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Habits

10 Things to Do Before You Go to Bed

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Things to Do Before You Go to Bed

If you’re like most people, you probably go straight to bed after dinner or binge watch your favorite television show till you pass out. But, there are consequences to every action you take and it’s time to think about how to use the evening time more constructively.

Here are the 10 things to do before you go to bed to enjoy a deeper, more restful sleep.

1. Take a hot shower

Who doesn’t like the feeling of warm soothing water on their skin? Especially, after a long rough day, a hot shower can help release accumulated stress in your body and mind.

But according to recent studies, taking a hot shower before you go to bed has much more benefits than just making you feel good. A study done on two teams of young football players concluded that a hot shower before going to bed can improve the sleep onset latency period.

Sleep onset latency is the time it takes for you to go from being awake to falling completely asleep. In this study, one of the teams were made to take a hot shower before bed and others just followed their regular routine. They concluded that the players who took the hot shower fell asleep faster and had a good REM sleep.

2. Read fiction

Things to Do Before You Go to Bed

Genres like self-help or management can feel a bit heavy to read before you go to bed. Simply stated, they can make you think deeply about your present and future life. And, this is the last thing you need before going to sleep.

Here’s a better solution: Read books that make you feel present in the moment. The whole point of reading before you go to bed is to ease tension and beat stress in 10-15 minutes. So take your mind off your day to day life by diving into a fairy tale or a romantic story and wake up refreshed in the morning.

3. Have a cup of caffeine-free green tea

Green tea consists of an anti-stress relieving amino acid called theanine. It is the main component in green tea that makes us feel good and bring feelings of well being after drinking a hot cup of it.

According to a study done in a university in Japan, caffeine-free green tea can not only make us feel good but can also help us enjoy a deeper, more restful sleep.

4. Light exercise

Due to stereotypes, a lot of people avoid exercising at night time. They think it will hinder their sleep by making them more active and lively. But nothing could be further from the truth as recent research says the complete opposite of it.

According to the Center of Studies in Psychobiology and Exercise, Brazil, light exercising before improves sleep patterns in good sleepers who are non-athletes. It didn’t seem to hinder the subject’s sleep or comply with any stereotypes people had prior to this study.

5. Plan for the next day

Things to Do Before You Go to Bed

Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution; this gives you a 1,000 percent Return on Energy!”

– Brian Tracy

Knowing what you have to do the next day makes you more focused and keeps you more relaxed. You don’t have to write a detailed plan for the next day before you go to bed, but making a bullet list of urgent tasks can help you to stay ahead to everyone else.

It’s better to wake up with a short purpose in mind than to spend precious morning time thinking and recollecting where you left off yesterday.

6. Spend quality time with loved ones

Most people spend their entire day working and engaging in other recreational activities. We rarely get time to check on our family members and talk to them about how their day went.

A recent survey conducted by visitanaheim suggests that American families spend just 37 minutes of quality time together per day during the week.

So don’t forget to allocate at least a couple of hours to your family members who need your attention and care more than anyone else.

7. Listen to ASMR

Things to Do Before You Go to Bed

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) videos are one of the most viewed categories on YouTube. Audiences get a tingling sensation in the crown of the head by audio-visual triggers such as whispering, tapping, and hand movements displayed on the screen by their favorite ASMR artist aka ASMRist.

Most people fall asleep very quickly while listening to these relaxing sounds. There are various categories of ASMR, the sleep and relaxation category is best suited to watch before you go to bed.

8. Make sure the room is dark and cozy

The environment is a major factor when it comes to a good night’s sleep. It influences our feelings and reactions and can have a great effect on our sleeping patterns.

Most people tend to automatically feel sleepy in a dark and cozy ambiance. So, make sure the windows are properly sealed and there is no light seeping through windows or coming over the top of curtains.

For people working night shifts, a sleeping eye mask can be a lifesaver. Coupled with a comfortable pair of earplugs it can help you create an ideal environment for sleeping even during daytime.

9. Meditate

Meditation is an ancient method developed by numerous spiritual teachers from the Eastern world. At present, it is widespread and popular in western countries as a way to relieve stress and tension.

A 15-minute mindfulness session just before you go to bed can help clear your mind and prepare you for a deep uninterrupted sleep. Different types of meditation techniques like mindfulness, transcendental, focusing on a particular object etc can help you in different ways.

Mindfulness meditation is known to promote a healthy sleep cycle. So, find a calm and comfortable place in your room and practice meditation daily before you go to bed. I meditate twice daily, once right after waking up in the morning and once before going to bed. I used the Headspace app for all my meditations.

10. Listen to affirmations

Affirmations are positive statements made in present tense either in written or consumed in audio format. \ Simply stated, an affirmation isthe repetition of a desired scenario several times in our minds to become more aligned and aware of it in order to manifest it in real life.

Writing them down on a piece of paper may seem like a lot of work but it is more effective than just listening to them. However, listening to the audio format just before you go to bed can be relaxing and rejuvenating. I read my affirmations right after I do my morning meditation.

Most successful people spend at least one-hour reading books. They sleep better after reading because now they have a better understanding of the events that took place on the same day. Reading in the evening also keeps their mind rational and organized the next day.

However, due to numerous reasons, some of us can’t manage to slip in this one hour in our existing schedule. This precious time before you go to bed can be used for such self-improvement yet relaxing practices.

References-

1. “A shower before bedtime may improve the sleep onset latency … – NCBI.” Accessed March 23, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28691581.
2. “Sleep onset latency – Wikipedia.” Accessed March 23, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_onset_latency.
3. “Reduced Stress and Improved Sleep Quality Caused by … – NCBI – NIH.” Accessed March 23, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5537891/.
4. “Physical exercise performed before bedtime improves the … – NCBI – NIH.” Accessed March 23, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22092095.
5. “American Families Spend Just 37 Minutes Of Quality Time Together ….” Accessed March 23, 2019. https://www.studyfinds.org/american-families-spend-37-minutes-quality-time/.
6. “Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) – NCBI – NIH.” Accessed March 23, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6010208/.

Habits

Why Too Many Self Help Books are Bad for You

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Self Help

Since you’re reading this article on this blog, you probably have a keen interest in self-betterment. You’re the kind of person who has a constant hunger to grow, develop personality and achieve great things. You probably have a full shelf of self-help books at home, and reach for a new one in airport book stores. 

Let’s take a moment to congratulate yourself on this. Not many people, definitely not the vast majority of people are genuinely interested in self-growth. However, like any good thing in life, there is a flip-side to immersing yourself in self-help content. It can severely impact the way you see yourself, and the world around you; sometimes for the worse.

The Heroes

It’s fairly common to read a self-help book and start valorising the writer. The requisite to write a self-help book or a how-to guide is often being successful first so that you then have the ‘right’ to preach to other people. That’s why many “successful people” write memoirs or how-to guides to spill their secrets and let others know how they made it. 

A byproduct of this is the audience begins to automatically consume everything that the writer tells them as the gospel truth. We don’t doubt the credibility of someone who’s made it big. We don’t ask for much scientific backing when these successful persons tell us their life story: one anecdote is enough. 

Of course, in any field of scientific research, a single anecdote is never considered to be scientific evidence alone. This is simply because one person can never be an unbiased narrator of their own experiences. We can’t weigh their words against those of others; verify their methods with a control group. 

This is not to suggest that all writers of self-help books are getting away with lying or false information just because no one’s cross-checking (although that could be the occasional case). 

The few people who are successful in their fields and occupy positions in the public sphere undoubtedly have more experience than you and me. However, even they cannot hundred per cent explain the reasons for their success. It is generally a number of factors that act together, right connections, right timing, right pre-dispositions combined with the person’s efforts that bring them success. 

For example, if a successful entrepreneur writes about how he built his own business empire, he could give you 10 methods, or tips and tricks that he followed to stay motivated and increase his productivity. What he cannot guarantee is that this will work for everyone. He also cannot guarantee that those 10 exact methods are what caused his success.

There are many self-help books that are abundant with real-life examples, scientific studies, and academic research. These are also, coincidentally the type of books where the author relies less on his own experience as the source of his advice. These are not just more useful books to read, they also are much more informative and entertaining than their monologue counterparts. 

Survivorship Bias

One of the other side effects of surrounding yourself with lots of self-help content is that you become prey to the survivorship bias. This means that you continually consume stories and experiences of many people that have succeeded. Once we start following ‘successes’, we begin to see them everywhere. 

Social media has a hand to play in this as well. Popular social media platforms have algorithms that create echo-chambers where you only see the kind of content that you like. So if you’re only reading about positive and uplifting self-betterment content, chances are you never come across stories about failures. 

This can make you feel that there is an enormous amount of people that are succeeding and doing what you want to do. The spotlight is on the 1%, while ignoring the other 99% in the shadow. 

You might wonder why this is a problem. Isn’t focusing on the positive success stories making it more likely that you will also be successful yourself?

Surprisingly, it’s not. It can be the real reason why it’s so hard to succeed, because you can follow all the hacks, tips and tricks, and methods that you read in self-help books and still have unique challenges to overcome. This is because you’re ignoring the data from the vast masses of people that tried the very same methods and failed. 

You must be thinking: well, I should be focusing on failure stories? That’s depressing!

No, you don’t! For one, they are difficult to find. Simply knowing the information about how often someone succeeds to the level that you want to can be your tool. 

For example, if you want to become a best-selling author, you should know that simply getting published has a 1% success rate while a best-selling author is probably closer to 0.001%.

This is not to discourage you from chasing your dreams, but only to help you bring a dose of reality into your pursuit of success. 

Final Words

Knowing that the advice you read in a self-help book is from a person part of the 1% rather than the 99% can stop you from being frustrated. Many people follow the methods and techniques suggested in these books and then expect instant success. 

So if you’re waking up at 5 AM for three months in a row now, and wondering why you’re not a millionaire yet: the story was never that simple! 

Congratulations to your brand new good habit, and pursuit of self-betterment, but know that there is a long way to go before we discover a complete formula for success

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Habits

The Science Behind Forming Habits that Last

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If you’ve ever tried to form a habit, someone’s probably given you the advice that it takes only 21 days to do so. 

The 21-day rule claims that one must only perform an activity every day, for 21 days, until it automatically becomes a habit and the person no longer has to put in the effort to do the activity.

And, if you’ve ever tried to test out this rule: you likely found that it doesn’t really work. 

Unfortunately, there are many more factors that come into play when considering why some habit formation happens in less time than others. 

I was told by a school teacher that it takes 21 days to form a habit and 90 days for it to become a lifestyle. During the lockdown, I tried to make it a practice to meditate every day for 10 minutes to meditate. I eagerly awaited the 21-day mark, expecting some kind of magical transformation to take place as soon as I awoke. 

There was nothing different about the 21st day (or the 3 months after that), and I didn’t experience any time-bound results. 

Where the 21-Day Rule Comes from

Interestingly, the 21-Day Rule isn’t so much a rule as it’s a misinterpreted observation. A plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz wrote a well-acclaimed book about human behavior. 

In his career, he noticed that it always took a minimum of 21 days for one of his patients to mentally adjust to the physical change in their body. He proposed that any sort of mental image adjustment requires a minimum of 21 days from this data. 

Now while this could be useful data for mental image adjustments, habit formation encompasses many more factors than that. 

Here are scientifically-backed factors that influence how strong your newly formed habit is and how long it will last.

How Big or Small it is

If your habit is something challenging to do, it will take a lot of willpower for you to drastically change your everyday routine to accommodate it. 

For example, if you work a 10hour shift and still want to workout at the gym for an hour a day, knowing it sacrifices your recreation time: chances are that this habit will be really difficult to form and sustain.

A small habit like making your bed, washing the dishes before you go to bed at night, or even self-affirmations in the morning: are all habits that can fit into a schedule without you having to sacrifice much. 

Starting with small habits makes it easier since you don’t need a lot of motivation to perform them. 

How Important the Habit is to your Self Image

Some habits we’re trying to form are more important to us than others. If you strongly believe that this habit will help you become the person you’re destined to be, you’re going to attach more value to carrying it out every day!

How Many Days you Skip

We’re often under the impression that all your progress will come crashing down if you skip a day. Thankfully, it’s been proven that even if you miss a day, there are no long-term effects on the habit formation itself. But it’s recommended that you never skip more than one day at a time.

How You Remind Yourself

When reminding yourself to perform the activity you’re trying to convert to a habit, it’s critical to piggyback off other existing habits. That means if you already have a habit of doing yoga and want to get into a habit of meditating, make sure that you meditate right after your yoga practice. One habit helps the other.

How Sustainable Your Pace is

If you’re working on forming a habit that needs to be built up over time, you need to make sure this pace is feasible for your current lifestyle. You know your life best, and if you know you’re going to have a significant life event and get busier soon, don’t have unrealistic expectations from your new habit!

Good luck!

40% of our day-to-day life is made out of habits. Forming a new habit can very realistically transform your entire life. I’m glad you’re on this journey to maximize your potential, and I’m sure you can do it!

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Habits

How Reading can impact your Day to Day Life?

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book read

Reading is a healthy habit, which, if practiced daily, can change your entire life around. Do you want to know why? Through Reading, one can not only gain knowledge but also stay acquainted with the outside as well as the inside world. The best thing about reading daily is to have an isolated place for yourself in your mind, where you can run off to. Most people don’t have the patience or intention to read, and that too, daily. Though this is a habit that takes time to settle in but trust me, once it does, you would never regret it. So, here is a list of reasons why you should read daily?

Why should you read daily?

  • To gain knowledge

Once you start reading daily, and by Reading, it can be anything – you can read few pages of a novel, or a magazine, or newspaper, or even poetry – you would notice within weeks how much your knowledge regarding the outer world has improved. Through Reading, one can have clear information regarding the current affairs, and hence, stay updated.

  • To improve your vocabulary

Through Reading, you can definitely learn new words and hence, improve your vocabulary. Most people make it a habit to learn a new word from the dictionary every day, but if you read daily, you are bound to get new words and make a list of them on a notebook with their meanings, which is definitely going to be helpful for you.

  • To have a make-believe world

The most beautiful consequence of Reading is having one’s own imaginary world, where one can live a life full of magic. This is the extraordinary superpower one acquires while reading. In this busy daily life of ours, we all look for a secluded place where we can feel the essence of peace. Reading can fly you off to the imaginary land of sunflowers, daisies, and cats who can indeed talk.

  • To become more attentive

Most people lack patience nowadays. Being impatient and restless has become a severe problem in today’s world. Here, Reading can help you calm your mind and improve your observation skills. It works like meditation. In no time, you would find your mind focusing on details and becoming more attentive to events, which used to go unnoticed.

  • To reduce stress

Reading is similar to meditation, and hence, it definitely helps to reduce your stress. Books always have a calming effect on one’s mind. It takes you away from daily problems and stressful situations and helps your mind to gain stability. Not only it helps in reducing stress, but it also helps to decrease the anxiety levels of a person. 

Everyone should make reading a daily habit. One should switch off the mobile phones, turn off the television and take some time out to read. It works wonders on one’s day-to-day life and changes one person’s entire personality. Though it can be hard at first, with time, you would cherish the moments alone, reading in a corner while your mind is flying off to Narnia.

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