What you do before bed has a significant impact on what your subconscious mulls over while you sleep, and on your mental state when you wake up the next morning. Research indicates that studying before going to bed can greatly improve your recall of that information later.
Turning your mind off is a challenge when you’re stressed or anxious. A nightly routine helps you relax, fall asleep more easily and be better prepared for the next day. Reflecting at the end of each day, even for just a few minutes, can have a big impact on your future. Those moments before you close your eyes can be pivotal to your success.
Try doing these 10 things before bed to help you prep for success the next day.
1. Write down three things that went well that day, and three things that didn’t.
Do a quick audit of the day. Acknowledging what went well each day keeps you from dwelling on what went wrong. Taking a moment to see the good in each day also helps you appreciate the progress you are making. Think of this as an exercise in gratitude, to remind yourself to be thankful for all you have.
On the flip side, there is value in acknowledging what went wrong. Taking a step back to see what can be improved allows you to make tweaks before brewing problems boil over into full-fledged disasters.
Seeing how you can make small improvements each day will help you course-correct early on. But make time to both acknowledge the good and recognize the bad. This takes five minutes, max.
Related: The Bedtime Routines of 4 Exceptionally Successful People
2. Make tomorrow’s to-do list.
Whether you do this at the beginning or end of your nightly routine, there is huge value in getting a clear sense of what tomorrow looks like before the day ends.
A clear and concise to-do list ensures you wake up with a purpose. Doing it before bed will set your mind at ease -- you won’t toss and turn, worrying about what you need to do the next day. You wrote it all down, so you can relax. Your list will be waiting for you in the morning.
Making a list before bed gives your subconscious a chance to ruminate on ideas throughout the night. The sand man can help you brainstorm while you sleep. And once you wake up, you’ll be off to the races with a clear sense of what the day has in store for you.
Related: Use Action and Idea Lists to Prioritize Tasks and Get Things Done
3. Set out what you need for tomorrow.
Some people firmly believe in the habit of laying out tomorrow’s clothes the night before, or having lunch made and ready to grab and go. These little rituals are like rehearsals for the day ahead that help us relax for sleep. Getting these tasks done the night is immensely helpful if you have a busy schedule the next day or are in crunch time.
The more you can get done ahead of time, the more prepared you will be to focus on what’s truly important. It means you will have fewer hitches because you're ready to get out the door. Getting your day going smoothly boosts your confidence to face the world: lunch in hand, and with shoes that match your belt.
Related: 3 Steps to Perfect Mornings, More Productive Days and a Happier Life
4. Take a hot shower or soak in the bath.
The purpose of bedtime routines is to relax and de-stress. On nights when you need extra help loosening up and calming down, a hot shower can work wonders.
There’s a reason so many people claim to do their best thinking in the bath. Immersion in water is known to be extremely therapeutic, and can help you detach from the hyper-connectedness of technology. Water has a way of soothing your mind so your thoughts can become more fluid and your ideas have a chance to crystallize. Try it! You may find you have your "aha moment" while sudsing up.
Related: How This Showering Trick Can Make You More Energized for the Workday
5. A long walk.
Some people swear by going to the gym at night, before bed. If that gets you too worked up, a long walk might just do the trick. Walking at a mild pace is relaxing, not taxing. It helps your mind cool down and your body unwind.
Being outside at night, disconnected from technology, can provide some much-needed space for reflection. This time away from the hustle and grind is often overlooked. Wandering through your neighborhood at night helps you see things in a new perspective and can spark ideas. Let your thoughts wander while your feet do the strolling.
Related: Looking for Inspiration? Take a Hike.
Do you feel like a zombie by the end of the day, with stiff joints, cramping muscles and twinges in your back? Maybe it’s time to try st-re-tch-ing, to get you loose and limbered up for a good night’s sleep. Taking a few minutes to stretch lets your body know it’s time to start winding down.
Find a quiet place in your apartment or home and allow yourself to recognize how you feel physically. If you sit in an office chair all day, it’s likely that your shoulders, back and legs could use a few minutes of TLC. Stretching also helps you prevent injury and really feel your body, not to mention relieving that all that built-up tension and stress.
Related: 9 Yoga Poses You Can Do At Your Desk Without Looking Really Weird (Infographic)
7. Spend time with someone close to you.
Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, recommends talking about your day with someone who matters to you. It's a great way to de-stress, reflect, swap stories and recharge.
Talking about what’s going on in your life is a key part of developing deep and lasting relationships. Find time to connect with friends, family or your partner. Knowing that we are loved and cared for calms us. Even just playing with a pet can help decrease tension and lower your blood pressure. Besides, what better way to end your day than surrounding yourself with those you care for?
Related: 8 Reasons Married Entrepreneurs Are More Likely to Succeed
Meditation allows our minds to find peace amid our chaotic day. Unsurprisingly, it is quickly becoming commonplace in the harried worlds of business and entrepreneurship.
Meditation gives space and perspective to calm those racing thoughts that rob you of a good night’s sleep.
Mastering meditation takes time and patience.Consistency is key -- our brains, used to distractions, won’t automatically focus and stay mindful in the present. Keep at it -- this mind-calming practice is the perfect way to end your day.
Related: 5 Ways You Can Use Mindfulness to Fix Your Brain, Decrease Stress and Improve Performance
Successful people share the ability to visualize their success. After getting clear on where they want to go, they embed that image firmly in their mind.
Doing this before bed solidifies that goal in your subconscious while you sleep. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, calls this “envisioning your Chief Aim.” Think of your chief aim as the mission statement of your primary purpose in life.
Practice visualizing what your chief aim is to affirm your desired outcome, your biggest goals and dreams. Doing this before bed activates your creative subconscious while you sleep. Keep a notepad by your bed for when you wake up with new and exciting ideas!
Related: 6 Life Hacks Learned in Prison That Will Maximize Your Productivity
10. Planning for plenty of sleep.
Finally, successful people plan their days and nights to ensure they get adequate rest. They know that going day after day on four or five hours of sleep will leave them grumpy, exhausted and mentally drained. Sleep deprivation is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends between seven and nine hours of sleep a night for adults. Going to bed around the same time each night helps your body establish a sleep rhythm, so that your slumber is more restorative. If you stick to the same pattern each night, your body will grow accustomed to it and will know when it’s time to unwind. Eventually it will become easier to fall asleep.
Feeling drowsy yet? Is that a yawn coming on? Have a good night’s sleep…
Deep Patel is the author of A Paperboy's Fable: The 11 Principles of Success. The book was dubbed the #1 best business book in 2016 by Success Magazine and named the best book for entrepreneurs in 2016 by Entrepreneur Magazine.