It's no secret--we all love to be in bed. It's the ultimate place of relaxation, where you're completely free from the stresses of the day. If you're anything like me, you try to maximize your time there, lingering for a minute or 30 every morning before work or crawling in for a premature nap that turns into a full night of sleep.
Turns out? That's OK.
In fact, your bed's not just a place for snoozing or Netflix marathons--you can easily turn that mecca of relaxation into a place of self-improvement, productivity, and success. Next time you're tempted to turn in early or can't fathom the thought of getting out from under the covers, stop feeling guilty--and try one of these ways to make the most of your time in bed.
1. Boost Your Health
Taking a few deep breaths can be the perfect way to de-stress and rejuvenate for a productive next day. Deep breathing exercises have been proven to have positive mental and physical health impacts--they can stimulate the lymphatic system, thereby increasing blood flow and reducing fatigue, and alleviate stress and anxiety. All from the comfort of your own bed!
To get started, experts recommend first exhaling any remaining breath in your lungs so that you can take the deepest breath possible. Then, breathe in through your nose for three seconds, hold for three seconds, and exhale for six seconds. Repeat at least three times, and then get ready to reap the benefits.
2. Write Your Heart Out
Sure, we've all kept that short-lived journal about unrequited crushes when we were preteens, but studies show that keeping a regular journal as an adult can supercharge your productivity.
It makes sense: All your pesky thoughts from the day can prevent you from achieving true relaxation while in the comfort of your bed. But by writing down your inner thoughts in a journal before you nod off, you can solidify your memories, capture those fleeting creative ideas, and clear your mind for deeper thinking.
Another approach? Write first thing in the morning. A method called morning pages involves writing 750 words in a stream of consciousness when you first get up. This allows you to clear your head, so you can focus on what is most important for the day. Just keep a pen and paper next to your bed, and in-bed-journaling is one surefire way to boost your brainpower all day long.
3. Plan For the Day Ahead
Experts recommend using a weekly planner to get your thoughts, to-dos, and schedule organized. So on those mornings when you don't want to get out of bed yet? Grab your planner or computer, and spend a few extra minutes under the covers organizing your time for the next few days or week.
A few of our favorite planning tips: Schedule your to-dos into your calendar, ideally at specific times and places so you can hold yourself accountable. And don't just block out time for meetings and concrete tasks--remember to make time for goal setting, refocusing, and even resetting your brain between different things you have to do.
4. Read Up
No need to be ashamed about curling up with that YA book before bed: One study demonstrated that reading fiction increases your empathy, which may help you get along better with your team at work. Improved analytical thinking and memory are also cited among the benefits of reading.
And, unless you're in the middle of a thriller, reading before bed will help you get in the relaxed mindset you want before falling asleep, so that you can wake up and function productively.
5. Seriously Clear Your Head
If you're like me, there's a seemingly impossible line between meditation and sleeping. But the benefits you can reap from even a few minutes of meditation are seriously awesome (think eased stress and anxiety, long-term increases in focus, opened-up unknown creative centers in your mind), so it's definitely worth trying.
For the easiest way to get started, download a meditation app like Buddify. There's absolutely no need to get out of bed--just get comfortable, and use the five, 10, or 20 minutes of meditation to jump start self-improvement, success, and productivity.
OK, hear us out: Cuddling may seem like it has nothing to do with productivity, but there are actually surprising benefits that can directly link to your success in the office.
For one, being cuddled releases a hormone called oxytocin, which makes you feel good and connected to other people. Additionally, it boosts the immune system, reduces anxiety and stress, and even lowers the risk of heart disease. All these benefits lead to a healthier body and mind, which only primes you for success. Snuggle up!
The next time you're feeling guilty about whiling away hours in your bed, remember these tips. As the saying goes, without the dark there can be no light. So, too, is the relationship between productivity and relaxation--you must have both for a successful career and life. Sweet dreams!
More from The Muse: