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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 August 16, 2018

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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The power of habit

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to make a reminder works for you

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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