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Pocket Worthy · Stories to fuel your mind. I Slept Outside for a Week and It Changed My Life (Really) Tags: Pocket Worthy · Stories to fuel your mind. I Slept

Photo: Christopher D. Thompson

I live in explicit defiance of the rules of good sleep hygiene. Rule one: Don’t expose yourself to the blue light that’s emitted from phones and computers before bed. (When else am I going to catch up on the day’s hot takes?) Rule two: Sleep in a darkened bedroom. (I had’t considered this when buying my gauzy curtains, which are sufficient to keep my neighbors from peeping but definitely not to block out their overactive security floodlights.) Rule three: No afternoon coffee. (Ha!)

Since middle school over a decade ago, my terrible sleeping habits have manifested in various literal failures to launch: waking up for an early-morning run is a laughable concept. I hit the snooze button, on average, four times every morning. My record is eleven. Lately, my energy's been peaking later and later—I do my best thinking and running starting around 4:30 p.m. In my one attempt to have a consistent sleep schedule after college, I tried to be in bed by 10 p.m. But I often ended up just staring at my ceiling for hours, wondering who the hell is able to fall asleep in 10 to 20 minutes, which is evidently the average.

Maybe that’s why the headline stood out to me: “Want to fix your sleep schedule? Go camping this weekend,” which appeared in Popular Science in early February. A 2017 Current Biology study, which the article cites, focuses on that most mysterious indicator of sleep habits: the circadian rhythm. Put simply, your body should want to be asleep when it’s dark and awake when it’s light. Apparently, this well-tuned internal clock is as easy to achieve as it is lacking in most adults with a job and a smartphone. Just two days spent entirely outdoors can move a person’s internal clock 2.5 hours closer to being in sync with our natural sleep-wake cycle, the researchers found, following an earlier study showing that a week spent outdoors adjusted some subjects’ clocks by a whopping four hours. This is because constant exposure to natural light (and, crucially, darkness) seems to encourage the release of melatonin, the hormone that regulates circadian rhythm. “When your melatonin begins to rise, that tells us the start of the internal biological night is beginning,” says Kenneth Wright, professor at the University of Colorado’s Department of Integrative Physiology and a lead researcher on the study.

Maybe all this was a sign: I could hit reset on my deeply broken internal clock and indulge in some good old-fashioned stunt journalism. Surely, sleeping outside for seven days straight, even if I still had to go to work and couldn't spend all my waking hours in nature, would get my melatonin spiking at the right times. And if it didn’t, so what—winter had just ended and I really missed camping. My only rule was that I had to sleep in nature every single day. I could shower and answer e-mail and even have 2 p.m. coffee in civilization, but I couldn’t sleep in my own bed even if I was cold, miserable, or fearful of serial killers who hike.

My experiment started in early April, and a friend joined me for my inaugural night out at a car-camping site about 20 minutes from my Santa Fe home, staking out a spot for my just-big-enough-for-two tent. We sat at the campfire for a few hours, then it died, we got cold, and we made for our sleeping bags. Must be something like 11 p.m., I thought, but it was only 9:15. We laughed about it—then fell asleep about 15 minutes later. I awoke only when my alarm rang and hit the snooze button just twice.

Both of these victories were possibly a result of being lulled to sleep by, and waking up to, disorienting new surroundings. I kept my hopes low for the second night, when I’d be a little more used to the pattern and I’d be camping alone. I thought I might lie awake thinking about The Blair Witch Project. Nope. This time I was out in five minutes, barely surfaced from my deep sleep when I heard (I hope) deer circling my tent in the middle of the night, and hit my snooze button just once the next morning. After the third restful night, I abandoned my sleep anxieties and started evangelizing: “My sleep has been amazing,” I told anyone unfortunate enough to ask how the experiment was going. “I think my circadian rhythm is already changing. You can just feel it, you know?”

Having drank the melatonin-spiked Kool-Aid, I unzipped my sleeping bag on day four feeling like a whole new, clearheaded woman. I could probably go without my morning coffee, I told myself while drinking my morning coffee. But I did drop the urge to have a cup at 2 p.m.—in fact, I genuinely felt chipper all day. I was becoming the type of functional person who I always thought just lied about their caffeine habits. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, to start craving a nap, but that was the weirdest part: I never felt sleepy until the moment my head hit the pillow, and shortly after I was out cold. It was like my body knew to be awake until I lay down, and then it said, “Aha! I’m going to sleep now!”

I know that what I experienced isn’t really how circadian rhythms work, but according to Wright, the University of Colorado researcher, it could be related. Cutting exposure to blue light and increasing morning sunlight in any amount can help max out your melatonin closer to nightfall. “When that melatonin rises, it tells the body to get ready for bedtime in a couple hours,” Wright said. “So when it’s time for you to try to go to sleep, you’re probably sleeping more in sync with your clock.”

My experiment was less than scientific, but I do feel like I gleaned some very real benefits simply by letting sunrise and sunset determine my waking hours: the forced bedtime helped me fall asleep sooner, and the 360 degrees of sunlight and the cawing of the ravens every morning were hard to ignore. By the end of the week, I felt consistently tired whenever I chose to go to bed, and consistently more awake when it was time to start the day, and coffee no longer felt like a mandate. (I still drink it—this isn’t magic.)

Why It Works

I learned a lot about sleep hygiene during my week of camping, including that a lot of the specific before-bedtime habits you’ve heard about really do work. But, in addition to changes in natural-light exposure, it was actually those aspects of camping that you’d think would diminish my quality of sleep that probably enhanced it. For instance, temperatures dipped from 70 degrees to the mid-thirties after sundown every night, and the oncoming chill probably signaled to my body that sleep was imminent. Having no cell service meant that I didn't check my phone before going to bed, which meant no blue light messing with my melatonin levels. I also slept in a mummy-style sleeping bag beneath a giant quilt, the weight of which forced me to sleep on my back, so I could breathe, and kept me from moving around. (In fact, research has shown that a weighted blanket can improve sleep for insomniacs.)

How to Making Camping Work for You

For a circadian revamp, Wright sensibly recommends a weekend camping trip, rather than a harebrained workweek of semi-camping. Think of it as a cheat that’ll make it easier for you to develop healthier sleep habits when you return home. “We can use camping to jump-start an earlier sleep schedule, then use good sleep habits to keep us there,” he says. Sleeping in the backyard is OK, too, if you’re not blessed with a state forest up the road, as I am. (I love you, Black Canyon Campground.) Just make sure you’re not too exposed to streetlights or other ambient sources of illumination, and maybe leave your phone inside to cut that temptation entirely.

And even though it’s not scientifically supported, I’ve concluded that camping on a school night should be a casual option, even a sort of monthly treat—like a sports massage or a personal-health day. (I’ve tried neither, but they sound relaxing!)

How to Get the Same Benefits at Home

You can make small changes every day to replicate some of the sleep-cycle benefits of camping. “If you start your day by being more exposed to natural sunlight, that by itself is going to have an impact,” Wright says. He also suggests exercising soon after waking. “That, in addition to turning the lights down in your house and dimming all your electronic devices, could probably help keep your clock timed earlier.”

For indoor nights, I’ve also made some changes to help replicate my outdoor bedroom. I bought a blackout curtain for the window that directly faces my neighbors’ security light. (I moved the gauzy one to the window facing the street, where it will still allow the morning light to shine in.) Every night, I put my phone in airplane mode and read a book instead. I keep my room as cold as I can, although I’m not sleeping in my mummy bag—yet. I try not to worry so much about exactly when I go to sleep and instead eliminate bad sleep hygiene before it catches up to me: goodbye, 11 p.m. e-mail checks; goodbye, afternoon coffee; goodbye, snooze button number four. To paraphrase my favorite dumpster graffiti, which I believe also paraphrases a Beatles song: Everybody has something to hide (about their sleep-hygiene sins) except for me and my tent.

From birth till death, stages of life promote growth and enlightenment. Understanding a healthy transition is the key to happiness. Tags: From birth till death stages of life promote growth and enlightenment. Understanding a healthy transition is the key to happiness.

While you’re busy living life, have you considered how much it sucks?

 

I guess not, but let’s be honest, it does kind of suck sometimes with its decision-making, transitions, and complications. Seems like it would be easier if life had a blueprint. Maybe so, and maybe it does. For instance, there are 4 stages of life, this, in itself, could serve as your blueprint. It could, in fact, give you a different perspective on your journey. Maybe, with this bit of understanding, life won’t suck quite so bad.

The Stages of Life, when explored, bring growth and enlightenment

Stage One

Stage one in l life represents the basics. In this time of life, you learn how to walk, talk and other simple tasks like feeding yourself. Oh baby, this time of your life is simply mimicking what you see others do. All those adults around you, yeah, they are your heroes and teachers, showing you how to function as a human being. As babies, we are helpless, dependent on everyone to do everything for us.

By later childhood, we move on to more difficult tasks, but we still depend on adults to guide us. We observe the rules and the norms that surround us. We want to be accepted by society, and so we obey these rules and me adapt to these norms. Unfortunately, some of the adults are not very good at teaching us, they punish us for learning at times and this molds the way we think.

If we are healthy humans, we remain in stage one from birth until late adolescence or early adulthood. For others, stage one may last much longer. Some people wake up at age 45 and wonder where their life went. In stage one, we are constantly seeking approval in the absence of our own morals or thoughts. We are simply absorbing knowledge from others and copying actions.

Stage Two

As stage one taught us to fit in, so stage two helps us to stand apart. In this time of life, we are ready to discover who we really are. We are also ready to push boundaries that we were previously taught to respect. We are now making our own decisions, and learning what makes us unique to others.

In stage two, you will make many mistakes, learning from trial and error. This is when you will “sow wild oats”, in other words, live in many places, try different substances and experiment with all sorts of activities. You might have numerous relationships with both lovers and friends in this stage, as well.

When I was in stage two of my life, I could stay up all night, party with friends and still manage to get my college homework done. I traveled as well, driving for hundreds of miles on my own. I wanted to discover all that life had to offer and I did find some interesting corners. Some of my friends did the same, while others had their own adventures. Unfortunately, some never made it out alive. That’s one price you could pay during stage two since discoveries are sometimes perilous.

At some point, during this stage, you will see your limitations, and it will anger you. You probably won’t accept these limitations and push to try and achieve them regardless. This is just part of the stubborn attitude of stage twoers. Eventually, you learn that your limitations are real and they are a good thing. They show you what you’re bad at, and after all, you can’t be great at everything. Limitations will help you transition into stage three.

Stage two begins in adolescence or early adulthood and generally ends in the late twenties early thirties. As with stage one, some people stay in stage two longer than they should. They are considered the young at heart. This could be a good or bad thing honestly.

Stages of life represent a journal to psychological maturity

Stage three

When entering stage three, you have recognized your limitations or noticed diminishing returns on your actions. You then begin to arrange your priorities as you see fit. In stage three, you evaluate what you are good at, and what benefits your life. As for the stragglers from stage two, they have to be cut away. This includes old friends, activities and places that no longer suit you, or drag you down.

After you have cut away the unimportant aspects of the former stage of life, you get serious about the things you kept. For instance, you put emphasis on your job, your family or your strong interests (things you are actually good at). And there’s a huge point to all this too. Stage three is where you build your legacy!

Building your legacy for children or dependents is about leaving something behind when you are gone. At stage three, you begin the groundwork for this legacy, including priorities and responsibilities. Most people in stage three have the desire to leave the world a better place than how they found it.

There are two other reasons why stage three is different from stage four: You feel as if you have accomplished all you can and you are tired and just want to relax for a while and enjoy the scenery. That’s quite alright, considering stage three begins in the 30s and ends around retirement age. Some people, however, remain driven and determined well into their 80s. I guess that can be a good thing too!

Stage Four

Whenever you reach stage four, you have probably spent half a century investing in yourself. Maybe you’ve nailed your dream job, gotten married and had several children during these stages of life. Maybe you have managed to live a rather comfortable life. On the other hand, maybe you experienced a turbulent life, filled with adventure and misfortune. Either way, stage four is the culmination of a life, lived well or not.

At this age, however, your energies can no longer afford discoveries and adventures. It’s even past the time to be creating a legacy. Stage four is more about ensuring the legacy is passed down to your children, and teaching and helping them move through their life stages in a healthy manner.

Stage four is psychological, and it’s about finding meaning in life and death. By this age, you should be at peace, more or less, with the human condition. The end will come, and by stage four, we have accepted this truth.

What’s it all mean then?

So if life sucks and then we die, what’s the point in the whole fiasco? Well, moving through stages in life helps us find fulfillment and accomplishment. We can move past the negative aspects of each stage into the next and experience growth. In fact, stages aren’t unrelated, they just represent a reshuffling of priorities. We can have a certain control over an otherwise uncontrollable fate.

One of the most unfortunate parts of moving from one stage to the other is how it can happen. Sometimes trauma and death are the only ways that we can move past one stage to the other. It’s about development of strength in the face of adversity. On the other hand, these same events can cause us to get stuck in one stage or the other. It depends, a great part, on our mentality and motivation. You can also become stuck in one stage or the other by being afraid of not accomplishing enough in life.

The best way to move through stages of life is to think in a backward fashion. In order to move past stage one, you must learn to make decisions for yourself. To graduate stage two, you must accept your limitations and focus on what matters most. Moving past stage three requires accepting that time and energy are limited, and you may have to pass down your projects to your successors. Moving past stage four, you must understand that change is inevitable.

Just as you live, so you must die. For your descendants, on the other hand, life will go on. Hopefully, your legacy will continue after your stages of life have ended, you have enjoyed the fruits of enlightenment.

Simple Ways to Live a Happy Life
Category: Member Blogs
Tags: Happy life day world

Image result for happy day“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

Aristotle said this more than 2,000 years ago. And it still holds true today. What is the true purpose of life, if not to live a happy life until we die?

Happiness is one of the most sought-after goals in life, yet for many it seems to be elusive. It’s easy to delude ourselves into thinking, “When I just have that nice houseand new car, then I can be happy.” But in reality, happiness is available to all of us, right now. A big house or a new car won’t actually make you happier; it’s the simple joys in life that bring true happiness. Read on to learn 15 simple ways that you can start living a happier life today.

1. Do What You Love
If your passion is playing soccer, writing poems, or teaching children how to swim, make time to do it. You’ll find that when you’re doing what you love, you’re filled with joy. How much better does that sound than forcing yourself do something you don’t like?

2. Help Others
Sometimes after we’ve achieved our own personal goals, we still feel empty inside because we haven’t made a 
meaningful contribution to someone else’s life. When we volunteer or help others, it feels good to just be of service to someone else. The impact we make feels fulfilling and is a big potential source for our own happiness.

3. Be Thankful
When you think of all the things that you have to be grateful for, you realize how blessed you already are. Without even realizing it, we take our 
basic necessities for granted — a roof over your head and plenty of food to eat. By appreciating the things that you already have, you’ll begin to feel happier in your life.

4. Share With Others
When we share our thoughts, our time, and our abilities with others we feel better for it. A life lived without sharing can become lonely. When you share with others, they’ll feel great towards you and help you to feel more joy in your own life.

5. Smile More
Practice smiling more and see how it affects you internally, as well as those around you. You can always afford to give a smile. 
Smiling can make you happier — even if you have to force it, you’ll still feel better.

6. Exercise
When was the last time you went to the gym or worked out? Exercise reduces stress and 
releases endorphins, also known as a “runner’s high.” Playing sports is a fun way to exercise as well, whether it’s kicking around a soccer ball or shooting hoops.

7. Seek Out a Life Coach
A life coach will help you to evaluate your life and why you’re not feeling happy in it. Maybe you’re holding limiting beliefs or you have an emotional block without realizing it. By speaking to a life 
coach, you can uncover why you’re actually unhappy and what you can do to feel better.

8. Find Ways to Manage Stress
Don’t let stress rob you of your birthright to be happy. You deserve to be happy, and it wouldn’t be right to let stress get in the way. Practices such as meditation can help you to manage stress better and feel great.

9. Eat Healthy
It’s much more challenging to feel truly happy when you’re sick. But when you eat right, you feel better both physically and mentally. And you’ll avoid that guilty feeling that you just pigged out on junk food.

10. Spend Time With Your Loved Ones
There’s no replacement for spending quality time with your loved ones. We’re social beings, even if you’re an introvert or a loner. People love spending time with their friends and family for good conversation, bonding, and some laughs. Life’s too short to live it completely alone.

11. Dump Negative Thinking
You already know that negative thinking will bring you down. So how do you stop it? Become more aware of it and try replacing your negative thoughts with some positive ones. Spend less time with negative people and more time with positive people.

12. Give More Gifts
You don’t have to give expensive gifts; sometimes a poem, a quick note, or a thoughtful email will brighten someone else’s day, and yours. Share what you can give to all the wonderful people in your life.

13. Forgive and Forget
Holding a grudge will harm you more than the person you’re holding it against. Ask yourself, “What would it take for me to let go of the past?” and notice how you feel when you let go of your anger for a few seconds. Focus instead on a bright future and you’ll feel better for it.

14. Take a Walk in Nature
Spending time out in nature can be very refreshing and renewing, especially when you’re living in an artificial, manmade world. Taking a walk in your local woods or park and getting some fresh air can allow you to appreciate the beauty of the natural world.

15. Be Yourself
As Steve 
Jobs said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Accept who you are, just be yourself, and you’ll feel a world of difference.

Image result for happy day

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