We’ve all heard the stories about the mega-successful who wake up early every day and conquer the world before most people put the coffee on. But what about the other time of day that plays an equally important role? What are successful people doing right before bed? Do you want to know the secret? They set themselves up to have an even more productive day tomorrow.

Here are six bedtime habits of highly successful people.

1. Read for an hour

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates is an avid reader. Each night before bed, he spends an hour reading a book, ranging on topics from politics to current events.

Aside from the obvious benefits of gaining new knowledge, reading daily has also been shown to reduce stress and improve memory. A 2009 study from the University of Essex revealed that reading for as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by up to 68%.

Another big benefit from cracking open a good book on a nightly basis is that it can improve the long term health of your brain. Every time you read, it’s like a mental workout for your mind. This study performed in Britain showed that people who stimulated their minds through activities like reading, reduced cognitive decline by an average of 32% as they got older in age.

2. Unplug

After passing out from exhaustion and injuring her head to the tune of five stitches, Arianna Huffington has been an evangelist for “unplugging”. Every night before bed, she puts her phone in another room so she’s not distracted by it before bed. And science proves that she might be onto something.

According to Dr Charles Czeisler, a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard University, the bright lights produced by our cell phone screens disrupt our bodies natural sleep rhythm and actually “trick” our bodies into thinking it’s daytime. Those bright lights send a message to our brains that prevents certain chemicals from being released, causing us to have a much harder time going to sleep. So, if you want a good night’s rest, stash your phone in another room.

3. Take a walk

The busy CEO of Buffer likes to unwind with a brisk walk right before bed. He uses his walks to turn off his thoughts about work, and slowly work his self into a “state of tiredness”.

For a busy person always on the go, Joel’s late night walk routine could be perfect way to unwind after a stressful day. And aside from the obvious health benefits of daily walk, there a couple of surprising bonuses that come along as well.

One study revealed that walking can increase creativity. When you’re walking, your mind isn’t working as vigorously, which “opens up the free flow of ideas.” So if you’ve got a tough problem you haven’t been able to solve, maybe a nice, night time stroll is all you need to find the perfect, creative solution.

4. Meditate

The media maven has long supported the idea of regular meditation. No doubt, Ms. Winfrey has a schedule that keeps her mighty busy, and what better way to unwind at the end of a stressful day, than with a focused meditation session.

There’s often times a stigma surrounding meditation, and there has always been a debate as to whether mediation is actually helpful. But when a 2014 study took a look at over 19,000 cases involving mediation, the results were clear. Meditation was found to help reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and pain. So regardless of one’s view of mediation, you can’t argue with the results.

5. Get creative

In 2006, Vera Wang stated to Fortune that her nightly routine includes, “a fair amount of designing — at least conceptually if not literally.” Sometimes, the quiet of the night can be the perfect remedy for a creative block.

What’s even more surprising is that there’s a study that actually shows night time can be the perfect time for creativity, even if you’re tired from a long day. A study from Albion College revealed that, “tasks requiring creative insight was consistently better during their nonoptimal times of day.”. 

So if you’re a morning person (raises hand), then your most creative ideas will come right before bed. Researchers believe this is true because your mind is less restrained at night. Your ability to make logical connections worsens, but it works in your favor because you’re able to make connections you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

6. Plan the next day

The American Express CEO likes to manage his time, and he does so by ending his nights in a very simple way. He plans out three things he wants to accomplish for the following day. That way, he can wake up in the morning, and get to work on his most important tasks, right away.

This study from the early 90’s supports Chenault’s strange addiction with planning. Researchers followed a group of students from their high school years, until four years later at the end of their college careers. The researchers tested these students on their time management skills in high school, and when they caught up with those students four years later, they made a shocking discovery.

The students with better time management skills, had higher college GPA’s then their peers who had higher SAT scores. Basically, time management played a bigger role in their academic success than actual scholastic aptitude.

Featured photo credit: oninnovation via flickr.com

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