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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

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

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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

More by this author

Bruno Boksic

An expert in habit building

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Last Updated on October 20, 2021

7 Daily Stress-Management Rituals that Improve Your Productivity

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7 Daily Stress-Management Rituals that Improve Your Productivity

If you’re trying to be as productive as possible, stress will always be your biggest obstacle—and it’s not an easy one to overcome. To do it, you’ll need to develop a plan to make stress management a core component of your daily routine, but doing that takes commitment. The good news is that if you succeed in learning how to manage stress, you’ll unlock your potential and be well on your way to peak performance. But first, you need to learn how to make it happen.

The best way to do that is to learn about and integrate some stress management rituals into your daily routine. To help you get started, here are seven tips on how to manage stress and improve your productivity.

1. Give Yourself an Extra Hour in the Morning

If you were to do some research on some of the world’s most successful—and productive—people, you’d notice that many of them have one thing in common: they tend to be early risers. Apple’s Tim Cook gets out of bed before 4 AM each day.[1] Michelle Obama is already getting in her daily workout at 4:30 AM.[2] Richard Branson gets up at 5:45 AM each day, even when he’s vacationing on his private island.

There’s a good reason why they all do it—once you reach the point in your day that your work schedule kicks in, you no longer have control of your time. That means you have a limited opportunity every morning to reduce your stress by taking care of the things you need to do without anyone making other demands on your time.

What’s important about this isn’t the time you get up. The important part is getting up early enough to start your day without feeling rushed. For most people, getting up an hour earlier than you normally would is sufficient. This should give you ample time to complete your morning tasks without having to hurry or fall behind.

But when you implement this ritual, be careful. Don’t do it at the cost of getting the right amount of sleep each night. If you do, you might increase your stress instead of relieving it. Sticking to a proper sleep schedule and getting enough sleep is, in itself, a critical part of stress management.[3]

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2. Determine and Review Your Most Important Tasks Each Day

If there’s one productivity tip that almost all experts agree on, it’s that you should spend some time before bed each night to write down your three most important tasks for the following day. But if you want to maximize that practice and turn it into a stress-buster, you should turn that notion on its head.

Instead, you should do this as a part of your morning routine. There’s a couple of reasons for this. First, it’s that our always-on, always-connected business world means your priorities can change overnight, literally. You may list your top priorities, go to sleep, and wake up to find them woefully out of date. That means the best time to set your priorities for the day is in the morning. This will keep those priorities up to date and let you think about them before the distractions of the day begin. But don’t stop there. You should take some time before bed each night to review that day’s priorities.

Ideally, you’ll be able to check them off as accomplished. If not, though, think about what prevented you from getting to them. This is your chance to figure out some of the common daily interruptions that get in your way. Chances are, these also cause some of your stress. So, spend the time before bed game-planning how to remove those interruptions and stressors from your day. If you make this a habit, you’ll be more productive and far less stressed out in no time.

3. Save Your Emails for Later in the Morning

Another tip on how to manage stress is to save your emails for later. One of the key causes of stress comes from our inability to cope with the unexpected. If you stop to think about it, what is your most prominent source of near-constant unexpected information every day? You guessed it—it’s your email.

Now, you can’t simply ignore your email. The only thing you can do about your email is to learn how to manage it most effectively. But no matter what you do, it’s going to remain a source of daily stress and distraction. That’s why you should make a habit out of giving yourself an email-free hour or two at the beginning of each day’s schedule.

In that time, try to tackle one of your daily priorities and get it taken care of. Your email will still be there when you’re done. And when you do get to it, you’ll do so in a much better frame of mind knowing that you’ve already gotten some real work done before having to deal with anything unexpected. That alone will improve your mood and reduce the amount of stress you’ll feel—no matter what’s waiting for you in your inbox.

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4. Take a Walk After Email Time

Since you’ll have to deal with your email sooner or later, there’s no way to completely avoid the stress that will come with it. Although you’ll be in a better frame of mind after putting off your email to get some real work done, you’ll still feel some stress when you get to it. That’s why you should make a post-email walk a part of your daily routine.

Taking a walk is one of the best ways you can relieve stress. It’s a form of meditation that will put you back into the right condition to be productive, and there’s no better time to do it each day than after taking care of your emails.

Ideally, you’ll want to take a walk outdoors, and preferably in the most natural setting possible. If you’re in an urban environment, a nearby park will suffice. Studies have demonstrated that walking in such environments for as little as 20 minutes per day leads to an overall reduction in the body’s cortisol level.[4]

Cortisol, if you’re not aware, is your body’s main stress hormone. It helps regulate your blood pressure, energy levels, and even your sleep cycle. Every time your stress goes up, cortisol production also increases, throwing your body into chaos. So, taking a walk right after dealing with your email will help you to relax, reset, and get ready to be productive for the rest of the day.

5. Reserve Time to Research and Plan a Vacation

By now, everybody knows that taking vacations every now and then can improve your productivity and lower your stress level. But did you know that even thinking about a vacation can help you to reduce your stress? It may sound strange, but it’s true.

A Cornell University study in 2012 found that the anticipation of a positive experience—like a vacation—can reduce stress and make you measurably happier. It logically follows, then, that adding to that anticipation each day can maximize the stress-relieving effects of a vacation.[5]

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To do it, set aside at least a half-hour each day to research or plan an upcoming vacation. You can read about destinations. You can research airfares. You can even look at places to stay in locations you’re interested in visiting. And if you’ve already got a vacation booked, use the time to take a deep dive into what your destination has to offer.

This is an especially important daily ritual to observe right now, while the COVID-19 pandemic may be limiting your vacation options. If it’s been a while since you’ve been able to take a trip, the act of planning your next vacation will have a therapeutic effect. With vacation rental bookings still hovering below 50% in most major markets, there’s no doubt that the vast majority of people are in desperate need of their next stress-relieving vacation.[6]

6. Create a Shutdown Ritual to End Your Day

Another simple yet effective way to manage stress is to create a shutdown ritual. Just as it’s important to get your day off to a stress-free, unhurried start, you’ll want to do the same when the day is through. It’s because after spending each day in a reactive mode—dealing with the unexpected—you need to get back into a proactive mode to relax.

Studies have shown that having the perception of control over what you’re going through acts as a buffer against negative stress.[7] In other words, feeling like you can manage even a small chunk of your own time counteracts the stress from the parts of your day when you can’t.

This also means that your shutdown ritual can be whatever you want it to be. You might write in a journal, get in a quick light workout, or prepare your outfit for the following day. As long as you’re the one in complete control over what you’re doing, anything goes. Just make sure that you include the aforementioned review of your daily priorities somewhere in your routine!

7. Set a No-Screens Rule to End Your Day

Even though your shutdown routine is important, there’s one more ritual to include before bedtime that will help you manage stress. Spend the last 30 minutes to an hour before you plan to go to sleep observing a strict no-screens rule. Not only will this give you time to disconnect from the stresses of your day, but it will also allow your body to make a transition into a proper sleep mode.

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The screens we use—smartphones, tablets, laptops—all emit a wavelength of blue light that disrupts our sleep patterns. It’s the same type of light that our bodies recognize as daytime, so seeing it is like telling your brain that it’s the wrong time to be asleep.[8]

By eliminating all sources of this type of light before bedtime, you’ll increase your odds of getting restful, deep sleep. And since getting proper sleep is one of the best ways to manage your stress, this is the perfect way for you to end each day.

Final Thoughts

Although a totally stress-free lifestyle would lend itself to achieving maximum productivity, not many people will ever manage to live that way. So, the next best thing is to work some or all of these daily stress-busting rituals into your day to minimize the inevitable stress instead. Doing so will put you in the best possible position to succeed. And there’s no better antidote for stress than to make the most out of every day no matter what it has to throw at you.

More Tips on How to Manage Stress

Featured photo credit: Kaboompics via kaboompics.com

Reference

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