Are you getting enough sleep?
By Dr. Mercola
A majority of Americans are not getting enough sleep, and modern technology is in large part to blame. According to the 2014 Sleep in America Poll,1 53 percent of respondents who turn electronics off while sleeping rate their sleep as excellent, compared to just 27 percent of those who leave their devices on.
Even children are becoming sleep deprived. The poll shows that 58 percent of teens aged 15-17 get only seven hours of sleep or less per night. Between 7 and 8 hours may be optimal for the average adult, but children are known to need more sleep than adults.
If your child is overweight and/or exhausted much of the time, chances are high that poor sleep patterns—perhaps resulting from too many light-emitting gadgets—are at play.
The exposure to excessive amounts of light at night, courtesy of electric light bulbs and electronic gadgets of all kinds, makes it exceedingly difficult for your body and brain to wind down for sleep. And this lack of sleep, in turn, can have far ranging health consequences, regardless of your age. read more..............
To Successfully Lose Weight, You May Need to Sleep More
A number of studies have linked poor sleep and/or sleep deprivation with a higher risk of obesity and difficulty in losing weight. A recent article by Timesleader.com7 also discusses the findings from a University of Chicago study, which found that people who slept well lost more fat when dieting, while sleep deprived participants lost more muscle.
On average, both groups lost about the same amount of weight, but clearly, losing fat rather than muscle is definitely to be preferred! The article also notes that:
"[O]ne study found that those who slept five hours per night were 73 percent more likely to become obese than those who spent nine hours with their favorite pillow – I'll repeat: 73 percent!
The reason for this hasn't been pinpointed yet, but some say that lack of sleep lowers the levels of the hormone leptin, which reduces hunger. There's another link between sleep deprivation and weight: diabetes.
The underlying problem with type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance, in which the body does not make proper use of this sugar-processing hormone. And go figure, when you're sleep deprived, your body almost immediately develops conditions that resemble diabetes.
A study of people in their late 20s and early 30s who slept fewer than six and a half hours per night showed they essentially had the insulin sensitivity of someone over 60."
The Persistent Link Between Poor Sleep and Insulin Resistance
Impaired insulin sensitivity, also known as insulin resistance, occurs when your body cannot use insulin properly, allowing your blood sugar levels to get too high. The same applies to leptin, the hormone that tells your brain there is no need for more food. Both insulin and leptin resistance are precursors to type 2 diabetes.
They're also risk factors in many other chronic diseases. In fact, controlling your insulin/leptin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your risk of chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer.
The increase in insulin-related diseases we're now seeing is largely due to lack of exercise combined with the excessive consumption of refined fructose and processed carbohydrates… but it also appears that lack of sleep plays an important part in the equation.
Besides deteriorating your insulin and leptin sensitivity, sleep deprivation also increases levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger.8 This too can easily result in overeating and/or indulging in the wrong foods. Too little sleep also impacts your levels of thyroid and stress hormones, which in turn can affect your memory, immune system, heart and metabolism, and much more.
By altering the balance of all of these various hormones, lack of sleep can lead to a wide array of health problems, from accelerated aging and earlier onset of Alzheimer's,9 to depression, and increased risk for cancer. In fact, tumors have been shown to grow two to three times faster in laboratory animals with severe sleep dysfunctions.
To Sleep Better, Skip the Drugs and Treat Yourself to Bright Daylight During the Day
If you or your child has trouble sleeping, how can you most effectively reverse that trend? For starters, please do NOT make the mistake of turning to sleeping pills—prescription or otherwise. Unfortunately, this is what many end up doing. According to one 2007 study, more than 80 percent of children's doctor visits for sleep problems included a prescription for a sleep drug! Most prescribed for kids' sleep troubles were antihistamines, blood pressure drugs, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and sleeping pills like Ambien and Sonata.
You certainly do not need to go to medical school to understand that using drugs to help kids sleep is not their best option, as it in no way, shape or form addresses the underlying cause of poor sleep patterns and instead exposes kids to potentially serious medication side effects. The same goes for adults. Instead, I strongly recommend addressing truly foundational issues—such as maintaining a natural rhythm of exposure to sunlight during the day and darkness at night—first. In a recent interview, researcher Dan Pardi revealed why this is so critical for sleep and overall health.
11 Unusual Tips for How to Wake Up Early
If you’re a night owl and you’ve tried waking up early, you know it’s one of the most difficult habits. It’s a pain in the ass to deal with grogginess in the morning and to be in bed on time with all the digital distractions nowadays.
You probably already read a few articles (or books) on sleep and early rising. In those, you see the usual advice:
- have a consistent schedule on weekends
- don’t use electronics late at night
- eliminate blue light
- don’t eat late dinner
- have a morning/bedtime routine
All these points are important and they’ve been discussed to death everywhere on the internets. Instead, I want to talk about some less known, “ninja” tips that will make you an early riser faster. I’ve been coaching people on the waking up early habit for more than two years now, and there are few of those that pop up constantly.
1. Don’t Jump Out of Bed Immediately
The usual advice with the alarm is to keep it far away and immediately jump out of bed when it goes off.
That approach works well in the military, but what if you don’t want to have that stressful schedule in your every-day life? What if you want to enjoy your morning and spend some time in bed before jumping into work?
If you want to do a habit long term it has to feel good. You’re not going to make it very far if your new habit feels horrible, and that’s exactly how it feels when you jump out of bed groggy.
So how can you spend time in bed without falling back asleep?
Have a two-alarm setup.
The first one is to wake you up, the second one is your cue to get out of bed. The first one should be within arm’s reach and the second one should be away from your bed.
That way, you can give your body some time to gently awaken and you can spend some quiet time in bed doing something you love, like reading your favorite novel, writing in your journal, or doing affirmations.
When the second alarm goes off your time is up and you have to get out of bed. A 10 or 15-minute period before the first and the second alarm works well. By that time your body will feel much better and you would have gotten some inspiration by doing your favorite thing in the morning.
My setup is a silent Fitbit alarm that wakes me up and my phone alarm goes off 10 minutes later. I use that 10 minutes to cuddle with my girlfriend — a great way to start the day.
2. Start Your Day with Joy
We’ve been conditioned by the productivity movement that everything should be about getting things done. Do more, faster, increase efficiency. Most of our morning routines are filled with activities that require willpower and discipline.
But getting out of bed is much easier if you have something that you’re looking forward to. Something that gives you joy and excites you.
It might be doing a morning walk in the park, walking your dog, getting a cup of coffee at your favorite café, spending time with your loved ones.
It’s different for everybody but whatever it is, make sure there’s at least one activity every morning that is just to excite you and improve your mood. That indirectly will make you more productive for the rest of the day.
3. Have A Strong Reason “Why?”
“I heard that early risers are happier and more productive,” is not a good reason. It’s too general and will not inspire you to take action.
Changing this habit is hard, and if you want to endure the difficulty, you will need a good reason for it. Be really clear about what you want to get out of the extra morning time.
Do you want to use it to work more on your business? To improve your fitness and health? To get some extra time with your friends and loved ones? To make more time for learning and reading?
If you don’t come up with a good way to spend your mornings, they will automatically be allocated for sleeping in.
Planning it in advance is also very important. Coming up with the right thing to do at 6 AM when you’re feeling groggy isn’t going to work. At that time your mind will always come up with the same priority: sleep more.
Before you even start waking up early, come up with a great plan about how you’re going to use that extra morning time.
4. Hire a personal habit-building coach (It’s not as expensive as you think)
The statistics of one of the top habit tracking apps Lift showed that people using a coach had a 300% better chance to master a new habit than the ones trying to do it on their own — that’s how important accountability is.
The problem is that t’s hard to find a friend that cares enough to hold us accountable, at least not long-term.
Well, thanks to technology, nowadays it’s easy to find and hire a professional coach that specializes in the habit or goal you want to achieve. And believe it or not, you can do so for as little as $25/week using the Coach.me coaching platform.
You can even sign up for a 3-day free trial and see if it’s the right fit for you before you commit here: www.coach.me/coaching
5. Plan Your Mornings with Excruciating Detail
The more specific you are with your morning routine, the easier it’s going to be to execute it. I’m talking about the really small details.
Where do you put your alarm? Do you get dressed before going to the bathroom? Do you shave first or brush your teeth first? Do you take a shower in the morning or in the evening?
Also, the better defined your routine is the more efficient it’s going to be. Since you’re doing the same thing every day, you will find many ways to optimize it.
After writing down my routine in detail, I figured out that laying out my clothes for the next day is much better than doing it when I wake up. It saves time and it feels nice to have everything ready when you wake up. I imagine it’s going to save even more time for the ladies.
When I saw the routine written on paper I also noticed how many unnecessary trips I was making back and forth to different rooms. First, because I didn’t do it in the right order and second because I would forget something and then have to go back.
Here’s my morning routine in detail:
- Turn off the second alarm
- Do my business in the bathroom (1 min)
- Go to the kitchen and weigh in on the scales (1 min)
- Drink a glass of water (1 min)
- Go back to the bathroom
- Take off retainer (1 min)
- Put on lenses (1 min)
- Brush teeth, Tongue scrape, Mouthwash (3 mins)
- Shave (3 mins)
- Put on perfume
- Style hair (1 min)
- Put on clothes (3 mins)
- Hit the door
It seems like a big list, but since I do exactly the same thing every morning I’ve optimized it so it takes just 15 minutes.
6. Lend or Give Away Your Electronics
6 years ago, when I was really struggling with waking up early, something happened that made me an early riser in just 3 days — my computer died. It was as easy as that.
I had no TV, smartphone or tablet at the time, so there was nothing keeping me up late at night. The only electronic I had was an iPod which I used to listen to audio books and that only helped me fall asleep faster. Since I fell asleep early, I started getting enough sleep and naturally started waking up early.
Going through that period without a computer and effortlessly becoming an early riser, helped me realize that waking up early is our natural state. We don’t have to do anything extra to be early birds, we just need to eliminate the obstacles.
If you’re committed to succeeding at this habit, get rid of all the electronics. Don’t just turn them off, that never works. There is nothing stopping you from turning everything back on when you’re feeling bored at night and can’t fall asleep.
Lend your tablet to a friend for a few weeks. Get rid of the TV. Switch to an old school phone, where the only distraction is playing the Snake game.
It’s an extreme step and getting rid of all electronics will be challenging. Also, it’s not realistic to make it a permanent change. But doing it for a few weeks will help you get a great start with this habit.
It’s like learning to ride the bike with training wheels, it eliminates the chance to fall down. Getting rid of the electronics eliminates the chance to be tempted and stay up late.
7. Staying Awake After Getting Out of Bed
Many people manage to get out of bed early, but an hour later they still feel groggy and go back to sleep.
Changing your wake-up time to a few hours earlier is hard. While your body gets used to the new timing, you will feel sleepy in the first few hours and going back to sleep will be tempting. Especially if you’re still at home with your cozy bed seemingly doing a come-hither gesture, just like in a Disney movie.
Even coffee doesn’t help in that case. I’ve tried getting two strong cups of coffee when feeling groggy and I can still keep snoozing for a few more hours.
So what’s the solution?
Go outdoors as soon as possible. Do a quick morning routine to refresh yourself and hit the door immediately.
Something about being outdoors makes it easy to stay awake. Feeling the cool air on your skin, smelling the grass and flowers, hearing the rustling leaves. Nature tends to melt away all the grogginess.
It’s a great opportunity to do some exercise too, which is one of the best ways to start your day. Get your heart rate up.
8. Get a Pet
Accountability is becoming mainstream. Getting friends and family to keep you in check helps a lot. Hiring a coach or making a financial commitment on sites like stikK.com is great too. But there is no better accountability than a hungry cat in the morning.
If you get a cat and show her that 6 AM is food time, she will make sure you’re preparing breakfast at 5:55 AM every morning. No exceptions.
The downside to that approach is that she might also decide she wants some play time at 3 am, but oh well… cats will be cats.
9. Use Sleep Cycles to Your Advantage
Have you had one of those days where you wake up early, but you don’t feel sleepy or groggy? You can fall back asleep easily but you can also get up and start your day. Feels great, doesn’t it?
Of course, you also know about the other mornings. Mornings where waking up early is terrible: your mind is foggier than the Golden Gate bridge and your body feels like it’s been run over by an 18 wheeler. Several times.
The difference between those two cases is the sleep cycles. When we sleep at night we experience a few cycles that our bodies go through. Each cycle passes through different stages, illustrated on the graph below.
Stage 4 is the deepest one and Stage 1 (REM) is the lightest one, meaning the closest one to the awake state. The closer to the awake state you are when the alarm goes off the better you will feel. The deeper you are the worse you will feel.
So how can you use that to your advantage?
Figure out at which time in the morning you’re in REM sleep. If you feel terrible when the alarm goes off at 7 am, try 7:30 instead. If that doesn’t work, try 8 am. Eventually, you’ll find the sweet spot and you’ll be able to get up much more easily.
Once you find that sweet spot, you can begin gradually moving your alarm back by 10–15 minutes earlier, and shift your sleep cycles until you hit your target wake-up time.
This approach works only if you have consistent bedtimes. If you change the bedtimes by 1–2 hours every day, the sleep cycles will change too, and you won’t be able to find that stability in the morning.
10. Have Realistic Expectations
One of the most frequent questions that I get is, “How long does it take to become an early riser?”
It only takes your body 4–5 days of waking up and going to bed at the same time to adjust to the new schedule. It works even if it’s a big change, like moving in a different time zone.
However, getting yourself to do those 4–5 consistent days is a different story. Being able to do it depends on your current habits.
If you’re used to watching Netflix while overeating until 2 AM, and you try shifting your bedtime to 10 pm, it’s going to be a big challenge. In that case, you have to change two additional habits — the overeating and the late TV watching. That takes additional time and discipline.
Becoming an early riser is difficult because it’s not just one habit but a combination of many tiny ones. That’s why shifting the sleep schedule gradually works better than cold turkey. It allows you to gradually improve the other prerequisite habits at the same time.
11. Get Enough Sleep or Maintain Consistent Wake-Up Times?
You already know that consistent wake-up and bedtimes are crucial to becoming an early riser. However, we don’t live in a perfect world. Sometimes our priorities change and we have to stay up late.
In those cases, we have two choices for the morning after: 1) keep the same alarm time even though we’ll get less sleep, or 2) turn off the alarm and get enough sleep.
The best choice depends on how late you go to bed.
Maintaining the wake-up time will make it easier to stay on track for the next few days, even though you had one late night.
On the other hand, if you were to change your alarm every time just to make sure you’re getting enough sleep, you will have a much more inconsistent schedule. You might end up sleeping 2–3 hours longer. Then on the following evening, you’ll not feel sleepy enough at the usual time, and you’ll stay up late again. The whole thing turns into a negative spiral.
A good rule of thumb is, “Regulate the amount of sleep by adjusting the bedtime, not the wake-up time.”
2) The second scenario is when you go to bed very late and keeping the typical alarm time means you’ll only get 1–2 hours of sleep.
In that case, you’ll be better off sleeping in.
Even if you woke up on time, with so little sleep you’ll end up spending the day like a zombie, struggling to stay awake. So instead, turn off the alarm and let your body wake you up naturally. Then make sure you put some extra effort to be in bed on time on the following evening.
It’s likely that you won’t feel sleepy at your usual bedtime, so you can get some melatonin to ease the falling asleep.
Originally published at georgehalachev.com on April 18, 2017.
6 Causes of Burnout, and How to Avoid Them
A fog of burnout surrounds you: You’re perpetually exhausted, annoyed, and feeling unaccomplished and unappreciated. Everything in you wants to quit your job. But is that the best choice? Ultimately only you can know what is right in your situation. But there is research that can help you determine whether you can salvage your current job or whether the mismatch between you and your current position is so great that you need to look for a new one.
Various models help to explain and predict burnout, which is now an official medical diagnosis, according to the World Health Organization. One, called the Areas of Worklife model (drawn from research by Christina Maslach and Michael P. Leiter of the University of California at Berkeley and Acadia University, respectively) identifies six areas where you could experience imbalances that lead to burnout. As a time management coach, I’ve seen that some individuals can make positive shifts in one or more of these areas and then happily stay in their current position while others discover that the mismatch is still too great, and decide that it’s time to move on.
Here are the six areas that can lead to burnout and how you can attempt to remedy each one.
When you have a workload that matches your capacity, you can effectively get your work done, have opportunities for rest and recovery, and find time for professional growth and development. When you chronically feel overloaded, these opportunities to restore balance don’t exist.
To address the stress of your workload, assess how well you’re doing in these key areas: planning your workload, prioritizing your work, delegating tasks, saying no, and letting go of perfectionism. If you haven’t been doing one or more of these things, try to make progress in these time management skill areas and then see how you feel. For many individuals, especially those who have a bent toward people pleasing, some proactive effort on reducing their workload can significantly reduce feelings of burnout and provide space to rest.
2. Perceived lack of control.
Feeling like you lack autonomy, access to resources, and a say in decisions that impact your professional life can take a toll on your well-being. If you find yourself feeling out of control, step back and ask yourself, “What exactly is causing me to feel this way?” For instance, does your boss contact you at all hours of the day and night, and make you feel like you need to always be on call? Are the priorities within your workplace constantly shifting so you can never get ahead? Or do you simply not have enough predictability in terms of your physical or people resources to effectively perform your job?
Then ask yourself what you can do to shift this situation. Is it possible to discuss the issue with your boss to establish better boundaries and not respond to messages 24/7? Could you come to an agreement that certain priorities will remain constant? Or could you have more resources if you communicated about what you needed? Once you’ve considered these areas, you can then see what you can do to influence your environment versus what won’t change no matter what you say or do.
If the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards for your job don’t match the amount of effort and time you put in to them, then you’re likely to feel like the investment is not worth the payoff.
In these instances, you want to look within and determine exactly what you would need to feel properly appreciated. For example, perhaps you need to ask for a raise or promotion. Maybe you need more positive feedback and face time with your boss. Or perhaps you need to take advantage of the rewards you’ve already accrued, such as taking the comp time that you earned during a particularly busy time at the office. Experiment to see which rewards would make what you’re doing worth it to you and whether there is the opportunity to receive more of those rewards within your current work environment.
Who do you work with or around? How supportive and trusting are those relationships? In many cases you can’t choose your colleagues and clients, but you can improve the dynamic. It could be as simple as taking the time to ask others how their day is going — and really listening. Or sending an email to someone to let them know you appreciated their presentation. Or choosing to communicate something difficult in a respectful, nonjudgmental way. Burnout can be contagious, so to elevate your individual engagement, you must shift the morale of the group. If you’ve found that once you’ve done all you can, others can’t improve or don’t want improved relationships, then you may want to consider a job change.
Think about whether you believe that you receive fair and equitable treatment. For example, do you get acknowledged for your contributions or do other individuals get praised and your work goes unnoticed? Does someone else get regular deadline extensions or access to additional resources when you don’t?
If you feel that a lack of fairness exacerbates your burnout, start by speaking up. Sometimes individuals are unaware of their biases or won’t take action until you ask for what you want. You can request to be mentioned as a contributor, to give part of a presentation, or for additional time and resources. And if you still find that the response seems inequitable, you can consider bringing that up in a polite way: “I noticed that the Chicago team got an additional week to work on their project that was originally due on the same date as ours. Can you help me understand why that’s not possible for our team as well?”
6. Values mismatch.
If you highly value something that your company does not, your motivation to work hard and persevere can significantly drop. Ideals and motivations tend to be deeply ingrained in individuals and organizations. When you’re assessing this element of burnout, you need to think carefully about how important it is to you to match your values with those of the organization.
Also consider whether the leaders in your company have shifted their values. Look around you and ask yourself: How does my boss, my team, and my organization make decisions and invest resources? Do I feel good about those underlying motivations? Do they seem open to change? If you have strongly held values and those with influence in your organization differ from yours, you may need to look for a more congruent opportunity.
Burnout isn’t simply about being tired. It’s a multifaceted issue that requires a multifaceted solution. Before you quit, really think through what exactly is contributing to your burnout and attempt to make changes. If you find that despite your best efforts, little has changed, then see if it makes sense to stay or if it’s time to leave.
Unfortunately, most people in Western societies spend the larger portion of each day indoors, which essentially puts you in a state of "light deficiency." Meanwhile, most people expose themselves to too much light in the evening, at a time when the natural rhythm calls for light to fade. Research shows that exposure to bright room light before bedtime suppresses melatonin production in 99 percent of individuals. This can effectively rob you of sleep by masking sleepiness, as this hormone influences what time of day or night your body thinks it is—regardless of what time the clock displays.
To correct the situation and return your body to a normal rhythm of waking and sleeping, Pardi recommends getting at least 30-60 minutes of bright outdoor light exposure during daylight hours. This will help "anchor" your biological rhythm. Then, in the evening, you'll want to dim environmental lights and avoid the blue light wavelength to prevent the suppression of melatonin, as this will make it difficult to fall asleep. To do this, you can use blue-blocking light bulbs, dim your lights with dimmer switches and turn off unneeded lights, and if using a computer, install blue light-blocking software like f.lux10 (Also keep in mind that digital alarm clocks with blue light displays could have a detrimental effect.)
Sleeping Well Is Part of a Healthy Lifestyle Plan
There's compelling research indicating that sleeping too little may increase your insulin and leptin resistance, thereby raising your risk of obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic diseases. To address your sleep problems, I recommend beginning by realigning your circadian rhythms to the natural rhythm of daylight and nightfall. Without this synchronization, aspects of your waking/sleeping system will be working at the wrong time, making it difficult to sleep at night, while increasing daytime sleepiness. Again, the three factors to keep in mind are as follows:
- Get daylight exposure, ideally around solar noon, for at least half an hour or more each day
- In the evening, dim environmental lights and avoid the blue light wavelength
- When it's time to go to sleep, make sure your bedroom is dark. I recommend installing blackout shades for this purpose, or use a sleep mask to avoid disrupting your melatonin production
Besides maintaining a natural circadian rhythm, there are a number of additional ways to help improve your sleep if you're still having trouble. For a comprehensive sleep guide, please see my article "33 Secrets to a Good Night's Sleep." Here are 10 often-overlooked factors that might be interfering with your sleep. My previous interview with Dr. Rubin Naiman also delves into some of the most common causes of insomnia, and how to address them.
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