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Tired in the morning and awake at night? Here is a REAL solution.

Tired in the morning and awake at night?  Here is a REAL solution.

Ever since high school, I’ve had a peculiar problem.

No matter how little sleep I get the entire week, no matter how much I avoid caffeine, no matter how much exercise I do…I am wide awake in the middle of the night doing my best work!

Often my most productive hours are between midnight and 2 or 3AM, even if I’ve gotten only a few hours sleep the night before and been up for 18 hours.

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It’s truly a bizarre pattern of dead tired mornings, walking around like a jet-lagged zombie, followed by a tortuous afternoon in desperate need of a nap, and finally an evening where I start to wake up.

“What could be wrong with me?” I wondered for years. Surely this was not a normal way to live!

As it turns out, I’m not alone with this small problem. Like others, I eventually managed to deal with it (taking only afternoon classes while in college, and starting my own business to set my own hours). But it always bothered me because everyone I met didn’t seem to understand my problem.

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I tried every piece of advice that I heard: “Read before bed”, “Drink a glass of warm milk”, “No caffeine after noon”, but it didn’t seem to work. I even spoke to several doctors about it who didn’t have any good answers. Even if I forced myself to get in bed at a reasonable hour, sure enough, I would toss and turn until 3AM before finally falling asleep.

If this sounds like a problem you have, then I’m here to help, because you may have something called “Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome”.

It’s a well documented sleep disorder that goes undiagnosed (or misdiagnosed) by the vast majority of doctors today. You can read more about it in this excellent article

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As you may recall, everyone has a biological clock, known as a circadian rhythm, that regulates when we are awake and when we feel tired. People with delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS for short) tend to have:

  • A shifted circadian rhythm
  • A longer than normal circadian rhythm

The second one in particular is difficult to live with because it causes you to operate on a 25 (or more) hour day. Each morning you want to sleep in a bit later, and each night you want to stay up a bit later. The world is moving too fast for your biological clock, so you are always a bit behind!

After trying everything under the sun to correct this efficiency problem in my life (since it was certainly affecting my productivity), I finally stumbled upon light therapy. It sounds bizarre, but you can actually use light to reset your biological clock. In particular, certain wave lengths of light seem to work better than others.

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Thinking back to the caveman days, life was very simple getting plenty of sunlight during the day and it being pitch black at night. Our brains evolved to operated on this schedule over millions of years, but with today’s society full of artificial lights and plenty of activities to stay up for, some of our brains (mine included) have gotten confused.

Simply getting some sunlight early in the morning can help reset your biological clock, but for those who are in an office building, there are some simple light therapy devices that can help reset your biological clock. One that I’ve used and would recommend is the Apollo GoLite.

I use this for about 30 minutes each morning, shining some blue wavelength light on myself, and after about the first week of using it my entire sleep cycle had been reset. Getting up a regular hour no longer felt like I had just been awoken in the middle of the night! It was truly remarkable because after years of struggling with this problem, I finally found something that worked.

So stop trying to drink ten cups of coffee each morning, setting two alarms, and sneaking off to your car during your lunch hour to catch a nap! You might just have delayed sleep phase syndrome, and you can do something about it with light therapy!

Brian Armstrong is an authority on time management and how to quit your job to work for yourself! You can download three FREE chapters of his book and sign up for his free online course, “Successful Entrepreneurship”, by clicking here now: Start Your Own Business

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why We Procrastinate After All?

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

Is Procrastination Bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How Bad Procrastination Can Be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article: 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

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Procrastination, a Technical Failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Learn more about how to fix your procrastination problem here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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