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10 Things You Haven’t Tried To Sleep Better

10 Things You Haven’t Tried To Sleep Better

Most of us need to sleep better. Chronic lack of sleep can lead to anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease and even cancer. The World Health Organization has even listed night work as a carcinogen.

Most people need 7–9 hours of sleep each night. When you get enough sleep, your body is able to physically and mentally recover from your day, so that you are able to face tomorrow with vigor and zest.

It’s up to you to do everything in your power to ensure you improve your sleep. Here are my top ten tips for better sleep.

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1. Have a regular sleep and wake cycle.

If you go to bed and get up at the same time every day, you will train your body to have a regular sleep and wake cycle. If you are going to bed at different times and getting up early during the week while sleeping in at the weekend, your body doesn’t know what to do. With a regular sleep/wake cycle, your body will adapt and you will have more energy in the mornings.

2. Exercise regularly.

Regular exercise burns off all your excess energy, meaning you will feel more rested in the evening. Experiment with your exercise times. Some people feel energized after exercise and can’t sleep straight away and some people are OK with exercise before bed. Try exercising in the morning and evening and see what works best for you.

3. Include regular stretching.

If your muscles and joints are sore from either lots of exercise, or not enough exercise, you may feel uncomfortable in bed. Add some stretching or even some light yoga in the evenings before bed time to help loosen your muscles and unwind from the day.

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4. Focus on your breathing.

If you are the type to toss and turn for a long time, try this simple exercise: lie on your back with your arms by your sides. Take a long full breath in and exhale slowly. Feel the air enter and leave your lungs. Repeat 10 times. By the time you get to 5 or 6 you should be feeling very relaxed, and maybe you will even have fallen asleep by then.

5. Accept your worries.

If your worries are keeping you awake at night, remember that it is OK and perfectly normal to have worries and concerns. Accept that this is normal, and it is OK to forget about them while you go to sleep.

6. Write tomorrow’s to-do list tonight.

If you have a long list of worries or things you need to do, don’t wait until tomorrow to take action. Before you go to bed, write a list of your most important tasks to do tomorrow. Once you have gotten these thoughts on paper, and you are mentally prepared for tomorrow, your mind will know it can rest now and you can get some sleep. Keep a pen and paper by your bed if you think of things in the middle of the night.

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7. Reduce caffeine intake.

We all know that we should reduce our caffeine intake in the afternoon so that it doesn’t keep us awake. Unfortunately some of us need to reduce it further or eliminate it altogether. Some people metabolize caffeine quickly. If you are one of these lucky people, then simply stop drinking caffeine after 3pm and it shouldn’t affect your sleep. Other people metabolize caffeine slowly. If you suspect you might be one of those people, try eliminating caffeine completely. Or if you can’t do that, don’t drink it after 10am.

8. Dim your lights.

Bright lights tell our brain that it is day time and we should be awake. When it gets dark outside, then you should also make it darker in your house. Have less lights on in the house, or dim them if you can. This will tell your brain that it is night time and it’s time to wind down and go to sleep soon.

9. Switch off electronic media.

The blue light that emits from televisions, computer screens, tablets and phone screens also tells our brain to stay awake. An hour or two before bed, it’s time to switch off your electronics. Spend this time with your family or read a good book. If you must use your electronics, purchase a blue light screen filter for your gadgets.

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10. Keep your bedroom sacred.

Your bedroom is for two things only: sleep and sex. If you use your laptop in bed, or your phone, or if you watch television in bed, then you are signalling to your brain that bed time is not necessarily sleep time. Train your brain to accept that bed time is for sleep and sex only. This is training your brain to relax in bed, so you will sleep better.

Now you are armed with some of the best tips for getting better sleep. Try one at a time, or try them all at once. Better sleep = Better health.

Featured photo credit: Supermoon 2013 Over NYC / Bob Jagendorf via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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