Key factors to financial stability are simple – make smart life decisions and sustain them for the long run. Few examples are as follows:
Investing – Find low cost index funds such as the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSAX), automate your investment and invest for 20+ years.
Transportation – Never lease a car. Buy affordable and reliable car with cash and drive it for 10+ years.
However, despite how simple these principles are, we oftentimes find it very challenging to make smart life decisions and even more, sustain them year after year. We receive a hot new stock tip from a co-worker and feel we need to jump on it due to fear of missing out. We see an ad for a luxury car and before we know it, we are on the Kelley Blue Book to see how much my old beater would sell for.
We can’t completely eliminate dumb decisions from our lives, but I have noticed a trend in my own life. I tend to make irrational and regretful choices when I’m emotionally and physically drained. And as I’m getting closer to 40 (just turned 38!), it’s becoming even more apparent that I need to better manage my energy level as my responsibilities as the sandwich generation grow (e.g. demanding career, growing kids, aging parents, increasing financial responsibility etc.).
In this post, I want to share with you the starting point for better managing our energy level, better sleep!, and six tips that will allow us to most effectively rest our body and mind.
How to Sleep Better
Sleep is one of the most under-appreciated activities. It is oftentimes the first item to be sacrificed when other priorities pop up and many of us don’t give it too much thought. However, study after study have shown a direct correlation between sleep and mental performance. Lack of adequate sleep leads to slower reaction time, lower concentration and reduced analytical reasoning to name a few.
We’ve all been there. You slept late watching Netflix latest release. You woke up early because you have to be at work by a certain time. However, your brain was only halfway present. You couldn’t concentrate effectively and you were constantly distracted. You came home feeling drained and unsatisfied.
But in contrast, you’ve also experienced the opposite. You slept early and woke up refreshed! Throughout the day, you felt like Bradley Cooper from the movie Limitless. You were able to concentrate intensely. You walked by a box of donuts with no problem – you have intense willpower to resist! You came home feeling accomplished and proud of yourself.
Now how can you repeat this day over and over? Here are six tips to better sleep:
1) Set a Sleep Schedule
Set a routine sleep schedule (e.g. 10am – 6pm) and stick to it both weekdays and weekends. Our body craves routine. Resist the temptation to stay up late on weekends because you don’t have work the next day. Once your body gets used to a sleep routine, you will fall asleep quicker and wake up more refreshed.
2) Make Your Bed & Room Super Comfortable
Treat your bed with the utmost respect. Check your mattress firmness, sheet thickness and even the pillow comfort. Set your room temperature to ideal 70 degrees. You want it all to be most comfortable as possible. Do you enjoy laying in your bed? Do you look forward to crawling into your sheets? Is the pillow thickness ideal for your sleep position?
3) Watch What You Eat or Drink
No big meals at night after 8pm. Your body will struggle with digestion and you’ll find it hard to fall asleep. Also avoid alcohol before bed and limit caffeine after 4pm. “Alcohol may seem to be helping you to sleep, as it helps induce sleep, but overall it is more disruptive to sleep, particularly in the second half of the night,” says researcher Irshaad Ebrahim, Medical Director at The London Sleep Centre. Caffeine on the other hand can disrupt your sleep up to six hours after consuming. So if you want to be in bed by 10pm, coffee after 4pm is not a good idea.
4) Empty Your Mind
Keep a pen and notepad next to your bed and get in a habit of clearing your mind before bed either through journaling or just listing out what’s in your mind. By writing down your thoughts and concerns, you are giving it a place outside of your head.
5) Eliminate Light & Noise
Completely darken your bedroom by turning off all lights before you get into bed. You also want to eliminate all noise if possible. I prefer to use an eye mask and an ear plug to make sure I can control for all light and noise. If you go this route, make sure you use high quality products and not the free eye masks they give you on international plane rides. They are much more comfortable to wear and completely block out all light.
6) Power Down
Lastly, get an alarm clock! Since the invention of the iPhone, we’ve taken it as a matter of fact that phones are our alarm clock. However, how many of us have stayed up longer than we wanted scrolling through Facebook feeds or just reading our emails in bed? The temptation is too strong and the light from any of these devices also have a way of over stimulating our brains. If possible, have your phone across the room or even better yet, in a different room and get an analog alarm clock!
Do you find it challenging to get adequate sleep? Are there any tips from above that resonate with you?