Change Your Life by Changing Your Bedtime Routine
Going to bed is one of those things I tend to take for granted. After all, I've done it every, single night for over 35 years (well, except for a few in college!). At this point in life, I don't think much about it — I go through my sparse routine and then curl up under the blankets.
However, it turns out that getting things done before bedtime — and in fact incorporating them into your nightly routine — can help you make major changes to your life. Think about it — if you complete tasks before bed, then you don't have to do them after you get up in the morning. (See also: Life Hacks That'll Save You Time in the Morning)
1. Ask Your Questions
This comes straight from Benjamin Franklin himself. Choose a question or two that will help you focus on your values or achieve your goals, and contemplate it before you go to sleep. Franklin's question, for example, was "What good have I done today?" He valued contributing positively to the world, and answering this question helped him focus on that.
It may help you to journal your answers. This can mean anything from simply jotting a few words in a notebook to writing several pages or paragraphs. You can also dictate your answers into a voice recorder, so that you can access them later.
If you want to sleep well and wake refreshed for the day ahead, take some time to disengage from work, family, and life in general before you try to sleep. This doesn't just mean clearing your mind of the day, but gives you time to think through what happened, evaluate your day and/or yourself in it, and make some choices about how to proceed in the morning.
Disengaging can take many forms. Some people take a short walk. Others read a book. Still others spend some time talking to a trusted friend or family member. You may want to try several options before you choose what seems to work best. And remember: once you have disengaged, go to bed. Don't give yourself a chance to re-engage before you try to sleep.
3. Prioritize Tomorrow
Many people find that they think best at night. Even if this isn't you, though, nighttime is when you have the entire past day still fresh in your head. Use this to your advantage by jotting down three things that absolutely have to get done the next day or that need your focus before anything else. This will help you in the morning, and you won't have to perform higher-level thought processes when you might be sleepy or disoriented.
Writing these things down also gets them out of your head. Once they're out, you won't have to try to remember them, so they won't distract you as you are trying to sleep. And you will know when you wake that you have a plan of attack all ready to go. (See also: Wake Up Fast and Attack the Day)
4. Wash Your Dishes
Cleaning your dishes, or loading them into your dishwasher if you're lucky enough to have one, doesn't take too long. However, waking up to a clean house will make you feel happier and, therefore, more ready to take on your day. It even makes getting breakfast easier, because you don't have to dig through the dirty dishes or even wash anything before you do it.
Many people find that putting their homes in order also seems to put their minds in order. If this is you, then doing the dishes before you go to sleep can help you relax. If nothing else, getting the plates clean before the food has a chance to crust onto them makes getting them clean a whole lot easier! (See also: How to Keep Your Kitchen Clean While You Cook)
5. Prepare Your Clothes
Even if you're not doing anything huge in the morning, getting the next day's clothing ready can help you make sure that you have everything you need, including accessories, belts, shoes, socks, jewelry, and everything else. And, if you somehow end up running late in the morning, you won't have to worry about choosing an outfit or making sure you've pulled it all together because you took care of that the night before.
If you go to the gym or do any other activity that requires a special wardrobe, you can also get that ready before you go to bed. If you don't have to pack a bag or make sure you have everything you need to shower at the gym, you will be able to sleep longer in the morning.
6. Set a Timer
This is especially useful for people who struggle to get to bed on time, but it can help anyone focus their bedtime routine so that they get done what needs to be done before they sleep. Set a timer for 30 minutes, and put your entire bedtime routine into that time. This gives you plenty of time to do everything on this list, and makes sure that it doesn't eat up your whole evening and that you will be able to sleep when you want to. (See also: Ways to Sleep Better in Fewer Hours)
If 30 minutes doesn't work for you, tweak the time frame. Maybe you only need 20 minutes, or maybe it takes you 45 to get everything done. The important thing is that you have a set time in which to get to bed, and you stick with it. This also helps you get the sleep that you need to be successful the next day.
What is your bedtime routine? Do you do anything before bed that improves the overall quality of your life?