We’ve all had nights when the couch and the show you’re binging on Netflix are just too damn appealing, making it a Herculean effort to get up and start preparing yourself for the following day. But before you hit “play” to watch just one more episode, consider the following: According to the Harvard Business Review, there’s a proven link between how much sleep you get and how effective a leader you are. The bottom line: The more you delay your bedtime routine, the worse you’ll be at effective problem solving, being results driven, seeking out different perspectives and supporting others — and chances are you’ll be pretty cranky, too.
But you can avoid sluggishness and set yourself up for success by following a night routine. Try doing these five things before bed to have your most productive day ever.
1. Prep your meals.
There’s nothing worse than scrambling around in the morning trying to assemble a sandwich or salad — especially when it can easily be made the night before. Carving out just five minutes of your evening to prep lunch, perhaps when you’re making dinner, will make your morning infinitely less hectic.
If you eat breakfast at the office, you can prepare that ahead of time, too. Experiment with overnight oats recipes, use leftover veggies from your evening meal in a make-ahead scramble, or bake eggs in glass ramekins so you can easily heat them up in the office microwave. Warning: You will receive jealous looks from your coworkers when they see your fancy breakfast as they inhale a granola bar.
2. Decide what you’re going to wear.
How many times have you stood in front of your closet in the morning lamenting that you have nothing to wear? And how much time has that lamenting eaten out of your day? By picking out — and laying out — an outfit before you change into your pajamas, you’ll be one step ahead in the morning.
3. Make a list of your top priorities.
Often times when we can’t fall asleep at night it’s because our brain is working overtime. Whether you’re worrying about a big meeting the following day, imploring yourself to not forget an important task, or simply looking forward to kicking off a project, writing down your top priorities will help to quiet your mind and give you the mental space needed to fall and stay asleep. And, as a bonus, your daily to-do list will already be in progress!
4. Power down.
Research has shown that the blue light emitted from electronics like your phone and tablet have negative effects on your health, ranging from making it difficult to fall asleep to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (yikes!). Experts advise putting your devices away two to three hours before bedtime to increase your chances of a restful night’s sleep. If you’re someone who likes to read before bed, don’t despair — hard copies of books are still readily available at bookstores and libraries.
If quieting your mind before bed proves to be difficult, try meditating. Apps like Meditation Studio, Calm and Headspace offer meditations specifically for sleep so you can easily drift off — just make sure you shut your screen off (see #4).
By following these five tips at night as your new bedtime routine, there’s no doubt you’ll have a productive tomorrow.
Kaitlin Bitting is a vice president of public relations and a certified health & wellness coach. She's passionate about helping people find the motivation to create lasting, positive change in their lives, whether personal or professional. Learn more at kaitlinbitting.com.