Much is made of the importance of our morning routine and how it can dictate the quality and productivity of our day – but what of our night time one?
What we do in the lead up to going to bed directly impacts how we’re able to function the following day. In other words, your night time routine is a precursor to your morning one. So if you don’t get it right, there’s little chance you’ll be able to spring out of bed the following morning ready to seize the day. After all, Bill Gates probably wouldn’t find the motivation for that dawn cardio session if he was scrolling through his Windows Phone all night, would he?
But a quality night time routine isn’t just about getting a good night’s sleep. In his book The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy describes our mornings and evenings as the “bookends” of our day. Hardy, the former publisher of Success magazine, argues that having “bookends” consisting of routine, reflection and visualisation is the key to achieving your goals.
With that in mind, follow these simple pre-bed steps for a more prosperous life:
Multiple studies have told us that the blue light from our smartphone screens suppress our body’s natural night time release of melatonin. Which means that because our devices are tricking our brains into thinking it’s still the middle of the day, it does its best to stop us from feeling sleepy. This can lead to a disrupted sleep cycle and even insomnia.
Aside from feeling tired and unmotivated the following day, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, you’re inviting in a whole host of health issues. So, instead of being part of the 81% of us who have our phones switched on by the side of the bed all night long, make like Arianna Huffington and switch off your devices 1-2 hours before you hit the hay.
GO FOR A WALK
Waiting for inspiration to strike? Take a brisk stroll around the block to get your creative juices flowing. Studies show that the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other in the fresh air can increase a person’s creative output by 60%. Taking a stroll is also a great way to clear your mind of things you may have been holding onto throughout the day – think them through as you wander or talk them out with a walking partner and by the time you hop into bed, you’ll be really ready for rest and relaxation.
Did you know that reading for as little as six minutes a day can reduce your stress levels by as much as 68%? Even Barack Obama cites reading as part of his bedtime ritual, so if the president of the United States can find the time to pick up a book, the chances are you can too. The escapism of reading is the perfect way to unwind mentally, taking your mind off the tasks of the day.
PLAN TOMORROW TODAY
“Plan tomorrow today,” advises Hardy. “The last thing I do before I shut down for the day, by routine, is to review and complete the plan for the following day,” says the self-made millionaire, adding that the entire process only takes him around 10 minutes but is an invaluable part of his day. Having the jump on your next day the night before isn’t just a way of getting your task set and ready for the next day, it’s a good way to let go of things you might have hanging over your head. Instead of wondering how or when you’ll be able to tackle a certain task, you’ll have a plan or at least a better understanding of your tasks for tomorrow so it won’t plague you with worry during the night.
VISUALISE YOUR SUCCESS
The night before every competition, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps would imagine himself winning each race down to every minute detail. “Phelps won every race before it started – in his mind,” says Hardy, who says we shouldn’t underestimate the power of visualisation.
The chances are your evenings are the only times you can think at length without being distracted so don’t fritter this precious time away on your phone or in front of the TV. Ask yourself; what do you want? Where do you want to be? Think about it. Visualise it. Then, get up the next day and live it.
SET YOUR ALARM (EVEN ON SATURDAYS)
Have you ever wondered why you feel more tired after having a sleep in? Even an extra two hours in bed can leave you battling the same exhaustion levels as someone with jetlag, especially if you were already sleep deprived. Instead of switching off the alarm, says sleep expert Dr. Nitun Verma, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day – even on the weekend. Establishing a regular sleep cycle will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the day, every day.