Creating a healthy bedtime routine will allow you to naturally wind down so when you finally get in bed, your eyes will be heavy, and your mind will be quieter. With a few changes to your bedtime routine, you can set yourself up for a better night’s rest.
Sleep is an important tool for any entrepreneur. The more researchers learn about sleep, the more we realize how important it is. Sleep isn’t for the weak – it’s for the strong. It’s when our bodies heal, recharge, and prepare us for being our best the next today, and if we don’t get enough of it, our mind, mood, and bodies suffer the consequences.
Creating your own personal sleep rituals can help you wind down, sleep better, and wake up ready to take on any entrepreneurial challenges or opportunities that come your way.
Here are 5 simple things you can do to sleep better and wake up with more energy and focus.
1. Set a regular bedtime
Most adults need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night. If your morning routine starts at 6 am, start winding down around 9 pm. That doesn’t mean you need to close your eyes at 9 pm. It means it’s time to start getting into the bedtime mindset.
On most smartphones, you can set a bedtime for yourself. You can adjust your settings so your phone will ping you when it’s time to start your bedtime routine. This should be the last you look at your phone for the night. We’ll explain why next.
2. Create a sleep sanctuary
Physical queues help signal to our brains that it’s time for sleep. Swapping bright bulbs for those with a warmer glow and dimming the lights before bed are small but effective ways to ease into the transition.
Why no screens before bed? There are a couple of reasons. First, the blue light emitted from digital screens signals to your brain that it’s still daylight, which prevents your sleep-inducing hormones from kicking in. Second, the constant pinging, news updates, and notifications keep your brain on high alert. You should be quieting your mind before bed, not adding to the noise.
Lowering the temperature is another way to prep your body for sleep. The ideal temperature for sleep is between 15.5 to 19.5 degrees Celsius (or 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit). You may want lighter blankets or PJs too.
Take your sleep sanctuary a step further by exploring therapeutics. Using essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus in a diffuser can make your bedroom feel like a spa, which is a great way to unwind after a busy day. Magnesium sprays and bedtime teas can be another nice addition to your bedtime ritual.
Journaling is one of the best ways to quiet a busy mind. Take a minute to get those cluttering thoughts out of your mind and onto paper. Plan the next day. Here are some journaling thought starters, but the format is up to you.
Make Tomorrow’s To-Do List
Label tasks hot, warm, or cool.
Hot – Immediate tasks that need to get done. Keep this to no more than 3.
Warm – Tasks that aren’t immediately pressing, but would be nice to get done.
Cool – Tasks that are on your mind, but don’t need to get done tomorrow.
Mark Tasks as Urgent, or Important
Urgent – Tasks that are driven by external factors – commitments, clients, or deadlines.
Important – Tasks that help you move toward your bigger business or personal goals.
Make sure you’re not just filling your days with urgent tasks. Make time for important goals too – even if they’re not as hot.
Write down at least one thing that happened during the day that you’re grateful for. Harvard released a study that links expressing daily gratitude to increased happiness. If you do this every day, you can literally re-wire your brain to see more positive in your day than negative, which can have a profound impact on decreasing the amount of stress you take to bed with you.
Feed your mind a good book. Educate yourself on a topic of personal interest or escape reality in a novel. Personal development isn’t limited to non-fiction books, either. A study by the University of Toronto found that adults who regularly read fiction develop greater creativity and less rigid thinking.
RECOMMENDED READING: Breaking habits can be hard. If your nighttime habit of “winding down” watching Netflix is so deeply engrained in your brain, you may need to re-train your brain to form new, healthier habits. A great book to help you understand and change your habits is The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.
Sometimes the biggest barrier to a good night’s sleep is a busy mind. We’re wired to a 24/7/365 world; it can be difficult to separate ourselves for the peace and quiet we need to recharge. Practicing mindfulness through meditation is a proven way to improve sleep and holistic wellbeing.
Another Harvard study compared sleep improvements between two groups over 6 weeks. One group was given basic sleep education, and the other group was given sleep and mindfulness coaching. The group that received mindfulness coaching had less insomnia, fatigue, and depression at the end of the 6 weeks.
Add mindfulness to your bedtime routine to help clear your mind for sleep. This is something you can do in bed before drifting off.
Approaches to Mindfulness
- Find focus. Focus on a soothing sound or thought. Repeat a positive affirmation, short prayer or mantra (“inhale the good; exhale the bad”), or a positive word (“peaceful”). Focus on the sound of your breathing or an “om” sound. Take deep, purposeful breaths.
- Let go. Don’t be too hard on yourself if your mind wanders. Gently guide it back. Seek progress, not perfection.
- Be present. Scan your body starting with your toes and moving upward to your head. Move from one body part to another. Focus on what you feel on that part – the pressure of the mattress, the temperature, a breeze. Feel your body slowly getting heavier. Listen for your own heartbeat.
- Have a guide. There are many wonderful meditation apps that offer free mediation, like Insight Timer. This is the only exception to the no-phone before bed rule.
If you’re currently a night owl, it may take time to adjust your bedtime routine. You don’t have to try to move your bedtime 3 hours earlier. Start with 15- or 30-minute intervals one week at a time. You can add a new routine one at a time, too. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Small steps can make a big difference over time.
You may just find that your bedtime ritual becomes something you look forward to. Sweet dreams!