I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?
Falling asleep isn’t always a matter of relaxing and closing your eyes. Some nights, getting comfortable seems impossible. Luckily, there are ten easy things you can do to speed up how fast you’re snoozing after your head hits the pillow.
1. Keep a journal.
Writing in a journal before bedtime is a great way to get intrusive and distracting thoughts down on paper and out of your way. Anxieties in your journal are far easier to deal with than anxieties in your head. Writing down worrying thoughts is a time tested and effective way of dealing with them.
If you feel uncomfortable writing down what’s bothering you, start with a to-do list. By writing down everything you need to do the next day, you can focus on the task at hand: sleeping.Advertising
2. Sleep in the dark.
It might seem obvious, but a dark room is vital for falling asleep. Any light that your eyes are exposed to before bed impairs melatonin production in the brain. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for sleep.
If you don’t have complete control over the level of light in your room (maybe your roommate just doesn’t understand early-morning classes), consider using a sleep mask. Even if your room isn’t pitch black, a sleep mask will help eliminate unnecessary light.
3. Sleep in a quiet environment.
Unlike your eyes, which close blissfully as you float off to dreamland, ears stay wide open while you’re asleep. Sudden loud noises will wake you up, but quieter, distracting noise can also interrupt your snoozing.
Turning off the TV in the next room is the first step to eliminating extra noise. If you sleep in an area with a lot of noise (blame the neighbor’s party), try sleeping with earplugs or a white noise generator. Listening to music to relax and fall asleep can also work—just make sure the music will automatically stop after a certain time.
4. Get comfortable.
Being comfortable while you sleep has a serious impact on sleep quality. A good mattress will go a long way toward improving your rest and how long it takes to fall asleep.Advertising
Though most people have their own preference when it comes to the temperature they prefer to sleep in, a light chill will improve sleep quality, since the body experiences a drop in temperature and metabolic rate during sleep. A cold room will even make the blankets feel better, so try cracking a window next time you’re tossing and turning.
5. Make use of relaxing aromas.
Though your nose won’t channel as many distractions as your eyes and ears, the nasal passage is a direct route to the brain. Most smells won’t impair sleep, but preliminary research suggests certain aromas can help relax you and speed up the rate at which you fall asleep.
Lavender can be very relaxing. If your roommate’s dirty laundry is becoming difficult to deal with, try lavender aromatherapy.
6. Control your daily stress.
Step one, the nightly journal entry, is a good start to managing the stress of your day-to-day life. Jotting down concerns and anxieties before bed might help you relax, but if you’re not taking time during the day to reduce stress, you might be overwhelmed before you even get to bed.
Proper diet and exercise will help reduce daily stress. Many people enjoy meditation as a way to relieve stress. If you’re not willing to jump into mediation, try active relaxation. Take some time out of your day to sit or lay down comfortably and allow your mind to wander, away from the worries of work and school.Advertising
7. Time your coffee intake.
Caffeine’s ability to get you up and going in the morning will bite back when it’s time for bed. Even veteran coffee drinkers with a strong caffeine tolerance will have trouble falling asleep if too much caffeine is consumed before bed.
Caffeine is metabolized at different speeds in different people. If you’re not a frequent coffee drinker, give yourself at least eight hours between having a cup and your ideal bedtime. If you consider yourself used to coffee’s effects, try to make sure you’ll be up for at least five more hours before committing to a mug of the good stuff.
8. Rethink your diet.
You are what you eat, and what you eat will determine how well you sleep. A consistent lack of carbohydrates can impair sleep. This usually coincides with the bad mood that a lack of carbs brings. If you realize you’ve been trying to shake a grumpy feeling all day, you may also have trouble sleeping that night.
Carbs facilitate the production of serotonin, which the body uses to create melatonin. If you’re on a low-carb diet and are having trouble sleeping, try eating most of your carbs during dinner. This will provide you with enough to get through the night comfortably.
9. Treat your insomnia with melatonin.
You’ve tried all of the above, and you still find yourself staring at the ceiling for hours, unable to fall asleep, night after night. If your problem is specifically with falling asleep, supplementing melatonin can help.Advertising
Melatonin is safe and very effective at helping people fall asleep. To take melatonin, either supplement a 3mg time release capsule, or start with 500mcg capsules and find the lowest dose that helps you fall asleep. Be careful, taking too much can result in some serious morning grogginess.
10. Try other supplementation options.
Melatonin is the best option for reducing sleep latency (how long it takes to fall asleep), but if your problems concern sleep quality, you’ll need to look elsewhere. There are many sleep aid supplements on the market, but they will benefit the body in different ways.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a popular sedative. It is not addictive, and helps calm hyperactive minds and intrusive thoughts. Glycine is a cheap and safe amino acid that can improve sleep quality when supplemented. If you wake up in the morning feeling like you need to roll over for another eight hours, glycine may help you get the most out of your night.
More things to know about sleep: 11 Sleep Habits of Successful People
Last Updated on September 28, 2020
The Pros and Cons of Working from Home
At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.
Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.
One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.
When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.
So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.
Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day
This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.
Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.
When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.
Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity
One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.
Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.
An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.
When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.
Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day
Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.
We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.
By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.
Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment
While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.
I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.
You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.
Con #1: We Move a Lot Less
When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.
Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.
Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.
Con #2: Less Human Interaction
One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.
Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.
Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.
This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.
While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.
Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment
Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.
This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.
For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.
Con #4: Unique Distractions
Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.
For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.
To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.
Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.
We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.
More About Working From Home
- 10 Tips to Help You Be More Efficient Working From Home
- 7 Ways To Supercharge Your Productivity When You Work From Home
- 10 Work from Home Desks to Boost Your Productivity
Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com