Sleeping with fiction

Slumbering, snoring, snoozing, synonyms, for this post on sleeping I’d like to share some of my own experiences and findings. So without messing about, here goes:

I currently sleep between 7-8 hours a night. It used to be < 7 but a slightly older and more realistic version of me told me yawning around a 100 times a day is not the healthiest of habits. Common knowledge, I knew that just fine. I just didn’t want to spend too many hours of my day sleeping. I still prefer not to but have finally accepted that I need a few more winks or those extra hours awake won’t account to anything anyway. Besides, I got tired (tee-hee) of dozing off like Chandler here.

I see sleeping as a practical matter, so a couple of years ago I experimented and monitored my sleeping patterns to figure out how many hours I needed, what my sleeping ‘segments’ were and what resulted in me feeling the most fit and chipper the next day. I started by doing some research, which mostly focused on the 90 min cycles and reaching deep sleep, which I took into account. As for my own results, I found that I would usually ‘wake’ after 3.5 hours and again 3.5 hours after that, totaling the 7 hours I felt I needed. Due to an increase in physical activity, age and probably many more factors, I now follow a 2x ~4 hour pattern. At the end of both segments, my body sort of starts up again. Most of the time I don’t notice this at all but sometimes I’m vaguely aware. (Or fully aware, bathroom breaks occur in this ‘waking’ stage)

Now, whatever my pattern is, there’s a lot that influences it and there’s loads of research and science behind all this. Deconstructing sleep just isn’t that simple. There’s plenty to Google (like: if you want to find out more. Also, if you’re keen on finding out your own sleeping patterns, try using a fitness/smart watch or phone app. I find it remarkable how much effect a little extra knowledge and self-awareness can have. Side note: there’s also a lot of research on alternative sleeping cycles, like 20-30 min naps every 4 hours or 2x 4 hours with a 4 (productive) hours in between. Interesting stuff.

In the end, winning is sleeping better. 
– Jodie Foster

Even though I found it intriguing, I stopped using apps after a while because I don’t want to have my phone in or near my bed. In fact I’ve banned all screens in or just before bed. A slight Netflix-launch relapse aside, this has worked well for me. I used a combination of fewer screens, reading (fiction) and meditating (light forms) to decrease my ‘falling asleep’ time from 30-60 mins before to max 5 mins now. Oh and yes, I still use my phone as an alarm, it’s just in another room. On silent except for the alarm tune.

I still use these methods to help me fall asleep when necessary, or whenever I feel like reading. I only read fiction at night, so my mind can just absorb and doesn’t have to activate [and process] too much. On top of that I tried taking a little cocktail “That knocks your right out.”, recommended by Tim Ferriss and Chase Jarvis (see video below). It’s made of Apple Cider Vinegar + honey in hot water. Whether it’s placebo or not, it worked pretty well!

I highlighted the prioritizing sleep bit but the whole video is worth a watch. It’s part of the reason I got into journaling as well, mentioned in There and back again. Tim and Chase are definitely a fascinating high energy duo.

A proper night’s sleep and activities such as journaling and meditating are regarded as a few of the most important parts of the day by a great number of successful and inspiring people. If by studying your own sleeping habits you could increase your productivity, fitness or creative output by as little as 10%, it’d still be worth it, right?  Feeling rested and energetic can change a day for the better, so see what works for you!



Be your own expert and the power of yet

Everyone’s an expert on something. If you can’t think of one topic, you might be an expert on many. It often depends on your hobbies, interests and what kind of work you do. I live in a house with six people, and with different interests we are all an expert on something. Personally, I’ve got some things I know plenty about but I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an expert on any of them. However, changing the frame of reference to just yourself and the people who could benefit from the knowledge makes you an expert just like that *snaps fingers*.

For instance, I know a thing or two about the English language and friends sometimes ask me for help. However, I’d have a hard time explaining the perfect tense to sixth-graders. I’m not an ‘expert’ in the dictionary sense of the word, but can use my expertise to help others nonetheless.

Point is, take pride in what you know a lot about. Know that those are the things that make you unique, it makes you tick and it makes you worth more to yourself and others. Someone else would love to know the things you know, and vice versa. Also remember: what knowledge you feel you lack now is out there ready for you to learn.

First and foremost: become an expert on yourself. Know yourself. This is the journey of personal development. If you get the basics right and truly know yourself, the rest will come more naturally. Know your strengths and weaknesses and accept them. Realise that you can work on improving all of them. Which leads me to the ‘power of yet’.

A high school in Chicago gave students who didn’t pass a ‘not yet’ grade, instead of a ‘fail’. You can guess the outcome.

Carol Dweck mentioned the above in her Ted Talk: ‘the power of believing you can improve’ in which she talks about the power of yet and how it was used in education. This was well received by the students and can be equally useful for many things in our lives. I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful. It is not necessarily about your grades or achievements, it is the mindset. If you change your mindset into a more ‘not yet’ one, you will find that your own bars will be lower and you will be able to perform more and more. Hard work is still hard work, learning a new skill still takes time. There is hardly a way around this. Nevertheless, your view on what you can do will change when you’ve realised not the things you can not do, but the things you can not yet do.

I feel there are two ways of looking at it, small and big picture:

1) There is a skill or ability that I can’t yet perform, but I’m going to work on it.
2) With the amount of years we have in our lives, how can we exclude so many things from our potential skill set or abilities?

We tend to put unnecessary limitations on ourselves. Or make excuses for why we can’t do a certain thing (yet), some are valid, some are simply for a lack of proper trying. I for one, suck at playing the guitar, no skill whatsoever. I can blame it on my anti-dexterous fingers all I want, truth is, I’ve never really tried. At the moment I don’t really have the aspiration to learn it, but I’m comforted knowing that someday I will be able to play more than the first 10 seconds of ‘Nothing Else Matters’. I’m looking forward to it because I haven’t excluded it from my future skill set.

It’s up to everyone what they want to learn or not. That should be obvious, right? However, knowing your skill set was chosen by you and that you are open to learning more is a lot nicer than believing you have an internal list of things you inherently can or can’t do. The new world has little room for absolutes. You have the power to change it.

I can’t play the guitar and will probably never be an expert. I’m OK with that. Someday l’ll look for an expert to teach me. 🙂

What have you done to CHANGE lately?

Think about it for a second, reflect and look back. What have you done to change lately? With change I mean something new, something you grow from and/or something that deviates from your usual routine. Change brings variety in our lives, variety keeps us on our toes and makes us excited. Being more excited more often leads to a more enjoyable lifestyle. You see; change is important.

Riddle me this: Continue reading

Beam yourself up Scotty!

I’ve learned that when you’re happy, it’s good to show that you’re happy. Beam! Showing your happiness only strengthens the feeling. Other people react to you more positively if you’re happy and you are more fun to be around. What’s there to lose? You can make/allow the tiniest happy thought to build up into a most wonderful feeling, putting a smile on your face and making you feel better altogether. Even when you’re in a neutral or bad mood, take those opportunities and turn them into something great. It’s not always easy, mind you, in fact sometimes you just want to feel shit for a bit. That’s alright. As long as you know you have that happy feeling to fall back on, if you try.

You know that moment when you’re Continue reading

Rule #32: Enjoy the little things

If you’ve seen Zombieland you’ll get the title reference, if you haven’t; Zombieland is  a gory comedy zombie flick that follows a small group of apocalypse survivors trying to find a life worth living. The main character has a list of ‘rules for surviving Zombieland’, and rule #32 is: Enjoy the little things. (Like finding a Twinkie)

While we don’t have the undead trying to eat us here in modern day Humanland, we should enjoy the little things nonetheless. Continue reading

What are you looking forward to?

Sometimes your days are just filled with things you don’t want to do. Work, most often, can be one of them. Not everyone likes his or her job but you do it anyway. If you’ve ever been unemployed for a longer period than you’re probably quite happy you have a job to begin with. It can still be a drag though. What I’ve noticed lately, is how people deal with this.

Whatever it is that you spend the most time on during a week, it is likely that you’re not always up for it. Sometimes all you want to do is not go or ‘to not deal with it’. It happens to everyone. Now I’ve noticed people (including myself) saying that and nine out of ten times it all went alright and people weren’t too bothered once they actually started. You know, the “Ah it’s not that bad once I start and get in a flow.” or “When I’m actually there it’s not too bad.” comments. It’s just the thought of having to spend eight or how many hours at a place you don’t necessarily want to be. That can’t be the spirit, can it? Continue reading

Give the 100%

“Find something you really want to do, and give it 100%.”

That was the advice a friend of mine gave me once, it struck me instantly, I realized I had never committed that much to anything. I feel I have now. In the past year I have committed myself to certain things, and it taught me a great deal about myself. Testing your own resolve and finding your ‘edge’ makes it possible to see where you can go, and how much you can push yourself (beyond that). This works both physically and mentally, depending on what activity you choose to give 100% of your effort. Continue reading

Confidently complementing confidence

“Hey there awesome person! You look great today!”

Confidence brings positivity, and vice versa. If you have the confidence to pay someone a compliment, whether a friend or a stranger, you radiate positivity. We all have that friend who is super positive most of the time and is overall generous in his or her praise. If you read that and didn’t relate it to yourself, do so. You can be that friend to others just as that person is to you. That person is generally likeable, and people feed off on that. It is an upward spiral of positivity, and I suggest you take steps toward it.

Some people are naturally confident, others have to work on it and perhaps learn it from others. No biggie, that’s just the way people are built. I had to work on it a lot as well, and both my peers and myself now consider me a confident person. Couple of years ago I never thought I could be as confident as I am today, yet here I am. It can be a long road, but it is oh so worth it.

Now, there are many ways to improve your confidence, Continue reading

Your life purpose.

If you’ve started developing yourself you’ve probably heard of finding your purpose or passion. I hope you have, in any case, I’ve been wanting to write a piece about it myself. I’ll keep it short and use several sources, in the end, you are the one who has to find your purpose. I believe it is a vital step in personal development, as it gives you a guide to discovering who you are truly about, what you value and what you want to do in life.

I have used several ways to discover mine. Some methods worked better than others, and with a few I felt more of a connection to the result than I had before. I suggest you try a combination of several methods. Below I’ll link a few ways to do so. Continue reading