I noticed that when I get enough sleep – uninterrupted, quality sleep, my days are significantly better. I get more done. I feel more productive. I don’t get drowsy in the afternoon. I’m not trying to drink a lot of caffeine to stay awake. I also feel like i have more energy.
I also realized that some of the most successful individuals and top performers have a night time routine. I read about one such routine from the CEO of the Oura ring – the CEO eats dinner at 4, no food or water after 6, blue light filters on at 8 and in bed by 10. He claims that this routine has increased his deep sleep and made him uber-productive.
I don’t have an Oura ring myself but I do have a fitbit thanks to my lovely girlfriend and the fitbit tracks sleep (though I don’t know how accurately). I thought that I would try to put into practice a few things to see if it would improve my sleep:
Blue light glasses
I already have flux on my computer and I try to turn on night mode on my phone automatically but sometimes I felt like it wasn’t enough. I decided one day then to get blue light blocking glasses but as someone that already wears prescription glasses, I thought that there might not be any good options. Luckily, I found some clipons and while they look a bit weird overtop of my glasses, they are at least an in-between solution for when I update / change my glasses to ones that also block blue light.
No food or water two hours before bed time
I get thirsty – especially since the city that I live in gets very dry. I can’t help but drink water at night before bed. But then it makes me wake up early to go to the washroom (thus interrupting my precious sleep). Don’t do it! Stay hungry. Stay dehydrated. Wait to get hydrated when you wake up in the morning.
No electronics two hours before bed
I have to say that I don’t always follow this rule. Heck I’m writing on my laptop now just before heading off to bed. The blue light blocking glasses help but better yet is to not use any devices a few hours before bed time. What do you do instead? Read. Brush your teeth. Talk to your partner. There are lots of things you can do to relax and unwind before bed that does not involve a screen.
Plan your activities for the next day
Whenever I travel, I always like to get up early to get in a morning work out. But to do that, I need to make sure I have everything ready otherwise my brain will bring up excuse after excuse not to go to the gym in the morning.
“You haven’t packed and you need to leave today”
“The bed is so warm and your work out clothes are stowed away”
“Hey there’s a great Youtube video that’s waiting for you to watch it”
I lay out my workout clothes so that I see it first thing when I wake up. Then without really trying to think about it, I put it on when I get up in the morning. Once you are in your gym clothes, I really have no choice but to go to the gym.
Write and reflect
Another thing you can do at night without using a screen: writing in your journal. A journal is a fantastic way to keep track of the things that you learned, your mistakes and your strengths and to learn from your own experience. Maybe you also like The Secret – well the journal is another way to help you visualize what you want in the future (though you do have to take action too).
Just before heading off to bed, I’ll pick up a book to read. Most sources that I have read say not to read a non-fiction heavy thinking book and I tend to agree. I have a few poetry books and a few easy-to-read fiction books that I like to keep by my bedside. Anything humorous can also be good but you don’t want to be thoroughly entertained and enthralled with your book if you are trying to get to sleep.
Although I’m only a statistic of one and I’m relying on my fitbit tracking, I have found that these small things have led to improvements in my deep sleep and REM (although I also tend not to get a lot of sleep when I travel so that can’t help). I’m still a bit tired in the afternoons shortly after lunch but these small things add up over time! One tip that I have yet to implement but that I do want to try is to sleep ridiculously early. My mom often told me, when I was working late on homework or assignments, that time spent at night is the same as time spent early in the morning. If you are tired now, you can get in 8 hours of sleep and do it fully refreshed in the morning as opposed to trying to power through and finish it now. I like that advice and often times, I’ll try to do work in the morning instead of trying to power through at night – you’re much more productive when you’ve had some rest.
How about you? What small things do you do to help you sleep at night? What are your night time routines?