8 night-time habits for better sleep & productivity
Some of the best night-time habits help you do several things:
- Signal to your brain that it’s time to unwind and get ready for bed
- Put you in a relaxed mood so that sleep comes easily
- Prepare for the next day
If your pre bed-time routine consist of falling asleep on the couch watching netflix and then waking up at 2am to wash up before really going to bed… then, um, sorry to break it to you, but you’re probably getting it wrong.
Sleep quality is so important
What you don’t want your night routine to do is to disrupt your sleep.
We live in a culture where everyone seems to be so desperate to be on the Oscar’s nominees list for “who sleeps the least”. It’s like some sort of badge we all wear with pride.
But sleep is important for us in so many ways. It –
- Improves our focus and productivity the next day
- Increases our performance and,
- Restores your body
And if your head is drooping all over your desk at work the next day, you always feel irritable and seem to always feel fatigued. It’s time to get more zzzzzs.
The new currency is not time, it’s energy.
Balance your energy well and you will have time to do anything. Your day will seem longer than 24 hours.
With that in mind, what are some night-time routines you can start weaving into your evening schedule to rest, unwind and replenish your energy?
Here’s a list:
Countdown to bedtime
I actually use an alarm for this. I need to be in bed by 12 midnight usually – to get my 7.5 hours of sleep. So I set my phone alarm to go off at 1130pm.
This snaps me out of whatever I’m doing so I can go wash up and get ready for bed.
Eric Barker calls it the shutdown ritual – it signals to your brain that’s time to shutdown, stop working and start preparing for bed.
There are plenty of benefits to reading before bed. It improves creativity, empathy and increases brain power.
Our brains are like muscles too and constantly need to be exercised.
Reading also makes people feel less stressed and helps them sleep better. Experiments have shown that it is one of the best ways to induce sleep.
Reading worked best, reducing stress levels by 68 percent’. It was better than listening to music (61%), drinking tea or coffee (54%) and taking a walk (42%). It only took 6 minutes for participants’ stress levels to be reduced.
For some of us, reading is a great form of mindfulness or escapism. When we are focusing on the stories, your mind is distracted and you are less likely to think of your daily stresses and worries.
Aside from capturing to-dos or activities, writing things down can help us process our emotions and provide release from confused or negative thoughts. It can also be a way to be thankful if you use a gratitude journal, and when done consistently, it can even help you maintain focus on your goals or keep track of your progress.
Journaling helps clarify your thoughts and reduce stress. When you get things out of your head just before you go to bed, you won’t be kept awake by your thoughts as you sleep.
Journals don’t have to be long – though if you like to spend time journaling all your thoughts, go for it! I am usually happy with one or two sentence descriptions using the following qns:
- What are you grateful for today? Or who?
- What did you do well today?
- What did you learn today?
- What will you do better/improve on tomorrow?
Plan for the day ahead
Write your daily goals for tomorrow, your to-do list. Go through your list today and review the items.
Do you have anything to put on tmr’s list? Is there an afterwork event you’d have to attend? What do you need?
Ensure you have all the items and things you need, so you don’t have to rush around thinking of what to pack in the morning.
Also – planning for things in advance helps you make decisions ahead of time and cuts down the cognitive load you put your brain through.
You might not be able to finish up that report now. But putting down some plans to do it helps alleviate your stress.
For ladies, planning in advance could also mean setting out your clothes (includes shoes and accessories) for the next day. This will save you tons of time when you are getting dressed in the morning. It also reduces the anxiety you feel when you are standing in front of the closert trying to decide what to wear!
Put away your technology at least an hour before bed
Some recommend two to three hours before.
This includes TVs, phones, iPads – anything with a screen that emits blue light.
Blue light isn’t great for the mind and is the reason why so many of us have a hard time falling asleep. It tricks your mind into thinking it’s daytime and affects melatonin production as well as our circadian rhythms (our internal clocks).
Besides that, blue light also causes adverse health effects. Preliminary studies have shown that it is linked to obesity, cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
The exact process of how it causes health problems is still not clear yet, but it does cause problems.
As an evening routine, meditation can help empty your mind and unwind.
We’ve probably accumulated a lot of unhelpful energy and thoughts throughout the day and meditating helps us to relieve stress.
Meditation also can help us sleep better and overtime, you train yourself to be more mindful and more in the present.
Meditation is always part of my night-time routine. I always sleep really well after, and I find that after doing it daily for a year already, I feel much more calm and centred.
There are tons of meditation apps and playlists out there, but I personally use the ones from the Mindful Movement on YouTube. Sarah has a really calming and soothing voice.
Washing up & Warm showers
This is more for the ladies. I take time to go through my self-care routine – cleansing my face and applying all the necessary creams before bed. It’s super therapeutic for me.
I know of others who feel just as relaxed taking a warm shower or just soaking in the tub after a long day at work. Better still, with a glass of wine in hand!
Anything that helps you unwind!
If getting active helps you sleep better, and you aren’t up for sweating all over the place just before jumping into bed; consider indulging in some bedtime yoga.
Light yoga poses like these helps ease the tension in your body and helps you relax. It’s also a great way to stay fit. There are plenty of bed-time yoga videos you can find on YouTube.
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If you would like some amazing morning habits to incorporate into your routine, to ensure you are refreshed, energised and super productive, check out my 15 Morning Habits for a Successful & Productive Day post.
Also, don’t forget to grab your morning habits and evening routines worksheet. Brainstorm the action steps you need to take to lock those habits down and create amazingly productive days!
With 10 years of experience as a Researcher (MSc) in Psychology, Neuroscience, Mental Health, Consumer and Organisational Behaviour; I help action-oriented, time-strapped people and solopreneurs crush their inner critics, navigate toxic workplaces and relationships and build their self-esteem so that you can have the freedom, happiness and confidence you desire. I spend the rest of my time daydreaming and downing cups of tea/coffee – my life’s vice. Ask me any question and I will answer it in a post.