Every night, around 9pm we face the same dilemma; watch another episode or get ready for bed?
In my house “Watch another episode” is a worthy adversary. We design our living rooms for ultimate comfort and once I’m down on that couch, scrolling social media with Netflix on autoplay it’s basically impossible to turn everything off and get ready for bed. A lot of the time I plonk myself into bed much later than intended, still thinking about the horrific Breaking Bad scene I just witnessed. I’ll have a broken sleep and wake up scattered.
It’s hard overstate the importance of a good night’s sleep. We’re learning more and more that quality sleep is the secret to success. Even Jeff Bezos says he makes an effort to get at least eight hours of sleep every night. ... "I prioritize it. I think better. I have more energy."
In fact, I planned to write this article yesterday. But I had a crappy sleep the night before so I was working at about 20%. A night routine ain’t an easy habit to start, but it will help you avoid days like these. Not only does it improve sleep quality but will set you up for a productive week.
“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” — Thomas Dekker
Step 1: Alter Your Environment.
The first half of my night routine is about preparing my mind and body for sleep.
So I’ll go 'analogue' an hour before bed at about 830pm.
Unplugging from the mental stimulation of screens and physical stimulation of blue light will help you fall asleep faster. So I turn off the TV, put my phone on the charger in the kitchen and pick up a book or journal (more on that in a second). I also dim the lighting and set it to a warm hue (smart bulbs and Amazon Alexa make this easy).
If you don’t have access to CBD, I stole a tea recipe from Tim Ferris which is remarkably sedative. Simply combine your favourite tea with a dash of Apple Cider Vinegar and blob of honey and prepare to be knocked out. Another great sleep aid is Lavender essential oil - sometimes I wipe this under my nose with great results. Taking the time to wind down is always worth it.
Step 2: Premature Cognitive Commitment.
The next part of my night routine is making, what Harvard psychology professor Ellen Langer calls, a Premature Cognitive Commitment. This is a fancy name for using your journal to plan the next morning.
Doing this means that when we wake up, we're not burdened by the responsibility of decision-making in our semiconscious, boofhead sate. When we have a plan, all we have to do is get up and action it. Premature Cognitive Commitment gives us access to immediate energy when we wake up.
So I’ll write down my wake up time and the 3 most important things I wish to accomplish in the morning. Because as Jim Collins said “If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.”
For bonus points you can take this a step further and remove all friction for when you wake up. If you plan to hit the gym, put your sneakers next to the front door. Design your environment to make your desired outcome inevitable and get excited to wake up in the morning.
There’s another key benefit of journalling worth mentioning. If we write about our goals and dreams before we hit the pillow, those thoughts will filter from our waking state to our subconscious while we fall asleep. This is the perfect opportunity to hack the power of your subconscious to steer towards your goals and dreams.
“Your future depends on your dreams, so go to sleep.” — Mesut Barazany
An effective morning routine actually starts the night before. Being intentional in the final hour before bed has a ripple effect into the next day and will profoundly improve your week. It truly is one of the fastest ways to improve your life.