Sleep is the best meditation. ~ Dalai Lama
There are some people who just seem to have it all figured out. They manage their families, careers and responsibilities with graceful ease, and clean shirts. Have you ever wondered how these ‘types’ manage to juggle so effortlessly, while your balls are seemingly crashing down around you?
These types of people always get the promotion, win the race, don’t ever seem stressed, and eyes just follow them.
What’s their secret? How are they keeping it all together?
I know, and I’m going to tell you.
It’s about getting the proper sleep.
People who get enough sleep are successful, focused and happy.Advertising
We need sleep to recharge our brains and bodies. When we are tired, we can aimlessly jump from task to task without any real clarity. We end up treading a tiring circle of never-ending tasks. We all want to be the best version of ourselves, whether it be a good mother, top executive or an amazing athlete.
In our busy society, sleep has become somewhat of a luxury. If you own your own business or have kids, you might relate to the phrase: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
Guess what? You couldn’t be further from the truth. You are forgoing the one thing that can help you achieve your success.
Bad sleep habits cause our bodies to become worn. Like an engine without an oil change, we start to break down.
- We become irritable and moody, and if sleep deprivation continues we can experience hallucinations and anxiety.
- We become emotionally flattened and our relationships suffer.
- We lose our ability to remember and suffer many cognitive delays.
- We can even fall prey to substance abuse.
- What’s even worse is that we can fall into micro-sleeps (5-10 seconds) that cause lapses in attention, which could lead us to nod off while doing an activity like driving. Not getting enough sleep is downright dangerous.
So ask yourself this: are you starting to resemble a zombie from World War Z? That’s not going to bring you success or happiness. Let’s get you back to being human, okay?
1. Don’t eat right before bed
Have your final meal about 3 hours before bedtime. Eating too close to bed will leave your digestive system working very hard and might cause an upset stomach throughout the night.
2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine is a stimulant and it keeps the body alert and energized. Alcohol may initially calm you or make you feel drowsy, but it actually increases the amount of times you will wake up during the night.Advertising
3. Reserve your bed for sleeping, that’s it.
If you read, watch TV or do work in bed, it will be hard to wind down. You want to associate your bed with sleep, and sleep only (well, maybe intimacy too, but we won’t get into that now).
4. Shut out the lights
Bright lights actually repress melatonin, which is responsible for regulating our sleep cycles. It is also recommended to avoid reading from back-lit devices late at night. The darker the room, the better. Try using heavy curtains or a sleep mask.
5. Don’t sleep too much
When it comes to sleep, there is too much of a good thing. Oversleeping can lead to heart disease, diabetes and depression. The average adult will need 8 hours sleep. This can vary from person to person, but use this as a guideline.
What You Should do:
The number one cause of being unable to sleep is stress. We stress about work, relationships or health. Meditation will open a whole new world. You need to turn off your mind, especially if you are struggling with sleep.
Our mind does a lot of thinking, and we usually aren’t even aware that it’s happening. But these thoughts are powerful, and sometimes thoughts can spiral into stressful, negative thoughts and control us. Meditation will give you powerful tools to be the watcher of your mind. By watching your mind, you can prevent urges and negative thoughts, and you can lead a stress-less life.
In addition to meditation, practice relaxation techniques such as:
- Deep breathing. Inhale into the bottom of your stomach and exhale deeply.
- Progressive muscle relaxation. Stay out of your head and focus on the sensations in your body.
- Imagery and visualization of peaceful, restful place.
- Use a sound machine. The sounds of the ocean can be very relaxing and take you miles away from your troubles.
2. The power of organization and positive thinking.
Before bed, make a list of all the amazing things about your day. Expressing gratitude is known to improve sleep. Also, make a list about what you plan to accomplish tomorrow. Staying focused will guarantee success.Advertising
You need to expend energy. Exercise will make you feel better throughout your day and is wonderful for aiding in sleep. I recommend yoga in particular. Exercise early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid stimulating the body before bed.
4. Stay hydrated.
Staying hydrated is important all the time: during waking hours and sleep time.
5. Drink relaxation tea.
I love having a calming decaffeinated Sleepytime tea before bed. The aroma itself puts me into a relaxed state.
6. Get up early.
This is the secret ingredient of success. If you want to accomplish big things and stay organized, get up early. I try to get up every day at 5:30; I write for an hour, meditate for half an hour, walk my dogs, make breakfast and then get ready for work. I can’t stress enough the benefits of this habit.
7. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.
Yes, that’s right, even on the weekends. Do you ever have trouble falling asleep on Sunday nights? Chances are you’ve fallen out of your sleep routine. Do your best to maintain your sleep schedule.
8. Keep a cool room.
Research suggests that we sleep the best if our room is kept at 65°F.
9. Remember that life goes on.
Why not postpone your worrying until tomorrow? And then tomorrow, postpone it to the next day. If you can solve the problem, then solve it; if you can’t solve it, then what is the point of worrying about it?Advertising
10. Laugh a lot.
Laughter and humor will push stress out and make you more likable. Stop taking life so seriously.
11. Tape your goals to your night side table.
That way the first thing you will see is your list. If you want to get a promotion, write it down in big letters and read it every morning. It’s the old Secret mentality: what you put out into the universe will come back to you. I’ve tried it, and it’s worked for me.
The benefits of sleep go way beyond banishing your dark circles. Sleep habits are an essential part of your lifestyle as a whole. Your best self is there–it might just be hidden underneath a sleep-deprived fog.
Why not start refining your habits tonight?
I’d love to hear about your secrets to successful sleep, so leave a comment below!
Last Updated on July 21, 2021
The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.
Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”
A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.
Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.
In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.
Table of Contents
From Creating Reminders to Building Habits
A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.
For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.
This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.
The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.
That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.
Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!
The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.
Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.
But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?
The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.
The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders
A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.
For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.
But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)
If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.
For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself) can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.
These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.
For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.
How to Make a Reminder Works for You
Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.
Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.
Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.
My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.
Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.
I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.
More on Building Habits
- 16 Everyday Habits of Highly Productive People
- How Long Does It Take to Break a Habit? Science Will Tell You
- How to Break Bad Habits: I Broke 3 Bad Habits in Less Than 2 Months
- How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop
Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com
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