3 Surprising Productivity Benefits of a Consistent Nighttime Routine
You’ve heard it all before. Better sleep is touted as the holy grail to lowering blood pressure, improving memory, managing weight and even maintaining younger looking skin! The problem is, you’re too ambitious to be concerned with all of that. Those perks are not motivating enough for you to stop cutting into your sleep time as you press yourself to get more work done.
You may already be familiar with the productivity benefits of adequate sleep that actually matter to you: reduced stress, better mood, and sharper cognitive function are things you actually care about. You may even be aware that high achievers like Tim Ferriss, Arianna Huffington and Oprah are known to go against the “hustle at any cost” mindset and advocate for sleep as a way to boost productivity.
Yet none of this awareness has helped you shift your habits. In fact, you’re bewildered to find yourself digging in your heels like a teenager rebelling against bedtime.
This may be because there is one factor that has eluded you thus far. It isn’t talked about much, but it’s likely one of the reasons you became an entrepreneur to begin with:
You crave control over the quality of your life.
Well, here’s some great news! Creating a regular nighttime routine — and consequently getting enough quality sleep — is a critical step toward achieving that control! Small things such as keeping a consistent sleep schedule, modifying your screen time and taking a few moments to do something soothing that you enjoy in the evenings can come together for profound results. Having such a routine in place will allow you to reap the following benefits, a powerhouse trio that will help boost your productivity as well as your quality of life!
1. Fall asleep faster and easier
You’ve likely heard that shutting off screens (phones, TVs, laptops) prior to bedtime can help us fall asleep easier. There is a wide scope of evidence to support that this actually signals our brains to relax into restful sleep. Studies show it not only improves our ability to fall asleep more quickly, it also helps us to avoid the biological effects that interrupt our sleep and disrupt our natural circadian rhythms. If you are one of the 90 percent of Americans who uses some type of electronics within one hour before bedtime at least a few nights per week, this information is worthy of your attention.
But did you know there is an underlying element of this which offers a secondary benefit? Turning off the screens creates a transition period between high mental energy tasks and settling into bed, and that also helps us sleep easier.
If you’ve ever tossed and turned with anxiety over today’s unfinished tasks or tomorrow’s agenda, you understand how relaxing it could be to have a break from the mental chatter. Instead of checking e-mail or social media right before bed, try taking a few minutes to write. Jot down a few good things from the day in a gratitude journal or brain dump those anxiety-inducing to-dos onto paper, allowing your mind to release those worries for the night. Savor these moments of introspection to tune into yourself and out of the stress. In this era of mass adaptation to working from home, it becomes even more relevant. Establishing transition periods between work, home life and well-being practices (including restful sleep) is more essential now than ever before.
2. Improved ability to “keep calm and carry on”
Have you ever snapped at your kids, partner, employee or colleague out of frustration over something that, in hindsight, didn’t deserve such a sharp reaction? How often could that have been avoided if you weren’t exhausted or frazzled in the moment (as a result of, say, not getting enough sleep, or starting your day in a frenzy)? Frustration can build up like a pressure cooker when we’re exhausted and running behind schedule. Then even the most minor setback quickly escalates, simply because of our volatile mood and compromised mental function.
This inability to maintain composure can hurt the elements of our lives that matter most, from maintaining healthy relationships to achieving success in our business. The combination of operating on a) adequate quality sleep and b) a smooth start to the morning means that most days will not land us in this overwhelmed irritability trap.
A study published in the Harvard Business Review supports the idea that when we reclaim control over our time and energy, we have the power to respond to everyday situations in productive and meaningful ways, thereby increasing sustainability in our work and enhancing the overall quality of our lives.
3. More time for your morning routine
The trick to this is simple: Stop hitting snooze! It may seem so normal that you’re wondering how skipping it could be considered a benefit, but it’s true. There’s plenty of science-based research that demonstrates a correlation between sleep disruption (i.e., snooze) and cognitive drain or sluggishness. But maybe you don’t notice those effects personally, so let’s consider it from a different angle. How often have you wished you could find enough time to start a new exercise program, start journaling again or simply sit in peace and quiet to enjoy your coffee before jumping into your day?
One recent survey found that the average American adult hits snooze multiple times, staying in bed up to 24 minutes after their intended wake up time daily. That’s 24 minutes you could invest in a morning habit that promotes a positive mindset and propels you toward your goals! (Not surprisingly, that same study showed that a whopping two-thirds of adults say they wake up more easily if they have something to look forward to that day. It’s a win-win!)
In fact, having a replenishing morning routine can help us to feel more focused and, as a result, more productive throughout the day. Imagine how much peaceful productivity you could spark each day, just by infusing something enjoyable into your mornings. In other words: successful morning routines start at night.
Make your life your own again
Having a consistent nighttime routine in place is a catalyst to living life on our own terms. We can remain calm through virtually any situation life throws our way, avoiding situations that lead to burnout and liberating ourselves from the cycle of playing catch-up all day every day. This peacefulness carries over into the evening hours — the time when most of us want to kick back and enjoy some deep connection with our loved ones or indulge in some restorative alone time. Ultimately, we must ease ourselves into restful sleep tonight so we can rise up and conquer the day again tomorrow.