Optimizing your night's sleep
The "Ice Storm of 2008" had wiped out power to over 1,000,000 homes and businesses. Over the past few days many people have been forced to leave their homes and seek refuge at nearby shelters. Other people have tried to stay in their houses and brave the cold. Others have tried to warm their houses by blasting their gas stoves or using un-vented kerosene heaters. These are BAD ideas. Don't try them at home.
If you're one of those people who, like me, stubbornly wants to brave the cold and be independent, try this:
- Fire up your gas grill or charcoal grill. OUTSIDE!
- Throw some big rocks (5-10 pounds each) on indirect high heat.
- Cook for approximately 1 -2 hours with the cover closed.
- Let them cool for about 20 minutes.
- Check the temperature of the rocks carefully with your hand.
- Wrap them in towels or blankets if you don't think they will burn the towels.
- Enjoy the heat! It should stay very warm for around 8-10 hours.
This is not fool proof.. obviously dealing with hot rocks is not the safest thing either, just be smart about it and don't come to me if you burn a hole through your mattress. Even if you let the rocks cool for quite a while they will still retain a lot of heat. The trick is to allow the outer layer to cool so that you can touch it easily, but the center of the rock will still be hot and it will emanate heat slowly over the course of the night.
Bricks, patio blocks, or ceramic tiles will work too, although the bigger the object is, the longer it will retain it's heat. Similarly, it will take longer to bring a larger object up to temperature.
The first few seconds of your day, as you probably know, are of the utmost importance to setting your mood. Whether you wake up to a jack-hammer or to something more peaceful like chirping birds, or the voice of a loved one will make a big difference in the ambition you have to get started.
I would encourage you to use a music alarm clock where you can control the songs played. Wake up to something you like. Whether that is soothing meditation music, chimes, or something like Dragonforce or Billy Joel. As long as it's something that makes you happy and makes you eager to get our of bed and start your day.
In order to get the best night's sleep, sleep in multiples of your REM cycle. Circadian rhythm is what governs the duration of these cycles and is made up of systems of Nerve Centers, Hormones and Neurotransmitters.
The average person's REM cycle is 90 minutes long. If you control the duration of your sleep so that it is a multiple of this, then when you wake up it is more likely that your body and mind will be ready to wake up. Being "ready" to wake up means that your body has experienced REM sleep, which is said to categorize your thoughts and repair your mind, and also "Deep" sleep which relaxes your muscles and repairs your body.
4.5 hours, 6 hours, or 7.5 hours are all multiples of a REM cycle. Although 7.5 hours may be too much for some. I've managed to get 4.5 hours of sleep over long periods of time without feeling like I'm not getting enough sleep. I find it's generally good to leave about 30 minutes to fall asleep, that is, if you're obeying rules number 1 and 2. And each night before lying down verify that your alarm is set for the correct time -- a multiple of a sleep cycle plus 30 minutes to fall asleep.
Anyone can take a reservation. Take take take... It's keeping the reservation... - SeinfeldThe most important thing to do when waking up to an alarm clock is getting up when it goes off and not hitting snooze, not once. (Also see "Wake up on the right side of the bed") A good way to do this, I've found, is by putting the alarm clock on the opposite side of the room, so that you must get out of bed to shut it off. Once you have stood up and shut off the alarm get you bearings, breathe deeply, and get started picking out clothes or whatever it is that you do first thing in the morning. It's good to have this first daily task be consistent so that you know exactly what you should be doing as soon as you shut off your alarm.
- Shut off the alarm clock on the opposite side of the room
- Consider your day ahead (See Planning for the next Day)
- Take a deep breath and get your balance and bearings.
- Begin your consistent daily task.
Before you hit the hay think about the day to follow. Are you in the middle of doing something that you'd like to continue? Is there something on your to-do list that you'd be able to get into first thing in the morning? Maybe you just have some cereal that you enjoy, or a new song to listen to. Plan on doing THAT, whatever it is, before you go to bed, and as you're standing at your alarm clock in the morning, waiting for your eyes to focus, think about what you're planning to do and picture yourself doing it and hopefully enjoying it! Take a deep breath, and embark!