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8 Everyday Habits That May Be Disrupting Your Sleep

8 Everyday Habits That May Be Disrupting Your Sleep

We all love sleep. There’s nothing worse than having our beloved sleep disrupted, which can turn us into intolerable people when we wake up in the morning. How much sleep we actually need is different for all of us, but the average Joe needs around 7–9 hours per night.

It is imperative for us to get enough sleep to allow us to perform optimally. Many of us attempt to trick our mind and body into thinking we don’t need sleep by consuming copious amounts of caffeine, but this can damage our ability to properly judge a situation and it can wreak havoc on our long-term concentration.

Although we may blame others for our disrupted sleep, the culprit is most likely ourselves. When it comes to everyday habits, like going to bed later than expected every night, we tend to do them unconsciously, which makes it difficult to actually solve the problem. Even the way we sleep can have a distinct impact on how tired we feel the next day. Can you identify with any of these sleeping habits?    

Take a look at these 8 everyday habits that could be disrupting your sleep patterns, making you feel groggy in the morning.

1. Drinking alcohol before bed.

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol does not let us sleep better. Alcohol may help us fall asleep faster, which sounds like a good thing, but it also robs us of our REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which is the stage where dreams occur. The consequence of this is that our sleep feels less restful and we end up groggy and dehydrated in the morning.

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Not only can alcohol disrupt our sleep, but it can also stop us from sleeping entirely. Persistent consumption of alcohol before bed as a means to “help us sleep” can have a hugely negative effect and cause insomnia. If you wish to drink in the evenings, try stopping around 2 hours before bedtime.

2. Working out late at night.

This also may come to you as a surprise, but exercise before bed is a big no-no. Our body temperature decreases at night, which is a signal that it’s time to sleep. Exercise however, can raise our body temperature as much as two degrees and also stimulates our heart, brain and muscles. This couldn’t be more opposite from what we want.

Bear in mind that regular exercise can actually help us have a more restful night, so it is recommended that we exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime, but not later than that.

3. Having slumber parties with your pets.

Dog.in.sleep

    We all love our pets, so much so that many of us allow our pets to sleep in the bed with us at night. With the added comfort and warmth, what’s not to like? How about their unusual sleep cycles? Animals don’t have the same sleep cycles as us, so they may be up and ready to play at 4 a.m. where we could happily do with another 3 hours.

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    According to a survey by the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, 53% of people acknowledge that their animals do in fact disrupt their sleep. Do yourself a favor (and probably them too), and don’t allow your pets to sleep in your bed with you.

    4. Being obsessed with your mobile device.

    Electronic devices are becoming more of an integral part of our modern lives than ever before, and with the heaps of advantages attached to them, we tend to not dwell on the side effects of our excessive use. Recent technology developments have seen us using bigger and brighter screens on our devices, which are helping fuel the fire when it comes to sleep disruption. A survey conducted by MySofaBeds reveals that 65% of us relax before bed by watching TV, a notable cause in sleep disruption.

    The bright lights from our devices suppress melatonin levels, a chemical that controls our body clock. To combat this, try to dim your devices as much as possible in order to minimize melatonin suppression and limit the time spent on these devices prior to bedtime.

    5. Over-exerting yourself.

    You may think that the more tired you feel, the easier it will be to drift off to sleep. But it is possible to be too exhausted to fall asleep quickly. After a long hard day at work, stumbling to bed in the wee hours of the morning may seem like the best thing to do, but typically it’s not.

    After an emotionally and physically hard working day, it is recommended to take time to unwind before bed. Jumping straight into bed may lead to still being awake 45 minutes later. Don’t rush off to bed; stay up and read a book or enjoy the company of others. You will soon feel yourself drifting off naturally and becoming ready for bed.

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    6. Going to bed hungry.

    The age-old debate: to eat or not to eat before bed? Whereas some people shy away from eating before bed when hungry in the fear of gaining weight, others will indulge themselves to keep off those hunger pains that can disrupt sleep.

    In truth, it is best to have a small snack before bed if you feel hunger creeping up on you. Have enough to subside your hunger until the morning. Having an all-out fridge raid is not needed just before bed and is linked to an increased risk of obesity.

    7. Going to bed stressed.

    Going to bed stressed becomes a vicious cycle. You stress because of your day-to-day work. You then go to sleep, which is disrupted by stress, and then you stress because you are tired. This type of schedule can soon become part of your daily routine and can be hard to crack.

    Giving yourself a little bit of “me” time before bed can play a huge part in going to sleep in a more relaxed manner. Take time to listen to music; have a soak in the bath or enjoy light exercise like yoga or walking. You’ll never look back!

    8. Allowing light into your bedroom.

    I’m not talking about people who sleep with the light on (you shouldn’t do that anyway), but I am talking about ambient light from street lights, TVs on standby, alarm clocks, etc. The light from these objects is still strong enough to enter your retinas even when your eyes are closed. This can upset your internal clock, thus making you feel awake.

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    A simple solution is to do a quick check before you go to bed. Turn alarm clocks to face the wall, turn TVs off at the wall socket, and completely shut your curtains. Doing this will save you from finding yourself suddenly awake at 3 a.m.

    Related article: 10 Things Most Successful People Do At Night Before Sleep

    Featured photo credit: Basau – dreaming of eating / by BAAB 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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