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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 October 17, 2018

            7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

            7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

            How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

            If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

            Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

            So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

            1. Meditate

            We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

            Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

            Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

            Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

            Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

            If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

            And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

            2. Get plenty of sleep

            If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

            If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

            How much sleep should you be getting?

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            Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

            Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

            Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

            Yes, there are.

            Try these three things:

            • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
            • Don’t eat too late
            • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

            Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

            However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

            3. Challenge your brain

            When was the last time you challenged your brain?

            I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

            To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

            Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

            There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

            • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
            • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
            • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

            If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

            Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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            4. Take more breaks

            When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

            At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

            However, I was wrong.

            Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

            Let me explain.

            Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

            Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

            It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

            It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

            What’s the answer?

            Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

            If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

            5. Learn a new skill

            I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

            “Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

            From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

            Let me give you an example of this:

            Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

            Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

            The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

            Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

            Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

            6. Start working out

            If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

            Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

            Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

            “But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

            Not a problem.

            A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

            Interested in getting started?

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            Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

            • Join a gym
            • Join a sports team
            • Buy a bike
            • Take up hiking
            • Dance to your favorite music

            7. Eat healthier foods

            I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

            This applies to your brain too.

            The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

            Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

            Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

            Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

            • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
            • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
            • Nuts – improves memory
            • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
            • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

            Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

            Final thoughts

            I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

            You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

            But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

            Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

            Reference

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