How you spend the last few hours of your day can have a significant impact on the quality of sleep you receive, as well as your mood and energy levels for the following day. Those who strive for success and productivity should be mindful of this and utilise the final hours of their days wisely.
During the average unproductive evening, one can end up spending hours on end scrolling through one’s phone or watching Netflix. This negatively affects your mood, energy, and therefore mental health, and can lead to a self-perpetuating cycle of un-productivity and compromised mental health.
The best way to avoid this is to have a regular bedtime routine to follow each evening where possible. There are certain things which one should and should not do each night before you go to bed.
If you’re wondering what to do at night besides for watching Netflix or scrolling through your Instagram, here are 11 things that will elevate your mood and increase your efficiency levels:
1. Review and reflect on your day
One of the best ways to wind down after a long day is to reflect on the day. Whether you had a day characterised by good socialisation and successful work efforts or had an unproductive day without achieving what you set out to, it’s worth your time to reflect on your actions.
Questions you should ask yourself when reflecting on your day:
- Did I achieve what I set out to today?
- If yes, how did I achieve it and how did it make me feel?
- If no, what was the reason for my failure and how did it make me feel?
- What can I learn from my mistakes and what could I do differently next time?
By uncovering why your day went the way it did, you’ll be able to learn from your successes and mistakes and alter your routine the following day.
Reflection is a great activity for employees, entrepreneurs, and students to simultaneously increase their work ethic and mental wellbeing.
2. Write down your tasks for tomorrow and prepare your workspace
Writing down a to-do list for the next day fits hand in hand with personal and professional reflection (mentioned above). By picturing tomorrow’s success, you can psych yourself up for great sleep and an even better day ahead.
Whether tidying up your kitchen, your work or study space, or your toddler’s room, the best way to do this is to set up your work/living space before you go to sleep.
5 ways to prepare for a day working at home:
- Clear up used mugs and glasses and organise your papers
- Wipe your desk clean if necessary
- Close down all open applications on your computer
- Pick your outfit the night before you go to sleep
A cluttered workspace is likely to negatively affect your mood. Trying to be productive in an untidy space can make it more difficult to focus on what you need to do while impacting your mental health and stress levels.
3. Meditate or do yoga
Engaging in a regular bedtime yoga routine can help you get into the mood and mindset for bedtime and can help ready your body for rest.
It’s best to do this in a dark, dimly lit, or candlelit room to familiarise your body with the sleep setting it is about to receive.
4. Read a book
If you ask any successful human being what they do just before bed, most would say they read.
Research shows that reading for half an hour before bed leads to reduced blood pressure and significantly lowered stress levels.
Not only does reading increase your cognitive ability, vocabulary, and open up your imagination, but it is also a form of meditation that can minimise your screen time without you noticing too much.
Spending the final moments of your day looking at a computer or phone screen interferes with your circadian rhythm and sleeping patterns and can negatively affect the quality of sleep you receive.
5. Take a bath
If you have trouble falling asleep, you might want to try taking a warm bath an hour before you head to bed. Studies show that indulging in a warm bathing ritual with dim lighting and no mechanical distractions can help you fall asleep quicker.
The hot water in a bath warms up your body temperature, which drops once you leave the water. Human bodies are typically the lowest temperature while asleep, and this drop in temperature signifies to your body that it’s time for rest.
On top of this, there are few greater feelings than getting into your bed-sheets squeaky clean.
6. Sit outside and listen to the sounds of the street / nature
Whether you live in a busy street or surrounded by nature, the sounds of the night time can be relaxing and regenerating for your body.
If you spend 10 minutes sitting outside with your eyes closed, your body will familiarise itself with the outside white noise sounds.
White noise (background sounds of cars, burbling city buildings, flowing water, or blowing wind) can help slow down the activity in your brain while drowning out and keeping other sounds from disturbing or waking you up.
The sounds of a frog in the distance or the wind in the trees can physically alter your bodily systems and help you wind down and relax.
7. Go on an evening stroll
Even better than listening to the sound of the outdoors, taking a walk outside before bed can give your body the same sound benefits for sleep while getting your body moving.
The health benefits of walking, in general, include losing weight and gaining muscle, increasing heart health, improving your mood, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Walking each night before you go to bed is a great way to clear your mind from the day behind you and wind down.
The combination of ambient night sounds, dim moon or street lighting, and cool temperatures are a feast for the senses and taking some time for yourself away from your mobile devices. Other distractions can release you of tensions you had pent up throughout the day.
8. Write down what you are grateful for in a journal
Journaling can be challenging yet highly rewarding and is a well-known way to reduce stress and keep you calm. While you should journal at whatever time of the day suits you best, journaling each night before you go to bed is a great way to calm your mind and ready your body for sleep.
Why you should keep a gratitude journal:
- A gratitude journal helps one to gain a perspective of one’s life. What is important, what is not, and what actions you should take to improve things.
- It’s a great way to fully appreciate your life.
- Journaling opens you up to ask questions about your life and your relationships and allows you to reassess the quality of your life.
- It helps you to focus on what matters while letting go of what doesn’t.
- Journaling makes you thankful for what you have.
9. Unplug and power down
One of the most important things to do before going to bed is to shut off your smartphone and social media pages. Too many people get dragged down a rabbit hole of social media posts and news broadcasts while lying in bed, waking up their brains and occupying them with thoughts that make it more difficult to fall asleep.
On top of this, the blue light emitted from a phone or computer screen suffocates your melatonin production and, therefore, your melatonin levels. Melatonin is the hormone that controls your circadian sleep cycle and can impact a person with insomnia.
Staring into a blue screen for too many hours can even damage your eye retinas.
10. Spend time with your loved ones
Spending time with your family or life partner is one of the best things to do before going to bed. Those with children or housemates might not even have a choice in the matter!
With busy lives, day jobs, and blurry extracurricular activities, many people don’t get to spend enough time with those who they love the most. Enjoying a relaxing evening socialising with one’s family is a huge mood booster.
Your relationships with your friends and family can even affect the quality of your sleep. Generally, when one has interesting conversations and positive interactions with your partners or friends, you are more likely to sleep better and deeper.
Although there are numerous healthy and productive things to do before going to bed each night, humans often fall into the social media trap or spend the final hours of their day mindlessly watching Netflix.
It’s important to monitor and regulate your pre-bedtime routines to ensure you have a restful sleep and wake up re-energised and ready for the day ahead.