When I took the leap to become a full-time entrepreneur two years ago, I found myself in a constant battle to fight fatigue. Even though I was teaching personal development, I couldn’t defeat my alarm clock for more than a year.
I was working from home and didn’t have many appointments. I could go to bed and get up whenever I wanted. And even though I mostly slept more than eight hours, I felt exhausted.
I had a well thought out morning routine, exercised regularly, followed a vegan diet, but still didn’t feel energized.
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And while I initially thought that I had to sleep, even more, I soon found out that the real problem was the quality, not the quantity of my sleep.
I often worked late at night, scrolled through Instagram until I fell asleep, and was a fan of late-night snacks. As a result, my sleep quality dropped and I didn’t feel well-rested, no matter how many hours I spent resting.
After a few months in this doom loop of constant tiredness, I decided to change the game: I analyzed top performers, read dozens of books on sleep hacking and energy management, and applied dozens of strategies until I found out what works best to fight fatigue and increase my productivity:
Use the power of self-reflection
Highly effective people take time for self-reflection. By doing so, they find out which tasks and projects paid off and which didn’t.
And reflecting on your day before going to bed is particularly helpful as it allows you to let go of the mistakes and negativity of the day.
As John Dewey once said:
“We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience.”
If you want to be effective, you need to move forward. And the best way to do so is by reflecting on your experiences before going to bed.
The only rule for practicing self-reflection is honesty. You need to admit your faults and mistakes so that you can let go of them.
Here are some of my favorite questions you can answer before going to bed:
How did I feel today?
What am I proud of?
What didn’t go well today?
Did I accomplish all my daily goals?
What made me happy today?
What could I do differently and better?
Answering those will help you to let go of the experiences you made throughout the day. Plus, it will help you find out what you can change and improve.
“Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sleep in cold, dark, and noise-free rooms
Great sleepers adopt their bedrooms to get the most of their sleeping hours. This includes darkening your room, keeping it rather cool than hot, and avoiding noise.
When we’re exposed to too much bright light, our bodies can’t differentiate between day and night. Thus, falling asleep becomes harder and the quality of our sleep drops. Dim the lights at least 30 minutes before going to bed to ensure your body can calm down and prepare for a good night’s sleep.
Also, make sure to darken your bedroom so that you’re not exposed to lights while you sleep. You can also use a sleep mask to ensure complete darkness.
If you can’t avoid noise in your bedroom, you can use earplugs to ensure calmness.
A sleeping mask and earplugs are also great companions during travels so that you can ensure a high-quality sleep, no matter where you are.
According to Shawn Stevenson, author of the bestselling book Sleep Smarter, there’s no facet of your mental, emotional, or physical performance that’s not affected by the quality of your sleep.
That’s why it’s crucial to make these small yet powerful changes and sleep in dark, cold, and noise-free rooms whenever possible.
Disconnect from the world to connect with yourself
Studies prove that our screens’ artificial blue light has a negative influence on our sleep patterns. That’s because it harms the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps us fall asleep with ease and sleep well.
There are a few ways you can avoid blue light close to bedtime, but the most effective way is to avoid screens altogether.
If that’s not possible, you still have two more options:
- You can install a blue light blocker on your screens (e.g., f.lux).
- Or you can use blue light blocking glasses. Most modern opticians even offer a blue light blocking option when you buy new glasses.
“Disconnecting from our technology to reconnect with ourselves is absolutely essential.”
— Arianna Huffinton
Prepare to conquer the next day
Too often, we spend our evenings worrying about the next day. We think of all the stuff we need to get done and get stressed instead of spending the last hours of the day relaxing.
That’s why writing down all your tasks for the next day can lead to great relief and allow you to spend your last hours before bedtime in peace.
Preparing your to-do list for the next day can help you calm down and sleep better.
If you are a little workaholic like me, you might think about your next to-do’s, even if your working hours are over.
That’s why I intentionally prepare the tasks of the next day before leaving my work desk and getting into relaxation mode. By doing so, I don’t have to worry about my to-do list because I can rely on being organized.
Besides your to-do list, you can also prepare your bag, your clothes, and anything else you need for the next day. There’s nothing more satisfying than going to bed and knowing that you’re well prepared to tackle the next day.
As Alan Lakein once said:
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
If you want to perform at your best in the morning, you need to make sure you’re well-prepared in the evening.
Relax your body and mind
If you want to get a good night’s sleep, you should relax at least 30 minutes before going to bed. Otherwise, you’ll not only struggle to fall asleep but also take your stress and worries to bed.
While we sleep, our brains process everything we consumed throughout the day and what we think, read, and believe close to bedtime has a particularly strong effect on our minds.
That’s why it’s so important to avoid working until the very last minute of your day. Instead, choose some relaxing activities that help you to unwind.
Journaling and reminding yourself of your goals are powerful ways to end your days as your brain will process these positive thoughts while sleeping.
However, you can also do anything else that helps you calm down after an exhausting day: Read a book, listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks, keep a diary, do some stretching exercises, or whatever else your heart desires.
The only thing that matters is allowing yourself to unwind and relax so that you can easily fall asleep when you go to bed.
“Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges.”
— Bryant McGill
Feed your mind
Highly productive and effective people are constant learners. Even on busy days, they make time to feed their mind with new, inspiring ideas.
Studies prove that it’s easier to remember the things we read or hear close to bedtime. That’s because our brains process the information we consume throughout our days during the night. And what we learn or think close to bedtime has the biggest effect on our minds.
Particularly uplifting, positive stories or non-fiction books can help you unwind and relax while feeding your mind.
Avoid late-night snacks
If you crave late-night snacks before going to bed, you better go with relaxing teas such as camomille, lavender, or mint instead of sweets or other high-calorie snacks.
Even if it might satisfy your cravings, eating carb-loaded or fatty meals before going to bed harms your sleep quality.
Additionally, eating late can lead to inflammation and impairments in blood sugar regulation and weight gain.
Whenever possible, avoid eating late at night. Your sleep, your body, and your performance will reward you for doing so.
Taking care of what you do and avoid before going to bed won’t only help you sleep better, but it can also significantly increase your entire life quality.
You can choose from many activities, but whatever you do, the main purpose of your evening routine should be to calm down and let go of the negativity that might have occurred throughout your day.
By resetting your mind, you’re setting the foundation to reset your body through high-quality sleep.
A proper evening routine can set the tone for a successful day and help you stay calm, productive, and effective.
As Arianna Huffington preaches:
“The way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep.”
However, it’s not only about how much you sleep but also how well you sleep. So make sure to follow the routines of highly effective people to get the most of your resting hours.
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