I recently read Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson. I’ll be honest, I was hoping that the book would uncover the hidden solution to better sleep. I expected some exotic tip- one that I would never have thought of on my own and one that would transform the way I sleep. I was ready to go out and buy a rare essential oil or invest in some novel treatment. This hope was torn away during the first chapter when the author made the recommendation to schedule a bedtime.

I put down the book frustrated that one of his first tips to getting better sleep was something my parents instilled in me growing up. This was nothing new, nothing eccentric, and certainly nothing earth shattering. The next tip was getting room-darkening shades. This tip I hadn’t adopted, but I already knew. “I already know all of this,” I told myself with regret for buying the book. These sleep changing hacks were common knowledge and throughout the book there were only a select few that I hadn’t heard before.

And, that’s when it hit me. We are often jaded by things that we have heard (or learned) before. But, just because the novelty has worn off, does not mean that the effectiveness has. Many of the strategies in the book would be highly effective at fixing a person’s sleep pattern. Yet, they seem so obvious that they feel like they lack merit (even though they don’t). There is something to be said about the tried and true advice that has stood the test of time.

The basics are there for a reason. They are meant to lay a solid foundation for everything else to be built upon. Sure, there are probably tons of unknown sleep hacks, but they will not provide the same benefit as if they were added to a regular bedtime. The author was trying to make his readers as successful as possible. For that reason, he wasn’t trying to allure readers with something new and different, but rather help them implement the foundation necessary.

I think we all need to remember this whether at work or in life. We need the basics. We need to try the obvious. We need to stop searching for the one obscure, exotic fix until we’ve laid the foundation with what is known to be effective. Novel things are great, but so are reliable ones.

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