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Last Updated on February 19, 2019

How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

“Today is tomorrow’s yesterday,” the quote says and it rings true from North to South, from West to East. And if we want to have a productive and energetic today, we need to prepare it yesterday. If we learn from yesterday, we can live today and we’ll even have time to plan for tomorrow.

The best way to jumpstart your day isn’t the first thing you do in the morning – but the last thing you do the night before. And here is a list of 20 tips that you can use for your bedtime routine to start the next morning energetic and productive:

1. Create your bedtime routine

In the words of late Jim Rohn:

“Simple things are simple to do but they are also simple not to do.”

The first thing to start with is by actually creating a bedtime routine. By this, I don’t mean just being a victim of consequences like kids, late dinners or office tasks that need to be done.

By creating a bedtime routine, you consciously create a set of behaviors that you will do (or not do) before you fall asleep that night.

In the beginning, it only needs to be a single thing that you adhere to like no laptop in the bed or TV for only 30 minutes or hitting at sack at 11:30 pm max.

And you can use the following tips to optimize your bedtime routine.

2. Play music

Music has a variety of effects on our bodies. First of all, our bodies are 70% water and vibrations affect us physiologically. There was a research done by Dr. Masaru Emoto who studied the effects that music has on the structure of frozen water molecules.

By playing certain (soothing) music, you will feel relaxed and prepared for sleep. I personally use post-rock (piano) songs playlist which include songs like “Your Hand In Mine” by Explosions In The Sky, everything from Anthony Greninger and The XX.

Now, it’s all about finding the perfect music for you. You need to find your own rhythm, so try out a lot of different songs and categories and see what fits you the best.

3. Read a book

This one is a bit tricky – you should be reading a book before you sleep but not something which is hard to understand and needs a lot of straining from your conscious mind.

It’s best to read something lighter before bedtime because it will put your mind in a nice rhythm and will induce you into a qualitative sleep.

This doesn’t mean that you should read things like 50 Shades of Grey (no, please no), but don’t go reading “Gödel, Escher, Bach: and Eternal Golden Braid” by Douglas Hofstadter either.

Pick something that interests you and is quite easy to read like “How To Win Friends & Influence People” or biographies like “Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage” by Alfred Lansing.

4. Put on your pajamas

When you jump into your sleeping clothes, you signal your mind and body to shut down and go into “sleep mode.”

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Try to have a set of pajamas always prepared next to your bed and never go under the sheets with your house or work clothes.

5. Plan out your 3 most important tasks for tomorrow

This is something Leo Babuta talked a lot. When you plan out your 3 most important tasks for tomorrow, you immediately eliminate unnecessary decisions from tomorrow’s day.

When you remove decision making from the day, all that’s left is to just do that activity.

This is backed by research about ego depletion, where making decisions throughout the day depletes our willpower, making us less likely to do the activities.

But if you prepare them in advance (decide and write down that you’ll do it), you will be more likely to do them.

So plan out your 3 most important tasks for tomorrow and sleep like a baby, knowing what you will do tomorrow.

6. Write a journal

“Dear diary….” or you can start any other way. But this isn’t a six-grade school girl writing who she has a crush on. This is about reflecting on what happened to you today, how that activity made you feel and your general impression of the day.

Here’s a how-to guide on how to start writing a journal:

Writing Journal for a Better and More Productive Self (The How-To Guide)

7. Prepare clothes for tomorrow

We talked about ego depletion when planning the next day. It’s the thing with the clothes you will wear tomorrow.

When you prepare things for the next morning, your mind won’t go into “freak” mode, trying to remember everything you need to do in the morning like finding clothes for work, making breakfast, finishing that presentation, checking the valve pressure, changing the car oil, saving the world…

When you prepare for the morning in advance, you sleep better because you don’t have those menial tasks like clothes hovering around your head.

8. Turn off your WiFi

The word of the 21st century is connectedness and it’s great – we are more connected than ever. But this doesn’t mean that you need to be connected 24/7.

During the night, you should definitely turn off your WiFi and be unavailable. This makes your brain rest and doesn’t put you in that always-available-state, where you’re always prepared for that email or message.

Just leave it for the morning – 99% of things can wait. And if it’s that 1% that can’t wait, trust me, they will find a way to contact you.

9. Watch entertainment

Throughout the day, you should be working, learning and pushing yourself. But when the night comes, you need to reward yourself for the activities and accomplishments of the day – because you deserve it.

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So take 30-45 minutes and simply watch entertainment without feeling guilty – you can even watch a good movie. I have my entertainment nights on Friday where I watch gaming tournaments on YouTube – just a big fan of League of Legends.

10. Do mindfulness exercise like meditation

Mindfulness doesn’t have to be meditation, but meditation is almost always mindfulness.

Mindfulness trains your mind to become present and aware of the things and people that surround you. This makes you forget about the worries of the future and the regrets of the past and makes you live in the present.

Mindfulness as a bedtime routine helps you clear out your mind and makes you fall asleep easily, without those pesky regrets and worries sneaking up on you when you finally hit the sack.

Find out more about how Meditation Can Change Your Life: The Power of Mindfulness.

11. Evaluate your today

You planned out the 3 most important tasks that you need to do today. Now, it’s time to evaluate those tasks.

This is the time for self reflection, and Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life.

So sit down and evaluate if you managed to accomplish the 3 tasks that you set up the night before.

12. Write down 3 things that happened today (not gratefulness)

This is a really good exercise because it’s not woo-woo like gratefulness or unstructured as a diary.

This is about making a history book out of your life- something your grandkids might read upon and see how your life looked like.

Writing down 3 things that happened today makes you simply record 3 events that happened on the day, with or without your judgment about them (good or bad, positive or negative).

After 3-6 months, you can read upon these and summarize them to create a timeline of your life and after a year, summarize it again.

This will create a timeline of your life, with all major events that happened written down. It will also make you more self-aware about the things happening every single day.

13. Drink water

Quality of sleep depends a lot on the hydration of our bodies. If you feel the thirst, it means you are already dehydrated.

The sacred rule I adhere to for a quality bedtime routine is one glass of water before bed and one glass of water as soon as I wake up.

Take a look at this article to find out How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You).

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14. Cool off the room

Setting the right conditions for sleep are optimal for a quality-like sleep and productive and energetic day.

You need to sleep in a colder, dark and silent room. The quality of mattress and pillow also contribute to good sleep and even better mornings.

You might want to consider investing in a sleeping mask, good mattress and an even better pillow – it makes a big difference.

Here’s a guide on how to choose a good mattress:

Your Essential Guide To Buying The Right Mattress

15. Don’t eat heavy food

Eating that late night dinner at 10:30 pm and then going back home trying to fall asleep is like getting drunk and trying to walk the line – you think you can do it until you actually try it.

A big dinner and heavy food before bedtime keeps your stomach working 24/7 and prevents it from having any rest during the night. This affects the quality of sleep and makes you feel sleepy before you fall asleep and extends to when you wake up.

Remove heavy food from your night meals and look at how your energy spikes in the morning – I did it six months ago and I am never going back to it.

Check out more food options to help you sleep here:

12 Bedtime Snacks/Drinks That Can Help You Sleep Better

16. Avoid exercise before sleep

You shouldn’t exercise 3 hours before bedtime – it wakes up your entire body and prepares you for a physical activity.

Exercise is for morning or tops afternoon – the night is for relaxing bedtime routine activities.

However, you can try to stretch your body to help relax your nerves before going to sleep:

6 Yoga Poses You Can Do In Bed Before Sleeping For Better Health

17. Go to bed at the same time

Training your body and mind to shut down at the same time is beneficiary because it learns when you don’t need energy and when you do. This makes your energy usage more effective because you are 100% active when you need it and 0% active when you don’t need it.

Most people work on a 50-60% active energy, always being active but never being on their top game. If you train your body and mind to shut down after, let’s say, 11:00 pm, then it will reward you with energy spikes in the morning and afternoon.

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And the easiest way to accomplish this is by going to bed at the same time.

18. Optimize sleep cycles

Tips 17. and 18. are closely connected.

Sleep cycles consist of 1.5-hour rotations, where you finish one round of sleeping after 1.5 hours of sleeping and start over again. The best time to wake up is when a sleep cycle ends and just before the next starts.

So to optimize your sleep cycles, you should wake up after 5 or 6 sleep cycles, respectively after 7.5 or 9 hours of sleep. This is when you will feel the most energetic.

Hitting your sleep cycles at the beginning is quite hard but when you always fall asleep at the same time, your body will adjust to it and will make you hit them.

For more tips, here’s How to Hack Your Sleep Cycle and Get Better Sleep.

19. Work on your passion project

Nothing brings more satisfaction to a person than seeing a dream, a vision which only lived inside of a person mind come to life. And working on a passion project is exactly that – you are making a reality out of your vision or a dream.

You can allocate 20-30 minutes a night to work on your passion project. This will make the feeling of accomplishment even stronger and will affect the quality of your sleep by a handful.

If you think you’re too busy to do what you’re passionate about, here’re 7 Ways You Can Make Time For Your Passion.

20. Spend time with loved ones

The biggest factor that contributes to a happy and fulfilled life are relationships – with friends, family and loved ones.

At the end of a long, arduous day, you should spend time with your loved ones- the people with whom you can share your happy but also your sad moments.

A path to many starts with one

Not all of these 20 tips will make sense to you and they shouldn’t. You should pick out one and start with that and then, add up another one.

Test what works for you and what makes sense and you will soon see the difference in your energy and productivity.

Just remember – the path to many starts with only a single one. Start with one and create a bedtime routine for a better tomorrow.

More Resources About Routines & Habits

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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Bruno Boksic

An expert in habit building

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Last Updated on October 21, 2019

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

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You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

“While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

4. Good leaders are students.

In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

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As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

“As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

6. Good leaders understand themselves.

I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

Final Thoughts

Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

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Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

More About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
[2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

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