Sleep Faster and Better: Top 5 Tips for Get a Restful Night’s Sleep

Hello, sleepyhead! What’s keeping you awake? A newborn baby, too much coffee, a high-profile impending presentation, a thousand emotions bottled up inside of you? Or perhaps, you lay awake reflecting on the past, or worrying about the future. No matter what your reason is, we need to address it. Because you know, sleep deprivation is not only a hindrance to your daily productivity but it can also affect your health and wellness in an adverse manner. Studies reveal that not getting enough sleep over an extended period of time can lead to serious health issues, including high blood pressure and heart attack.

5 Tips to Sleep Faster and Better

Are you one of those people who have trouble sleeping and then end up feeling jaded during the day time? Here are my top 5 tips to sleep faster and better.

So, what should you do? I have listed five tips you should try for faster and better sleep.

Add Physical Exercise to Your Daily Routine

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But you already knew that, did you not, my dear reader? Physical exercise tires you out thereby increasing your body’s need to rest. If you have not done anything even moderately physical during the day, your body is left with unspent energy, which in turn does not allow for a deep sleep. But, remember to leave at least a two-hour gap between the end of your exercise session and the start of your bedtime ritual. Why? Because physical exercise gets your blood flowing and energizes you–something you want to avoid if you want to get a better quality of sleep.

Avoid Daytime Naps

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All of us have different sleep requirements. While some of us can function well with just five or six hours of sleep, some others (*cough*) may find even 10 hours not enough. But hey, you know, we can not spend all our life sleeping. We need to get out of the bed, no matter how tired we feel, and get on with the day. If you are not well-rested, then the exhaustion will deter you from completing necessary tasks during the day. And we all know the result of unfinished tasks piling up.

Now, to combat this exhaustion from sleep depravity, some of us take daytime naps. But hear me out. Unless you are a sleep-deprived parent of a newborn, an infant or a toddler, or an elderly or sick person, you should avoid daytime naps. Instead, adjust your nighttime sleep routine.

Now, I know there are many gurus who advise taking daytime naps, but remember, those naps are called power naps and typically last between 15 to 20 minutes. So, if you must, please go ahead and grab a short nap during the daytime. But remember the time limit of power naps to ensure you are not turning your nap into a deep sleep. This is because when you take long naps during the day, it reduces your sleep requirements at night, and you are back to square one.

Develop a Healthy Bedtime Routine

So, let’s assume you exercised and avoided the day nap successfully. You now need to prepare for the night time sleep. Develop a routine comprising of the following three habits to ensure you can fall asleep easily.

Limit Alcohol and/or Caffeine Intake

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This isn’t rocket science, my friend! There’s a reason why many of us start our day with coffee. It stimulates the brain in a way that takes away the feeling of tiredness. I won’t get into the science behind this, but if you are interested, you can read about it here. So, coming back to coffee, you need to limit your daily caffeine intake (caffeine also includes aerated drinks) to no more than 2-3 cups, and definitely not within 6 hours of your scheduled sleep time. So, for example, if you go to bed at 10 PM, make sure you consume your last cup of coffee no later than 4 PM.

Monitor Your Food Intake

While you may already ensure not going to bed while you are still hungry, you need to take care of the opposite end of the spectrum too–do not go to bed stuffed. Have you noticed how uncomfortable you get when you overeat? Yeah, you will neither be able to do chores nor sleep. What good is that? So make sure you are eating healthy but also monitor your portion sizes. While you are at it, cut out those snacks upon which your day is built. Reduce your salt, sugar, and processed food intake. Hydrate yourself by getting enough fluids in your body. Here’s a post I wrote to help you stay hydrated.

Practice Digital Shutdown

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The digital world is as addictive as coffee. It is also a necessary inconvenience. It keeps us connected to the rest of the world and apprises us of the world happenings. But it also limits human relationships within the confines of the digital world. So, let’s all agree it is necessary for us to engage with the digital platforms. But for the sake of your health and wellness, limit your usage, especially late evenings. Here’s why: we all know the lights emitted from the gadgets interferes with your sleep cycle. That’s why manufacturers are designing their phones and websites to function on a “night mode” but I am not sure how effective that is. Additionally, let’s assume the “night mode” works and you settle into your bed and switch on your phone. Remember this: digital platforms are created in a way that will keep you bouncing from one event to another, never really allowing you to switch off. Suppose you decided to catch up on the current affairs of the country at bedtime. You read one article, and then you find the “You may also like…” bait. Then, you may want to check your email one last time. Uh oh, an important email from that important client. Your response can wait until tomorrow, but since you are anyway awake, why not reply now. Next, let’s check Facebook, Twitter, and oh yes, Snapchat and YouTube. Before you know, you would be 1.5 hours past your scheduled bedtime. So do yourself a favor and disengage from all gadgets at least 1 hour before your bedtime. Allow your body to wind down.

Prepare for the Next Day

Before you head for the bed, you need to prepare for the next day in whatever little ways you can. If it means writing down your To Do list for the next day or packing the lunch bag, just do it. It will be one less thing to worry about in bed and the next morning. Developing this habit not only help you sleep better at night, but also save you a lot of time when you wake up the next morning.

Write Down Your Thoughts

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How often have you found yourself unable to fall asleep because your mind is racing, worrying about an impending presentation the next day? Grab a pen and paper and write down what’s causing you to toss and turn. What are you thinking? What are you worried about? Writing it down is proven to mimic the act of sharing worries with a friend. It’s a great way to release the bottled up emotions that are a cause for your sleeplessness. Writing it down will also allow you to “see your thoughts” and help you analyze them.

So, there you have it. My top 5 ways to help you sleep faster and better. But you know what, there is another added benefit: sleeping faster and better will make it easier for you to become a morning person. Now that’s what I call a win-win situation.

Let me know in the comments your tips to sleep faster and better.

Until next time,

Sleep well.

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Water: The Life-changing Magic of Drinking Up!

Back in school, we all learned that our planet comprises 70% water (though with the whole global warming threat, I wonder what the percentage shift will be 10 years from now). It’s a sweet irony that the inhabitants of this wonderful blue planet–humans–are also made up of primarily water.

Water is not only the main constituent of cells and tissues in our bodies, it is also present in various life organs, such as the brain, the heart, the lungs, and the kidneys. Water is what helps flush out the toxins from your body; it is what helps keep your brain ticking.

Why Drink Water?

Don’t you think water must be somewhat of a magic potion? Well, guess what–it is! Studies have established the benefits of hydrating our bodies on a regular basis. To understand these benefits, let us first take a look at the consequences of not consuming enough water. Here are just five of them:

  • Constipation: Water hydrates and lubricates the life organs of the human body. It also helps move the food from your stomach to the large intestine (colon). When the body does not contain enough water, it starts to dehydrate these organs. When the body is dehydrated, these organs go into survival mode and start absorbing whatever water they can find. The colon soaks up all the water that is made available to it while leaving the food waste (stool) dry and makes it difficult to pass. So, please drink plenty of water to relieve at least some of your life’s “hardships” 😉
    Note: It is imperative to note though that water alone cannot relieve constipation; equally important is the intake of dietary fiber and adequate physical exercise.
  • Toxin Build-up: Related to the aforementioned consequence is the build-up of toxins in your body due to dehydration. When bodily waste is not moving in an appropriate and timely manner in and out of the organs, toxins start to accumulate. In the absence of enough water, the kidney is unable to filter the toxins from your blood and urine. Over time, this compromises your immune system and affects your health adversely. We don’t want that, do we now?
  • Headaches: Certain headaches (including hangovers) are a result of dehydration. As with every other life organ, the brain is also made primarily of water and requires water to function properly. When your body is dehydrated, the brain shrinks, triggering off the neurotransmitters signaling pain. In addition, dehydration also lowers your blood volume. As a result, your brain receives less-than-optimum oxygen blood supply, thus triggering a more intense reaction (pain).
  • Fatigue: With a reduced supply of water in the body, the life organs work extra hard to maintain their functions. This takes a toll on your energy deposit and causes fatigue.
  • Calories!: Drinking water satiates your thirst but adds no calories (unless of course, you are adding artificial flavors or sweeteners to it). A trick many weight watchers swear by is to drink half a glass of water 30 minutes before their meal. The water fills up the stomach and prevents them from overeating. Now that’s a side-effect I am willing to suffer.

Now, flip these aforementioned consequences (there are more!) on their heads, and you are face-to-face with the wonderful benefits of drinking enough water every day.

This begs the question:

How Much Water Should I Drink Every Day?

To be honest, there are quite a few recommendations floating around the internet. The most-accepted one is the 8 by 8 rule–drink eight 8-fl. ounce glasses (approximately, 1.8 liters) of water per day. And trust me, it isn’t as difficult as you think. As long as you promise to not give up. In fact, I have put together a simple tracker to help you track your daily intake of water.

Sign up now to download your free personal daily water intake tracker!

Done? Now, let’s get to the crux of the matter, shall we?

How Can I Meet My Daily Water Intake Requirement?

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How Can I Stay Hydrated?

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How Can I Drink More Water?

It does not take a lot of effort to take care of yourself once you put your heart to it. Here are five simple ways you can add more fluid to your diet every day.

  • Set goals: Make “drink 64 fl. oz. water” one of your daily goals. Set alarms on your phone. Or, how about those awesome smartphone apps that help you track your water intake. If you are a physical notebook kinda person, write “drink 64 fl. oz. water” to your To-Do list as a high priority item.  Or, use sticky notes reminding you to stay hydrated around places you spend most of your time–your office desk, your refrigerator, your bathroom mirror…the options are totally up to you.
  • Build it into your daily routine: Adding the daily essential tasks–such as drinking enough water–is the easiest way for you to stay on track. Setting goals is not enough unless you work towards achieving these goals. So, once you have set the goal of staying hydrated, remember to build it into your daily routine. For example, keep a bottle of water on your nightstand. As soon as you wake up in the morning, drink it up! Keep a reusable water bottle in your handbag, on your desk, in your car. And then throughout the day, set alarms on your phone to remind you to drink water.
  • Include other sources and forms of water in your diet: Drinking water need not be a boring habit. Personally, I love it in its purest form. But for those who do not enjoy drinking plain old water–they can eat their water! There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that can help you keep up with your daily fluid requirements. These include water-rich foods, such as iceberg lettuce, watermelon, cucumber, pineapple, etc. You can include these foods in your diet in various forms. For example, if you can not bring yourself to drink the recommended 64 fl. oz. of water every day, drink up at least half of the amount, and for the other half, substitute with water-rich foods. The only catch is that it will be difficult to track your water consumption.

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Work-at-home Moms: 5 Productivity Tips

I am a work-at-home mom. Every time I mention my work situation to family or friends, they say, “You are so lucky! You can stay at home and earn money. I wish I could be a work-at-home mom and earn my salary sitting in the comfort of my home.” Well, I agree. Staying home, earning money, and watching my child grow up is a blessing. But I also tell my family and friends, my work-at-home situation isn’t a bed of roses…work-at-home moms have to be really smart and disciplined to save their sanity.

When I was working in my corporate job, we were encouraged to follow Eisenhower Decision Matrix, which is a very effective tool to help you identify and prioritize tasks that are truly important and/or urgent. To this day, I use it to manage my day-to-day responsibilities and especially work-related ones.

Today, I want to share with you the process I have devised for myself based on this wonderful time management tool. As with me, I am sure other work-at-home moms can also greatly benefit from it. Without further ado, let me show how you can adapt the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to make your day more productive as a work-at-home mom.

5 Productivity Tips for Work-from-Home Moms

Step 1: Identify the Time Sucks

This is the number 1 tip for work-at-home moms to be a more productive professional or businessperson–identify the time sucks.

Look at your To-Do list and ask yourself, “which tasks are neither important nor urgent?” Ask yourself, “is it really necessary to check my personal Facebook profile during work hours?” Or, “do I NEED TO sort through my email spam folder every day?”

These kind of tasks are simply unnecessary–and going by the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, are neither important nor urgent. These are simply time sucks. They do nothing but distract you and pull you down. Do yourself a favor and eliminate these time suckers from your To-Do list. That, my friend, is the first step towards eliminating overwhelm and being productive.

Eisenhower matrix is a great tool for work-from-home moms to prioritize their days, months, and years.

Step 2: Prioritize Tasks

After you have identified and eliminated the time suckers, it’s time to work on the remaining tasks. First, you want to identify tasks the tasks that are urgent but not important. These are tasks that are due soon but do not contribute significantly towards your long-term work goal. For example, maybe you have to go for a conference two weeks from now. Now, you could spend one hour trying to find the best deal, or you could hire or request someone to do this for you. And you, on the other hand, can use the one hour you just freed up to work on something important. In other words, you need to delegate tasks that are urgent but not important.

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Step 3: Schedule Your Day

Now you are left with two types of tasks–those that are important but not urgent, and those that are important and urgent. I am sure you know the difference between the two terms, but just to reiterate for clarity sake:

  • Urgent tasks are those that help you achieve your long-term work goal, and are due on an immediate basis. Not addressing these tasks immediately may result in missed deadlines or lost customers.
  • Important tasks are the other tasks that help you achieve your long-term work goal, but is not due immediately.

It is essential that you clearly distinguish between the two, otherwise, you can misconstrue an ‘important’ task as ‘urgent,’ which will eat into your hours. So what’s the solution? Schedule the ‘important’ tasks in your calendar for a more appropriate later time while the urgent tasks take up the more immediate calendar space. For example, if you need to email your project status to your client, it is an important task but not usually urgent. You can schedule a time in your day when you can draft and send an email to your client with the requested updates. Maybe that time is 2 PM every day. On the other hand, an article that is due today is an important and urgent task that you should address before taking up other ‘important’ tasks.

Step 4: Hold Your Work Hours Sacred

So, now you know how to follow Eisenhower Decision Matrix to design your workday to be more productive. The matrix can help you achieve your short- and long-term goals and make your day more productive.

In addition, I recommend establishing routines in and around your work hours. There is no denying that routines help bring semblance to your day. For a work-at-home mom, it is important to distinguish work hours from non-work hours. When your day begins and ends within the same four walls, it’s easy to lose the distinction. But if you design routines that will help you ease in and out of your work day, it will bring more satisfaction and fewer frustrations. Ensure that you hold your work hours sacred.

Decide which hours of the day you will work, and stick to those hours. Do not be distracted by any personal chores or whims during these hours. It may take some trial and error before you can settle on your best hours for working, but when you find that sweet spot, stick to it. For example, perhaps your best time to work is while your children are away in school. Use those hours to complete your work tasks. Do not get sucked into the social media whirlpool or picking the grocery. Remember, everything in its own time.

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Step 5: Set Aside Time for Self-Care

Lastly, in a previous post, I mentioned how, as moms, we don’t take the time for self-care. How many times have you used your work break to run an errand? You might say “I am a busy mom. I do not have another time to run these errands!” I understand, and it may even be true for some of you on certain days. But if you don’t use the break to nourish your mind, body, and soul, you will soon run out of the motivation. Say to yourself, “I am already a super mom. I do not need to pack in more into my day.” You know what I say to myself though? “I may not be a supermom or best mom. But I am a good-enough mom. And that’s okay!”

Remember this: You are doing a wonderful job raising your child. And boy! You also work-from-home. Like others say, “it’s the best of both worlds.” But it’s easy for this world to fall apart without the necessary discipline. I wish for you a fruitful and blessed personal and work life.

I would love if you can share some of your tips as a work-at-home mom.

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