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“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.

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?

Tambako the Jaguar

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.

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:

1. Meditate.

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.

3.  Exercise.

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 Sleepy time 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. think of what you could accomplish if you woke up at 5:30 each day; clean, read, write, relax.  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?

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.

These tips might not fit into everyone’s lifestyle, but there is always a way to refine your current schedule and create time for more sleep and a proper sleep routine.

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?

This article was originally published on life hack.

Featured photo credit:  Tambako the Jaguar

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