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5 Benefits of Writing: Why You Should Write Every Day

5 Benefits of Writing: Why You Should Write Every Day

Writing every day has numerous benefits far beyond finally getting that novel of yours out in the open. Whether you’re aiming to improve your vocabulary, keep track of your dreams, or keep a journal of all the goings-on in your world, writing daily can bring about some stellar effects in your life.

A Wake-Up Call for Your Brain

Have you ever hauled yourself to work and then sat there for a couple of hours, waiting for your brain to warm up enough so you could be articulate and productive? That’s a massive waste of time, especially since anything you’d be forced to tackle during that warm-up would be tepid at best.

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Instead, consider hitting the ground running by sitting down with a writing assignment while you’re sipping your coffee/tea/wheatgrass smoothie. You can either list a bunch of topics on slips of paper and just pull one from a jar to write about each day, or subscribe to one of the numerous mailing lists that can deliver a subject to your inbox every morning. Figment is great for that, but all you need to do is a quick Google search for “daily writing prompts” and you’ll have no shortage of topics to scrawl about. Getting the gears spinning so early in the morning shakes your brain-meat into good working order, and by the time you roll into the office, you’ll be sharp, focused, and ready to plough your way through anything that lands on your desk.

Stream of Consciousness Purging

Writing a few pages as soon as you wake really is a perfect way to begin your day. You don’t have to write a story, but rather just let all the first thoughts of the morning flood their way onto paper. This could be as mundane as: “Great, another Wednesday morning. I forgot to get cat food so I’m feeding Mr. Fripples a tuna omelet. I have no idea where my socks are. Hopefully Martha will remember to get more coffee for the office kitchen…” etc.

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What good does all of this do? It allows you to vent any frustrations/worries that may have percolated in your skull overnight, thus allowing you to begin your day with a clean slate. It’s also a great means of self-exploration and reflection: after you’ve written every day for a few weeks, take an afternoon one weekend to sit down to read what you’ve been scribbling. If you find that the same worries and issues are popping up every day, that’s a strong clue that these need to be addressed so they’ll stop weighing on you. Should you discover that you begin every morning with self-criticism, you can make a conscious effort to be kinder to yourself, and to start your days with positive affirmations, or perhaps something self-loving like yoga, a walk in the park, or a few minutes’ worth of meditation

Dream Recall

If you’re looking for a specific subject to write about, consider keeping a dream journal. Keep it by your bedside so you can write notes if you happen to startle into the waking world in the middle of the night, but be sure to take a few minutes to jot down some notes every morning. If you didn’t dream anything, make note of it. If you did, try to write down everything you can recall from the night’s meanderings, even if it’s just vague imagery or colours. Over time, you’ll realise that your ability to remember details from your dreams has improved significantly, and you may start to notice patterns or themes to your dreams.

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Vocabulary Maintenance and Expansion

Are you familiar with the saying that falls along the line of “use it or lose it”? That applies to many different aspects of life, and one’s vocabulary is no exception. In an era when texting and tweeting are the main vehicles for communication, many people find that their mental word banks are dwindling in favour of creative ways to condense thoughts into as few words and characters as possible. This can be problematic when you’re sitting in a meeting and can’t remember vital jargon, or if you’re writing an essay and have a word dancing just on the periphery of your memory, but it won’t come through; you’ll likely end up using a term that isn’t completely appropriate, unless you spend time sifting through a thesaurus to find the right word.

One fun way to expand your vocabulary is to subscribe to a Word of the Day email: every morning, you’ll receive a new (and often obscure) word, and you can try to fit that into a conversation or written exchange at some point that day. How fun would it be to toss words like “confrere” and “factotum” into emails to your colleagues and family members?

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Evening Contemplation and Relaxation

Most of us have very busy schedules as well as a fair bit of stress on our minds, and it’s not uncommon for these things to weigh on us when we actually have a few moments’ respite from non-stop responsibilities—like when we’re trying to sleep. Consider keeping a notepad or journal beside your bed, and allot 15-20 minutes every night to writing down your thoughts about the day. If there are things that are stressing you out, getting them down on paper to acknowledge them may help to alleviate the anxiety so you can get some rest. Alternatively, you can use that time to think about all the great things that happened to you over the course of the day, so that the last thoughts you have before drifting off are positive, constructive ones.

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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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