Are you bushed when you get home from work in the evening? You eat, relax and watch TV, maybe have a beer or two before dozing off in your chair? Does this sound like a typical night, or maybe something similar to it? Are you thinking, "What is a nightly routine?" Contrarily, do you ever wonder what super successful people do at night before bed? To answer these questions, in conjunction with my earlier writing What are the 9 Things Every Person Should do Each Morning?, I've compiled the ultimate list of nightly routines done by successful people. It's always said, follow and mimic what successful people do, or those top people in their respective fields to get where they are at, or achieve results that they have. Follow these 11 nightly routines and you will start to see the return, including better sleep, more energy, productivity, increased aptitude, and just overall health and quality of life.
Family & Friends
Play with your kids, your dog or call a longtime friend to catch up for an extended conversation, or meet up for dinner one day during the week. Talk to your partner, discuss the day's events and what's happening. This type of quality time with your loved ones is irreplaceable. It's food for the soul and well-being, and although we lead busy lives, this is a mainstay, common practice among highly successful people. Make it a top priority, if not already. You will immediately feel better overall and you may not even realize why, but you are building more patience, communication and compassion, just to name a few.
The old saying, "Don't eat before bed" is widely misunderstood, misread. Smart, successful people know you actually should eat before bed, and to never go to bed hungry! Eating will fuel your metabolism and keep your body in a positive nitrogen balance, ensuring fat burning and keeping your lean muscle mass while you sleep! Who doesn't want that? Now, it does matter what you eat. Lean proteins and healthy fats such as a whey shake with natural peanut butter, or salmon and veggies are a perfect choice. I've discussed before how important it is to have protein every meal (taken from my Online Personal Training Program), and the fats enable slower digestion and more consistent release throughout the night. If you have a sweet craving, try cottage cheese (slow release protein) with berries, which are still low on the glycemic index scale and will provide the sweetness to satisfy your craving.
Schedule Sleep, Schedule Tomorrow
"Much has been written around the dangers busy people face running chronic sleep deficits, so one habit I know several highly successful people do is to simply make it a priority to get enough sleep--which can be a challenge for workaholics or entrepreneurs," Michael Kerr, international business speaker and author, says. To ensure this, set a bedtime (yes, just like when you were a kid) and stick to it. If you have to, set an evening alarm to remind you to start your wind down and bedtime routine, instead of just channel surfing until you are too tired to keep your eyes open. When my wife worked later shifts I would stay up late to be able to see her and spend time together, go to bed together...but she didn't have that early a.m. start time I did, and so therefore I wasn't getting nearly enough sleep to be sharp. To have a good day, a productive one, it starts the day before! The 9 Things Every Person Should Do Each Morning? won't happen, they won't work if you don't schedule your sleep. Before bed, take a bit of time, just five minutes to preview your upcoming tomorrow, lay out clear goals and priorities. You'll reduce stress and give yourself better sleep with peace of mind.
Disconnect from your phone, ipad, any type of electronics with a screen. Your work emails and social media can wait, believe me. Don't even bring them into the bedroom. Successful people put a large chunk of time between their last work email and the time they go to bed. You don't want to be dwelling on a project, mentally consumed with your job or what Susie-Anne is posting on Facebook...you need to unplug. Harvard researchers have found the bright light of a smartphone screen tricks our bodies into thinking its daytime, which tells your brain to stop producing melatonin, (essential hormone for proper sleep cycle) leading to poor sleep, vision problems, depression and cancer. I suggest you don't use your phone as an alarm clock. If you do it's the last thing you look at before bed and the first when you wake! Use an old fashioned alarm clock. (If you must have your phone in case you might be expecting emergency calls, completely silence your phone, make sure your correct contacts are set to "emergency" so only they will ring and place the phone face down and forget about it, it's not even there.)
Just like that short window of time each morning, this is time for you. Go for a short walk, read, write, meditate or even get a workout or quick run in. The old saying, "Too wired to go to bed"? Apparently false. A 2013 study from the National Sleep Foundation found that people who performed intense exercise within four hours of bedtime experience no difference in sleep quality. Joel Gascoigne, co-founder and CEO of Buffer, takes a 20-minute walk every evening before bed. "This is a wind down period, and allows me to evaluate the day's work, think about the greater challenges, gradually stop thinking about work, and reach a state of tiredness." Numerous business leaders block off time just before bed to read. Reading fuels greater creativity and passion, stimulating and preparing your brain for bed in a healthy way (opposite effect of television and electronic screens). Relax your body and quiet your mind with ten minutes of meditation, otherwise known as closing your eyes and thinking of absolutely nothing...a very, very difficult thing to do! Whatever you choose; a walk, workout, reading, writing or meditation, block the time out and make it non-negotiable. Your unwind time is hitting the reset button daily.
More than half of adults experience leg cramps during sleep, and even more so with women as they age. A perfect solution is to stretch or do some light yoga postures before bed. After your nightly workout or walk, this is a perfect time to engage in static stretches, or holding stretching positions for longer periods of time (30-90sec). This is a perfect addition to your unwind time, or can stand alone by itself. Breathing and relaxing into stretches will help calm your mind, clear your head, lower your heart rate as well as lengthen tendons and muscles, reducing or eliminating any cramps and aches, and preparing you for total relaxation sleep. Successful, healthy people know this and stretch every night before bed.
Brushing your teeth, flossing, washing your face, applying lotion on dry skin are all hygiene rituals that send a psychological signal to your brain, readying you for bed and better sleep. Getting into some type of simple bedtime pattern is part of what organized, successful people do. Stephen King, odd as it sounds, washes his hands every night before bed as his hygiene ritual.
Making sure you have clean sheets, comfortable pillows, and setting the right room temperature are part of creating the prefect sleeping environment. More important than even those, however, is having a new mattress. This is a huge investment into your well-being, health and success. I recently went through this dilemma, never having had a brand new bed I never knew what I was missing, and it didn't help that some mattresses cost almost as much as some cars! Remember, you spend more time on your mattress than you do anywhere else in your entire life! Think about that for a minute. Keep in mind, however, the more expensive a mattress is doesn't mean that it is better, just buy according to your level of comfort (hard, soft, etc.). You'll wake up more refreshed with no aches and pains or tightness, a huge night and day difference... it was for me. Talk with your partner and get on the same page about making the perfect nest.
What is that? Jessica Migala at the Huffington Post says it best: "The dripping faucet. The tick of a clock. All subtle sounds that can leave you wide-eyed and frustrated. You’ve probably tried white noise to block out sounds, but pink noise may be better. Unlike white noise (ambient sounds over a range of frequencies), pink noise is characterized by sounds that are a consistent, lower frequency. Imagine the hum of a fan or steady rain. (Relaxed yet?) Listening to pink noise during the night helped regulate brain waves so people stayed in the restful phase of sleep longer, according to a 2012 Chinese study. In fact, 75 percent of participants said they felt pink noise had a positive effect on their sleep." Sound machines aren't just for babies, the successful people who know how to utilize sleep time use pink noise.
Tea Instead of Alcohol
Although alcohol may help you fall asleep, those couple glasses of wine or beer will rob you of deeper, quality sleep. That powerful, restorative REM sleep I've talked about before will be much harder to achieve with evening alcohol intake, according to studies. Instead, reach for herbal teas. There are endless possible varieties of non-caffeinated, no-calorie, flavorful nighttime teas that will actually fill you with nutrients, antioxidants and a satiated feeling, curbing evening cravings. Sometimes it's just the fixation of having a drink, or something in hand to sip on. Make it tea. I have traveled extensively, and I've said it before: The British and many other countries have it figured out, unlocking the power of regular tea consumption. If you can switch to different teas you will start to feel a massive difference (less coffee and alcohol) in your energy.
Day of Gratitude
A wise man once told me, "Never go to bed angry, no matter what." You must end the day positively, on a high note. It's easy to fall into the trap of replaying negative situations from the day that you wish you had handled differently. Regardless of all that, how bad your day was, you have to push it aside before bed. Successful people typically manage to avoid that pessimistic spiral of negative self-talk because they know it will only create more stress. When you have the feeling of gratitude about the day, about your short lunch meeting, the enlightening brainstorming you had with a co-worker, the needed sunshine (or rain) or even just a hectic but safe commute home, or precious moments with your family, you will feel deep joy within. On the other hand, if you don’t feel thankful for all that you have, you will feel stressed, pressured and insufficient. That “not enough” feeling is a dangerous one. We can always find things to be thankful for, it's really just a matter of perspective. Brain checklist or even write down at least three to five things that you appreciated and have accomplished during the day every night when you are doing your reading or next day planning. Giving thanks is not just reserved for that one single day in November, Thanksgiving. Write down big and small successes you have accomplished. Even if it is just a phone call, five minutes reading, etc. A big success for me this year has been consistent reading, with my goal being one book a month. It seems futile, but these small, tiny habits and appreciation to them are exactly the keys to success and building momentum that I focus on in my Online Personal Training Program. Write these things down and practice the habit of gratitude. It alone can change your life.
- Family and Friends Quality Time
- Eat! Protein and berries
- Schedule Sleep, Schedule Tomorrow
- Unwind: read, write, walk, meditate
- Hygiene Ritual
- Nest (new bed and pillows)
- Pink Noise (sound machine)
- Tea Instead of Alcohol (lavender, herbal)
- Day of Gratitude
Other Noted Resources: http://www.businessinsider.com/what-successful-people-do-right-before-bed-2015-2?op=1 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/08/healthy-bedtime-habits_n_5641249.html http://www.inc.com/elle-kaplan/9-nighttime-routines-of-the-uber-successful.html http://www.inc.com/business-insider/what-successful-people-do-before-they-go-to-sleep.html http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/9-things-you-should-never-eat-drink-after-9pm.html https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips/page/0/1 http://www.businessinsider.com/what-successful-people-do-before-bed-2014-8?op=1 photo credit: Bruce Lee