An Apple a Week: Relaxation and Sleep

Posted by on Nov 12, 2012 in An Apple a Week, Blog | 0 comments

An Apple a Week: Relaxation and Sleep

So much of our business and personal success is dependent on a right state of mind. Moodiness, lack of focus, irritability, and poor memory are not known as the attributes of winners. Low energy, sleepiness, and grumpiness are not the magical formula for health, wealth, and wellbeing. They are all the symptoms of poor sleep quality and lack of sleep. Not being able to unwind and put your mind to rest when going to bed is one of the biggest causes of sleep deprivation.
Do you lie awake at night thinking about your business or plotting your activities for the next day? Do you have a tendency to remind yourself of things to do and people to call the next day? I understand what you’re going through; I do it, too. At some point, the stress of knowing you won’t get enough sleep causes anxiety in it of itself.

So what to do? How to deal?
I have found in my experience these things help:

Keep a to do list at your desk or workstation.
At the end of the day, write down what you intend to do tomorrow. Follow up calls, phone numbers, due dates, projects, email responses, and orders. Write these all down. The idea is if you know what you need to remember is written down, you don’t have to expend the mental bandwidth to keep in your head. In today’s world, smartphones can make this even easier. Keep a to do list that synchronizes between your mobile device and your computer. Take the load off your already busy mind.

Don’t handle bills and business emails in the last hour before you go to sleep.
Thinking about money, especially when it is going away, is a stressor due to our social conditioning. Sending emails sets up triggers in your mind about how someone might respond and then your response in turn. Send it in the morning or tackle that task earlier in the evening.

Do not take a laptop/tablet/smartphone into your bedroom. Ever.
That is not the place for it, and mixing work with rest and pleasure makes it harder to step away from it when you need to. Make your bedroom a sanctuary. No phone (if you feel you need one for “emergencies” keep a landline with the ringer turned off). Minimal electronic lights in the room (I’ve gone so far as to put a spot of black tape over the indicator light on the fan and water cooler). Their light can signal to your brain that it is not time to sleep.

Don’t watch TV in bed.
See above. I don’t even have a TV in the bedroom.

Try to develop a routine before bed that gradually winds down your mental energy level.
Some people watch sitcoms, other knit, and I like to read, but it really doesn’t matter as long as it is something you find comforting, calming, and easy. Don’t pick a source of potential frustration or something that requires focus. You are trying to wind down, not wind up.

Take melatonin tablets.
All I can say is don’t make this one a habit. Consider it a last resort.

Do relaxation exercises.
Mentally work your way through your body, consciously relaxing muscles, even if you don’t think they are tense. Start with your toes, then your feet, traveling up your legs to your buttocks. Mentally release the tension in your abs, your chest, and your shoulders. Finally relax your neck, mouth, and cheeks. You’ll be surprised at how much tension we carry around without noticing it until we draw our own attention to it.

Anecdotally, I have heard these activities help:

  • Yoga
  • Taking a bath
  • Drinking warm milk
  • Massage
  • Breathing excerises
  • Meditation

Finally, if none of this works, then talk to your doctor/chiropractor/counselor/therapist/shrink/shaman about treatment options. It might be medication, or maybe an idea not mentioned above. Whatever you do, don’t ignore it. Relaxation and the sleep it leads to is a crucial part of your health.

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