Well, it takes twenty-one days to create a habit. We have had almost two centuries, to form a work culture that keeps us away from the rest we badly need.
In fact, we found some interesting data about how people used to sleep before the industrial revolution. Take a look at the table below.
People slept enough every night before the industrial revolution. What changed? We felt challenged and became ambitious. Which made us restless, and pushed us to work hard.
We now need to form new habits that revolve around self-care and mindfulness.
What can we do to overcome these habits, and go to bed on time? So we feel rejuvenated the next morning.
Firstly, how are we defining a good night’s sleep?
Ideally, you should sleep between 7 to 9 hours, but most of us aren’t getting enough of it. A well-rested person is both physically and mentally alert. When you are well-slept, you can feel it after waking up. You won’t feel dragged unless your job or college is highly demotivating.
Scientists claim that human beings will be able to live longer because of advancements in medical science.
While technology may provide us with longevity, it also has the potential to reduce the quality of our lives.
In the battle between quantity and quality, we need to stay away from stress.
That seems almost impossible in the world we live in today. What if we told you, it’s not? Practising mindfulness could help control many aspects of your life.
Stress, and lack of sleep form a vicious cycle. Lack of sleep increases stress because you are unable to sleep, and your mind wanders into forbidden terrain.
Take a look at some of the statistics to understand the relationship between lack of sleep and stress and their after-effects.
Secondly, what are the most common behaviours that reduce sleep quality in people?
Our sedentary lifestyle, extra exposure to technology, inability to curb internet use, unhealthy eating habits, and not being part of a community or group outside of the internet, are some of the reasons.
All these factors give birth to a metaphorical cactus called stress.
Small changes in your daily life, can empower you, and free you from the clutches of stress.
Exercise at least three to four times a week, even if it’s moderate. Leave your beloved chair, and walk over to your colleagues a shout away, or hold a quick stand up meeting. These tiny steps could work in your favour.
As a working professional, don’t shy from taking phone calls while walking around the room. Providing you with the necessary blood circulation, and, combat the guilt of not having exercised enough. Your Fitbit will also thank you. Once in a while just dump the technology, and take a stroll in the park. Don’t bother about how many steps you took, or notifications from a possible planetary object. The earth is safe from asteroids.
For the parents out there, there is no harm in a few playful moments. You will either win or learn that your body has grown older than you. It is time to start bringing it back in shape.
Also, it is highly recommended that you take the stairs instead of the lift. Consider a could walk up the stairs to your desk every morning. It will leave your face glowing with sweat and pride.
For working mothers, a sedentary lifestyle is a thing of the past. However, the extra work is probably adding to that big pile of stress. Churn that stress out with help from friends, family or household services. Let everyone pitch in, get some of the household chores done by the kids too. They’ll appreciate you better, and learn valuable life skills.
Students have so many opportunities for a sedentary lifestyle. The laptop, comfy bed, Netflix subscription, youtube videos you started watching for research. Now you’re watching Ellen, and wondering what happened to that paper due tomorrow. Every now and then, try going down to the nearby supermarket. Walk to the university if you live on campus. Cycle, and pursue a hobby that keeps you outdoors, or just hit the gym lazy bones.
When we say switch off, we mean to switch off the phone, and from the physical world. Nighttime, especially just before going to bed is one possible time to go metaphysical. Practising meditation, listening to calming music, or simply reading a book
Jog down memory lane and try to remember what made you fall asleep as a kid. Any particular song, white noise, reading, or listening to a story.
Work on the ambience of your bedroom, for example, temperature, scent, the colour of the bedsheet (anything that calms your mind).
Organize stuff in your room to avoid distractions.
Do Not bring your laptop or mobile phone to the bed. Get all your work done at the desk, and then sleep.
Avoid drinking a lot of water before going to sleep because when you’re struggling to fall asleep, your bladder won’t cooperate either.
Keep a rule against coffee before going to bed, it will keep you alert way past your bedtime.
Turn-off the internet or mute the notification sound. No texting from the bed.
According to recent studies, on average, it takes two months, or 66 days to create a new habit. If you cannot quit a habit, then there could be two possibilities:
You don’t want to come out of your comfort zone.
Others control your life more than you do.
If you want to see positive changes, start taking steps to achieve that. Power napping is a great way to feel rested and recovered. It also helps you learn new concepts. Check out this article about power napping to learn more.
It is proven that lack of sleep in the night can be adjusted with a short 10-15 mins power nap. It’s not called a power nap without a reason.
We resort to carbs and sugars without realizing the impact sugar-coated food can have on our mind and body. Energy levels spike, and then come crashing down when the effects wear off. It’s like a roller coaster going inside you. Your body cannot handle this excitement frequently.
“Volunteers who consumed diets with more sugar, spent less time in deep, slow-wave sleep” – The Sleep Doctor, Dr Michael Breus.
Ancient science suggests that the last meal of the day should be over by sunset because, after that, the digestive power of the stomach reduces significantly. How do you stay hungry for many hours? The answer is a healthy fat dinner, comprised of cheese, eggs, lean meat, and a relaxing cup of chamomile or green tea, before going to sleep.
Okinawa, Japan is one of five Blue Zones of the world, with the most number of centenarians. They are people who live longer than 100 years. They maintain a very active lifestyle, a diet rich in vegetables. They feed themselves till they are 80% full, and they believe in strong bonds among friends. Serving the community, sometimes becomes the sole purpose of their lives.
Of course, you don’t have forcefully apply the philosophy of Moai, but you get the point.
Loneliness, just like stress, is a silent killer. If it’s difficult to find some time to join a community, then you could go hiking or trekking. Take up adventure sports at times, to detox your mind and body. If volunteering for a social cause makes you happy, then go for it. Hey, this list can just go on.
Maintain a journal, or write a to-do list every morning. Waking up early so you have time to yourself. Start sending your emails, it’ll help keep you in control of the situation. Avoid procrastinating though, and make the most of your time, meditate, exercise, but don’t rush through things. Most important of all, don’t use that time to catch up on social media. It’s an endless ocean with tides bound to come. Even if you miss any, you won’t miss much. So, relax your mind and body.
https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/sleep American Psychological Association
Ikigai The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life – Hector Garcia and Francesc Miracles
https://jcsm.aasm.org/doi/10.5664/jcsm.5384 – Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Volume 12, Issue 01