I wrote a post last week on designing a strong morning routine and the benefits of getting up early. Naturally, my next post should focus on ending the day just as strong. I first came across this concept by Darren Hardy, in his book The Compound Effect.
If you haven’t read his book yet, I encourage you to add it to your reading list. Darren introduces and discusses the concept of controlling your bookends. Or in other words, what you do in the morning and in the evening can help shape your day. It was an interesting concept that I felt compelled to apply to my life and feel strongly that it can help you too. Below are a few tips I wanted to share with you on how I control my evenings.
Six Tips To Building A Strong Nighttime Routine
1. Make A Commitment
Sound familiar? With anything in life, especially if it’s new, we must commit first and foremost. Write it down, share your commitment with your spouse, a parent, a close friend, (Not Facebook – we’ll chat on that later) or anyone in your inner circle of influence that you trust. It’s important to understand why this is step one. If you don’t make a commitment and just “hope” for things to be different… let me fast forward to the end of the story… Nothing will change. I promise.
2. Set Time
This isn’t grade school anymore where bed times are mandatory. Instead, it’s important to set a time in the evening to start winding down. Pick a time to start disconnecting from your computer, phone, TV or any other blue light device. Yes, I know there are programs/apps that block the blue light (I use FLUX on my MacBook) but mentally, it’s time to start unplugging.
What can you layout the night before or gather to be prepared in the morning? It takes the stress out of running behind in the morning when you already know your stuff is located. I always layout my workout clothes the night before and if I am speaking somewhere in the morning, I do a cable check to make sure I have all my electronics lined up. Not only do my mornings start better knowing where everything is at, I sleep better when I prepare the night before.
If you sit at a desk all day or travel an extensive amount and find yourself cramped in the aircraft with no legroom – this is crucially important. We are at a time in our lives where technology has shrunk the world and connected everyone to everything in a matter of seconds. We are also at a time in the world where obesity has seen its highest rise and where sitting and being stationary is affecting everyone’s health. Remember, humans use to be hunters and gatherers and had to in order to survive. Everyone was on his or her feet, moving, running, walking, jogging for extended periods of time throughout the day, every day! Research shows that as we get older, we begin to lose muscle. I want to delay that as long as possible.
Taking a shower before bed is a great way to relax and unwind from the day. I read an article on showering before bed that states it helps improve quality of sleep. It wasn’t convincing enough for me to link the article to this post as a “health benefit”, rather I share this step to ending your day as a strong suggestion. Showering before bed helps me unwind and relax and sets in motion for my body that it’s time to go to sleep.
Reading before bed is a great way to ease your mind before bedtime and help reduce stress. There are countless times that I’ve tried to go to sleep and my mind just wanders. I am thinking about the day I just had, what is in store for tomorrow… next week… next month… my mind is going bonkers. I have found that reading before bed is a fool proof way to help control your thoughts. Since adding reading to my nighttime routine, I have had better sleep and less mindless chatter to keep me up.
My wife and I make it a habit to go to bed together. I can’t remember if we picked that up from Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott or Bill and Joyce Harley, but it has been awesome advice! It gives us a chance, in such a noisy world, to spend time reading, talking, being together.
Here is what my nighttime routine looks like:
–– I start winding down around 9:00 PM.
–– I layout my workout clothes and the plate/knife that I make breakfast with in the morning. I also put my protein in a travel container so it’s ready to go when I head out to exercise. If I have an appointment or speaking engagement in the morning, everything that I need is gathered and put on a bench next to our garage door. It’s gives me peace of mind knowing that I’m all set for the morning.
–– I stretch for about 10 minutes using a foam roller and resistance bands. If you haven’t stretched in a while, or like me, naturally have tight muscles, WOW the foam roller can bring some serious pain. It’s the kind of pain that “hurts so good”! You know what I’m talking about. I use the Trigger Point Performance Foam Roller and Medium (Green) Resistance Band.
–– I shower after I stretch. One area I am considering is scented candles, oils, and lotions that help assist in sleeping. I haven’t ventured into that area yet, but the more research I am gathering shows the overwhelming benefits of adding some of those items to a nightly routine for a sound sleep. I’ll let you know the best ones as I continue to do my due diligence in that area. Two things I do use, after my shower and before reading is AdvoCare’s SleepWorks and Nighttime Recovery. I have been using the Nighttime Recovery for years now (prior to the Olympics) and added SleepWorks this year. I have seen great results, and more importantly, better sleep using both before bed.
–– The books I read at night are light reads. I can’t read books on business, leadership, productivity or anything in surrounding categories otherwise I get too fired up and my mind begins to strategize on how to implement the freshly read content into my business, speaking, etc. At the time of this blog post, I am reading a memoir, If You Feel Too Much by my friend Jamie Tworkowski. My wife reads fiction books before bed and she has encouraged me to try reading fiction in the evening as my nighttime reading material. I will give it a try.
I also read Proverbs. There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs so I read the chapter with the corresponding day. For example, today is August 27, therefore tonight I will read chapter 27 of Proverbs. If you haven’t read Proverbs, I’d encourage you to check it out. King Solomon (who wrote Proverbs, Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes) is considered the wisest person in history. The common sense and practical wisdom found is Proverbs is unparalleled to any book ever written.
–– My wife and I pray for things we are thankful for, we ask for understanding on things we are unsure of and give away things that burden us and are out of our control. We ask for forgiveness and for wisdom and clarity.
My hope with sharing my nighttime routine is to encourage you to put together a routine that works for you! Let me be honest, it is a lot tougher for me to stick to my nighttime routine than it is my morning routine. My wife and I are self employed and a lot of our work can consume evenings, which throws a wrench in my nighttime routine from time to time. My goal of writing out a routine is to not wield a baseball bat and guilt myself, you or anyone when you can’t follow it or something comes up. Rather, it’s a guide that we can use to get back on track when things come up and seasons of life change.
Question: Do you have a nighttime routine or any helpful tips? Send me an email, as I would love to hear them!