7 Bedtime Habits of the Most Successful People
September 14, 2016
Bedtime rituals can make or break your success.
The last few things you do before bed tend to have a significant impact on your mood and energy level the next day, as they often determine how well and how much you sleep.
Business Insider talked to experts to find out what the most successful people do before bed. Some of these habits --like bedtime reading, spending time with family, and going for an evening stroll -- are easy to take on. Others, however, are more difficult.
Here are seven bedtime rituals that are hard to adopt but will pay off forever:
Disconnect from work
Truly successful people do anything but work right before bed, says Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of "The Humor Advantage." They don't obsessively check their email, and they try not to dwell on work-related issues.
Michael Woodward, Ph.D., organizational psychologist and author of "The YOU Plan," agrees. "The last thing you need is to be lying in bed thinking about an email you just read from that overzealous boss who spends all their waking hours coming up with random requests driven by little more than a momentary impulse."
Give yourself a buffer period between the time you read your last email and the time you go to bed. The idea is to get your head out of work before you lie down to go to sleep.
It can be very hard not to do, or think about, work before bed. But developing this habit can pay off big time. It will help you go to bed feeling less stressed, and allow you to sleep better, with a clearer mind.
You shouldn't just disconnect from work. You should unplug completely.
Researchers agree that any kind of screen time before bed does you more harm than good.
The blue light from your phone mimics the brightness of the sun, which tells your brain to stop producing melatonin, an essential hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm and tells your body when it's time to wake and when it's time to sleep. This could lead not only to poor sleep, but also to vision problems, cancer, and depression.
So, stop checking email, scanning your social media apps, and playing games on your phone just before going to sleep.
As hard as it might be to give up your phone before bed now, it will pay off in the long run.
If you're not one to take time at the end of the day to sit down and think about all that's happened over the past 12 hours, this ritual may be hard to adopt. But it's an important one.
Kerr says successful people take the time just before bed to reflect on or write down three things that happened that day, for which they feel grateful.
"Keeping a 'gratitude journal' also reminds people of the progress they made that day in any aspect of their life, which in turn serves as a key way to stay motivated, especially when going through a challenging period."
It's easy to fall into the trap of replaying negative situations from the day that you wish you had handled differently. Regardless of how badly the day went, successful people typically manage to avoid that pessimistic spiral of negative self-talk because they know it will only create more stress.
Benjamin Franklin famously asked himself the same self-improvement question every night: "What good have I done today?"
"Remember to take some time to reflect on the positive moments of the day and celebrate the successes, even if they were few and far between," Woodward says.
Laura Vanderkam, author of "I Know How She Does It" and "What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast," adds: "Taking a few moments to think about what went right over the course of the day can put you in a positive, grateful mood."
In addition to reflecting back on your day, take a few minutes to breathe, relax, and decompress.
Meditation is one way to do this.
It may be difficult to get into the routine of meditating before bed -; especially if you've never done it before -- but there are so many resources out there to help you get started.
Dale Kurow, a New York-based executive coach, says meditation is a great way to relax your body and quiet your mind.
Plan out your sleep
"Much has been written around the dangers busy people face running chronic sleep deficits, so one habit I know several highly successful people do is to simply make it a priority to get enough sleep -- which can be a challenge for workaholics or entrepreneurs," Kerr says.
One way to do that is to go to bed at a consistent time each evening, which is a key habit all sleep experts recommend to help ensure a healthy night's sleep.
Vanderkam further suggests that you plan out when you're going to wake up, count back however many hours you need to sleep, and then consider setting an alarm to remind yourself to get ready for bed.
"The worst thing you can do is stay up late then hit snooze in the morning," she says. "Humans have a limited amount of willpower. Why waste that willpower arguing with yourself over when to get up, and sleeping in miserable nine-minute increments?"
Make a to-do list
Very few people actually want to take the time to make a to-do list before bed, but the benefits of doing so are surprisingly immense.
"Clearing the mind for a good night sleep is critical for a lot of successful people," Kerr says. "Often they will take this time to write down a list of any unattended items to address the following day, so these thoughts don't end up invading their head space during the night."
For example, Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, writes down three things he wants to accomplish the next day.
Try adopting this routine if you want to sleep better and start each day with new goals.
Give up the nightcap and fattening snacks
When researching her sleep manifesto, "Thrive," Arianna Huffington consulted a number of sleep specialists for tips. One of her favorites is avoiding alcohol right before bedtime.
While alcohol can certainly help you fall asleep, the National Institute of Health finds that it robs you of quality sleep. Alcohol keeps people in the lighter stages of sleep from which they can be awakened easily and prevents them from falling into deeper, more restorative stages of sleep, the institute finds.
You'll also want to avoid caffeine and foods that are high in fat right before bed.
BY JACQUELYN SMITH