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8 Easy Ways To Get Better Sleep Tonight

8 Easy Ways To Get Better Sleep Tonight

I was always a lousy sleeper as a child. From the age of eight on I often survived on four or five hours of (anxiety-laden) sleep a night. The last few years I’ve been making a real effort to change that though – and I give thanks to a few tricks and habits I’ve developed over the years. If you want to get serious high-quality sleep then the following tips are perfect for you.

1. Cutback caffeine.

Caffeine is one of the biggest causes of being unable to fall asleep. It also lowers the quality of sleep. My new year’s resolution this year was to cut out caffeine entirely. Save for the rare cup of coffee I have… and I’ve slept so much better for it. You wouldn’t believe the difference it makes. Without caffeine pumping through my veins, I feel like I’ve slept twice as long as I actually have.

If you can’t bare to give up caffeine at least try to cutback to a couple of cups a day, and keep it to the morning/early afternoon. Switch to decaf, there’s barely any difference in taste, and it only contains about 1-2% of the regular amount of caffeine in most cases. Click here to read more about the effects of caffeine on sleep.

2. Drink warm milk before bed.

Whenever I used to struggle to sleep as a child, my mother would always make me a warm cup of milk. More often than not, it worked! This is another classic case of “mother knows best.”

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Milk contains an amino acid called trytophan that (without getting unnecessarily sciency) is converted to serotonin and then melatonin. Melatonin is known as the “sleep hormone” and will send you off to the land of nod in no time at all. Side note: Trytophan is also found in turkey, which is why you may feel particularly sleepy after your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

3. Respect the sanctity of your bedroom.

Your bedroom should be somewhere you go for two reasons. Sleep and… well, you know. If you like to take your all manner of electronic gizmos to bed to tinker on then you’re confusing your brain. You’re giving it an overdose of stimulation, and then you wonder why you can’t get to sleep for hours.

If you want better sleep every night then make your bedroom an electronic-free zone. Teach your brain your bedroom is a place of rest.

4. Buy the best mattress, pillows and PJs you can afford.

When you consider how much time we spending sleeping, it’s amazing how little money we invest into it. Most people buy the cheapest mattress and pillows they can find – and are shocked by how uncomfortable they are at night when they try to go to sleep. If you want better sleep then you should be spending as much money as you can afford on high-quality mattress and pillows. For years I slept in a single bed with wonky springs and it ruined my sleep and gave me a bad back for years.

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Now I have an amazingly comfortable king-sized mattress that I sink into, and pillows to match. Next to cutting out caffeine this is the biggest improvement I’ve made to my sleep. Don’t skimp on your PJs either, get a thick, soft pair you’d want to where all day if you could. Make sleep-time a time to look forward to.

5. Make your room as dark as possible.

Light inhibits melatonin production. That means it’s a good idea to make your bedroom as dark as possible. This ensures you’ll get a better sleep each night. You can do this by buying a thick pair of curtains to block out external light, banning electronics from the bedroom (no blinking lights), turning off all lights upstairs, and closing your bedroom door. If your bedroom still isn’t dark enough you can buy yourself a sleep mask to block out all light.

6. If you can’t fall asleep within 30 minutes do something else.

If you’re still struggling to get to sleep, don’t beat yourself up about it. Get up and take a walk around the house, go outside for a few minutes, or read a book. Take the focus off the need to sleep and sleep will soon come to you.

7. Keep a diary.

“How on Earth would keeping a diary help me get a better sleep?” I hear you ask. Well it’s really quite simple. You know all those thoughts you can’t stop running through your mind as you scrunch your eyes closed convincing yourself you’re not crazy? Keeping a diary takes all those thoughts from your head, transfers them to a page and keeps them where they can’t disturb you.

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It’s like complaining about something to a friend. Once it’s off your chest, you feel the weight off your shoulders and it doesn’t bother you as much any more.

8. Try meditation or hypnotherapy shortly before bedtime.

If you want to send your sleep to the next level then meditation and hypnotherapy can do just that. Both are very similar in that they quiet the conscious mind. In meditation you focus on one thing (and ultimately nothing AND everything), while in hypnotherapy you focus on an aspect of yourself you’d like to improve and mentally repeat suggestions to that effect.

A simple meditation exercise I use each night is to focus my thoughts on my breathing. I take mental notes of how the air feels cold as I inhale, and warm as I exhale, how my belly expands then contracts. Because I’m entirely focused on my breathing, no unwanted thoughts enter my head.

Just 10 minutes of meditation before you go to sleep makes a HUGE difference to the quality of sleep. It feels like you’ve added hours to the length of your sleep when you wake up the next morning.

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Those are eight of my favorite ways to get better sleep. Do you have any tips of your own? Leave a comment and let me know, I’d love to read them!

Featured photo credit: Sleepy Time by Alexandra Guerson via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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