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7 Things Rich, Successful People Do Before Bed that You Can Do

7 Things Rich, Successful People Do Before Bed that You Can Do
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Much has been said about the benefits of being an early riser. Benjamin Franklin—the original guru of productivity, said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

However, not much is said about the last thing you do before bed. Yet, the very last thing you do before bed is vital because it determines how well and how much you sleep, which in turn determines your energy level the following day when you wake up.

Rich people understand the importance of a good night’s sleep. They have well established sleep rituals that signal to their brains that it’s time to switch everything off and get some much needed night’s rest. Here’s what the most successful and rich people do before bed you should probably emulate.

1.   They stretch and exercise lightly.

Joel Gascoigne, the CEO of Buffer, squeezes in a 20-minute walk every evening before he retires to bed. He says the light walk helps him totally disengage from his work and slowly work himself into a “state of tiredness.” He explains in a blog post, “This is a wind down period, and it allows me to evaluate the day’s work, think about the greater challenges, gradually stop thinking about work…”

If you are a busy person who’s always on the go, tiredness, fatigue and even leg cramps can be painful enough to make it hard for you to sleep. Joel’s late night walk routine could be a good way to get rid of those cramps, blowing off some steam and unwind after a stressful day.

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Science has actually shown that fresh air and light exercise like brisk walking, stretching and gentle yoga postures for several minutes just before getting into bed helps induce sleep. However, avoid vigorous exercise at night as it can have the opposite effect and cause insomnia.

2.   They take a warm bath

Many of us take a warm shower before bed (probably a couple of hours leeway at least). But, some of the most successful people take a warm bath instead. Joyce Walsleben, PhD, associate professor at New York University School of Medicine is one such person. She says you should soak in a tub for 20 or 30 minutes two hours before bed.

“If you raise your temperature a degree or two with a bath, the steeper drop at bedtime is more likely to put you in a deep sleep,” Walsleben says. A shower is less effective and tends to wake you up, but it can work, as well.

This nighttime ritual of taking a warm bath before bed has also worked well for internationally acclaimed fashion designer and film director Tom Ford. Tom shared his day’s schedule with Harper Bazaar and said:

“I walk the dogs around Grosvenor Square and then head up to bed. Believe it or not, I usually take another hot bath and wash my face. Then we watch a bit of television (usually things we have recorded) or read and go to sleep.”

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3.   They read a book

Tom Ford is not the only one who reads before bed. Bill Gates is an avid reader. He says he reads for about an hour each night before bed and has seen the benefits of doing so.

“I really had a lot of dreams when I was a kid, and I think a great deal of that grew out of the fact that I had a chance to read a lot,” Gates is quoted saying. Interestingly, the Microsoft billionaire reads everything from current events to business and politics.

Apart from the obvious benefits of gaining new knowledge, reading each night helps to reduce stress and improve memory. In fact, a study from the University of Essex found that reading for as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by up to 68%!

4.   They meditate

Ray Dalio, the billionaire founder of the investment firm Bridgewater Associates, famously said, “Meditation more than anything in my life was the biggest ingredient of whatever success I’ve had.”

Oprah Winfrey, an outspoken advocate of Transcendental Meditation, agrees that meditation helps and says she unwinds at the end of a stressful day with a focused meditation session.

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Padmasree Warrior, the chief technology and strategy officer of Cisco Systems, also meditates every night.” She told the New York Times in 2012 that taking time to meditate and unplug keeps her calm and helps her to manage the pressure of her work.

Those who take a few minutes every night to reflect on the good things that happened to them that day sleep better. That flow of positivity and grateful attitude induces feelings of calm that allow for a restful sleep.

5.   They plan the next day

Many highly successful and rich people have a penchant for picturing tomorrow’s success today—and planning for it. They write down the most important things they need to tackle first as a way to get those ideas out of their head. Often this planning for tomorrow happens right before bed.

Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, for example, ends his day by writing down three things he wants to accomplish the next day right before retiring for the night. He says that in doing so he is able to wake up the next day and get straight to work on his most important tasks.

You might want to borrow a leaf from this high achiever and plan the next day before bed. This is especially true if you often find yourself running through the next day’s to-do list while you are trying to fall asleep.

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6.   They create a cozy sleep environment.

Stephen King, one of the richest and most successful authors alive, says his nightly routines include washing his hands and making sure all the pillows face a certain way. The horror writer says it’s not any different than a bedtime routine. He explains:

“I brush my teeth, I wash my hands. Why would anybody wash their hands before they go to bed? I don’t know. And the pillows are supposed to be pointed a certain way. The open side of the pillowcase is supposed to be pointed in toward the other side of the bed. I don’t know why.”

Making your bedroom as comfortable as possible for you is a great way to ensure you sleep soundly and wake up the next morning well rested and ready to face the day. The rich and famous go to great lengths to ensure the sleep area is as cozy as possible so as to induce and maintain sleep.

7.   They unplug

Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, is a staunch evangelist for sleep and “unplugging.” She says every night before bed she puts her phone in another room so she is not distracted by it. Like Tom Ford and Bill Gates, Arianna says she reads before bed the old-fashioned way, “real book.” Facebook’s chief operating officer (COO), Sheryl Sandberg, also says she turns her phone off at night so that she “won’t get woken up.”

Dr Charles Czeisler, professor of sleep medicine at Harvard University, agrees that “unplugging” is a very good habit before bed. He explains that the bright lights produced by cell phone screens “trick” the body into thinking it’s still daytime, prevent certain body chemicals from being released and disrupt the bodies’ natural sleep rhythms. This disruption causes people to have a much harder time going to sleep.

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It’s a good idea to ban iPads, Tablets, laptops and any other electronics from the bedroom before bed so that you set yourself up to have a good night’s sleep, and an even more productive day tomorrow.

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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