I have written and talked a lot about how the right morning routine can set you up for a productive day. The same is true for nighttime rituals. The right activities before you sleep can set you up for success the next day.
I used to have the worst time getting to sleep at night. I knew it was important for my health and productivity, but my mind raced long after the lights went out. I couldn’t seem to turn it off.
As a result, I woke up groggy, grumpy, and ill-prepared for the day. My energy flagged right after lunch, and my afternoons were a grind. I just wasn’t my best self. Maybe you can relate.
Eventually, my doctor suggested Ambien. I knew it wasn’t a good long-term solution, but I was desperate for sleep. What I really needed was an intentional nighttime ritual, but that wouldn’t come for several more years.
Today, I am happy to report that I sleep like a baby—without the help of Ambien or any other drug. I sleep soundly for seven to eight hours each night, wake rested, and have all the energy I need to be creative and productive.
These nine activities make up my nighttime ritual:
- Eliminate negative input. I’m a worrier by nature. To ensure I fall sleep easily, I avoid negative news, conversations, and anything else that strands my mind in Worst-Case-Scenario-Ville.
- Read something light. I save my serious reading for morning, but I like to let my mind wander through some pages in the evening. Nothing stressful or too involved. A tech magazine is usually perfect.
- Optimize the environment. Temperature and light can really affect my sleep patterns. I sleep best when it’s chilly and absolutely dark, so I turn the temp down a bit lower than during the day and make sure the blackout blinds are shut tight.
- Take the right supplements. Natural Calm and Kavinace Ultra PM finally allowed me to punch Ambien in the face. They flat work—at least for me. (Your mileage may vary.)
- Use essential oils. Several of my daughters are involved in dōTERRA essential oils. I use them topically to help set the stage for optimal relaxation and sleep. Vetiver, frankincense, and lavender are three of my favorites. After my supplements and oils, I’m nearly out.
- Listen to soothing music. Gail and I often listen to some mellow music before bed. It works like a cue: When the music begins, it signals my mind and body that it’s time to start getting ready for bed. We especially like the LifeScapes series. Here is our exact playlist from Amazon Digital Music. (This is the only retailer that still appears to carry this music.)
- Turn up the white noise. Most of the time I run a fan at night. If I can’t do that because of travel, I use an iPhone app called WhiteNoise. A gentle hum in the background keeps sharp noises at bay and lets me drift asleep and stay that way till morning.
- Stick with the same bedtime. One way to ensure I get enough sleep is to get to bed early enough each night. It’s tough because I’m always trying to get more done. But even during our recent launch for Platform University, I was in bed before 10 p.m.
- Pray. Once the lights are out, Gail and I lie in bed, hold hands, and pray. We express our gratitude and let go of anything that is weighing us down. It puts us both in a great state of mind for calm, restful sleep.
Without good sleep, I find myself unfocused, fatigued, less creative, less resilient, short-tempered, and unproductive. It’s a losing combination. But I can turn that all around if I faithfully follow my nighttime ritual.
Some of these nine activities may work for you; some of them may not. The important thing is to to see your routine as a work in process. Keep tweaking until you get it right. What gets you the best night’s sleep possible? That’s the question you have to answer.
If you do, you’ll probably discover you’re more rested, creative, energetic, and productive the next day.