Serena Simmons Consultant Psychologist

Change. Motivate. Adapt. Improve. Perform

The early bird catches the worm….

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High functioning people get up with the sparrows!

If you really want to succeed in life then you NEED to get up early!

If you’re not getting up and going to the gym at 5.30am then you’re a failure!

You will NEVER have a good business unless you’re an early riser!

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What a load of old rubbish!

This is something I hear all the time.  I think, quite frankly that it’s just another one of those urban myths that does nothing else but makes us feel bad if we’re one of those people that don’t enjoy or struggle to get up early.

Yes, we’ve all heard the stories about Margaret Thatcher who needed no more than 3 hours sleep a night.  There are even some really interesting articles about our successful contemporaries that tell us that all of these super successful people are up with the sparrows (CLICK HERE to see one!).

But how much truth is in this really?

Well, I work with all kinds of people from all walks of life, and I can tell you that there are many people I work with that yes, get up super early, but there are equally as many that don’t get up at an hour that would be considered ‘early’ yet they too have very successful lives and businesses.

So what’s at play?

Well, I would argue that there is something to be said for embracing who you are and not fighting your natural patterns.  For example, just because you get up a bit later than others, says nothing for the fact that you may be up until 2am every morning being extremely productive?

If this doesn’t pose any problems for you, and you are being productive and achieving your goals, does it really matter that you’re not up early?

– Sleep cycles – 

We each have a sleep cycle that will be unique to us.  This is based on our central biological clock, an inherent genetic component and also our circadian rhythms.  There are other things that impact on these namely, how much light we get.

This is something that can feel like a bit of a problem when you live in places like the UK.  Of course we have sunlight (which is vital for our functioning), but some of us need bright sun and if we don’t may suffer with conditions such as S.A.D.

Sadly, in this day and age this is also significantly affected by our usage of electronic devices…phones, tablets, laptops.  These play with our light cycles and the ‘blue light’ produced by them is the biggest culprit.  Too much of this, especially at night can make it difficult for our bodies to start to shut down for sleep and affects the production of melatonin needed for us to enter a good slumber.

So what does this all mean?

Well, I think it’s first important to know what your goals are.  Like I said, if you are a ltare riser but are getting down what you need to and are happy with what you are doing/where you are heading, I would argue that your sleep cycle may be working for you, so crack on!

 If however you are sleeping for far too long, getting up up late and not achieving anything or have goals that are not being reached, such as fitting in exercise, time to grow your business, struggling to get up for work; then these may be reasons that want to change your daily practices.

It’s in cases like these that we often need to look at breaking bad routines and getting out of comfort zones (my favourite!).

Here are some tips then for a better nights’ sleep, which you may find useful in helping you achieve your goals and get into better patterns that will help you achieve the things you want to.

 – SLEEP TIPS – 

First of all, you need to make a judgment on how much sleep you feel ‘suits’ you.  Funnily enough most people know this for themselves.  For me it’s 6.5-7 hours, any more and I can feel groggy and any less I can feel groggy.  Between 6.5-7 hours is my Goldilocks zone.

What’s yours?  Identify it and then figure out a good time for you to sleep/wake based now hat you want to do.  Again, for me I sleep around midnight and am up around 7am.

So based on how much sleep you know you need, you should now now what time you want to go to bed. Tips then start with the most obvious, as you should then…

1 – Create a night time routine….one that works for you.

The key factor here would be to stop looking at electronic devices at least a couple of hours before you want to go to sleep.

To help create an atmosphere for relaxation, can you do a series of things that ‘trick’ your body into thinking that sleep is near.  It is obvious but highly underrated.  Think of what we do to get babies/kids to sleep?

We bathe them, give them some warm milk, read them a story.  Maybe they have a familiar night light or mobile that plays a tune.  All of these create conditional cues that ‘cue’ us for sleep.

For me, my best routine is rather cliched.  I like a warm bath.  I have a cup of chamomile tea, I read a book in bed and I spray my pillow with a sleep spray which contains Lavender and Vetiver (my favourite smells….gorgeous!).

2 – Keep all electronic devices out of the room.

I’ll be honest I struggle with this one. My alarm for the morning is on my phone so I like to keep it near me, however research tells us that haven these devices near us isn’t good.

At best you should avoid looking at your devices in bed and try and keep them in another room. If you must keep one in the room, then the advice is to turn it to Flight Mode for the night so that you are not woken or disrupted by buzzing.

3 – This tip is for insomniacs or people that struggle sleeping.

This is a tricky one and yet there is something that works incredibly well for this, it’s just difficult to stick to.  Here is goes.

If you find that you can’t get to sleep, after trying for a short while or if you wake in the night and can’t get back to sleep then follow these simple steps for as long as it takes (it can take 2-3 weeks), but I’ve seen it work miracles!

STEP 1:  Get up and out of bed, and leave the room, going to another room in your house.  Make sure again that you don’t look at any electronic devices.  Instead read for example.  Go back to bed when you feel tired/can sleep.

STEP 2:  Regardless of how much sleep you got get up at your normal time (even if this is just 3 hours).  Then go to bed at the same time in the evening.

STEP 3:  Repeat until you have settled into a routine…which your body inevitably does as it begins to associate that time with sleep.

It works!

———————-

I hope you find these tips helpful. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve experienced any difficulties with your sleep and overcome them or maybe you know about some articles that are interesting.

You may also find THIS BOOK interesting.  It’s a book that highlights the daily rituals of people we know like Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Agatha Christie, Mozart and Charles Dickens.  It tells us about the time people sleep and rise and all the things they get done in between.

Enjoy, and till next week!

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