7 ways to better understand your Sleep Cycle

Photo by Alexander Possingham on Unsplash.

When I was growing up, sleeping was one of my favourite things to do. I used to sleep late but could just keep sleeping and wake up late. But as I grew older and with responsibility ever-increasing, sleeping late soon became a thing of the past. Unfortunately, I had gotten into the habit of sleeping late (something I still haven’t gotten over), resulting in less sleep than I liked.

Our regular readers might have noticed that we have covered “sleep” in several of our previous blogs, either on its own or as an essential part of another self-improvement blog. This is because almost every study highlights the importance of a healthy sleep cycle.

But what constitutes a healthy sleep cycle? The following are seven tips to help you identify what makes a healthy sleep cycle.

1.    There is no such thing as a “golden rule”

Do you really need eight hours of sleep? Photo by Mpho Mojapelo on Unsplash.

How often have we been advised “always to get at least 8 hours of sleep a day”? If I had a penny for every time someone told me that, I would at least have close to a pound by now. This golden rule has become so ingrained in our psyche that for most of us if we don’t get eight hours of sleep, we feel worn out the next day. The fact is, for most of us, the ideal daily requirement of sleep is between seven and nine hours, dependent on several factors such as fatigue levels, the time we go to sleep, etc.

Then there are those lucky few who, according to the National Institute of Health, have a unique gene that enables them to require only four to five hours of sleep daily for optimal and regular performance.

So, figure out what is your “golden rule”!

2.    Reduced sleep does not increase efficiency

For those of us who lead a busy life, it might seem that there are never enough hours in a day. We might try to make up for this by reducing the number of hours we get to sleep [because where else can you get the time? (I am being sarcastic here)], let’s say by reducing an hour of sleep from our ideal sleep cycle. Now, if we do this for an entire week, that is seven hours taken away from our ideal sleep cycle, and if we think this would not have an impact on us, we would be wrong. All you will achieve is increasing your fatigue levels and reducing your productivity.

3.    Bored vs Sleepy

Photo by Tony Tran on Unsplash.

Another way of identifying if you are getting adequate sleep per your ideal sleep cycle is by noticing if you are falling asleep at unexpected times during the day. Maybe in class or at a meeting, or even at the movies. If you are otherwise healthy and tend to fall asleep at unexpected times, you are not getting adequate sleep. It is not because you are lazy or bored. You can be bored as hell in a class and still be wide awake.

So, check your sleep cycle, maybe increase an hour to the cycle and see if there is an improvement.

4.    Identify your sleep cycle

No one said a sleep cycle must be continuous. Let’s say your ideal sleep cycle is 7 hours a day. If you can sleep the seven hours continuously, that is great, but if you can’t, consider breaking up the cycle, five hours at night and two hours midday. Experiment and find out what sleep cycle works for you.

5.    Older people need less sleep

False! While it is true that children and teenagers might require more sleep to cater to their growing bodies. Once you are an adult, your ideal sleep cycle will remain consistent. So, even if your sleep schedule moves around a bit during your life, your ideal sleep cycle length should stay the same.

6.    Temperature control

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash.

I hate warm and cosy! I just can’t sleep when it is warm, and I just sweat buckets. I like my room cold (the exact opposite of my wife’s); usually, the temperature in my room is set to about sixteen degrees centigrade. And this is what I need to get a comfortable night’s sleep. Find out what works for you and what will help you achieve your ideal sleep cycle.

7.    Too much sleep

Just like getting too little sleep, getting too much sleep can also be detrimental to a person’s mental and physical health. According to a study listed in the National Library of Medicine, “In the general population, sleeping too much was associated with psychiatric diseases and higher body mass index (BMI)”.

So, stick to your ideal sleep cycle and don’t think you can make up for the loss of sleep by sleeping extra a couple of days a week.

Hopefully, these seven tips will help you manage your ideal sleep cycle better, thereby improving your quality of life and improving your work-life-study balance. If you have any other tips that might help our readers manage their sleep cycle better, please share them here.   

If you have been thinking about doing a master’s degree, and are ready to challenge yourself, look at our list of programmes and see if we have anything you are interested in doing.

You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on the programme that is right for you, the application process, and details on discounts we might be offering at this time.

Are you feeling Stuck in Life? Here are 4 tips to help you to start getting UNSTUCK.

What do you do when you find yourself stuck? Photo by Fernando Jorge on Unsplash.

Life can get complicated. At any given point, most of us will be juggling multiple roles simultaneously – father, son, husband, student, teacher, employee, employer, manager, subordinate, the list goes on. Managing all these roles effectively and efficiently can get stressful, and there may be times when we just get stuck.

The feeling of getting stuck is, at least in my opinion, a common and recurring aspect of life. It happens to everyone, and when it happens in one aspect of life, it can easily affect other aspects of life.

For example, let’s say you are facing a challenge at work that you cannot overcome no matter how much you put your mind to finding a solution. You are STUCK. Before you know it, or rather, without even being aware of it, this will slowly start affecting other aspects of your life. Let’s say you are also doing an online master’s degree programme and have a deadline to submit an assignment, but all you can think is how you are falling behind at work, and before you know it, that mindset of being stuck at work has now spread to your student life as well. And now this feeling of being stuck has been compounded and will start affecting more aspects of your life.

Hopefully, you will be able to nip this feeling of being stuck in the bud before it starts affecting something significant (again, in my opinion) like being a father, husband and son.

Like most things in life, there are a number of ways to get UNSTUCK and again, these are habits that you have to cultivate. Here are four easy ways to help you get started:

(1) Do not label: We just love to label everything, don’t we? Especially if it is something bad. Let’s say we haven’t achieved our targets at work for a couple of months; how many times have we cribbed, cried, and complained, saying it has been a bad couple of months or saying that we are going through bad times at work. When we label something as “bad”, we tend to write it off or give up. We move on, and there is no scope for improvement or learning from the mistakes committed.

Getting stuck labelling. Photo by Victor He on Unsplash.

Conversely, when we label something as good, we set that as the benchmark and limit our potential.

No matter how low we hit or how high we peak, there is always scope for learning, growing, and improving. So, don’t label anything as good or bad!

(2) Let go of baggage: As in the above point, your baggage can be good or bad. It is never a good idea to revel in the glories of the past or wallow in the miseries of failure. If you have had success, celebrate it – but only for a day, then move on to your next assignment or challenge. If you have failed, then you have failed – analyse it, learn from it, and move on – again, only for a day. Never let your wallowing in failure outstrip your celebration of success – find a balance. If you get stuck in the past, it will be difficult to get unstuck.

(3) Always have a goal: This is probably the most cliched and overused advice given in the history of advice. There is a reason for that – it is an important point and a point that works. Regardless of whether they are short term or long term, goals give you a direction, something to aim for (a destination) and a yardstick to measure your progress. As long as you have a goal or goals to work towards, there will be very little opportunity for your mind to wander, and you get stuck in inaction and demotivation. Having goals protect you.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash.

(4) Ask for help: If you find yourself getting stuck, maybe it is time for a change in perspective. We often tend not to see what is right in front of us, what is perhaps obvious to others, and unless we ask for help, no one will know we are struggling and stuck and therefore will not point the obvious out to us. Of course, there are many different people we could ask for help – from professionals to trusted friends/family or colleagues to your neighbouring know-it-all five-year-old. You have to identify what level of help you require and have the courage to seek it out.

These points are just four simple tips to help you get started on getting unstuck, and I would appreciate it if you shared with us what worked for you in getting unstuck.

If you have been thinking about doing a master’s degree, and are ready to challenge yourself, look at our list of programmes and see if we have anything you are interested in doing.

You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on the programme that is right for you, the application process, and for details on discounts we might be offering at this time.