As much as many of us love staying up late and feel inspired by the late-night calmness and silence, it’s not the healthiest and most productive way to live your life.
After pulling off several all-nighters in a row, we’re running the risk of no longer being able to be our best or productive self in the morning.
If you’d like to turn things around and start enjoying your mornings instead of despising them, here are a couple of things you can do.
Why Is Staying Up Late a Problem
According to the Australian sleep foundation, 33-45% of adults sleep poorly or shortly. Hitting the sack before midnight to catch the best sleep consistently seems to be mission impossible for many of us.
Sleep deprivation can lead to a variety of issues such as mood swings, irritability, cognitive impairment, or heart conditions. Driving a car when you’re drowsy is almost as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.
Whether we stay up late to enjoy another deserved episode on Netflix after a hard day at work, or we’re preparing for an important exam, or even hanging out with friends, the final––tomorrow’s––result may not be good as we anticipate. Once we’ve messed up the good old eight-hour sleep routine, it can become hard to get our life back on track.
Infringed sleeping cycles are often a result of bad sleeping habits, lack of a calming evening routine, and spending too much time in front of a blue screen in the evening.
If you have the freedom of waking up when you like, perhaps this isn’t as much of a problem for you. But even in that case, you should reconsider becoming a morning person, as studies show that regardless of the number of hours of sleep, we’re still the most productive early in the morning, and waking up early has numerous health benefits.
As Intelligent Change founders, Mimi and Alex Ikonn, like to say, sleep connects everything. It’s about 50% of our success and well-being.
Evening Routine: The Path Towards Becoming a Morning Person
Our brains love routines. Let’s see what you can do in the evening that will help you rise and shine the next morning. For more inspiration and tips, read our recommendations for twilight and nighttime rituals.
Shake off all the daily stress by taking a walk, or through other forms of physical activities, according to your preference.
Limit Phone and Screen Time
While a significant amount of our social and work-related activities happen online, we still need some off-screen time before bed. Limit the time you spend in front of the screen.You can set an alarm that goes off around one hour before bedtime. Put your phone on airplane mode to slowly prepare for bedtime.
Create a Calming Atmosphere
Bright lights usually remind us that we need to be alert and productive. As the end of the day approaches, consider toning the lights down or lighting up some candles. Dimming lights can create an amazing relaxing atmosphere and help you unwind.
Addition to this visually pleasing atmosphere is, of course, music. Find a relaxing playlist to play in the background to help you calm down your thoughts.
Meditate and Stretch
A great thing to implement in your evening routine is meditation. It doesn’t require any special skills and anyone can do it. Just adopt a cozy position, perhaps cover yourself with a blanket, and just close your eyes. If you like yoga, you might as well do some light poses and stretches along with your meditation.
Drink a Cup of Tea
While some types of tea like green tea or black tea can energize us, chamomile, passionflower, or valerian tea can help calm us down. The process of preparing and drinking tea is very calming and relaxing in itself, and we strongly recommend implementing this small ritual into your evening routine.
Reflect on Your Day
Use a pen-and-paper reflective journal to reflect on your day. Were there any important or meaningful events or conversations? Writing with a pen is a very grounding activity and it’s effortless to implement as an evening ritual.
Focus on the gratitude with The Five Minute Journal
Once you’re completely relaxed, it’s time for the most positive part of the evening routine: The Five Minute Journal. Take a few moments to reflect on the brightest moments of the day.
You can also fill out this journal together with your partner and children, and spend the last couple of minutes before falling asleep cherishing the beautiful moments you spent together during the day.
Have Something to Look Forward to the Next Day
Although we’re all familiar with the pre-travel, pre-birthday, or pre-wedding excitement that won’t let us sleep, having something fun and desirable that awaits us the next day can motivate us to go to bed earlier.
As the practice of gratitude teaches us: look forward to the little things. An after-work date with a friend, a walk on the riverside, or playing a board game with your partner.
Bathe Before Bed
There’s nothing as calming and soothing as warm water dripping down our spine. It helps us distress by relaxing our muscles and lowering our blood pressure. The shower is the place where we stand honest and naked with our thoughts and body. A few minutes to ourselves, enjoying the sound of water pattering on the tub floor.
Read a Bedtime Story
Reading is one of the best ways of relaxing. Getting absorbed in an inspiring story can make us feel relaxed, according to research. Books represent healthy escapism: it’s harming you in no way, yet, reading allows you to enter another dimension and stop thinking about everything else. At the same time, you develop your vocabulary, exercise your mind, and perhaps even learn new things.
Few Tips on Falling Asleep - Creating Your Sleep Oasis
While there are certain things that should become a part of our lifestyle and daily evening routine, there are also certain small habits you can implement in your pre-sleep ritual. These are designed to help you elevate anxiety and train yourself to a good night’s sleep.
Cool Down Your Room
We all love hanging out in a cozy warm room. However, when it comes to sleeping, it gets much better if you cool it down a little bit. Somewhere between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit is an ideal sleeping temperature. Enough to make you want to roll in your blanket and start napping.
Furthermore, all of us living in the city usually experience unwanted light in the evening. Lamppost, billboards, and other artificial light sources penetrate through our apartment windows. Light can disturb the quality of our sleep, so we strongly recommend curtains, blinds, or shades, to minimize the effects.
Eliminate Disturbing Sounds
Once again, those living in the cities are much more affected by the problem of chaotic, disruptive night noise. Sounds of trains, cars, honks, or stray animals can become quite disturbing after certain hours.
It can be difficult, and sometimes even unpleasant to simply try to eliminate all sounds (sound isolation or earplugs), however, you can neutralize disruptive sounds and exchange them for rather meditative ones. Many people (and babies) find white noise relaxing, while others go for sleeping podcasts.
Pick the Right Sheets
A lot of people underestimate the importance of sheets when it comes to the quality of their sleep. While the most important aspect of our “sleeping gear” is, of course, the mattress, sheets are right there behind it.
On one hand, there’s the design. It’s much more attractive to go to bed if the sheets have pretty colors and patterns that seem inviting to dive into. On the other hand, there’s the fabric. The fabric is extremely important, as it affects how the sheets feel on your skin and how you regulate temperature. Synthetic sheets can make you sweat and they can irritate your skin. Natural fabrics such as silk or cotton are much more pleasant for the skin.
One of the basic things to do before rolling into your favorite sleeping position is to lie on your back, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and simply relax. Stop moving your body, and focus on each body part: toes, feet, lower legs, knees, thighs, hips, stomach, and so on. As you focus on a particular body part, imagine it shut down and go to sleep, then move on to the next one.
At first, you might fall asleep as you do the exercise, as it’s very relaxing. If a thought comes up, acknowledge it, and let go.
How to Achieve Change
Regardless of whether you’re knee-deep into staying awake late at night or you’re just a couple of steps away from perfecting your evening routine, always keep in mind that instilling the new sleep schedule needs to be gradual.
You can’t just jump to waking up at 6 am after a year of late rising.
Baby-steps are crucial. Try waking up 15-20 minutes earlier every week and implement any new evening routine activities one by one. That way bedtime won’t feel imposed. You’ll naturally feel tired and ready for dreamland.
Track Your Sleep, Mood, and Energy Levels to Measure the Benefits
At some point in life, we’ve all experienced a major change that happened gradually and that we were completely unaware of. Growing up in height or losing weight are just a couple of examples. It’s only when we meet a friend or a relative we haven’t seen in a while can their surprise remind us we’ve undergone a major change.
The same happens with tracking the benefits of long-term changes. As you gradually change your circadian rhythm, you probably won’t even notice the positive changes you’re experiencing.
Your mood, emotional stability, eating and drinking habits, energy levels, memory, and creativity will slowly improve and reach a balance.
To be aware of the changes, make sure to track all these things.
How to Stay Disciplined?
There are a couple of rules when it comes to discipline:
Set a clear goal you want to achieve with your evening routine.
- Getting eight hours of sleep every night;
- Waking up at seven am every day, etc.
Make sure your goals are clearly defined. If you’re uncertain about what you want to achieve, how are you going to stay disciplined?
As you move your wake-up time earlier and implement more activities into your evening routine, you want to keep things simple and easy to accomplish.
Tracking your progress and gradual changes can be very helpful for motivation, as you’ll always be able to see how far you’ve come and boost yourself to keep going.
Photography: Cindy Loughridge