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9 Tips For Better Sleep

9 Tips For Better Sleep

    This article is the 4th in the 6-part series, Lifehack Challenge: Become An Early Riser In 5 Days. If you’d like to join, leave a comment that includes your promised wake-up time. The hard part is actually getting out of bed!

    Whenever I see a toddler or small animal sleeping in a ridiculous position, a little part of me gets terribly jealous. Not because I want to be a small child or a furry kitten. Because I want to enjoy that same sort of rest!

    I had a lot of trouble sleeping a few years back. Through a lot of experimentation and a bit of help from some very cool experts, I was able to take charge of my sleep and learn how to not just sleep, but find true rest.

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    At first glance, most of the tips listed below will seem familiar to you. They’re straightforward, simple ways to get better sleep. It’s okay if you’ve seen them before. The question is, have you actually put them into practice since the last time you saw them?

    Hmm?

    If not, let’s have another try and maybe get some better sleep tonight!

    1. Learn your sleep position

    Your “sleep position” is the position you always move into right before falling asleep. If I’m not very tired I’ll spend some time on my back, stomach, or other scenario until I feel like sleeping. Then, as soon as I feel like sleeping, I move onto my side and get down to sleeping business. Once you know your sleep position you can move into it immediately once you get into bed. Take a few deep breaths, relax, and your body will assume that it’s time to sleep and you’ll be drooling on your pillow in no time.

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    2. Create a sleep ritual

    Not unlike your morning ritual, a sleep ritual is a few things you always do before going to sleep. Do you brush your teeth (you should be), listen to a bit of some favorite song, or stretch for a few minutes before bed? Figure out what helps you relax and make a habit of doing those things every time before you plan to sleep. You’ll soon find it’s easier to rest, even in circumstances that otherwise might have kept you awake, because the rhythm of your sleep ritual has lulled you into a relaxed state.

    3. Build a sleep cocoon

    Please don’t start spinning silk and wrapping yourself up to sleep. If you can actually do that, your problems are much bigger than a simple lack of sleep! (Do spiders sleep? Anyone?) What you should try is creating a “cocoon” of silence and cool darkness that makes it easier for you to sleep. Experiment a bit with earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones to counteract the loud neighbors, air conditioning or a fan, and a blackout curtain to keep the street lights from keeping you awake at night. You know your situation best. Now optimize it so you can sleep better!

    4. Experiment with naps

    You could take an extreme and try polyphasic sleep (been there, really hard to get started, kinda fun once you’ve got a groove going) which is only naps. I’d recommend something more along the lines of a quick cat nap in the afternoon when you’re feeling tired. Napping doesn’t work for everybody. In fact, it might make it harder for you to sleep at night! The easiest way to find out if an afternoon nap will work to help you get the best rest is to try napping over a weekend and see how you feel afterward. Keep it under 30 minutes long and you should be able to avoid the bewildering effects of longer naps. There’s always the caffeine nap, but that might conflict with the next tip.

    5. Skip the late-afternoon caffeine

    If caffeine can affect you for up to 8 hours after consumption, what are you doing sucking down coffee at 8pm? Skip the caffeine in favor of a tall glass of water and a few minutes of aerobic exercise. You don’t need to put on a purple leotard and dance in the hallway. A few flights of stairs in your normal clothes should do the trick.

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    6. Maintain a sleep schedule

    “Get up at the same time every morning and go to sleep at the same time every night” says the Mayo Clinic. Seriously? Life rarely allows such a luxury as that! If you’re not one of the few who can arrange their schedule around sleep, do your best by keeping your sleep and wake times within an hour at each end. For example, if you can get to bed between 11pm-midnight and wake up between 7am-8am, a few minutes given or taken each day shouldn’t be a problem in the long run.

    7. Go to directly to bed when you’re tired

    You know what happens when you start to feel tired and decide to stay up for just a few minutes answering emails: you get a second wind and end up watching Youtube videos until 3am and paying for it the following day. Enough! If you’re within an hour of your normal bed time and you’re feeling tired, go to bed and try to sleep. Anything else is a waste of your time and future productivity.

    8. Have clean bedding you love

    “Love” might be too strong a word. It’s hard to find anybody other than a mattress salesperson who sounds passionate about a mattress. That doesn’t mean your bedding doesn’t matter though. The clean part, which results from laundering your sheets and pillowcases, matters very much though. Who doesn’t like the smell and feel of freshly clean sheets? (Put your hand down. That’s gross.) Take a look at your pillow, too. If it’s old and the filling is clumping up, it might be time to treat yourself to a new one.

    9. Exercise early, don’t eat late

    Two tips in one? What a deal! There are some who can exercise right before bed and not have it affect their sleep. If you’re one of those, good for you. If not, consider exercising when you get up in the morning as a healthy way to get your day off to a running start. Exercise, amazingly enough, can also work well to fight off the fatigue you feel after sitting in an office chair all day. Turn away from the coffee and get moving! You might associate eating with feeling sleepy because of the “carb coma” you get after a big meal. Take a break from the late-night stuffing and focus on relaxing instead. Perhaps a glass of wine? That’d be nice.

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    Any thoughts or tips you’d like to add? Fire away!

    If you’re participating in this week’s Early Riser Challenge, you’ll want to check out reader blogs: PeterxPark, TinaRenee, and LiveLighter.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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