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7 Morning Hacks to Jumpstart Your Day

7 Morning Hacks to Jumpstart Your Day
    Photo credit: Roberto Bouza (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’m really not a morning person.

    I’ve tried to get myself going in the early hours of the morning, but I’ve always been more of a night owl – my creative juices seem to flow better in the later hours. So I’d be the last person to suggest that you need to force yourself out of bed before your body and mind are really ready to do so.

    But when you do get up, you may find that you’re pressed for time and have fallen behind the rest of the crowd in what you need to get done during the day. A slow start to your day won’t help anyone, let alone you.

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    Just because you’re not up as the sun rises doesn’t mean that you can’t put yourself in a position to make sure that the day ahead will be a productive one. You need to put some things into play so that you can make the most of your waking hours.

    On that note, here are 10 “morning hacks” to jumpstart your day:

    1. Wash your face right after getting up.

    Rather than make your way to the kitchen for that cup of coffee, head to the bathroom and splash some cold water on your face. Once the alarm goes off, head out of bed and straight to the sink. The refreshing feeling you’ll get from the water hitting your face will act as a trigger that it’s time for your body to get moving. Think of it as having a pail of water thrown on you while you’re still in bed – but with a little less wetness and cleanup required.

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    2. Program your coffeemaker in advance.

    This one may not sit well with the coffee connoisseurs out there, but the smell of fresh brewed coffee sends a signal to your brain that says, “It’s time to get up”. If you’ve got a coffeemaker with pre-programming features then you’re all set. Just set it to start each day at the time you know you’ll want to get up (remember that you don’t have to get up earlier, be reasonable with your demands on yourself), prepare it the night before, and you’ll be good to go when morning comes.

    3. Put your alarm clock out of reach.

    I keep my alarm clock across the room so that I have to actually get out of bed to turn it off. It’s also close enough to my bedroom door so that I can head straight to the bathroom to give myself my morning splash. I also use an alarm clock app on my iPhone that takes some effort to shut off (such as Mission Alarm Clock; there’s also Challenging Alarm Clock for Android users), meaning I actually have to be awake in order to stop it from going off.

    Oh, and by using my iPhone I’ve got an alarm clock that is great for travel and I’m less likely to abuse the device – it is a pretty expensive alarm clock, after all.

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    4. Go outside.

    I step outside with my coffee and sit on my deck whenever the weather permits. It connects me with the outside world right off the bat and puts me in a place where I’m not jumping online right away. I’m enjoying the day as it arrives (for me, anyway) and sipping a fine cup of joe while doing so. Fresh air is good at any time of day, and getting it early on is never a bad thing.

    5. Plan your day the night before.

    Despite being done at night — the night before — this is most certainly a morning hack. I give my task manager a good review before hitting the sack for the night. Because my late-night habits often put me at performance par with those who get up a couple of hours before I do, I’m rarely behind in my productivity. The key is to “time shift” so that you’re ahead of the early risers the night before. By planning your day in advance (and even doing some of the tasks the night before), you can go to bed at ease.

    6. Mix it up.

    I do the things above as part of my wake-up routine, mixing it up from time to time but never straying from these things. For example, I like to make freshly-ground coffee, so I do that instead of pre-programming it for myself. But I prepare my wife’s coffee for her the night before and still get the benefits of the aroma in the morning. I don’t go outside every day – sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate – but I definitely look outside every day when I get up. I’ve positioned my sitting chair in my bedroom in such a way that I can enjoy my coffee while looking out the sliding glass doors every morning. A routine is beneficial, but don’t make it essential. You need to have some flexibility built in, otherwise when things you can’t control cause your routine to go off the rails you’ll be more inclined to start sluggishly.

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    7. Recognize your best workflow patterns.

    It’s a commonly held belief by those who dwell in the productivity realm that email shouldn’t be the first thing you bury yourself in when you start your day. I agree, but if you’re having trouble jumpstarting your day you need to figure out if that’s why or if it’s something else that needs to be adjusted. Perhaps by setting yourself up the night before, you feel that email can be your first target. Go with that until it doesn’t work for you. Maybe, like me, the first thing you check is your RSS feeds so that you can have something to spark your day. It could be that you want to dive right into the heavy stuff while your energy is high. Take the time to really reflect on your workflow practices and patterns and honestly ask yourself what isn’t working and what is. Leave the stuff that is alone, monitor the stuff that sits somewhere in between until you see how it reacts to the changes that you must make to the stuff that isn’t working. Wholesale changes rarely lead to results; you often abandon the changes altogether when you try that. Tweaks, however, can lead to results because they’re not as painful to adopt. So rather than going ahead and “changing”, try “tweaking” instead.

    What tips do you use to jumpstart your day? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

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    Last Updated on October 16, 2018

    The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

    The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

    It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

    If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

    One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

    Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

    In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

    Why you can’t sleep through the night

    The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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    Stress

    If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

    Exposure to blue light before sleep time

    We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

    While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

    Eating close to bedtime

    Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

    Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

    Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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    Medical conditions

    In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

    The vicious sleep cycle

    The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

    Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

    You get a bad night’s sleep
    –> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
    –> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
    –> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

      You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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      How to sleep better (throughout the night)

      To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

      1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

      What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

      Here are a few suggestions:

      • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
      • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
      • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
      • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
      • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

      2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

      What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

      • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
      • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
      • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
      • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

      3. Adjust your sleep temperature

      Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

      Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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      Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

      Sleep better form now on

      Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

      I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

      As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

      Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

      Reference

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