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Last Updated on August 22, 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

    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]

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    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.

      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.

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      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.

        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.

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        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.

          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.

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          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.

            It maybe easier for you to 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.

            Final thoughts

            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.

            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 February 18, 2019

            How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

            How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

            These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

            58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

            Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

            “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

            So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

            Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

            1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

            The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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            Encourage Your Employees

            When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

            Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

            Offer Rewards

            Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

            The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

            Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

            Give Autonomy

            Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

            Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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            Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

            2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

            I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

            Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

            For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

            We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

            Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

            A To Do Scheduling System

            Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

            The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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            I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

            With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

            Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

            3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

            The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

            “The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

            An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

            What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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            Ask If They like What They’re Doing

            If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

            There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

            “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

            The Bottom Line

            Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

            Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

            For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

            Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

            More Resources About Team Management

            Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

            Reference

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