consistent interruptions to this natural cycle can lead to sleep disorders or poor sleep hygiene overall.

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Circadian rhythm for good sleep

    If your alertness is always compromised, you’re setting yourself up for frequent disasters.

    There are several subtle and detrimental consequences you might face if you haven’t been getting enough shut-eye. Studies now say it’s critical to get eight or nine hours of sleep. Anything less than that and you’ll suffer work-performance failures or other mishaps. You don’t want to take sleep disturbances and issues lightly.

    One study even found that “people who have slept for fewer than seven of the past 24 hours have higher odds of being involved in and responsible for car crashes. The risk is greatest for drivers who have slept fewer than four hours”[3]. Therefore, sleep deprivation can have very real and negative consequences for both you and those around you.

    Often times, we may think we’re getting enough sleep and don’t know why we’re out of focus and drained. It’s easy to blame it on diet, lack of exercise, or too much work. And yes, those things do factor into the mystery of your lacking energy.

    These days, in the digital age, it’s even more difficult to establish a healthy sleep routine when we’re constantly stimulated by external sources—the news, social media, and friends’ updates keep us constantly “checked in.”

    We live in a time when cell-phone reliance is undeniable and also affecting our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. I’ve heard people complain about their email demanding their attention at all hours of the night.

    We’re taking in and internalizing more than we realize, and we need to give it all a rest. This is why a nine-hour night of sleep is imperative.

    4 Bad Sleep Habits to Avoid

    Our brains need sleep to process and unwind. If you’re at a loss about how to structure a healthy sleep life, these are some sleep habits to avoid.

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    1. Putting Your Phone Near Your Head While Sleeping

    Do you tuck your phone under your pillow when you sleep? Do you rely on your phone and use it as an alarm to wake you up in the morning?

    It’s not a good idea to use your phone to start your day. You’ll check your email or other social networks the second your alarm buzzes, which can often lead to immediate stress or a bad mood.

    A clear head will make falling asleep fast and easy with no electronics nearby, and you’ll wake up feeling restored.

    2. Keeping Devices in the Bedroom

    Electronic devices have lights on them, very bright lights that can mess with sleep schedules and prevent healthy sleeping habits. A lit up room will cause sleep disturbances or make you want to do work or other things.Complete darkness will allow the brain to process melatonin, a chemical neurotransmitter that makes you tired and ready for sleep[4]. The blue light exposure on your phone’s screen, for example, is enough to confuse the brain into thinking it’s daylight, which will make it difficult to stay asleep throughout the night.

    Electronics such as electrical toothbrushes, televisions, computers, a diffuser, and others should be in a position where they can’t be seen.

    3. Having a Messy Environment

    Clutter, piles of laundry, piles of papers, and anything you can pile up as high as a mountain should be kept to a minimum if you want a good night’s sleep.A messy environment increases tension on the home-front and leaves you with the feeling of having a lot to do. Eliminating clutter benefits stress levels, promotes calmness, and provides a sense of peace.

    As we get older, it’s easy to hoard everything. Our closets, garages, or basements become a dumpster site. However, living in this way will derail your mental and physical health. You might not recognize how overwhelmed you’re feeling about having so much stuff.

    Take some time to see where you can lighten the load in your home.

    4. Doing Work Close to Bedtime

    If you’re your own boss or work a job where anybody can call you any hour of the day and demand something, it’s OK to say no during the hours before bedtime.

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    It’s tough if you work in a field that requires being on-call. You have the right to draw healthy boundaries and schedule time for yourself to relax in the few hours before bed.

    An evening routine after dinner may be the answer to putting an end to work chaos. If you don’t give yourself these hours of relaxation, you’ll feel off balance.

    If you find that you’re always busy and can’t seem to finish the work day on time, check out Lifehack’s 4 Step Guide to Creating More Time out of a Busy Schedule.

    4 Good Sleep Habits to Include

    After knowing all the bad sleeping habits you should ditch, here are healthy sleep habits for adults to include to wake up energized and ready for the day:

    1. Invest in a Diffuser

    A diffuser has an incredible amount of sleep benefits and is great to include as part of your good sleep habits. For years, essential oils have been used to help insomnia, sleep disturbances, and to rewire the brain while easing anxiety in the mind.

    Essential oils such as lavender or valerian essential oils are the best sleep aids. Lavender calms the nervous system by alleviating bothersome anxiety-driven thoughts, and lowers blood pressure and heart rate. These oils, like chamomile essential oil, naturally starts the body and mind’s sleep processes[5].

    Consult your doctor before using essential oils to make sure they are right for you.

    2. Lay out Your Clothes the Night Before

    A system is the best way to overcome stress and anxiety, which interfere with sleep, so make this one of your good sleep habits.

    Mornings should be reserved for the opportunity to squeeze in a healthy breakfast, not rush to pick an outfit and scramble. If this has been you lately, try establishing a routine to make going to bed and waking up less turbulent.

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    A great day really does start the night before. These are mindful practices that can alter the course of your day and life in the long-term. Also try getting to bed at the same time every day as part of this nightly routine.

    3. Use a Different Type of Alarm

    Instead of waking up to a buzzing, ringing, obnoxious alarm in the morning, try implementing affirmations or nature sounds. There are alarm clocks you can set so you can rise to a calming voice telling you positive things.

    Apps on your phone can do this. A shocking alarm can trigger anger and make waking up dreadful, especially if the sound makes you shout curse words the moment you open your eyes.

    Mornings should be for easing into your work day, not doing a jack-rabbit start.

    4. Do a Meditative Activity an Hour Before Bed

    An hour before bed, do something that eliminates racing thoughts from your mind. Doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen is a good way to clear your head and stress after a long day.

    Try going for an evening walk outside, and listen to your breathing, footsteps, and nature around you. When you get home, try five or ten minutes of meditation. Doing something relaxing, even for a short time, will calm the mind.

    Here are some great guided meditations for sleep to get you started.

    The Bottom Line

    You can use these good sleep habits and lifestyle practices as strategies to develop a healthier sleep life. Over time, you’ll feel more energized and will start your day on the right foot, meaning each day will be more productive and fulfilling.

    The early morning and early dusk are critical for your brain to regulate a healthy sleep/wake cycle so you can succeed in your daily life. Use them wisely to improve your sleep.

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    More on How to Sleep Better

    Featured photo credit: Kinga Cichewicz via unsplash.com

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    Tessa Koller

    Author, Motivational Public Speaker and Artist

    Good Sleep Habits You Need (And Bad Ones to Avoid) for Energy 10 Ways to Step Up Your Personal Growth and Succeed in Life Feeling Overwhelmed? Best 5 Meditation Apps to Destress During the Day 11 Ways to Handle Stress Wisely How Many Hours of Sleep Do I Need? (What the Science Says)

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    Last Updated on July 22, 2021

    How to Quit Drinking for a Healthier Body and Mind

    How to Quit Drinking for a Healthier Body and Mind
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    Has anyone ever suggested that you should cut down on your drinking or, for that matter, quit drinking alcohol out of your life completely? Have you ever felt that way on your own, especially after waking up super late for work with a pounding headache and blurred vision the day after a long night out on the town or getting down in the club?

    Let me start by saying that I am not trying to demonize the consumption of adult alcoholic beverages. I’m the last person to judge you or anyone else for making a conscious decision to drink alcohol responsibly. Instead, as a licensed mental health counselor and certified master addiction professional, I have a professional responsibility to help my clients take greater control over their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors by gaining insight into the underlying issues that have negatively impacted their lives.

    Is Drinking Alcohol a Problem for You?

    First things first. Is drinking alcohol a problem for you? Since alcohol has been known to impair your judgment, you may not even realize that it is.

    According to the 5th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or more commonly referred to as the DSM-5, the universal reference guide used by mental health and addiction professionals to diagnose all substance abuse and mental health disorders, alcohol use disorder is defined as a “problematic pattern of alcohol use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.”

    It is manifested by experiencing at least two of the following symptoms within a 12-month period:[1]

    1. Alcohol consumed in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended
    2. Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control the use of alcohol
    3. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain, use, or recover from the effects of alcohol.
    4. Craving or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol
    5. Recurrent alcohol use results in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, and home.
    6. Continued alcohol use despite persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused by or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol
    7. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced.
    8. Recurrent alcohol use in physically hazardous situations
    9. Alcohol use is continued despite the knowledge of having persistent or hazardous physical or psychological problems likely caused by alcohol.
    10. Tolerance is present in which there is a need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication.
    11. Withdrawal, as evidenced by experiencing any combination of both physical and psychological discomfort following cessation after a period of heavy or prolonged alcohol use.

    Nevertheless, just because you may not meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder, does not mean that you should not quit drinking alcohol. Although you may appear to be able to handle your alcohol on the outside, excessive alcohol use has been shown to negatively impact your overall health. Just like nicotine, alcohol is a habit-forming drug.

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    However, unlike the stimulant properties found within nicotine, alcohol is classified as a depressant. It essentially slows down your central nervous system’s ability to effectively process feelings, emotions, and information.

    With your defenses down, alcohol can make you feel more emotionally sensitive, sad, vulnerable, and depressed—for example, with regard to bringing back feelings associated with past traumas that you may have worked hard to overcome, or perhaps those in which you may have never had the time to properly address at all.

    A study published by the National Institute for Health showed that alcoholics were somewhere between 60 and 120 times more likely to complete suicide than those free from psychiatric illness.[2]  Additionally, although having a couple of cocktails may make it easier for you to talk to a stranger as it lowers your inhibitions, it can also negatively impact your judgment—for example, by drinking and driving.

    Additionally, alcohol has been known to make people more argumentative and belligerent, especially when they are confronted about the issue. A study published by the World Health Organization estimates that approximately 55% of domestic violence perpetrators were drinking alcohol prior to the assault and that women who were abused were 15 times more likely to abuse alcohol.[3]

    When it comes to your physical health, there is an overabundance of ways in which excessive drinking is bad for your body. Since alcohol provides little or no nutritional value and is often combined with high-calorie mixers, it can lead to obesity.

    People who drink alcohol in excess are generally less physically active, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.[4] Additionally, excessive drinking inflames the pancreas, making it more difficult for it to secrete insulin, thereby contributing to diabetes.

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    Furthermore, excessive alcohol use can lead to liver damage, such as cirrhosis, in which the body is unable to properly remove waste products from the blood leaving the stomach and intestines. As a result, people with cirrhosis of the liver may appear jaundiced, swollen, and confused. A recent study published by Forbes indicated that even moderate drinking tracked with decreases in both grey and white brain matter, essentially interfering with brain functioning as it alters the brain’s chemistry and composition.[5]

    With all of that being said, if you feel that alcohol use may be getting in the way of being able to maintain a healthy lifestyle, I recommend that you take a moment to consider these six simple ways to quit drinking alcohol to achieve a healthier mind, body, and soul.

    1. Stay Away From the Bottle

    If you happen to be a recreational drinker—someone who has a couple of drinks here and there, every so often or once in a blue moon—and you want to quit drinking alcohol altogether, the easiest way to quit drinking alcohol is just to stay as far away from it as possible. I mean it’s really that simple, isn’t it? Not so fast! Alcohol is everywhere, from the supermarket to the soccer field.

    Even with all of the potential risks, people continue to drink alcohol at any number of social gatherings, business meetings, and even religious ceremonies, activities that are in many cases almost impossible to avoid completely. Sporting events, for example, all seem to be sponsored by sleek, sexy, and, at the same time, remarkably socially conscious breweries.

    Nevertheless, although alcohol is everywhere, the next time you go out with your friends to your favorite hotspot, try ordering tonic water with lime, or perhaps even the virgin version of your favorite cocktail instead—like a pina colada or strawberry daiquiri—so you can keep the umbrella and just get rid of the rum.

    2. Set Expectations With Others

    Unless you are prepared to cut ties with all of your friends and family members who like to drink alcohol, be prepared to set certain expectations with them when it comes to drinking when you are around them.

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    First, let them know that you are not judging them but rather, making a personal choice not to drink alcohol. Then, set clear boundaries with them by letting them know whether or not you are comfortable being around them when they choose to drink. Remember, you are the most powerful gatekeeper of everyone and everything that surrounds you.

    3. Own Your Issues!

    The first step to quitting alcohol—or quitting the use of any habit-forming mood-altering substance for that matter—is to first admit that you have a problem with it, whatever the problem may be. I suggest that you first start by identifying how alcohol has either already affected your life, or how it could do so in the future if you continue to drink.

    Take a personal inventory of everything important to you, such as your relationship with your family and your faith, as well as the condition of your health and your personal finances. Then, carefully consider how alcohol could be negatively impacting each item. Set aside some personal quality time to journal all of your thoughts in black and white to help you see the situation from a more objective point of view. Take it from me, it’s not easy to admit that you have a problem, but once you do, it can be a very liberating feeling.

    4. Ask for Help

    Once you have admitted to yourself that you have a problem with alcohol, you can then admit it to someone else, preferably someone who can help you process your feelings and concerns in a safe, constructive, and non-judgmental way.

    Although family and friends may be very supportive, you may want to work with a therapist who can offer a more objective perspective along with a variety of tools to not only help you stay sober but also process and ultimately work through any underlying issues that may have caused you to drink in the first place.

    Furthermore, in the unfortunate event that you have become physically dependent on alcohol to make it through the day, medical supervision may be needed to help you manage any combination of withdrawal symptoms, including restlessness, anxiety, chills, nausea, and even potentially life-threatening seizures.

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    5. Join a Support Group

    When you are trying to defend yourself against a cunning, baffling, and powerful opponent, there is usually strength in numbers. Beyond reaching out for professional help to address any underlying issues that may be holding you or anyone else back from staying sober, joining a support group is an excellent way to strengthen your foundation for recovery from alcoholism.

    Although caring friends and family may be able to provide you with unconditional love, members of your support group may also be able to offer a much more objective step-building approach for long-term sobriety. Fortunately, there are support group meetings available all over the world, you just have to look for one that meets your needs.

    6. Make a Commitment to Stay Sober

    After you have owned your issues and learned the tools to stay sober, the next step is to commit yourself to actually staying sober. Breaking a bad habit does not usually happen overnight. Typically, it’s a process that requires time and tenacity. There is no exception when it comes to quitting alcohol.

    Nevertheless, many people find themselves frantically trying to stop drinking after any combination of unfortunate, uncomfortable, and sometimes unforgiving events, such as being fired from a job, having an argument with a loved one, getting caught driving under the influence, and experiencing medical complications associated with alcohol use, such as liver failure.

    Final Thoughts

    In the end, If you truly want to quit drinking, make an open and honest commitment to yourself that you will not only put away the bottle but that you will also take out the tools every day to stay mentally, physically, and spiritually sober.

    More on How to Quit Drinking

    Featured photo credit: Zach Kadolph via unsplash.com

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