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Caffeine and Other Impediments to Sleep

Ensure that when you go to bed, your sleep time is protected

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Based on a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, you need to be cautious as to when you stop consuming caffeine. Even a full six hours before retiring could put you at risk of having your sleep time reduced by one hour. So, it is prudent to avoid caffeine after 5 pm, however, after 4 pm or 3 pm is better!

If you’ve been on caffeine for so long, and you’re worried that by 3 pm you might experience an afternoon slump, engage in some kind of exercise, if only for 10 minutes.

Research published in Physiology and Behavior indicates that walking around the block, climbing stairs, and similar activities can boost your energy level, more so than a low dose of caffeine contained in a cup of green or black tea.

Avoid alcohol in the evening. Alcohol will induce sleep quickly, then dehydrates your body and wakes you up before you are due. You then have trouble getting back to sleep. Your sleep time is reduced, and your sleep quality is poor.

Disrupted R.E.M.s

You’ve probably heard that R.E.M.s (rapid eye movements) are a crucial part of your sleep cycle. To ensure that your sleep time benefits are maximized, heed the following: don’t sleep with your head by a phone – remove it from your bedroom.

Many people sleep with their heads by phones because they’re concerned about the one possible call in fifteen years where they might have to arise at 3:00 am. Stop this! You cannot do much at that hour. You’ll be better off with sound sleep each night.

When you read in bed, do so only to induce drowsiness, but don’t overdo this. It’s important to make your bed and bedroom for sleeping (and, of course, sex) only.

Don’t set up your bedroom as a command station with your CD player and TV to reinforce the notion that it is a place for anything but sleep.

Eating and Drinking and Exercising

In your quest for good sleep,  eat your meals at the same time every day to maintain your circadian rhythm, regulate your metabolism, and get good sleep that night. Your body seeks regularity, and eating on schedule is a huge boost. It also helps to have a three-hour window between the last time you ate and when you go to bed.

During the day, undertake some type of exercise that elevates your heart rate so that you have a better time drifting off at night. As long as it’s not close to bedtime, the time of day is not critical.

Regardless, exercise is definitely an antidote to stress, helping to keep you calm. Hence, you drift off more easily upon retiring.

What about evening exercise? Moderate exercise a couple hours before sleep does aid sound sleep, but don’t exercise right before retiring. Also, moderate intake of proteins a little before retiring, such as a glass of milk, can help you attain restful sleep.

Bathe or Shower to Help Induce Sleep

Doctoral researchers at the University of Texas, in Biomedical Engineering reviewed a staggering 5,322 studies, contained in scientific and medical databases, to arrive at the following conclusion and they published their analysis in the Journal of Sleep Medicine Review:

The ideal time to take a bath or a shower, to help induce sleep, is one to two hours before retiring. As such, you help to cool down the body and improve blood circulation all the way to the extremities, including your feet and hands.

Medical News Today indicates that a warm bath or shower enhances your temperature-related circadian rhythm, which helps people to fall asleep more quickly and easily and improves their sleep quality. Your bath or shower need not take more than 10 minutes.

Get Up If You Can’t Sleep

Don’t fret if you fail to fall asleep right away. You might need a couple minutes or more to relax. After 30 consecutive minutes of restlessness, get up and do something until you’re tired again.

When you sleep too little, or are awakened at random times, your deep sleep pattern is disrupted, and hence even eight hours might not yield the benefits of a solid eight hours of sleep. All of which means you need to ensure that when you go to bed, your sleep time is protected!

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



 
 
 

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Business

Work-Life Balance in Your Life

It the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life

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Work-life balance (WLB) is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life with sufficient leisure. WLB, also referred to by some as work-life harmony, work-life shift, work-life blend, work-life effectiveness, or work-life integration, requires focus and awareness despite seemingly endless tasks and activities competing for our time and attention.

Work-life balance entails having what I call “breathing space” for yourself each day, feeling a sense of accomplishment while not being consumed by work, and having an enjoyable domestic life without short-changing career obligations. WLB is rooted in whatever fulfillment means to you within the course of a day and a week, and however many years you have left in your life.

Supporting Disciplines

Several disciplines support work-life balance though, individually, none are synonymous with work-life balance:

1) Self Management

Sufficiently managing one’s self can be challenging, particularly in getting proper sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Self-management is the recognition that effectively using the spaces in our lives is vital, and that life, time, and available resources are finite. It means becoming captain of our own ship; no one is coming to steer for us.

2) Time Management

Effective time management involves making optimal use of your day and the supporting resources that can be summoned – you can only keep pace when your resources match your challenges. Time management is enhanced through appropriate goals and discerning what is both important and urgent, versus important OR urgent. It entails understanding what you do best and when, and assembling the appropriate tools to accomplish specific tasks.

3) Stress Management

By nature, societies tend to become more complex over time. In the face of increasing complexity, stress on the individual is inevitable. More people, noise, and distractions, independent of one’s individual circumstances, require each of us to become more adept at maintaining tranquility and being able to work ourselves out of pressure-filled situations. Most forms of multi-tasking ultimately increase our stress, while focusing on one thing at a time helps decrease stress.

4) Change Management

In our fast-paced world, change is virtually the only constant. Continually adopting new methods, adapting old, and re-adapting all methods is vital to a successful career and a happy home life. Effective change management involves offering periodic and concerted efforts so that the volume and rate of change at work and at home does not overwhelm or defeat you.

5) Technology Management

Effectively managing technology requires ensuring that technology serves you, rather than abuses you. Technology has always been with us, since the first walking stick, spear, flint, and wheel. Today, the rate of technological change is accelerating, brought on by vendors seeking expanding market share. Often you have no choice but to keep up with the technological Joneses, but rule technology, don’t let it rule you.

6) Leisure Management

The most overlooked of the work-life balance supporting disciplines, leisure management acknowledges 1) the importance of rest and relaxation, 2) that “time off” is a vital component of the human experience, and 3) that one can’t indefinitely short-change leisure without repercussions. Curiously, too much of the same leisure activity, however enjoyable, can lead to monotony. Thus, effective leisure management requires varying one’s activities.

Entirely Achievable

Achieving work-life balance does not require radical changes in what you do. It is about developing fresh perspectives and sensible, actionable solutions that are appropriate for you. It is fully engaging in life with what you have, right where you are, smack dab in the ever-changing dynamics of your existence.

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Life

A World of Possibilities for Each Of Us

Let us be free to like what we like and not have others be the gatekeepers of our intellectual pursuits

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I read a remarkable Letter to the Editor in a college newspaper, from a young black student. The point of his letter was so amazing and its insights so profound that it needs to be shared across the country for everyone, of all races.

This student wrote that, as a black male, it would inaccurate to make judgments about him without knowing him personally. He highlighted, for example, that while he likes some rap music, he much prefers traditional rock and roll, and even an occasional country song.

Is Your Bias Showing?

He wrote that if you think a black student should not like country music then your bias is showing. Why couldn’t a student, of any race or ethnicity, enjoy a particular type of music even if it’s not traditionally ascribed to his or her particular group? Who is in control here?

He likes historical novels, modern novels, biographies, and autobiographies. He was captivated by a biography about the Wright Brothers. He enjoys poetry and finds the poems from many writers to be relevant to him, from Maya Angelou to Carl Sandberg.

He suggests that there is a world of possibilities when it comes to entertainment, music, and literature. Why, he asks, must we be confined to the narrow band of choices that others, particularly within our own races and ethnicities, suggest that we adhere to? Who decides what is best for all members of a particular group? On what do they base their decisions?

Who Chooses?

Who determined that venturing outside of such restrictive limits is somehow being a traitor to one’s group? And what does it mean to even be a traitor when it comes to literature, history, music, and so on?

He pointed out in the most eloquent of terms that following the dictates of a small section of the populace and adhering to the stereotypes that prevail are extremely limiting to one’s personal freedom and an attack on one’s individuality and, potentially, creativity.

With so many experiences and possibilities that one can enjoy, he ponders, why limit yourself, especially at the age of 19, 20, or 21 to predefined, limiting confines?

No Free for All

I marveled at this young man’s wisdom which seems to transcend his years. I certainly was not as wise and perceptive myself at that age.

Over the next few days, I was eager to see if there would be any responses to his letter. Surely, he’s going to get some blowback. Someone of his own race will tell him that he needs to get “back in his lane.” Someone will tell him he’s “not acting black,” or not black enough. Somebody else will say that he’s been brainwashed, probably from an early age and he’s trying to capitulate to the predominant Caucasian culture. Someone might call him an “Uncle Tom.”

While I was monitoring the publication, actually nothing was said of his letter. I hoped maybe somebody else, or lots of somebody else’s, understood the man’s viewpoint. They could see the wisdom in his observations. I thought perhaps someone would comment in that direction, but that didn’t happen either.

Free to Choose

In the larger sense, it’s a shame that blacks and other minorities, as well as Caucasians, are supposed to act this way or that way. Hispanics are supposed to prefer this versus that. Asians are supposed to do this versus that. Why, exactly, do these illegitimate confines continue to rule the perceptions of vast numbers of our population?

Why can’t we be free to like what we like, to prefer what we prefer, and have others not be the gatekeepers of our intellectual pursuits?

I have no knowledge of this young man and how he has fared in his studies and overall life. I surmise that whatever he’s doing, whether it’s continuing in his education, landing a job, entering the military, volunteering, traveling, or simply taking time off, he will continue to pursue his interests and remain unique.

Bound for Success

Hopefully, he’ll continue to sidestep unwarranted, prevailing norms that dictate what he can like, think, and be. May we all strive to have such personal freedom.

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