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Published on April 28, 2021

8 Healthy Sleep Habits To Develop For An Energetic You

8 Healthy Sleep Habits To Develop For An Energetic You

There is a lot of research about sleep and how it affects our overall health and wellbeing. Still, even if you are not the kind of person who reads scientific papers, you will undoubtedly have experienced what happens when you do not have healthy sleep habits. You make more mistakes, you become forgetful, your moods swing alarmingly, and your productivity drops like a rock, not to mention how rotten you feel throughout the day.

Sleep is vital for regulating so many parts of our bodies, from allowing for essential repairs to our bodies to regulating the hormones that contribute to stress and high blood pressure.[1] Without sleep, you would, in effect, become a non-functioning human being.

So, if we agree that getting enough sleep is essential if you want to have an abundance of energy and vitality, what healthy sleep habits can you develop to enhance these positive effects and enable you to get enough sleep consistently?

Here are eight healthy sleep habits that can help you stay alert, energized, and focused every day.

1. Have a Set Sleeping Time

Probably the most effective way of ensuring that you are getting enough sleep is going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. This applies to weekdays as well as weekends.

Now, how you do this is up to you. You first need to know how much sleep you need to feel rested. For me, I need around six hours of sleep a day. The next thing you need to know is how long it usually takes you to fall asleep. For me, I generally require around thirty minutes to fall asleep.

Now, here we are all different. Some of you may need eight or nine hours sleep (and generally, the younger you are the more sleep you need), or you may operate perfectly fine on five or six hours. My wife can fall asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow. I, on the other hand, need at least thirty minutes before I fall asleep.

Once you know how much sleep you need and how long it usually takes you to fall asleep, you can work out what time you need to go to bed. If you need six hours of sleep, require thirty minutes to fall asleep, and need to wake up at 7:30 am, you need to go to bed no later than midnight.

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So, the formula you need is:

amount of sleep you need (in hours) + average time to fall asleep (in minutes) – time you need to wake up = your bedtime

Once you know your bedtime, make that a non-negotiable part of your life.

2. Don’t Leave Your Work With Unresolved Issues

So many people struggle to get a good quality night’s sleep because they have unresolved issues left over from the day. These unresolved issues, if not dealt with, cause our minds to worry and stress.

What’s happening is that your conscious mind is worrying about them because you have not decided what action to take to resolve them. Instead, before you go to bed, write out everything that’s on your mind and decide what you need to do to resolve them. Now, this does not mean you have to solve the problem at the moment. What it means is that you need to decide what to do next.

For example, imagine just before you finished work, you received an email informing you that next week’s important presentation has been moved forward to Friday—not the nicest email to receive at 5:50 pm on a Wednesday. Instead of leaving it until tomorrow, where you will worry about it all evening, open up your calendar and block out a couple of hours to work on the presentation tomorrow. Rearrange any appointments if necessary.

Just those few minutes rearranging your schedule will take the problem off your mind and free you from the stress and worry you would have if you did not do that. Essentially, what you are doing is taking the problem out of your conscious mind and moving it to your subconscious mind—the problem-solving part of your brain.

3. Plan the Day a Day Before

Similar to the previous point, make sure you have a plan for tomorrow. This stops you from worrying about what you have to do tomorrow. You know what’s important and you know you have enough time to do it.

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Planning the day should not take more than ten to fifteen minutes, but the effect of knowing what you want to get done the next day puts you in a much more relaxed state, and being in a relaxed state means you are much more likely to have a good nights sleep.

The added benefit of knowing what you want to get done tomorrow is that you begin the day with more focus, which inevitably gives you more energy to get the work done.

When you don’t have a plan for the day, you waste so much time and effort trying to decide what to work on, and more often, you end up working on other people’s priorities rather than your own. You will feel you have been busy at the end of the day, but you’ve been busy doing other people’s work and not your own.

4. Find Out How Much Sleep You Need

Having healthy sleep habits requires knowing how much sleep you need. Each one of us is different. Some of us will need eight hours, and others need six. How many hours of sleep do you need to feel energetic?

You may need to experiment to find this. Often, we have allowed ourselves to be influenced by what we read in the media, but not everyone needs eight hours of sleep.[2] Some find that nine or even ten hours leave them feeling fully restored.

Margaret Thatcher famously only required four hours. Elon Musk finds that around six hours are required for optimum productivity, and Barack Obama’s was five hours a night.

So, take a few weeks and experiment. Try six hours for a few days and see how you feel. If you find you feel energetic and focused throughout the day, then perhaps that’s all you need.

If you find yourself feeling tired mid to late afternoon, increase your sleep time by an hour and try seven. You will soon find your optimum sleep time. Once you know that, you can structure your day around that time.

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5. Eat Early

If you want to get a better sleep quality, then eat your final meal of the day early. My own experience here is that if I eat after 8 pm, I wake up feeling terrible and lethargic—not the best way to start my day energetically.

Now, the science is unproven here, but one thing we do know is that your body’s ability to digest food slows down while you sleep.[3] This means if you go to bed with a full stomach of undigested food, much of that food will still be undigested when you wake up in the morning. This is why many of us feel lethargic in the morning because our body has to consume vital energy doing something that it should have done before we went to bed.

Eating earlier means your body has time to fully digest your food before you go to bed, and you will wake up feeling far more energetic.

6. Start the Day With a Morning Routine

If you want to start the day with energy, purpose, and focus, you need a consistent morning routine. Light exercise, meditation, your favorite drink, and a few minutes reading something educational will energize your day far more than rushing out of bed trying to decide what to wear and doom scrolling through your social media and news feeds.

Now, here’s the thing about effective morning routines. Decide how much time you need to complete your morning routines, and make sure you have that time before starting your day.

For example, many of my morning calls begin at 8 am. This means my day starts at 8. So, I wake up at 7 am. I need forty-five minutes for my morning routines, and I like to have fifteen minutes to focus on myself before my first call.

Keep away from email and other notifications an hour or so before you go to bed. Messages and emails have a terrible habit of tripping our negative emotions, which is never a good state of being in just before you retire for the day.

Set yourself a cut-off time for reading messages and emails. For example, if you decided bedtime is midnight, set 10 pm as your cut-off time. At 10 pm, close down your email and messaging services, such as Slack or What’s App. You do not want to risk receiving messages from your boss or colleagues—messages that are likely to spike your negative emotions.

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If you have been in the habit of constantly checking your emails and messages right up to the point of going to bed, this may be not easy to implement at first, but it is well worth it, and you will get used to it. You can use your phone’s automated “do not disturb” function where your phone automatically puts itself on do not disturb at a set time. That way, there’s no bleeping or vibrating—just quiet and calm before you go to bed.

7. Don’t Snooze!

I know when our alarms go off in the morning, we want to stay in bed for a few more minutes, mainly when it’s cold and wet outside. But those extra few minutes are terrible on our energy levels.[4]

As we wake up in the morning, we are coming towards the end of a REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycle. When we snooze, we quickly fall back into a new REM sleep cycle. The problem here is when we wake up in the middle or near the beginning of a REM sleep cycle, we will feel foggy and groggy, and it takes a long time to pull ourselves out of that feeling.[4]

So, no matter how you feel when your first alarm goes off in the morning, jump out of bed, don’t hit that snooze button. If you have difficulty with this, try Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule: when you wake up, you count to five and get out of bed. I promise you will feel so much better in the day if you do this.

8. Use Power Naps

This was a revelation to me. Before I discovered power naps, I would push through the afternoon slump. The work I did was slow, error-prone, and uninspiring. Once I found that taking a short thirty-minute nap, I found something Winston Churchill discovered a hundred years ago:

“Don’t think you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That’s a foolish notion held by people who have no imagination. You will be able to accomplish more. You get two days in one-well, at least one and a half, I’m sure.”

That part about getting at least one and a half days I found to be true. On days I do not take a power nap, I am mentally finished by six or seven in the evening, not capable of doing much more than vegetating in front of YouTube or Netflix. On days I take a nap, I’m fully alert right through the evening, able to learn something new by taking a course or having meaningful conversations with my wife.

Key Takeaways

These eight tips on healthy sleep habits are just the start of your journey to maximizing your energy each day. The key is to understand that we are all different, and you will need to experiment. Once you find your best sleep time, you can build your day around making sure you get your optimum hours of sleep, which creates an energizing morning routine and a relaxing close to your day.

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Follow these healthy sleep habits, and you will find yourself having plenty of energy, a lot more enthusiasm, and ultimately feeling a lot happier and less stressed.

More Tips on How to Develop Healthy Sleep Habits

Featured photo credit: Shane via unsplash.com

Reference

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Carl Pullein

Dedicated to helping people to achieve their maximum potential through better time management and productivity.

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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

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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