Getting better sleep is an important goal for many of us, but it is a goal that can sometimes be hard to reach.
A 2016 study found that 70 percent of Canadians wish they could get better sleep. Meanwhile, research on sleep has progressed, so we now know the main factors that help or hurt sleep quality. That said, study after study continues to show that we are a sleep-deprived society; the American CDC has even called insufficient sleep “a public health problem.”
We want better sleep, we know how to make it happen, yet it still eludes us. What gives?
Our hectic lives are to blame. With work, family, and so many other obligations, it often feels like there is never enough time in the day to get everything done. Overwhelmed by to-dos, we sacrifice sleep…failing to realize that these hours of what seems like ‘idle’ time actually play an important role in how we function while awake.
You can make sleep a priority! To show you how it’s done, we are taking a look at the sleep habits of some of the world’s most successful people. These rich, powerful and influential individuals have figured out how to ‘rule the world’ by day and rest peacefully at night. By following their example, you can improve your sleep quality too.
5 Nighttime Routines for Better Sleep
The time spent before you hop into bed is as important as the time spent in between the covers. Developing a nighttime routine will help prepare your body and mind for rest, making it easier to sleep when your head hits the pillow. Here are some things you can incorporate into your nightly routine.
Getting your blood pumping at night can expel that extra energy and help you wind down. For example, Buffer CEO Joel Gascoigne takes a 20-minute walk every night at 9:30pm. He uses the time to disengage, thinking about how his day went until he gradually reaches a state of tiredness.
Hygiene habits have been recommended by the National Sleep Foundation as ways to psychologically prepare yourself for sleep. Former Huffington Post editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington and actress Gwyneth Paltrow melt away stress in warm baths filled with Epsom salt, while writer Steven King ends the day by brushing his teeth, washing his hands, and making sure all pillows face the same way.
A 2009 study found that reading just 6 minutes per day can decrease stress by up to 68 percent, which is why winding down with a good book is an excellent way to prepare yourself for sleep. The practice is followed by Arianna Huffington and also Bill Gates, who spends an hour each night before bed reading books on subjects from politics to current events.
Time for Reflection
Benjamin Franklin was said to have closed out every day by asking himself the same question: “What good have I done today?” This self-examination helps you find closure to the day’s activities and also set yourself up for success the next day. Meanwhile, American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault plans for the day ahead by writing down three things he wants to accomplish, and Arianna Huffington recommends keeping a gratitude journal.
Turning Off Electronics
If you want to wind down, you have to power down your electronics too. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg admits that it is “painful,” but before bed, she turns off her phone to ensure she will not be woken up during the night. Arianna Huffington goes a step further by unplugging all electronics (phone, iPad, laptop, etc.) and leaving them all outside her bedroom.
Nighttime routines give you a way to disengage from the day – to mentally disconnect so your mind is ready for sleep. Other ways to wind down at night include spending quality time with family, meditating, practicing yoga, and listening to music.
Whatever you choose, make sure it is something relaxing and positive-focused. As Buffer CEO Joel Gascoigne mentions on his blog, it is also important to avoid re-engaging, i.e. jumping back into activities that are mentally stimulating, stressful or remind you of work. Practice your routine every night until you begin to feel sleepy (15-60 minutes typically does the trick), then go straight to bed afterward.