7 essential bedtime habits to improve your day
Mornings can be the most hectic or stressful part of any day, so why not make like many a successful person and start your morning the night before?
Sounds confusing, we know, but what it really means is making the most of your evening to review, prep and revive, so you start each day ready and raring to go.
Prep for tomorrow
Did your parents used to nag you when you were younger to pack your school bag the night before? Sorry to say, but they were right to do so! Evenings are usually a lot less frantic, so it makes sense to prepare for your day ahead.
While at the moment, this won’t necessarily mean making packed lunches for school or laying out your work clothes, it can mean having a good tidy up, laying out all the home-schooling bits and bobs or making a quick muesli pot for breakfast or perhaps some healthy snacks for during the day.
These little actions also help signal the end of the day, preparing your body and mind for relaxation, plus means you’ll start the day ready to do what you need to.
Review your day
This is a little bit like prepping for the next day, but with a pen and pencil instead.
Look back at what you’ve achieved. See what still needs doing. Think about what the day ahead holds. Then make your new to do list.
It doesn’t have to contain everything you need to do that day, but writing down such a list can help you be more productive, especially if you’re juggling many hats at the moment (such as teacher and worker!).
Each day you can review just how much you got done and then you’ll also have a better idea of what is realistic every day. Obviously, there’s no issue with trying to challenge yourself, but you don’t want to be a slave to your ‘to do’ list and feel stressed trying to tick everything off.
Many successful, productive people end the day with a spot of meditation. Actress Jennifer Aniston is a huge fan and says when she doesn’t do her daily spot of evening meditation, she really feels the difference the next day.
“It just centres you and your stress levels are just down,” she told Popsugar. “You find yourself interacting in the world easier and better, in a calmer way.”
Don’t dismiss meditation if you’re not a high-flying A-lister though. Various studies have shown that not only does it reduce stress and anxiety, but it also reduces memory loss, can help with pain control and improves sleep – all of which, can only improve each morning. If you’re new to meditation, try Andrea’s introduction. It’s definitely a useful tool during uncertain times like now and can help you quell any worries you have by focusing on the present.
And even the kids can benefit. Try an app like Bright Horizons before bed for a gentle introduction to meditation – we guarantee they’ll fall asleep quicker!
Do some gentle exercise
While many of us often hit the gym in the evening, this time of day is actually more conducive to less cardio and gentler exercise. Yoga is the perfect exercise to choose as not only does it stretch your body, getting rid of any kinks caused by long days sitting, but it also works on an emotional level.
Yoga not only helps with flexibility and muscle tone; it also helps keep your heart healthy. Practising regularly, especially in the evening, means you’ll be able to jump out of bed much more easily, minus any usual aches and pains!
The great thing with yoga is that it also works hand-in-hand with meditation, so you can combine the two, and if it’s been a super busy day and time is of the essence, a ten-minute yoga session can still be beneficial.
It’s so easy to fall into bed with your phone, scrolling through social media. Or bingeing on a box set while you snuggle in bed. However, there’s been many studies to show that banning screens make for better sleep, so if you need to unwind, read a book instead – and preferably an actual one at that, rather than on a screen!
Many successful people from Bill Gates to Barack Obama have always read in the evening. Whether you choose self-help tomes or ‘escape from everything’ fiction, reading allows your muscles to relax and your breathing to calm down. If you think about it, it’s a lot like meditation – your brain is in the here and now, reading text and imagining the scenario you’re reading about. It doesn’t leave a lot of space to worry or stress or imagine worse case scenarios.
Reading can also boost your brainpower – imagine it as a workout for the muscles in your brain – so getting into the habit of doing it nightly, will only improve your mental prowess the following day, right?
Follow a bedtime routine
Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and author of The Sleep Revolution, really believes in a sleep routine. This is not only to prime you to get the best night’s sleep, but also to ensure you wake up raring to go.
While her sleep routine includes advice to change into PJs, avoiding caffeine after 2pm and making your bedroom as dark as you can, it’s up to you to find the routine that works for you.
For actress and Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow, her wind-down routine involves a soak in a bath full of Epsom salts and using essential oils on her pressure points. Epsom salt not only act as a relaxant for your muscles, but thanks to the high magnesium content, it can also help boost serotonin and reduce anxiety making it a great addition to any nightly routine.
Whatever your ritual is in the evening, try and keep to it as strictly as you can. Your body will know that it’s time for bed, meaning you’ll sleep better and be more rested in the morning.
This is a favourite of our CEO, Andrea McLean, and is something she’s been doing for a while now.
“This is something that Nick and I have been doing for years now,” she says. “It was first introduced to us by my friend, the life coach Pete Cohen, and it has just become part of our normal night-time ritual.
“It hugely helps to reframe the day you have had if it has been a difficult one, and it makes you take the time to appreciate the things that have gone well.
Like Andrea does, you can make a mental list of those things that have gone well, or you can jot down your thoughts. Any pen and paper will do, but we also have a free downloadable gratitude journal to help you start on your journey.