Tag Archives: sleep

5 quick tips on getting enough sleep

Sleep debt adversely affects your health, limits your cognitive function, and results in fatigue, moodiness, impaired memory, and slowed reaction time. Sometimes sleep disorders and chronic stress can cause insomnia. Other times lack of sleep is self-created.  Either way, you won’t feel refreshed and ready for your day without sufficient sleep. 

Here are 5 quick tips on getting enough sleep:

1. Determine how much sleep you really need. The amount of sleep you need depends on various factors, including your age, genetics, and natural rhythm. The sleep duration recommendation by the National Sleep Foundation is 7 to 9 hours, on average, for adults between the ages of 26 and 64. But it’s better to know your individual needs. Pay attention to how the amount of sleep you get affects your wakefulness throughout the day. If you are generally cranky, feel like dozing off when driving, or zone out a lot during meetings, you could be sleep deprived. For a week, such as during a vacation, try waking up without an alarm. You will tend to rise when you’re fully rested.

2. Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed at a set time, ideally at 10 p.m. (according to sleep experts). Or if you know when you must wake up, set your bedtime based on how much sleep you need. Here’s the basic sleep formula:

  • The average sleep cycle is 90 minutes long
  • A typical night of sleep includes 5 full sleep cycles
  • 90 x 5 = 450 minutes, or 7.5 hours
  • From your wake time, work back 7.5 hours to find your bedtime

Let’s assume you need to be in the office at 8 a.m. It takes 2 hours to complete your morning routine and commute. If you set your wake time at 6 a.m. and count back 7.5 hours, your ideal bedtime is 10:30 p.m. This means you need to be in bed and ready for sleep at that time. Travel, deadlines, family emergencies and unexpected issues can interfere with your sleep schedule, but do what you can to protect it.

3. Do a brain dump. Stress, worry and anxiety make it hard to fall asleep. Try daily mindfulness or meditation to observe racing thoughts without getting hooked by them. Write down unfinished to-do’s and big ideas to keep them from swirling around in your head. Have a plan and set a date for when to tackle them, drop them altogether, or move them to your someday list.

4. Create an evening ritual or routine.  Eat a light dinner a few hours before your bedtime, so you’re not too full or too hungry when you go to sleep. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Start winding down 45 minutes to 1 hour before you go to sleep. Shut down your electronic devices and keep them away from your bed. If you habitually check your smartphone, nix the mobile alarm app for a zen alarm clock (Now & Zen recommended). Stay away from emails, social media, the Internet, TV, and any type of work during your winding down period. Do gentle yoga, listen to relaxing music, or read uplifting literature.  Turn off the lights, wear a sleep mask (Earth Therapeutics recommended), release tension, and notice your breath as you fall asleep.

5.  Make sleep a priority. In our pseudo-productive environment, it’s tempting to cut sleep short to get more stuff done or to move ahead on a project. But getting enough high-quality sleep is essential to managing your energy and doing focused work. Sleep is more important than food and exercise when it comes to your personal health and productivity. Consult a sleep specialist if you have a sleep disorder or need help developing deeper sleep. Use feng shui to make a sleep sanctuary for yourself.

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Photo by: Rachel

5 ways to recharge

5 ways to rechargeRound-the-clock productivity, extensive to-do lists, and overscheduled days can put you on the fast track to burnout. Fierce progress toward goals can be followed by your hitting the wall with a big thud.

Burnout often feels like depression, but it’s not the same. It cannot be managed with therapy or medication. Behavioral shifts are necessary to restore your energy and recharge your spark.

Burnout starts with highly driven, nonstop activity. Fueled by the desire for accomplishment, you override your body’s need for rest with caffeine, sugar, pure will-power, or stress hormones (e.g. adrenaline and cortisol).

But eventually, your body’s natural rhythm wins out. You begin to feel irritable, restless, and exhausted. With your physical and hormonal reserves depleted, you become more prone to stress-related illnesses. (Headaches, ulcers, insomnia, high blood pressure, and heart disease are among the many.)

Today, after several weeks of intense, perpetual activity, I had an overwhelming need to take it easy. I woke up at 10 a.m. with a splitting headache. Having a cold didn’t help either. I texted my friends, Kat and Steph, to say I wouldn’t make it to brunch. Then I went back to bed and slept some more.

When I woke up again at 1:30 p.m., my headache was gone and my cold symptoms had subsided. I had slept for a total of 13 hours. Many things I had planned to do didn’t get done. But that’s okay. I couldn’t have done them effectively when I lacked the energy.

Whether you’re dragging or you’re burned out, here are 5 ways to recharge:

Sleep. Getting enough shuteye is critical. While I would not recommend 13 hours of sleep daily, I needed that amount today. Sleep helped me deal with my headache and cold symptoms. It restored my energy so I felt well enough to write this blog post.

Research shows that most people need seven to eight hours of sleep to feel fully rested. When you’re burned out, you need more – perhaps up to ten hours plus frequent naps. Allow yourself to get the rest you need. Let go of the guilt. There’s a big difference between being lazy and being tired.

Shed your should-do list. If you put too much pressure on yourself to produce and create, you could wind up with mediocre work. Or you might just plod along with nothing to show for it.

Go with your instincts. Do only what you must do or want to do. Forget about what you think you should do.

Indulge in quiet time. Turn off the TV. Disconnect from the Internet. Shut down your smart phone.  Give your brain a rest from external stimuli and information overload.  Keep a notebook or an electronic device to jot down creative ideas or random thoughts that clutter your mind.

Take a walk around the lake, in the park or down the block. Be with nature. Embrace the space. Meditate and reflect. Notice your breath and slow it down. Practice savasana (pronounced “shah-VAHS-anna”).  

Engage in self-care.  Take in food that is loaded with nutrients, fiber and antioxidants. Eat your veggies and fruits. Drink pure water. Exercise for the sheer joy of it. Reconnect with your loved ones (family members and friends you likely neglected while you were busy striving for your goals).

Get in touch with your natural rhythm. Stress is inherent to leading a fully engaged life. But burnout is nature’s way of telling you that you’ve been pushing yourself too hard and too long.

Skip the latte (caffeine), Oreos (sugar) and other artificial stimulants. Get in touch with your natural rhythm. Tune in to the ebbs and flows. Neutralize intense creation and productivity with deliberate rest and renewal.

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Photo by: tjuel

Working hard doesn’t always work

Working hard is a good thing. It’s the opposite of being lazy. It signals a strong work ethic. It means you tough out challenges, stay the course, and get stuff done.

Well, sometimes that’s what working hard means.

Other times, working hard means you’re spinning your wheels, killing precious hours, and setting yourself up for a crash and burn.

If you want to break a sweat because it’s worthwhile and rewarding, go for it. A challenging and exciting project deserves your extra attention. A tough assignment with a fast-approaching deadline calls for long hours. To cross the finish line, you might need to dig deep, push yourself, and ignore the aches and pains along the way.

But too much hard work is unsustainable. It burns up your inner reserves, making you less productive and more irritable. When you’re tired, you have trouble focusing, interacting with others, and developing creative solutions. Working too hard can stop you from getting ahead.

Hard work also does not always lead to success. Innate ability, support systems, connections, timing, market forces, and serendipity come into play. If you treat every failure as a sign that you’re not working hard enough, you’re overdue for a wake-up call.

Being super busy, burning the midnight oil and skimping on rest ought to trigger big questions like: Are you working hard on the right things? Do your efforts really make a difference? Is the payoff worth the time you’re investing? Why are you working so hard? What are you trying to prove? Are you being taken advantage of? Is there an easier way to get the work done? Could you add more value elsewhere?

Because working hard doesn’t always work:

 1) Take regular breaks.  Instead of working more than a couple hours at a time, get up from your desk. Stretch or take a walk. Don’t skip lunch. Use your vacation days, even if this involves just kicking back at home.

 2) Get enough sleep.  Research shows that most of us need 7 to 8 hours to feel fully renewed. If you’re getting less, tweak your routine. Set an earlier bedtime or a later wakeup time. Shut down all technology, including your computer, TV, and smart phone, 30 minutes before you want to fall asleep.

3) Maximize the value of your efforts, not the hours you spend on a task.  Make your work count. Create significant impact. Short bursts of high productivity beat long hours of minimum productivity.

4) Be more purposeful and less reactionary in the way you work. Have you ever watched a tennis match? The players who win usually have killer serves and well-placed shots. The players who lose tend to be more defensive, frantically running up and down the court. It’s hard to respond to every single ball that comes your way. Instead, focus on where you serve your shots and place your returns.

Work hard when you want to and when you must. But don’t let it be your default mode because it doesn’t always work.

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Photo by: mag3737, Tom Magliery