Hey there! So, I’ve been seeing tons of podcasts, blogs, and articles popping up recently on the subject of optimal morning routines and rituals for creating a productive, healthy life. This is awesome, and I’m all about it. I totally agree that well designed morning routine can absolutely change your life.
But what about the rituals you perform just before going to bed at night? I would argue this is equally, if not more important than the morning routine. Moreover, I’ve recently made some enhancements to my own nightly routine.
I’m excited to share with you what my current routine is and how it’s changing my life for the better.
1. Put the phone away. Every evening, at least one hour before sleep, I put my phone in a separate room away from my bedroom. I have a designated spot in the bathroom where I hook it up to charge overnight. The bathroom is a mere three paces away from my bedroom, but the separation of a couple doors creates a physical and mental barrier that guarantees a more restful night.
Allowing even the possibility of checking email or Facebook while lying in bed is detrimental to your quality and quantity of sleep. Your bed should be used for two activities: sleep and sex. Perhaps reading, too. Not for checking notifications, thinking about work, playing games, or scrolling through news feeds – if you do, you’re basically destroying the neural connections in your brain with this time and place for sleep. Yikes! In addition, the blue light from your phone (and any other electronic device or screen) stimulates your brain and blocks the natural production of melatonin, which regulates your circadian rhythm. Read more about circadian rhythms on Wikipedia because knowledge is power, bro.
Get over the fear of missing an important text or phone call during the night; you can deal with it in the morning. Stop using the excuse that the phone is your alarm and get a separate alarm clock. In my mind, the habit of keeping your phone in a separate room is not just an improvement – it’s a necessity.
2. Drink water. Every evening, I down two full glasses of water. Most of us do not understand the impact that proper hydration has on sleep. Regardless of the time of day, most of us are not drinking enough water. If you live in a dry climate like me, it is even more important to stay hydrated. If you are not drinking enough water, the quality of sleep diminishes. Will you have to get up in the night to pee? Probably. But proper hydration at night will result in deeper and more efficient sleep, so the trade-off here has been more than worth it in my experience.
3. Stretch. Every evening, I move through a few of my favorite yoga poses before hopping into bed. This helps improve blood flow and loosen muscular tension – once again, resulting in a more restful night’s sleep.
If you’re allergic to the word “yoga”, just think of it as stretching.
Keeping your feet and legs firmly planted, lift your arms over head and move your torso back and side-to-side. Then fold forward and touch your toes. Hold there for a minute or two. To tend to your lower back, start by lying down on the floor on your back. Bend your knees and slide your arms underneath you. Then, pushing your feet into the ground, lift your stomach and chest off the ground creating an arch shape. Hold here for a minute or two. The release will feel so good and help prevent backaches that may develop overnight.
4. Pray, intend, remember. Every evening, I read a series of statements that I developed to connect me with the purpose of sleep, as well as prayers of hope and healing. Most of us take sleep for granted. We don’t appreciate just how crucial this time is for rest and recovery; I sure I didn’t for the longest time. So, I implemented the simple habit of reminding myself why I’m going to sleep and my hopes for the future. I’ve truly been astonished at how this re-connection with purpose has vastly improved the quality of my rest each night.
5. Turn on white noise machine. So the background on this one is kinda funny. I got into using a white noise machine ever since I saw my sister using this for her new baby; my nephew, Henry. Because Henry would go to sleep while the rest of the family was still chatting and rustling around, my sister would turn on a white noise machine in order to block out the adults’ sounds. It occurred to me that this could help me with establishing an earlier sleep time. Plus, I’d already dabbled in white noise for work and found it to be helpful and soothing. I invested a mere $30 in a mini white noise machine and I have just two words for you: game changer. My sleep is deeper than ever and it blocks out the stomps, creaks, and chatter from roommates like an absolute charm. I can’t recommend this enough! To purchase the exact white noise machine I use, check out the Amazon.com link at the bottom of this post.
So yeah, that’s my nightly routine. I left out some obvious things like brushing teeth and going to the bathroom, because you’ve probably…hopefully…already mastered those things. I’m curious what your routine looks like and if you have any tips and recommendations for getting better sleep. Leave a comment below! If you liked this post please share it, and I’ll talk to you again in another update soon.
Be friendly. Be kind. Be love.
In blog posts, books, and podcasts, our most celebrated self-improvement guru’s preach endless forward motion in the pursuit of our goals. “Grow or Die!” read the subject line of a recent email update I received from an uber-successful entrepreneur.
In today’s motivational culture, there is too much emphasis on continual development and insufficient credence given to the simple idea of enough.
This advice is given with the best intentions. And… agreed. We ought never to settle for mediocrity. But, how often do we hear commands to pause every once and a while and truly appreciate what we have now, instead of constantly working towards something better?
When is something finally good enough? When is it time to sit back realize that perhaps the lives we are living beautiful and amazing, right here and now?
Even if it’s not looking back at the mountains we’ve climbed, it’s vital that we pay attention to, and enjoy, that which we already are and have. The hamster wheels that movies like Fight Club so vividly warn us about are very real. Many of us have awakened to them and risen above, only to be caught in the same traps, just at a higher level.
We must spend more time looking at our lives and ourselves and think, “this is beautiful and perfect, as it is in this moment.” Sometimes our most profound growth results from being happy with who we are now.
Finally, make sure to have a balanced diet of inspirational content. Mix up your reading/listening material with both "hustle" speech from creators like Gary Vaynerchuck and Tim Ferriss with an equal amount of reminders for peaceful living from teachers such as Ekhart Tole and The Dalai Lama.
Leave me a comment below. What are your thoughts on today’s motivational culture? Who are your favorite creators on the topic of peaceful living?
Ethan Small has been posting to Friendly Warrior since 2013 with his experiences and wisdom to inspire others to improve their quality of life.
First time here? Start with these posts:
10 Reasons Pain is Good
5 Steps to Eliminate Worry
Persistence Makes Perfect