Have you got any bedtime rituals you can’t do without?
You’re not the only one.
There are plenty of people out there who have their own personal practices before hitting the hay. Some are very common, like brushing your teeth.
But others, like my teenage habit of eating a bowl of cereal with pink lemonade instead of milk just before bed, might stand out as being a little odd.
But habits are one thing, and rituals are quite another.
Rituals are actions done with intention and mindfulness. They’re usually used to produce a result or even celebrate the act itself.
So the question here is, what do people do before bed that really works to improve their lives?
If you want to add some practices to your own pre-sleep schedule, here are 8 bedtime rituals of people who are genuinely successful and happy.
1) Prepping for tomorrow
Successful people are usually one step ahead, and people who are extremely happy and successful in life might be another few strides in front of them.
But how do they get ahead and stay ahead every day?
The simple secret?
They start tomorrow today.
These are people who write their to-do lists the night before, not the morning of.
They’re people who lay out their outfits for the next day or make their meals in advance.
These may be simple things, but they can also add up to be huge time savers.
All you have to do is think about your future self as though they were someone you really cared about and wanted to make life wonderful for. I hope they are!
That will help you think of rituals you can do today that will be gifts for your future self when they wake up tomorrow.
2) Reflecting on today’s wins
One great ritual I’ve just heard about is this simple task.
Find a few free minutes and a notebook.
Each evening, write down your three biggest successes for the day.
They might be huge things like closing a major deal or getting engaged, but they don’t have to be. You could simply write something like, “Pulled a red sweater out of the whites wash in the nick of time.”
This is just one simple way that you can turn thinking about your day into a fixed reflection ritual. Of course, you may choose to write full journal entries instead.
But by focusing on your successes, you can maintain a focus on the positives in your life and feel gratitude for the good things that you have going for you.
3) Putting work to bed
Long before they’re ready to go to bed themselves, most happy and successful people draw a firm line that their work simply shall not cross.
I know that the self-made multi-millionaire I used to work for, Shane, would never take any work-related calls or messages after 8:00 pm. Even though he ran his business closely, he knew that there was never anything going on that was worth him losing his important evening time to.
So, this was something that really stuck with me.
Now, I’m an odd case because I often work late. I feel like I’m more productive and clear-thinking at night, so I end up working late quite often.
But I have a firm 10:00 pm rule.
I don’t send messages after this time or do anything work-related ever. Since I go to bed at midnight, this gives me at least two hours of personal time before bed that’s never interrupted by work.
I definitely recommend doing the same!
I don’t know about you, but I love reading before bed and always have.
Well, actually, I used to read voraciously as a kid, even after I was supposed to be in bed fast asleep.
I had a desk lamp next to the bed, and I’d sneak it under the blankets and make my own secret reading cave every night.
I was sure my parents never had a clue until one day, I woke up in the morning and found the lamp in bed with me still turned on. That was the first time, which meant my parents had surely found it before after I’d nodded off!
Why is reading so great before bed?
I think it’s because it’s a very focused, quiet activity. It’s just you and the page before you.
That’s if you’re reading a book, of course.
Reading online is different because you can always click through links and swipe through apps and keep your brain jumping around like a monkey.
But a book? It’s a great analog activity that keeps you focused and actually quiets your mind.
Want a great recommendation?
If you can’t sleep, try James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. Intentionally written in the form of a dreamscape, I’ve been reading it since I was 21, but I can never get more than two pages in before falling on my nose!
5) Studying / Practicing a skill
One interesting ritual that you could create for yourself might be studying something new or practicing a new skill before you go to sleep.
What, like snowboarding or walking on hot coals?
I was thinking of something that might be a little less hectic and more relaxed. Perhaps learning French or knitting.
The benefits of setting aside time in your bedtime routine to do this sort of thing every day are many.
If you choose something that you really want to achieve and use evening time to do it rather than wasting that time watching videos or scrolling through social media, you’re being a lot more effective with your time.
Studies have also shown that studying before bed can help memory retention. Part of what our brains do when we sleep is to consolidate our memories from that day, so this makes sense because the content you just learned or practiced would be fresh and have little time to be forgotten before you sleep.
And finally, choosing a relaxing activity as a bedtime ritual can help you focus on that one thing and tune out all the other distractions that you might otherwise have around you.
So this ritual becomes a win-win-win situation!
6) Shunning screens
But it’s best if you’re not studying or learning with your digital devices.
I am, in all seriousness, suggesting that you put down your devices long before you go to bed.
This may not be so much a ritual as a limit that you religiously enforce, but trust me, your sleep hygiene will improve right away if you do it.
The blue wavelengths coming from your screens are like the blue light of daytime, and this stimulates your brain to stay alert.
“No problem,” I hear you saying cleverly, “I’ll just put my screens in night mode.”
While that stops most of the stimulating blue wavelengths from reaching your eyes, it still doesn’t do the trick.
The hard truth is that light shining into your eyes is still stimulating. So is action and sound, so if you’re reading from your phone or watching videos on a tablet, you’re telling your brain to stay awake and alert rather than relaxing.
Having a luxurious might be the ultimate pre-bed relaxation ritual.
Promoted by the likes of hugely successful folks like Adriana Huffington and Oprah, soaking can be an excellent way to relieve stress, both mental and physical.
Japanese culture swears by hot soaks, and almost every home has a tub, even if it’s so small you literally have to hug your knees to sit in it.
Larger lay-down baths with aromatic bubble baths, candles, and even a glass of wine (watch your blood pressure doesn’t drop too low!) can relax you to the point of paradise.
Just make sure those are real candles and not the new flickering LED ones.
Electricity and bathing don’t mix!
8) Relaxing your body
So many of us carry the stress of the day around in our muscles.
You might keep yours in your sore hips or in your hunched-up shoulders.
This physical tension can make it really hard to get to sleep because you simply can’t relax, so it’s a great idea to create a ritual to help release that built-up stress from your body.
Some people go for a late-evening stroll around the neighborhood (safe neighborhood recommended!) or even do a very light workout to activate their muscles and melt that tension away.
Other people might stretch or do yoga.
There are even progressive muscle relaxation techniques you can learn to help you go through your muscles one by one and release the stress there.
This is a great ritual to practice in bed right before you drop off to…
Here’s a secret.
These eight bedtime rituals of people who are genuinely successful and happy can become yours, too.
Try adding one and then another to your routine, and you might find the level of happiness and success in your life goes way up.
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