6 Things You Should Do Before Bed That Will Help You Be Successful

image via Flickr/ Brad Smith

What do the most successful people do before they go to bed every night? Presumably they brush their teeth, change their clothes and climb under the sheets just like everyone else, but that can’t be all, can it? Of course it can’t. Successful people know that in order to get a good night’s sleep and start the next day with a clear, focused, purposeful mind, you have to adopt certain practices. If you want to be a sleep success story, try these six tips for better sleep and a more balanced life.

1. Turn Off All Electronics

Most people know by now that artificial light from electronics like smartphones and e-readers disrupts sleep patterns by decreasing melatonin and promoting wakefulness by messing up our circadian rhythms. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to put down the electronics. Many people have difficulty letting go; they always need to check their email one more time or “relax” by spending an hour on Facebook or wind down by watching a few hours of TV in bed. Try to break this habit by turning off all electronic devices, or even removing them from the bedroom. You’ll fall asleep more easily, experience a better quality of sleep and be more alert the next day — all essential ingredients for success.

2. Spend Time With Family

“By making deliberate choices about which opportunities they’ll pursue and which they’ll decline, rather than simply reacting to emergencies, leaders can and do engage meaningfully with work, family and community,” says the Harvard Business Review. Using data from five years of interviews conducted by Harvard Business School students with nearly 4,000 executives around the world, as well as a survey of 82 executives in an HBS leadership course, the Business Review states that most of the executives surveyed maintain a work/life balance by involving their families in work decisions and activities, as well as putting in the time to “give both work and home their due.” Spending time with family maintains and strengthens bonds, allows you to recharge and gives you the sense that you’re in charge of what happens in your life — that you dictate your schedule rather than your schedule dictating you.

3. Read

Not only is reading relaxing, it also provides opportunities to learn new things. Having a small amount of quiet time to yourself to read before bed will help you wind down (as long as you’re not reading with an electronic device) and lend itself to self-improvement. Bill Gates once told the Seattle Times, “I read an hour almost every night. It’s part of falling asleep.”

4. Plan

According to Forbes, planning helps relax the mind. When you plan out your day, your brain can rest in the knowledge that the plan is already in place and will be there when you wake up. By creating a list of what you’ve accomplished during the day and what needs to be accomplished the next day, you can organize your thoughts on paper and stop them from swirling around your head.

According to Business Insider, Benjamin Franklin asked himself, “What good have I done today?” every night and tracked his progress daily. Planning and keeping track of your accomplishments eliminates all the distractions and worries that might otherwise prevent you from going to sleep, plus it helps you evaluate different areas of your life and see where you’re succeeding, as well as where you need to improve.

5. Ensure You Have Enough Time To Get Seven Hours Of Sleep

Recent research has suggested that seven hours of sleep may be more optimal than eight; one study showed that people aged 50 to 64 who sleep for less than six or more than eight hours a night had worse memories and decision-making abilities, and people who sleep for around seven hours are more likely to live longer.

“The lowest mortality and morbidity is with seven hours,” Shawn Youngstedt, a professor at Arizona State University Phoenix who studies sleep duration, told the Daily Mail.

Getting the proper amount of sleep allows your brain to recharge so it can perform at its best during the coming day; when you plan a specific bedtime that will allow you to fall asleep on schedule and get your seven hours of rest, you’re eliminating yet another source of worry that might otherwise keep you awake: the fear that you won’t get enough sleep.

6. Create A Routine

Whether it’s meditation, writing in a journal, brushing your cat, watering plants, or just a typical brushing teeth/washing face/arranging pillows routine, establishing a bedtime routine can be very helpful when you’re trying to wind down. The order of the routine will help your brain know that you’re getting ready to go to sleep, says the Huffington Post; by doing the same two to four things in the same order every night, you’re conditioning yourself to recognize that it’s time to go to sleep, setting yourself up for a productive, successful day.