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13 Sleep Tips For Out Of This World Rest

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With the new year here, I bet you have ambitious goals for 2016. As you should! Although I don’t think waiting until the calendar turns is the best source of motivation, if this is what you need to get motivated then I’m for it, whatever works.

However, I’m sure you know the biggest obstacle that gets in the way of you accomplishing your goals: being too tired. When you’re tired, your productivity crashes and it becomes extremely hard to overcome laziness. And then might you go down a negative spiral where you haven’t made any effort on your goals in days, then weeks, and then months.

So how do you get away from being tired and how do you get energized to do everything you want to from the start of the year? Productivity starts with getting better sleep so your body and mind is rested. But, this is easier said than done.

That’s why I wrote a detailed post on 13 different sleep tips to help you go to bed when you put your head on the pillow, and wake up feeling rested and energized to take on the day. And these sleep tips start anywhere from the afternoon to right before bedtime, so I guarantee that you can do better on at least one of these tips.

When you have no trouble going to bed early and sleeping, you increase your productivity and improve your quality of life. Check this out to improve your sleeping habits.

13 Sleep Tips For Out Of This World Rest

1. Come up with a sleep schedule and stick to it.

If you set a specific time to wake up and go to bed each day, you will train your body’s clock to naturally sleep when you want, to sleep through the night, and to wake up on time. Soon you will start to wake up a minute before your alarm clock, or when you get really good you don’t need an alarm at all. If a sleep schedule is foreign to you, I recommend setting a schedule for the weekdays first. Then, advance to the same schedule for every day of the week, including the weekend.

2. Work out at least three hours before trying to sleep.

Besides the happy feelings from working out, exercising is also great to exhaust your body so it’s ready to power down when you try to sleep. I recommend working out at least three hours before bed. Because if you’re not careful, you’ll work out too late at night and leave your body in the energized mode when you’re trying to get some shuteye.

3. Designate your bed for sleep only.

Just as you associate the bathroom with showering,  number one, and number two, associating your bed with only sleep will help you get to rest sooner when you lay down. However, if you regularly watch Netflix, write papers, and study for exams on your bed throughout the day and evening, the association between your bed and sleep will be much weaker.

4. Stay away from naps.

Ideally, if you followed these sleep tips to a tee, then you would have no desire to nap as your body’s clock would be perfectly in tune with when to sleep and wake up. But regardless, as tempting as a nap can be, know that it’s going to make it harder for you to fall asleep at night, which means you’re also going to wake up later. So say no to naps during the day and your body will reward you at night by going to sleep early.

5. Don’t eat big meals up to two hours away from your bed time.

Because your stomach needs time to digest your food, eating a lot of food close to bed will most likely keep you awake. Eating a big plate can also cause your sleep to be interrupted by needing to go to the bathroom later. If you’re hungry before bed, a small cup of water or small snack should do the trick to hold you over before breakfast tomorrow morning. Picking up intermittent fasting would also help you not eat before bed. The last thing you want is to get fat in college and be tired because of it. 

6. Avoid caffeine and alcohol at night.

I read that a cup of coffee can take as long as eight hours to wear off, so if you drink it in the late afternoon or at night, your body might be still stimulated while you’re trying to get rest. Alcohol negatively affects sleep, but in a different form. You get less deep sleep with alcohol, which is crucial to feel rested the next day. And lastly, people who drank significant amounts of alcohol regularly wake up in the middle of the night when the alcohol wears off.  

7. Take a warm shower or bath.

The decrease in your body temperature after getting out of the water can encourage your body to start to shut down and get ready for bed. Plus, a soothing shower or bath also helps your body get comfortable and relaxed, two essentials for sleeping. Getting clean before bed is also a good solution to give yourself more time in the mornings. Just remember to fix your hair with some dry shampoo or hair product so you don’t go out into public with bed head.  

8. Decide tomorrow morning’s plans to reduce anxiety.

One of my best productivity tips in general is writing out tomorrow’s to-do list the night before. But, this 5-minute activity is also great for your sleep because it relieves your mind from running through what you need to do the next day. You have to love a productivity and sleep tip mixed in one!

9. Put your alarm clock on the other side of the room, out of sight.

Setting your alarm clock away from your bed so you have to physically move to get up and turn it off in the morning isn’t a new sleep tip. But, making sure the clock is out of sight is what I find extremely helpful. When you can’t see the clock, you don’t allow yourself to calculate how much (actually how little) sleep you’re going to get, which will make you anxious and keep you awake. Instead, when you can’t see the time, you can turn off your brain’s calculations and anxiety to get to sleep earlier.

10. Turn off your phone, laptop, and other electronics at least 30-60 minutes before bed.

The light from your phone, for example, is like a drug that keeps your brain and eyes awake. So it’s no wonder you can’t fall asleep the moment you put your phone away, after having your phone in front of your face for the past hour in bed. This girl I know, Grace, told me about how much she struggles with insomnia because of this exact problem. In my opinion, this is the most ignored and therefore the most important sleep tip of them all for young adults. As you’ll see in sleep tip #13, darkness is crucial for solid rest.

11. Read to relax your mind.

What’s a solution instead of having a phone in your face before bed? Grab a physical book (a Kindle or ebook will accomplish nothing here) and start reading. This helps because the act of reading relieves stress and relaxes your body, allowing you to wind down until you sleep. You’ll realize that if you trade your electronics for a book, you’re able to get to sleep sooner and feel more rested. And even when you’re not trying to sleep, reading an enjoyable book is a great short and relaxing break before you get back to busy work.

12. Have a warm (but not too warm) blanket or cover.

There’s a sweet spot for your body’s prime sleeping temperature. If you go without the covers, then you will wake up in the middle of the night freezing. If you do the opposite by getting an electric heated blanket, or one made of wool or cashmere, then you’ll interrupt your sleep because you’re burning up in a sweat. Find a blanket that is medium-warmth to sleep through the night uninterrupted.

13. Make your room completely dark.

Your body is trained to recognize light as time to be energized and darkness as a time to sleep. By making your bedroom total darkness, you give your body the nod to start rising melatonin levels, which is a main contributor to going to sleep (and why some people take melatonin pills before bed). When I did The 30-Day Challenge: Waking Up At 6 AM, I know for a fact that making my room completely dark helped me to a high degree. So if outside light is entering your room, close those window blinds or put a blanket over them to reach maximum darkness.

There you have my tried and true sleep tips for going to bed early and starting the next morning right! Try them out and see how it improves your sleep, energy, and life.

Related: 3 Ways To Wake Up Earlier Without Feeling Like Death

Readers, do you struggle with going to bed early? How would instantly going to sleep help improve your productivity? What are your best sleep tips?

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Health & Fitness

30 Day Plank Challenge: Plank For 5 Minutes On Last Day

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Imagine how pumped up you’re going to be after you complete the 30 Day Plank Challenge? You’ll feel like a rockstar, with abs to prove your hard work.

What I appreciate about the plank is that it’s totally a matter of willpower when it comes to who is willing to get on the ground and do it and who is not.

You don’t need to be tall, fast, strong, or have any physical quality to do this activity. It just comes down to are you a hard worker or not?

This choice alone separates successful people from others in this physical arena and all areas of life, honestly—which I love.

It’s also always wise to test yourself every once in awhile. Since the last personal challenge on Take Your Success happened eight months ago (the gratitude challenge), there’s no more time for slacking.

So for this edition we’re going to be tackling the plank exercise for an entire month straight.

Before we get into the specifics of this challenge, you first need to know the many benefits of planking.

Health Benefits Of The Plank Exercise

I doubt you’re informed about all of the various ways your body thrives when you plank on a consistent basis.

Let’s change that and boost your motivation by learning the pros of staying in the plank position.

Strengthen your core – Planks are arguably the safest and best exercise to strengthen your body’s core since it activates all muscles in this area. Do this exercise enough and you’ll build strong inner core muscles that will pay off for daily function and a sexy appearance.

Flatten your abs – Not everyone wants a glorious six pack, but we could all use a more tightened stomach and abs for when we take our shirt off. Of course diet is more than half the battle for a smooth stomach, but don’t discredit the power of planking to flatten your abs and bring you more confidence about your physical appearance.

Better your posture – By planking, you improve the alignment of your spine, joints, and bones. This helps your body move more efficiently and healthy during every day activities. And better posture improves the first impression you give to others, your body’s energy, and, heck, sitting straighter at a work meeting could be the signal of confidence that persuades your boss to give you a raise.

Reduce back pain – We just covered how better posture improves how you present yourselves to others and feel every day. Though a straightened spine also means less back pain. This study finds that almost 80% of Americans will have back pain sooner or later. That’s a warning sign that we all should plank more often to reduce this nagging affliction.

Become more athletic – With a more stabilized core, your body’s coordination increases allowing your athleticism to improve. You don’t have to be an athlete to appreciate some extra athleticism whether it’s needed at the gym, a sports league with your friends, or some random work event that uses your core muscles.

Speed up your metabolism – Want to lose weight and burn more calories? The plank also delivers in this area, and does much better than crunches or regular ab exercises. The best part of this movement is that it forces your body to continue to burn calories long after you’re done with it, so you get to enjoy a sped up metabolic rate the rest of the day—even when you’re sleeping.

Decrease odds of injury – Doing the plank is wonderful from an injury-prevention perspective because it strengthens your body’s core while not putting too much pressure on your hips, spine, and back muscles. Plus a stronger core means your body has a bigger shield, in a sense, to prevent bodily injuries.

Improve your mood – When you exercise your core with a long and hard plank routine, you release stress from the nervous system to improve your overall mood. That’s why planking can ease your mental worries and lighten your depression since it gives your body an outlet for feeling mentally and physically weighed down.

How can you say you don’t love the plank exercise now? Make this exercise a part of your daily routine and all of those benefits come to you.

To help you follow through, follow an official daily schedule for one entire month.

30 Day Plank Challenge Rules

The goal of the regimented schedule below is to both build up the strength of your core and hold you accountable.

Stick with this schedule without missing a day and you’re going to be shocked at what you can physically accomplish in just one month.

Here’s the daily schedule to complete the 30 Day Plank Challenge:

  • Day 1: 20 seconds
  • Day 2: 20 seconds
  • Day 3: 30 seconds
  • Day 4: 30 seconds
  • Day 5: 40 seconds
  • Day 6: Rest
  • Day 7: 45 seconds
  • Day 8: 45 seconds
  • Day 9: 1 minute
  • Day 10: 1 minute
  • Day 11: 1 minute
  • Day 12: 1 ½ minutes
  • Day 13: Rest
  • Day 14: 1 ½ minutes
  • Day 15: 1 ½ minutes
  • Day 16: 2 minutes
  • Day 17: 2 minutes
  • Day 18: 2 ½ minutes
  • Day 19: Rest
  • Day 20: 2 ½ minutes
  • Day 21: 2 ½ minutes
  • Day 22: 3 minutes
  • Day 23: 3 minutes
  • Day 24: 3 ½ minutes
  • Day 25: 3 ½ minutes
  • Day 26: Rest
  • Day 27: 4 minutes
  • Day 28: 4 minutes
  • Day 29: 4 ½ minutes
  • Day 30: 5 minutes

Don’t be frightened by the thought of planking for 5 minutes on day 30. By that point you’ll have significantly strengthened your core and trained your mind to stick in there when things get tough.

The hardest part will be to actually get started and then maintain proper form while planking. The latter is what I’m going to cover next.

What’s Proper Planking Form?

You’ll defeat the purpose of this challenge and lose out on the physical benefits of planking if your form is terrible.

Keep it right and tight to maximize the core gains that are sure to come after you do the following routine, step-by-step for the next month.

This is proper plank form:

  1. Get into push-up position.
  2. Bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your body weight on your forearms.
  3. Keep your upper body and lower body on a flat straight line.
  4. Look at the floor and relax your head.
  5. Hold this stance for as long as you can while maintaining proper form.
  6. Don’t stop breathing, inhale and exhale at a slow normal rate.

See what I mean that anyone can do it?

It’s a simple exercise when you consider the fact you need no gym equipment, no weights, no workout partner, and no specific environment to start planking and strengthening your core.

Exercises like this don’t discriminate from the poor who can’t afford fancy gyms, so no one has an excuse for why they can’t plank to get better.

Take It 1 Day At A Time

Like any great individual journey, you’ll perform best if you stay laser focused to take this challenge one day at a time.

It does you no good to worry about how you’re going to plank as long as you need to reach next week’s time when today is the only mission that matters. Stick to today, worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes.

If it helps, know that I’m going to be busting my tail to complete this 30 Day Plank Challenge as well.

We’re in this together. You got this, I got this, and we got this!

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How To Plank: Why This Is My Favorite Exercise!

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Whether your motive is looking better with your shirt off, feeling more in shape, or strengthening your body, you’ll want to know how to plank.

It might change, but right now this is my favorite exercise on the planet.

Watch this short video to get a quick explanation of the plank and how to do it to perfection:

In case you didn’t watch the clip or catch the steps to do a perfect plank, here they are:

  1. Get into push-up position
  2. Bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your body weight on your forearms
  3. Keep your upper body and lower body on a flat straight line
  4. Look at the floor and relax your head
  5. Hold this stance for as long as you can while maintaining proper form
  6. Don’t stop breathing, inhale and exhale at a slow normal rate

That’s all it takes to build your core and get stronger muscles. Isn’t the plank simple?

Plus you can plank daily to challenge your abs, where it’s not smart to do chest, biceps, or leg exercises daily. This is another W for the plank!

How often do you plank?

What’s your experience with it?

For how long can you plank without putting your butt in the air and arching your back?

Challenge yourself to start doing this weekly (it doesn’t have to be daily). Note how long you last, with good form, the first time you plank. Then take baby steps to feel the burn and go longer next time. And repeat this process.

Imagine how much progress you can make in 6, 12, and 18 months?

It’s for this reason that you better believe I’m planking tonight. Join me!

Related:

30 Day Push-Up Challenge: Get A Beefier & Fuller Chest

The 7 Day No Bad Sugar Challenge

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Health & Fitness

111 Reasons To Exercise

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Not in a regular workout routine? Maybe the problem is you don’t realize the importance of physical activity. I’ll fix that with these 111 reasons to exercise.

You may not like reading this list because then you don’t have the excuse of ignorance. Sorry to bury your excuses.

After reading this it’ll just be pure laziness if you’re not exercising and pushing your body to get in shape. That’s 100% on you.

But I got faith in you. You can build this habit—slowly but surely—and become a more fit version of yourself.

Take it day by day. That’s the key. Don’t expect to lose 10 pounds in a week, then get frustrated you’re not seeing immediate progress. All good things take time.

Alright, let’s dive into every single reason to work out!

The Benefits Of Exercise

  1. Betters your quality of life
  2. Gives you more energy throughout the day
  3. Helps you fall asleep quicker at night
  4. Works to prevent the common cold
  5. Boosts productivity all day
  6. Improves your blood flow
  7. Provides endorphins to feel good
  8. Fights against depression
  9. Improves your social confidence
  10. Extends the amount of years you live
  11. Stimulates mental focus and concentration
  12. Lowers your body fat and weight
  13. Strengthens your immune system
  14. Presents opportunities to make new friends
  15. Increases testosterone
  16. Lessens risk of joint pain
  17. Tones and strengthens your skin
  18. Enhances your endurance
  19. Protects you against heart disease
  20. Lowers risk of some cancers
  21. Convinces you you’re stronger than you think
  22. Fights against dementia
  23. Motivates you to eat healthier
  24. Burns extra calories
  25. Provides a creative outlet
  26. Helps you feel sexier
  27. Drives more romance in your relationship
  28. Lowers cholesterol in a natural way
  29. Makes your dog healthier and happier with more walks
  30. Decreases your resting heart rate
  31. Instills discipline and self-control
  32. Teaches your kids to exercise
  33. Increases your work performance
  34. Adds a challenge to your day
  35. Strengthens your bones
  36. Develops your athletic ability
  37. Pushes you to take more risks
  38. Digests your food better
  39. Lowers risk of diabetes
  40. Lowers triglycerides
  41. Aids your immune system fighting infections
  42. Improves emotional stability
  43. Gives you a positive goal to attach your energy to
  44. Alleviates constipation
  45. Stimulates pain-releasing hormones
  46. Improves oxygen movement to the body
  47. Lowers the risk of osteoporosis
  48. Speeds up your metabolism
  49. Helps remove lactic acid in the body
  50. Develops a mindset of self improvement
  51. Straightens up your posture
  52. Provides a healthy habit to exercise more
  53. Develops flexibility and range of motion
  54. Makes it easier to fit into different types of clothes
  55. Gives you a social setting to meet like-minded people
  56. Helps you think positive
  57. Saves you doctor bills down the road
  58. Increases creativity
  59. Allows you to eat unhealthy without getting fat
  60. Makes you drink more water
  61. Protects your eyes and eyesight
  62. Creates a mentality of respecting your body
  63. Builds muscle tone
  64. Provides opportunities to test your willpower
  65. Fights against allergies
  66. Makes you look younger than you are
  67. Prepares you for change
  68. Increases fertility for making babies
  69. Improves body control
  70. Allows your brain to think more clearly
  71. Helps your body store glycogen
  72. Boosts your body’s production of good fat
  73. Gets you comfortable handling pressure
  74. Decreases appetite for sugary drinks and unhealthy food
  75. Adds muscle strength
  76. Makes you feel hungrier after a good workout
  77. Takes away guilt when you do relax
  78. Increases the odds you make more money
  79. Reduces blood pressure
  80. Teaches you a lesson in patience to see body progress
  81. Alleviates back pain
  82. Readies you for any reunion, wedding, or social gathering
  83. Improves breathing ability
  84. Gives you a chance at a six pack
  85. Instills belief that you can achieve your goals and follow through
  86. Eases menstrual cramps
  87. Gets you ready to run a marathon
  88. Improves your business network and connections
  89. Provides an excuse to wear and buy new exercise clothes
  90. Improves reaction time
  91. Presents opportunities to find new business ideas
  92. Makes for a free social activity
  93. Reduces stress and anxiety
  94. Fights against feelings of boredom
  95. Protects against age-related muscle loss
  96. Gives you a pretty mirror view
  97. Raises your sexual performance
  98. Allows you to eat more food
  99. Makes you a more interesting person
  100. Prepares you to always look good in swimsuits
  101. Builds muscle size
  102. Adds a glow to your skin complexion
  103. Teaches you the value of hard work
  104. Gives you a reason to manage your time better
  105. Protects your body against injury
  106. Decreases the difficulty of lifting heavy objects
  107. Encourages the people around you to exercise
  108. Adds to your first impression
  109. Lowers the scary thought of stepping on a scale
  110. Increases compliments you receive from other people
  111. Gives your body what it loves, a good workout

If those 111 arguments didn’t convince you to take your health serious and begin a consistent exercise plan, I give up. You may be hopeless.

Just kidding. I know that’s not true. Even the most overweight, out-of-shape person can make a turn for the better to prioritize exercise.

And I know after reading this some of you will think, “Exercise is awesome. I’m going to get shredded for the beach this summer.” But then you’ll continue to not work out like nothing changed.

There’s only one road to getting in better shape, and it requires a bunch of sweat.

So snap out of it.  Start exercising like you know you should. Get committed.

You owe it to your mind and body at the very least. Otherwise you’ll steal those 111 reasons from yourself.

And as I wrote in this article, the best time to start is now.

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