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How to Quit Smoking Efficiently

How to Quit Smoking Efficiently

We’re up and running full-swing into 2014, and it’s time to take a look at all those New Year’s resolutions you made. One of the most popular resolutions made every year is to quit smoking cigarettes. Any smoker will tell you quitting smoking is easy – they’ve done it dozens of times and could do it again anytime they want. If you want to quit for good but aren’t sure how, here are a few tips, facts, and brain hacks to make it possible:

1. Accept Both the Mental and Physical Addiction.

Nicotine is a chemically-addictive drug, affecting the mood receptors in your brain. Smoking is a lifestyle that involves frequent smoke breaks, impulse purchases, and peer pressure. In order to quit smoking, you’ll need strategies to address both; admitting you have an addiction is vital – an important mental step – and soothing the physical cravings is important as well.

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2. Do Something With Your Hands.

Smoking puts you in a comfort zone. You get used to reaching for a cigarette when you’re bored, after a meal, after a difficult project; soon you’re rewarding yourself with a smoke like they’re candy. Instead of rewarding yourself with a cigarette, reward yourself with something else…like candy. Eating a small Snickers bar isn’t the healthiest thing you can do, but it’s better for you (and, ultimately, cheaper) than a cigarette. If the act of eating isn’t enough, try a lollipop.

3. Take Your Mind Off Smoking.

When you get a craving to smoke, sitting around doing nothing is probably the worst thing you can do. You’re going to get antsy, and the craving to smoke will become a Tell-tale Heart, eventually driving you mad. Go out for a quick walk, play a video game on your phone, or do any small activity that will kill 10–15 minutes and give you a break in the cycle of need.

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4. Talk It Out.

Telling people you’re quitting smoking is important. Many people skip this step because they don’t want anyone to know if they cheat, but the reality is you’re only cheating yourself this way. By being open and honest with friends and family, you’re building a support structure to help you not to fail. Just don’t expect them to do everything for you – you’re going to have to do the legwork yourself, and it’s not fair to put the pressure on loved ones for your life choices.

5. Seek Professional Help.

Whether you succeed or fail, family and friends support you more than they support your vices. Sometimes the love of friends and family isn’t enough; luckily, a cornucopia of options exists for smoking cessation. Your work may have an employee support line that can help, and your health insurer (and likely your State, as well) will have some sort of support number you can call. There are also plenty of websites with smoking cessation directories. Here are some smoking cessation resources from Cancer.org to get you started.

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6. Acknowledge and Reward Your Achievements.

Yes, people will eventually tire of your updates of, “I haven’t smoked in two weeks,” or, “I only had one cigarette this week,” but people also tire of baby pics. If you don’t kill your baby and start with a new one every time someone’s uninterested in their pictures, you shouldn’t stop celebrating the other minor victories in your life. If you quit a pack-a-day smoking habit in the US, you’re saving yourself $35–$105 per week (depending on where you live). Use that money to treat yourself for your discipline. Make a game out of it, and always thank yourself for being so good to yourself.

7. Try Tobacco Alternatives.

These days, alternatives to tobacco exist everywhere. Patches and gums provide a nicotine fix without inhalation. eCigarettes are a great alternative to smoking as well, since they replicate the act and lifestyle of smoking, while removing the harmful additives and carcinogens. Be careful with eCigs though: it’s a new industry, and there are a lot of sharks in those waters looking to make a quick buck.

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The above steps are meant only as general guidelines. I can provide all the facts, but at some point you have to just go out there and simply stop smoking. Every time you try to rationalize why you’re giving up on quitting, take control and remember that you’re in charge of your body. You should never compromise with yourself; instead follow through on your New Year’s resolution, and create a healthier, non-smoking you.

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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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