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Simone N. Sneed

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5 Ways to Change the World in Your Sleep

Posted: 02/21/2013 8:05 am

My mother can confirm this: When I was a child, I hated to go to bed. The fear of missing out (FOMO) was so excruciatingly overwhelming that I would stay awake until my eyes hurt. I would love to say that I grew up and got over this, but truth be told, it just got worse.

When I was in college, Facebook was just finding its way to my campus, and that may have been when my fear of missing out became all-encompassing. All through college, graduate school and my first three professional jobs, I would find myself zombie-staring into the glow of my MacBook until 2 a.m. Mindlessly searching the Internet, reading status updates, preparing a wish list on Amazon, getting lost in Wikipedia wormholes, you name it, I've Googled it. Even when I was able to convince myself to turn off the computer, I would get under the covers and continue my screen addiction, surfing the net on a 2-inch by 4-inch screen. Desperation in action.

How did I go from a neurotic, social impact-obsessed, sleep-deprived MacBook addict to a high-performing, well-rested, under eye bag-free happy woman? A new routine and a bedside carafe.

Like every other millennial interested in changing the world, I've read countless books on change management, team performance, social impact bonds and, of course, happiness. The one thing I've learned is the value of sustainability. What I discovered through observation, reading and honest conversation is that everyone I knew, aching to change the world, was exhausted.

That's when it hit me: The key to change the world is self-discipline. Why? Because self-discipline allows you to develop behaviors that lead to sustainability (both individual and institutional).

With that knowledge, I accepted that in order to change the world, I must first go to bed. Here are five easy ways you too can increase your impact on the world by getting enough quality sleep:

1. No screens in the bedroom: Removing the electronics from your bedroom are an instant way to have more profound sleep. The blinking light on your TV, the glare from your iPad or the eerie glow of your MacBook impact your brain's ability to enter REM, which is key to having a quality night of sleep.

2. Keep calm, go to bed: Do not negotiate. Pick a bedtime and stick to it. By choosing a specific time to go to bed and then sticking with it, you are beginning the process of establishing your circadian rhythm (your natural sleep/wake cycle). This makes it easier to get up in the morning, and after a few weeks you'll find yourself getting sleepy at just the right time.

3. Do not disturb: Your new bedtime ritual is going to change your life and also your friends' lives. Essentially, you will have to train your friends and family not to contact you after a certain hour, and the best way to do that is with an app. I suggest the new Do Not Disturb feature on the iPhone. It allows you to turn off the alerts for incoming calls/messages during specific periods of time.

4. Make it special: A bedside carafe and down comforter changed my life. Each night, take 30 minutes to spend time with yourself. These moments of intentionality allow you to release the anxiety from the day, pick intentions for the next and connect with yourself.

5. Be consistent: It takes 90 days to establish a new habit. Give it a try, one night at a time.

Good night, sleep well!

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