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Learn How to Sleep Like a Baby

Learn How to Sleep Like a Baby

Which of these situations have happened to you?

  • Tuning out at an important client meeting despite efforts to stay focused.
  • Begging off from Friday night out with friends three weeks in a row because of tiredness.
  • Midday lethargy that improves slightly after taking a cup of coffee.
  • Your spouse or children complain that you’re not listening.
  • Dozing off halfway through a movie.
  • Getting breathless soon after you start exercise.
  • You’ve got dark circles under your eyes no amount of concealer can get rid of.

Ticking off even just one of the above could indicate problems with sleep.  The good news is you don’t need to spend a fortune to get high-quality sleep.

It’s much more than just your body going on “sleep” mode.

In the book, “Fit for Life II: Living Health,” authors Harvey and Marilyn Diamond list sleep as the fourth element of health after air, water, and food. Our busy lifestyles produce more things to do in a day and we often sacrifice sleep. We assume shaving off a few hours from something we spend a third of our day doing wont hurt.  But It will!

Energy is what keeps us functioning and we use it up every day.  When we ran out of energy, we are in a state of enervation.  Sleep is when the body regenerates energy even as  other  important processes are also taking place – tissue repair, healing, cell replacements, and moving waste for elimination. When you limit sleep, you stop your body’s natural energy-recharging mechanism.  You don’t think twice about working on your presentation until 2 a.m, a mere few hours before you leave for a business trip.  But that’s no different from packing your laptop and leaving the charger! You’ll be running on empty.

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There’s no such thing as oversleeping.

How much sleep is enough? Enough is when the body has reloaded on lost energy and completed the other processes mentioned above.  Depending on the day’s energy expenditure and the quality of sleep, some people manage well with 6 hours while others absolutely need 10.  Ideally (when we don’t allow energy drinks and artificial stimulants to interfere) we sleep when we get tired.  And when the body is ready, we then naturally wake up.  There’s no such thing as oversleeping because your body simply claims the sleep it needs. It warns you when your energy levels are low. Don’t “dismiss” the message – like you would on your cell phone.

Quality over quantity: Make every sleeping minute count.

So you’ve set your alarm, switched off the lights, and are looking forward to a restful sleep.  Two hours later, you’re still staring at the ceiling while your mind replays the day’s scenes or tomorrow’s list of To-Do’s.  When that happens to me, I know the culprit is afternoon coffee, a cola drink, or chocolate and I kick myself for forgetting!

Here are other factors that affect good quality sleep.

Food:

Caffeine may not affect other people’s sleep quality, but a heavy dinner will.  Eating a lot at dinner, especially when meat is part of the menu, requires increased energy expenditure for digestion.  Harvey and Marilyn Diamond ascribe to food combining and following the body’s circadian rhythm.  To be in rhythm, don’t eat beyond 8:00 p.m. or at the very least, not within two hours of sleeping.  Otherwise, the food is poorly digested because of dwindling energy.  It’s like downloading a huge file on Torrent with just 5% of battery life.

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Air:

During sleep, the assimilation process – absorbing nutrients from digested food – also takes place. Oxygen from fresh air is needed and greatly aids the process.  We know from 4th grade Biology class that humans inhale beneficial oxygen and exhale harmful (to humans) carbon dioxide. If you sleep in an enclosed room, you are breathing stale air so don’t be surprised if you wake up tired.  And the more people you share that enclosed room with, the more stale air (carbon dioxide) you breathe in.  Open your window to allow fresh air in.   Turn off your air conditioning.  Consider a small portable fan placed a comfortable distance from you.  You save on energy plus its soft whirring sound can lull you to sleep.

Bright lights:

When nighttime and darkness comes, the body naturally produces  the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin.  Light affects your body’s ability to produce melatonin. During winter season when the nights are longer, the body produces melatonin earlier in the night. Conversely, bright lights filtering into your bedroom will slow down your body’s production of melatonin.  Put on a sleep mask or tie a scarf around your eye area to simulate darkness necessary to get quality sleep.  This works well too when you need a quick cat nap during the day.

Electromagnetic Field (EMF)  Exposure:

EMF is an invisible area of energy that surrounds wiring and electric devices. Joseph Mercola, alternative medicine and osteopathic doctor, explains the EMF components.

Electric field is created by voltage or the force which pushes the electricity through wires.  Electric fields can be shielded physically by walls or other barriers.

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Magnetic field is created by the current or amount of electricity being pushed and is concerning because it can travel through barriers over long distances and is hard to block.

EMF exposure comes from cell phones, computers and wireless internet, non-corded portable phones, electric alarm clocks, lamps and wiring, among others.  Dr. Mercola’s advice: Turn off everything electrical in your sleeping area, including WI-FI (modems/routers), cell phones, and portable phones.  Position your head at least 3-to-6 feet from electrical outlets.

Exercise:

The National Sleep Foundation “2013 Sleep in America Poll” surveyed 1000 adults, between the ages of 23 and 60.  Major findings showed:

  • Self-described exercisers report better sleep.
  • Vigorous exercisers report the best sleep.
  • Non-exercisers are more sleepy at daytime.
  • Exercise at any time of day appears good for sleep.
  • Less time sitting is associated with better sleep and health.

This is the first poll result that shows spending too much time sitting might negatively affect sleep quality.

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The bi-directional relationship between sleep and exercise was the subject of researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.  The effect of sleep on exercise was immediate, with subjects managing only short exercise sessions after sleeping poorly.

Aerobic exercise (20-30 minutes) improves sleep quality but try not to exercise within two hours of bedtime.  And it’s best to skip exercise if you slept poorly the previous night.

More Good-Snooze Tips:

Clinical psychologist and sleep expert Michael Breus, PhD offers realistic, practical advice:

  • Take your highest caffeine content beverage in the morning and taper through the day. Starting at 2 p.m, switch to fruit juice or water.
  • Try not to use the bedroom except for sleeping and intimacy to gain “stimulus control” that associates the bedroom with sleep.  If you need to read in bed, use a book light to avoid direct light in eyes.
  • Sleep at the same time every night so your body gets into a rhythm.
  • Practice Jacobsonian muscle relaxation techniques – tensing and relaxing muscle groups.

If you think it’s a hassle to work at getting enough quality sleep, revisit the situations listed at the start of this article.  Are you willing to sacrifice your health, relationships, and career due to a weakened  immune system, impaired mental alertness, and irritability or inattention?  Getting a good night’s sleep is natural, expense-free protection against challenges thrown your way.  When you sleep like a baby, you can make child’s play of work-life stress. The bonus: clear, bright eyes – no dark circles, no puffiness, and no concealer necessary.

Featured photo credit: kakisky via morguefile.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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