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Last Updated on March 20, 2018

The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

I’m sure you’ve come across ‘morning routines’ being talked about as something very important if you want to be healthy and successful. However, I’m guessing you haven’t heard of ‘night routines’ being talked about so much.

Night routines are not popular, as sticking to a healthy routine isn’t easy, especially at night after a whole day of work. Let’s be honest, all we’d really like to do after work is relax. Routines? Not so much!

I understand your feelings about this issue as I used to think this way too. But after reading this article, I’m confident you’ll change your mind – as you’ll learn about the fantastic benefits of a night routine (e.g. no more sleep issues, a smoother morning and a more energetic day).

I’m going to provide you with some great tips (and some exact steps) to make the perfect night routine.

Why a night routine matters?

A night routine is the things you do immediately prior to going to bed. For example, it may be your habit to have a hot drink before going to bed, or perhaps you like to read a book in bed before going to sleep.

Of course, you might have no specific night time routine whatsoever and just take each evening and night as it comes. While it might seem that having a flexible and easygoing night routine is the best thing, I would caution you, and ask you to think about the following:

Your nighttime routine is as important as your morning routine.

By creating a routine for the morning, you don’t have to put much effort into thinking about what you need to do to get ready before leaving your home for work. Clearly, having a morning routine is beneficial. And guess what? Having a night routine is beneficial too.

Here are some three benefits of having a decent night routine:[1]

  • You’ll have a more restful and higher-quality sleep.
  • You’ll be able to tackle the morning in a smoother and more productive way.
  • Your brain will be sharper throughout the next day.

So, what are the ideal components of a night routine? I’ll reveal these now.

The ultimate night routine (with exact steps to follow)

Before you head home…

    1. Get rid of caffeine after 4:00pm

    Your night routine begins well before your head hits the pillow. If you work a 9 to 5, you need to think about how everything you do after 4:00pm affects your sleep.

    For example caffeine stays in your system for up to six hours. If you’re accustomed to having a cup of tea in the evening, make sure it’s an herbal, caffeine free tea. Otherwise, you might be jittery until 10:00pm or later.

    2. Stay hydrated

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    Dehydration can make you feel sluggish and tired when you want to be awake. You can’t go wrong with having some good old-fashioned H2O throughout the evening.[2]

    3. Decide when the work day ends

    To have a solid night routine, you must decide when you’re leaving work. It’s easy to lose track of time and stay too late. Establish a cut off time for work-related emails and phone calls as well.

    If you don’t set boundaries, it’s hard to enjoy life and get a good night of sleep.

    Immediately after work…

      4. Avoid alcohol

      If you’re heading out with friends, be mindful of your alcohol intake. Alcohol may make you drowsy, but the sleep you get won’t be restful. Skip the booze altogether, or stop consuming it at least two hours before bed.[3]

      5. Have a healthy dinner

      Aim to have your dinner a few hours before you go to bed. Overeating or having heavy or rich meals around bedtime may lead to discomfort and indigestion. When you need a snack closer to bedtime, reach for something light and healthy.

      The time immediately after dinner is a great opportunity to pack lunch for the next day. Pull items from the freezer and package leftovers from dinner into individual servings.

      Check out here for 20 Quick and Healthy Dinner Recipes For You To Choose.

      6. Take time to tidy

      Being in an organized environment will help you feel relaxed and in control. Cleaning dishes and counter tops after dinner is an absolute must.

      You can also take some time to put things away if you’ve used them during the day.[4] Be mindful of clutter in your bedroom. Waking up in an orderly space will work wonders for your mood.

      7. Prepare for tomorrow

      Get out tomorrow’s outfit and gym clothes as you tidy. Clear unnecessary items out of your bag and set out everything you need to take with you. Taking these steps means you’re less likely to derail your day by forgetting something, and you’ll prevent decision fatigue from setting in early tomorrow.

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      When you don’t have a million things to do upon waking, it’s easier to fall asleep. Waking up won’t seem like a chore if you set yourself up for success.

      8. Take time for yourself

      Perhaps you watch an episode of your favorite show or play video games. Set a time limit for these activities. It’s too easy to binge-watch TV or stay up late playing games if you aren’t mindful of the time.

      One hour before bed… (where your bedtime routine starts)

        9. Step away from the screens

        Cut off all screens at least 30 minutes before bed. The blue light from electronics interferes with the production of melatonin, a hormone necessary for restful sleep.[5]

        10. Read a book

        A better alternative to looking at your phone is to read a book. Six minutes of reading can ease the tension of stress in the human body and calm your nerves.[6]

        Not sure what to read before going to bed? The Oyster Review has picked 21 best books for bedtime reading, check them out here.

        11. Reflect on your day

        Consider what worked and didn’t work today. This helps you appreciate your accomplishments, and shape a better tomorrow.[7]

        Start by acknowledging one or two things you wish had gone better. End your reflection by thinking of a few wins you had. Even if you had a bad day, make an effort to end by thinking about something good that happened.

        Write lingering thoughts or reflections in your journal. This keeps you from going to bed with a head full of worries. Find out how you can start journaling here.

        12. Plot out tomorrow’s schedule

        Write top priorities for tomorrow in a planner or notebook.[8] When you get to work, you’ll already know what to do.

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        13. Give some gratitude

        Write down at least one thing you’re thankful for each day. Making gratitude a part of your routine can help you lead a healthy and happy life. Here’re 60 things to be thankful for if you want more ideas.

        You can try to mark down your mood everyday and you may find yourself having plenty to be happy about. Mood apps like Mr. Mood is nice to help you keep track of your emotions.

        Ending the day on a positive note sets you up for a restful slumber.

        Right before going to sleep…

          14. Take care of hygiene rituals

          Besides brushing your teeth and washing your face, take a warm bath, or hot shower, before bed.

          The optimal body temperature for sleep should be between 60 and 67 degrees.[9] As soon as you step out of the bath or shower, your body temperature drops rapidly to re-regulate with the temperature of the room. That quick change physiologically can cause sleepiness.

          15. Practice bedtime yoga

          Bedtime yoga activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which triggers relaxation. Here’re 3 simple bedtime yoga poses you can try tonight:

          16. Go to sleep at the same time every night

          As an adult, you’re recommended to sleep for 6 to 10 hours every day.[10] If you have to wake up at 7am the next day, it’s better to go to sleep around 11pm.

          Find a time that is suitable for you and stick to that sleeping time. You can set an alarm one hour before going to bed to remind you to start your bedtime ritual.

          How to stick to a night routine (the easy way)

          When I just started my night routine, I started off with a positive mindset, and thought that it would be easy to stick to my new night routine.

          I was wrong.

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          On the first few nights, I experienced multiple issues while attempting to stick to my routine. These included avoiding caffeine after 4pm because I liked drinking coke, stepping away from the screens as I was still reading some articles online, and going to bed on time.

          But I was determined to get on track with my night routine because I wanted to sleep better and wake up more energetic and productive the next day. By the fourth day, I was making genuine progress. I stopped consuming coke and started to drink more water instead. I reflected on my day and kept track of my progress on what I had followed and missed in the routine. I started to go to bed on time and could sleep a lot better.

          By the end of the week, I had successfully overcome many problems I had when I started out, and was able to continue to stick to my night routine.

          Sticking to a night routine was really a ‘mind game’. In other words, our minds are so full of daily stuff that we find it hard to wind down at the end of a day – especially at a specific time. But with effort, this could be overcome, and a new, healthy routine put in place.

          It can be hard to stick to a new routine but here are three things that you can do to make the adoption process easier:

            1. Have a clear plan

            Think about what you want to include in your night routine, and then write it down.

            Make it as clear and simple as possible, so you’ll have the best chance of following it. And the best part? Once you’ve followed your night routine long enough, you’ll no longer need to refer to your plan – as it will have become a habit.

            2. Create reminders and alarms

            When you first start to implement your night routine, it would be foolish to rely 100% on your mind and willpower. Instead, use digital alarms to remind you of things like when to go to bed.

            You can also be creative with this. If you like to have a herbal tea before retiring to bed, then set up another alarm to prompt you to make the tea 30 minutes before bedtime. And as with point No. 1 above, after a month or so, you probably won’t need the alarms, as your night routine will have become a positive habit.

            3. Start small, make it so easy that you can’t say no

            If you set too big a goal, you’ll be lining yourself up for failure. It’s far better to choose smaller, easier to complete goals that will give you a sense of achievement.

            Look at your current night routine (or lack of one), and then start building a picture in your mind – or on paper – of how you would like your night routine to be. Then start planning on how to introduce these changes into your life.

            If it makes it easier for you, implement your desired changes over a few days or weeks. For example, the first change to your night routine could be started straight away – by having a glass of water just before you go to bed. Other changes you could phase into your routine. However, try to make sure your night routine is fully in place within 30 days.

            It could be easy to fall back to doing the bad habits, so I recommend you to try my Control Alternate Delete Method to take back control of your life. This is the secret method I used to break 3 bad habits in less than 2 months!

            Before reading this article, night routines may have seemed alien to you. However, I’m confident that you can now see the tangible benefits of them. And once you begin implementing your own night routine, you’ll see the benefits start to materialize in your own life.

            Featured photo credit: Vecteezy via vecteezy.com

            Reference

            More by this author

            Leon Ho

            Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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            Last Updated on August 16, 2018

            16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

            16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

            The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

            How about a unique spin on things?

            These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

            1. Empty your mind.

            It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

            Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

            Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

            Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

            How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

            2. Keep certain days clear.

            Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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            This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

            3. Prioritize your work.

            Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

            Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

            Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

            How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

            4. Chop up your time.

            Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

            5. Have a thinking position.

            Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

            What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

            6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

            To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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            Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

            7. Don’t try to do too much.

            OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

            8. Have a daily action plan.

            Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

            Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

            9. Do your most dreaded project first.

            Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

            10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

            The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

            11. Have a place devoted to work.

            If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

            But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

            Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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            Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

            12. Find your golden hour.

            You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

            Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

            Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

            Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

            13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

            It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

            By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

            Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

            14. Never stop.

            Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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            Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

            There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

            15. Be in tune with your body.

            Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

            16. Try different methods.

            Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

            It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

            Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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