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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 20, 2019

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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