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A thought popped into my head as I gradually woke up this morning. I thought, morning sure came faster than I thought it would. I was wrong. Although morning had technically come, it wasn’t my get-up-now time. It was, according to my dimly lit clock only 3:30 a.m.

I could only roll onto my back and stare at the ceiling. Why was I awake at 3:30 a.m?

There’s only one answer: I need to improve my sleep hygiene.

Have you heard that term before? Sleep hygiene refers to a pre-sleep routine. Falling asleep with a computer screen or the television is bad sleep hygiene. That’s the kind of routine that will lead to restless sleep, strange dreams and just too much brain activity.

Good sleep hygiene involves engaging in quiet and relaxing activities in that half hour or so before bed. Our days are stressful, busy and filled with emotion, even if it’s just boredom. All of the physical, mental and emotional residue will stay with us and disrupt our sleep if we don’t release it first.

Every sleep study I’ve ever heard about maintains one simple fact. If we’re to function at our best, we need to let our brains relax completely during sleep. Restful sleep keeps us healthy and happy, increases our energy, and fosters a wonderful feeling of well-being. But, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find that achieving that peaceful state is still a dream. Every day is so busy!

So, after one too many late nights followed by early morning wakings, I decided to take matters into my own hands and figure out how I can have a better sleep each night. What did I find? Well, the truth hurts sometimes. The key really is all about cultivating good sleep hygiene.

Keep A Schedule

Go to sleep every night and get up every morning at about the same time every day. Your body will get used to this schedule, and you’ll find yourself relaxing quickly and sleeping through the night.

Go Ahead, Have A Nap

I used to feel really guilty if I snuck in a nap mid afternoon. I’d look at the clock and wonder if I really have the time to indulge my tiredness given the work piling up on my desk. I may work from home, but having a nap just seemed a little too comfortable. I changed my mind when a friend (who works in a corporate office) admitted to closing her office door some afternoons, slipping under her desk, and giving in to her need for sleep. So, if you need a nap, take it. You’ll be refreshed and at your best again. Just make sure you don’t sleep too long. Fifteen or twenty minutes is the ideal afternoon nap.

Know Yourself

We all function according to different rhythms. I’m a consummate morning person. That whole concept of sleeping in on weekends never worked for me. My energy’s highest in the morning, so I go with it. Find your rhythm. What time are your natural sleep and wake-up times. Once you find them, stick with them as much as possible. There will be those evenings when you’d love to slip under the covers right after dinner. Maybe it’s the thought of cleaning up all the dishes. Or maybe all the delicious food you consumed is having that sedative effect on you. Whatever the reason, don’t give in! When you’ve finished dinner, go for a walk. Do something active to push yourself until your natural sleep time rolls around.

Tell me what sleep tips have worked for you?

 

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I saw a television commercial recently where a man was so dedicated to his cellphone that he moved through his morning routine without looking up once. He even had it in the shower with him, covered in a plastic baggy!

The advertiser may have been pointing out our extreme dependence on our devices in a funny way, but what struck me is how unnecessary it was for that man to be attached to his phone. There are lots of other ways to check Facebook, send email or text without having to hold onto a phone.

What I’m getting at is how technologically advanced the bathroom has become. So advanced, really, that having a television mounted on the wall is almost passé!

Check out some of these tech ideas. Which ones do you just have to have?

The High Tech Medicine Cabinet

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Medicine cabinets have come a long way since they were little cabinets stuck into a wall. They were barely deep enough to hold many of the bottles, jars or tubes that populate our bathrooms. Not to mention the fact that keeping medicine in a room that can get quite hot and humid is not exactly the best way to keep that product fresh.

Now, you can buy a medicine cabinet that comes in various depths to suit your needs. Better yet, the latest incarnation is a cabinet that is split. In other words, half is the regular shelved cabinet that we all recognize. The other half is refrigerated. In this age of popular, organic face products and yes, even medicine, the cooled section offers safe storage for all the natural and perishable bathroom products we buy.

Music To Relax By

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Remember the days when you’d cart the portable stereo into the bathroom so you could listen to music while soaking in the tub? Ok, I admit it, I still do this.

For those of us who love nothing better than to accompany a relaxing soak with the music we love, there’s a new trend in bathroom design that is sure to make us happy. It’s the surround sound system built right into the bathroom. No portable stereos are necessary. Just switch it on digitally, choose your playlist and you’re ready to spend some quality time with your tub.

Hands-Free Technology

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Hands-free toilet levers, faucets and hand dryers have been fixtures in public bathrooms for years. But, no one ever really thought about bringing that technology into the home. The move in recent years toward a more spa-like home bathroom experience, though, has created greater interest in bringing those products into the privacy of our homes.

The world of bathroom technology, especially digital technology, is really ramping up. Every year, home shows feature a long list of new ideas for our home. I can’t wait to see what else designers think up!

 

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Admit it, wouldn’t it be great if everything you needed was located within an easy step or two from the patio chair on which you’re sitting enjoying that great book you’ve been meaning to read? Picture yourself there. A cool beverage sits on the table near your elbow; the water, gently lapping in the pool, is close by, even the bowl of chips sits within easy reach.

What if I told you that you could have that?

The outdoor room is the latest trend to hit home and landscape design. Not exactly an overnight sensation – people living in warmer climes have been enjoying them for decades – they’re a wonderful way to fully enjoy the three most comfortable seasons before the rain and snow move in.

We’ve seen the outdoor living room, the outdoor kitchen, even the outdoor bedroom. Well, get ready for this one. How about the outdoor bathroom?

Ok, I know … it’s not exactly a new idea. Everyone’s heard of the old, drafty outhouse harboring all the creepy-crawlies from your nightmares. Scratch that image from your mind forever. I’m going to introduce you to something much better: the beautiful, outdoor bathroom.

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Imagine a backyard get-together or a pool party. You and your guests need a place to rinse off the suntan lotion and salt water, change into fresh clothes or just cool off. The last thing you want is to have your guests trekking pool water, sand or wet towels through your nice, clean home.

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A well-designed outdoor bathroom can solve all those problems. Design it as large or small as your space allows, include toilets, vanity or shower depending on how you’d like the room to be used. Given the extent of new and inexpensive materials available today, building a private, cozy and beautiful space is entirely possible.

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Indulgence? Perhaps. But, don’t you think we all deserve an outdoor, home spa to wash away all the cares of the day? I’m thinking that yes, we all do!

Over to you. What features would you need to have in your own outdoor bathroom design?