The Best Bedtime Routine for a More Productive Morning
Do you feel tired when you wake up in the morning or press snooze on your alarm clock 3-4 times before actually making your way out of bed? Part of your challenge may be linked to your nightly routine. A better morning doesn’t start when you open your eyes, it actually starts the night before. The way you wind down impacts your ability to wind up with ease and start the day off on a hopeful note. Here’s our five ways to enhance your nighttime routine to help you start your day on the right foot.
Try the 10-3-2-1 Method
Incorporating the 10-3-2-1 bedtime routine is all about setting boundaries and parameters around the different stimuli that can prevent you from getting a good night’s rest, including food consumption and screen time.
10 hours before bedtime
Stop drinking caffeine.
3 hours before bedtime
Stop drinking food and alcohol (herbal tea and water are okay).
2 hours before bedtime
Stop working for the day.
1 hour before bedtime
No more screen time; it's time to put the phone away and turn off the TV, computer, and tablets.
Why are these factors important?
Caffeine. According to The Sleep Foundation, caffeine can reduce the quality of your deep, slow-wave sleep, while also decreasing the amount of sleep that you get overall. Additionally, one common misconception is that caffeine wakes you up, but really it works by suppressing your ability to feel tired by blocking a sleep-promoting chemical in your brain called adenosine. By drinking coffee even within ten hours of your bedtime, your adenosine receptors may still be blocked and you’ll feel awake even though your mind and body are both fatigued.
Food and drink. While we all love a good late-night snack, eating too late pushes against your circadian rhythm. Additionally, eating too close to your bedtime means that your body will have to expend energy digesting, rather than focusing on the restorative aspects of sleep that enable your body to heal and rejuvenate itself.
Stop working. Working stimulates your brain, and if you’re working on things you’re stressed about, can even activate your sympathetic nervous system (which is responsible for your fight-or-flight response). Placing clear boundaries around work is important because you don’t want to wind yourself up too much before you’re heading off to bed; these boundaries also help you feel a sense of control and balance over your life. Relax your mind and get a head start on your sleep routine by stepping away from work at least two hours before bedtime.
Screen times. Blue light waves like those that come from your computer, television, and cell phones adversely affect your circadian rhythm and can make it difficult for you to fall asleep and stay asleep at night.
Give Yourself a Clean Start
Clearing your space will help you have a clear mind in the morning and quite literally give you a fresh start to your day. I know, sometimes the last thing you want to do after a long day of work is doing the dishes and cleaning the counters, but leaving it until the morning gives you more to worry about while you’re trying to get your day started. Additionally, cleaning your home can give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction right before bed so that you’re going into your slumber with ease and even fall asleep faster. When you wake up in the morning to a clean environment you’ll find that it can result in a boost in your mood and that you feel more focused and less anxious throughout the day.
Get Your Thoughts Out
Clear your mind and set intentions for the day ahead before you head to sleep. It’s common to have racing thoughts before bed, and journaling can be a powerful way to clear your mind and make sense of your thoughts and the events of your day. Journaling before bed is also a great time to set intentions for the next day to align your priorities and decide what you want to do and how you want to show up. When you wake up you will have a very clear sense of what's important to you and how to navigate the roadblocks ahead.
Be Intentional about Setting Your Alarm
If I’m being honest, I only just turned a new leaf with this one. Being intentional about setting your alarm means getting real with yourself about how much time you need to get ready in the morning and setting your alarm accordingly. That means no snooze, no series of five alarms–get up when you say you’re going to get up. Setting multiple alarms sends your mind and body a cue that waking up is difficult and something that you don’t want to do. By setting just one alarm that you actually commit to, you are making a very clear statement to yourself about how you feel: I am excited and ready to take on the day ahead.
Screens Off, Phones Away
I said it earlier in the 10-3-2-1 method, but I’ll say it again here because this is probably one of the most difficult to get used to, but one of the most valuable. The activity on your phones or electronic devices not only stimulates and engages your mind, but also emits blue light waves that impact your circadian rhythm and suppress the secretion of melatonin, a natural hormone that plays a role in your sleep-wake cycle.
The hack here is to keep your electronics (yes, including your phone) outside of your bedroom, or at least on the completely opposite side of your room so that you can’t access it while you sleep or as soon as you wake up. One benefit of doing this and using your phone as your alarm is that not only will you not be distracted or tempted to pick up your phone in bed, but you'll also be forced to wake up and walk across the room to turn your alarm off, making the snooze button a less attractive option.
Having a pleasant morning starts with your nighttime habits and the way you go to sleep. Do yourself a favor and make things easier by slowly winding down using the 10-3-2-1 method; clearing your space and clearing your mind; setting your intentions for the day to come; getting intentional about setting your alar; and keeping your phones out of your bedroom.