The best ways to wind down so you’re rested and ready for whatever the next day throws your way.
A few months ago, I wrote about the morning rituals that successful entrepreneurs use in setting the tone for their days. Now let’s fast-forward 12 to 14 hours to explore best practices for evening excellence. You might be considering ways to work more efficiently into the night, but the reality is that many of us could benefit from more shut-eye.
For years I told myself, Nothing gets accomplished when I sleep, so who needs it? I had read profiles of accomplished people who claimed they operated perfectly on little sleep, a badge of honor, so I inferred that working more and snoozing less were keys to success.
Workaholic Arianna Huffington, who suffered facial injuries when she collapsed from exhaustion, now preaches about the virtues of healthy sleep, and I’m a convert. Since hearing her online TED Talk on the subject, I’ve been going to bed much earlier. Getting my ideal eight hours means I wake up feeling well-rested, which results in more energy that helps me work better. Here are general nighttime actions that my peers recommend for getting enough sleep:
1. No caffeine after 7 p.m.
2. Review your calendar for the next day early in the evening; identify two must-do tasks or goals.
3. Shower before bed instead of the next morning.
4. Get the kids’ backpacks and lunchboxes ready.
5. Choose the next day’s wardrobe to expedite morning preparation.
6. Shut down all electronic devices an hour before bedtime.
7. Take 10 minutes to tidy up so you wake up to a neat space.
8. Spritz pillows and sheets with lavender spray, a scent associated with calm.
9. Read before sleep.
10. Dim all lights an hour before lights out.
In addition, three achievers disclose the nightly rituals that allow them to end the day so they’re set up for successful tomorrows:
• Rosie Battista, founder of lifestyle brand Sleeping Naked After 40, prepares her breakfast—a jar with a custom-blended oat mix—at night so it’s ready the next morning. “I don’t have to think about starting my day in a healthy way. This meal sets me up with energy.”
• Aprille Franks-Hunt, CEO of Women Recharged, which produces business conferences, ends all phone calls at least 30 minutes before bedtime since she realized that late-night chats were often filled with complaints from family, friends and clients who were unloading their drama and problems on her. “It’s too much negativity at that hour.” So now she watches something mindless and funny before bed. “Laughter melts away a stressful day and allows me to sleep so much more soundly.”
• Leadership coach Emily Bennington asks herself, What do I need to let go? “This closure practice has not only allowed me to defuse the brain’s attachment to victim-y ‘poor me’ stories, but it also creates a sense of calm compassion that segues into deeper sleep.”
I end each night by reflecting on what went right that day. This is a marked change from years of falling asleep focused on what I forgot and where I fell short, which didn’t make for a restful night. By deliberately opting to pay attention to big and small things that deserve recognition and celebration, I go to sleep with a sense of satisfaction instead of inadequacy. That helps me wake up excited to build on each new day.