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 March 25, 2020
How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)
Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.
However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.
Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.
Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.
Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.
In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.
Table of Contents
What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?
To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior. Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.
Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.
Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.
The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.
A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.
Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.
So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.
Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.
Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.
Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.
Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.
Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.
Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality. A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.
Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit. By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.
Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.
What Can You Do To Change a Habit?
Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.
Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:
1. Identify Your Habits
As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.
2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit
Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?
It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.
3. Apply Logic
You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.
Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.
4. Choose an Alternative
As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.
Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.
5. Remove Triggers
Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.
Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.
6. Visualize Change
Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.
For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.
7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking
Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.
Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.
Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!
Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.
More About Changing Habits
- 11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits
- How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop
- How to Find Your Keystone Habits to Change Your Life
Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com