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
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
“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
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.
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.
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/.
5 Reasons Why You Need to Start Journaling Immediately
Journaling and writing have been proven to be extremely beneficial to your mental health. It is relaxing and therapeutic. Some people use one journal to jot down everything, and some have different journals dedicated to different areas of their lives. There’s no one way to go about it. The only thing that matters is that you write your thoughts down.
It is a great way to reflect on your day, and these reflections later help you to reflect on your life. You learn a lot and realize what changes you need to make in order to lead a healthy and meaningful life, both mentally and physically. It also tells you how to go about your goals and what exactly is stopping you from achieving them.
There are so many ways to journal. You can follow the traditional pen and paper route. It helps many people feel more connected to their thoughts. If writing is not your thing or you are better with a keyboard, then make digital entries. You can type entries on your notes in your phone or start a blog to log in your daily life. Keeping it public or private, writing in a book or computer, journaling or bullet journaling, it’s all your choice really.
I mostly journal in Day One for Mac and iOS. It’s a wonderful app and worth every penny. Here is a snapshot of what my Day One looks like.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t write daily. Write as much as you can and as many days as you can remember to. Slowly it will become a habit. Here are some reasons why journaling can be beneficial for you.
1. Journaling relieves stress
When you write things down, what you are essentially doing is transferring the information from your brain to a physical manifestation. This works the same as freeing up space in your memory card by transferring data to your computer. When there is free space, functioning becomes easier. May it be artificial intelligence or human intelligence, information overload can crash the system.
One of the reasons we feel stressed out is because there is a lot going on in our minds. With journaling, you get an opportunity to write down everything that is bothering you, everything that is distracting you, or anything that just doesn’t need to be taking up space right now. This way, you get to pour everything out and just breathe. This then allows you to look at what has been filling your mind in an objective manner.
2. Journaling helps achieve goals
You don’t have to have a clear idea of all that you want to achieve. Sometimes you don’t want to talk about your goals and dreams with anyone, and that is okay. By journaling, you can talk to yourself about them. Write down all that you want to achieve and why you want those things.
It doesn’t have to be specific, and you do not have to have a strategy. It might not even make sense currently. But, just pen it down. It later allows you to work on a plan to achieve those goals and work on the strategy based on what you have written. It is said that written goals are most likely to come true. This way, you put the idea out in the world, and it is not just a thought fragment in your mind.
3. Journaling helps reduce anxiety
When you want to achieve a lot or even when you are working on achieving them, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and agitated. Feeling anxious in your daily life becomes a routine. Every thought brings anxiety, and it doesn’t matter if it is the worry that accompanies the uncertainty of the future or a simple thing as what to wear.
When you start writing, it gives you an outlet to express yourself. It gives you a way to get rid of those thoughts. You put it on the paper and don’t allow those thoughts to fester in your mind and become bigger than they were and cause you anxiety.
4. Journaling helps you learn more about yourself
When you write every day, you are recording your daily life. When you go over it, it gives you an idea about how you react to a certain situation, what triggers your negative emotions. How you react to external stimuli is an interesting thing that you will find in your own words.
This helps you pinpoint what the problem is, it helps you learn and grow. It sort of gives you a third person’s view over yourself and your reactions to different things. The more you know and understand yourself, the easier it becomes to grow.
5. Journaling is a private escape
If you are someone who doesn’t like sharing your goals or feelings with other people, then this is the best thing you can do. It helps you pour everything out without the fear of being judged. People worry a lot about how people look at them or if what they are sharing will make people judge them, and this stops many from sharing.
Sharing is healthy. If not with others, do it with yourself. Journals are usually for your eyes only. Unless you allow someone to read your journal, they should not be able to. This gives you a safe haven to share your deepest thoughts and helps you and your mind relax.
Journaling might not be everyone’s thing. You might believe that you aren’t good at writing. The main thing to remember is that you are doing this for yourself and not for others. It doesn’t matter if you are good at writing or not. You can literally write your thoughts down as bullet points, and it still counts. Give it a shot; you never know how it ends up being beneficial to you.
5 Tips to Get Out of Bed Early in the Morning
Getting up early is something that everyone aims at, but not everyone is able to do. I see so many posts about how waking up early can change your life and why it’s good for you in the long run, so I wrote one myself, “Why waking up early can help you achieve success.” In that article, I talked about why waking up early was important and what actually made it an integral aspect when it came to achieving success. I touched a bit on how to get up early in the end, but today, I am going to talk about it in detail. Let’s get ready to wake up early and take on the world.
1. Make small changes
“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
Do not make drastic changes! This is where most people go wrong. If you have been waking up at 8 AM all your life, you can’t suddenly start waking up at 5. Your body needs time to adjust to a new schedule. Making drastic changes sets you up for failure even before you start. Taking small steps towards your goal is always a smart idea.
If your goal is to wake up at 5 am, then start by evaluating how early can you wake up without messing up your body clock. Start out by pushing the waking hour back by half an hour. Set up your alarm for 7:30 am instead of 8 am. Do this for a week or so and then gradually set it to 7 am and so on.
If even an hour is a big change, start with 15-minute increments. You have to slowly ease yourself into the new routine. Let your body clock sync with nature. Some people suggest going camping for a week without any electronics to let your body clock naturally sync with nature.
2. Sleep early
“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”
Waking up early won’t make sense if you aren’t getting enough sleep. If you sleep at the same time and start waking up early, you are soon going to be tired enough to be sleepy all day. Saying waking up early isn’t doing anything for you would be a stupid thing in that case, isn’t it?
The goal here is to have a well-rested body. You need to get a full night’s sleep if you want to be productive when you wake up. Dragging a sleepy body through the day isn’t exactly a boss move we are trying to make here.
One of the things that prevent people from going to bed early is scrolling through social media. People get into bed on time but don’t go to sleep well into the night. FOMO (Fear of missing out) keeps many people awake. It is suggested to not use social media or any sort of screen before going to bed. You can instead spend some time planning for the next day and then directly go to bed. It will help you fall asleep quicker than if you use your phone just before bed.
3. Keep your alarm out of your reach
Snoozing is instinctive in the beginning. Getting out of bed isn’t exactly an inviting prospect when you have been in the dreamland. This is why you need to keep the alarm out of your reach. Having to get up to shut the alarm down will wake you up quicker than if it was right next to you.
If you still go back to bed, then set 3-4 alarms at intervals of 10 minutes. How many times are you going to get up to turn the alarm off and then get back in bed? After a point, you are going to be frustrated. So, don’t overdo it because we don’t want to wake up with a foul mood.
Keep your alarm at a distance that needs you to walk at least 10 steps so that when you get up to shut the alarm, you might as well wake up instead of walking back to your bed.
4. Don’t go back to bed
This ties in with keeping your alarm far from you. If you don’t have that luxury, or your phone is your alarm that is always by your side, then you need to stop rationalizing shutting your eyes for 5 more minutes.
When we want to sleep more, we start giving ourselves reasons as to why it is okay to go back to sleep for a little while. This is what stops us from getting up at the time decided. 5 minutes become 10 then 10 becomes 15, and you are late just like that.
Do not listen to any reason that your brain tries to give you. Say NO! and get up immediately. You have to make a quick decision to get out of bed in the start, and then it just becomes routine for your mind.
5. Meditate before going to bed
If you have a really chaotic mind and find it difficult to fall asleep, then meditating is the way to go. Meditating for just 10 minutes before going to bed can be beneficial. Meditation helps you calm your mind and helps you breathe and relax.
When your mind is at ease, it is easier to fall asleep. I usually suggest meditating after getting up to start your day on a positive note. You can do it both the times to give yourself time to just breathe! Just breathing and not doing anything else is a solution to a lot of mental problems. Finding peace of mind is one of the things many people struggle with. Thus, meditating or doing simple breathing exercises before going to bed is advised.
“It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom”
Waking up early is to help you be productive in your life and also start your day on a positive note. While you are on the path, stop for a few minutes and appreciate the serenity of the early morning. Take a moment to watch the sunrise or appreciate the silence of the dawn or listen to the birds’ chirp. Enjoy your coffee or tea or lemon water in the balcony or by your window. This helps you see the world in a positive light and helps you start your day right!
5 Scientifically Proven Habits To Become Smarter
“Half of being smart is knowing what you are dumb about.”
By being a smart person, you can create more time in your schedule for the things that matter. This post gives you a whole new perspective on habits that you can incorporate to become a smarter and wiser person.
There are a lot of skilled people out there, but they never get a chance to use their talents. This is because of the old negative thinking patterns that people carry which come in their way almost every time they try something new. If this sounds like you, read this article word for word.
A lot of people think being smart means having more knowledge or being more resourceful. These things are important. But you also need to consider other things in your life that are weighing you down. Simply stated, being smart also means removing unnecessary habits and people from your life and replacing them with better ones.
Following are 5 scientifically proven habits to become smarter.
1. Meditate everyday
Meditation is one of those self-development habits that everyone raves about. It has helped a lot of people become more relaxed and have a positive approach to life. But it also makes you smarter. Regular practice of meditation can change your brain chemistry and make you more rational and logical.
Meditation makes you smarter by increasing the production of grey matter in your brain. And this happens just after 8 weeks of doing it regularly. It basically increases the grey matter density in the areas responsible for making you smarter. Moreover, it also increases blood flow in anterior cingulate cortex and insula. These regions induce a positive mood and feelings of happiness.
So, there is plenty of research proving meditation to be instrumental in personal growth and development. It is one of the most important habits to become smarter.
There are many different types of meditation that can help you achieve your goal of becoming smarter and wiser. You can choose any one that suits you the best. All types have their own unique benefits. For instance, some people might find mindfulness meditation difficult to perform. It requires you to sit in one place without fidgeting or looking elsewhere. So, for them, other types like pranic breathing or transcendental meditation can be more fruitful.
Socializing can help you become a smart person. You don’t have to go to a high-end nightclub to meet people or approach random strangers on the street. Just having a few good friends who care for you is enough. Research suggests that social people are more likely to succeed in life. In this study, children who went to a mainstream school succeeded in life as opposed to who attended a school with fewer students.
You probably know that socializing helps with mental disorders like depression and anxiety. It makes you feel warm and less needy. But it also strengthens your memory. You become better at things like math, computer science, logic, etc. This is why the popular kids at schools are also better at studies and other recreational activities like sports and arts.
If you are wondering how to make friends, if you don’t have any or if you are an introvert, don’t worry. There are plenty of introverts out there who are in the same situation as you are and are facing the same troubles. You can connect with people by sharing what bothers you and how you deal with your problems as an introvert. Or you could ask people about how they socialize and make friends. This can be a good conversation starter.
3. Read biographies
Successful people love to read biographies of other successful people. They like to connect with and understand other people. It gives them insight into others’ life so they can learn vital lessons that they have to teach. Also, it inspires them to be more successful like them.
Reading a successful person’s biography allows you to get inside their head and look at the world the way they do. It is the only way you can deeply learn about someone’s life. You might never get a chance to meet them or spend quality time with them, so, why not read about what they have to say about their life.
Moreover, becoming smarter is not just being clever or making better decisions. It also means being more aware of yourself and others around you. You can only empathize with others when you will actually know how they are feeling or what they are going through. Reading biographies allow you to do that. And this is why it is one of the best habits to become smarter.
4. Physical exercise
We all know that physical exercise burns body fat and makes you stronger and leaner. But can it make you smarter? Recent research by Cajal Institute, Madrid, Spain suggests that exercise can make you smarter, happier and increase the production of neurons in your brain. It is scientifically proven to make your mind strong and is definitely one of the best habits to become smarter.
Hippocampus is a major component of the brains in humans and other vertebrates that is responsible for reproducing neurons in the brain. The amount of physical exercise you do decides how much neurons are going to be produced. So, it directly influences the hippocampus. This is a very important point to keep in mind. It can inspire you to work harder in the gym.
Another study says that exercise increases the length of telomeres. Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA. The length of a telomere is directly proportional to how long a person will live. Long telomeres also suggest how active the person is. People with short telomeres are found to be passive in nature.
5. Keep a journal
“People who keep journals have life twice.”
The basic idea behind keeping a journal is to jot down your thoughts without filtering them. A personal journal is not to be shared with anyone and is only meant to keep track of the activities in your life. Journaling makes you smarter if you do it consistently for a few months. Some people like to write only when they feel the need to do so, but a daily journaling habit arms you with vital insights into your life.
Also, it’s difficult to retain everything that happens in your life. Both good and bad. By journaling every day, you can jot down everything systematically so that when needed you can just open the relevant page and find the required information.
Moreover, you also learn to express yourself freely. In a journal, you can write about things that you otherwise won’t talk about with anyone. This gets your thoughts streamlined, as you don’t give a second thought before writing anything. This habit gets translated into real life. As a result, you become bold and confident.
Like everything else, going from average to smart will take time as well. It’s a journey, not a destination. Also, it is very easy to complicate things after reading so many benefits and ways to become smarter. Keep in mind that successful people like Elon Musk or Warren Buffet believe in keeping things simple and easy. So, take your time and think about how you can incorporate these habits into your current life-structure.
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