You’re checking work emails late into the night, obsessing about the next day’s to-do list, then glimpse the clock and panic that there’s no way you’ll get enough sleep to function. Are you waking up happy and refreshed the next morning? Probably not.
So what can you (realistically) do to ensure you actually wake up on the right side of the bed? After getting some amazing advice from the professionals in Thrive’s contributor community about the worst advice they got when they were young, the books that changed their careers, and the things they stopped doing that led them to be more successful, we asked them about the nighttime routines that ensure a happy wakeup.
We’re excited to test out some of these thoughtful rituals. Which will you decide to try?
Tap into gratitude
“I make a gratitude list every night. A friend going through a rough time in her life told me a story about how she started to write down things that she was grateful for that day. How that seemingly simple act gave her the peace of mind to sleep amazing and wake up well rested. Instead of getting another journal, I started say ten things I was grateful for when I would lay down at night.I have found that the more specific I am, the better I sleep.”
—Mandy R. Clark, author and consultant, LaGrange, KY
Acknowledge your wins
“I write down my ‘wins of the day’ before I go to sleep. This could be anything from a completed project to a wonderful cup of tea. Anything that makes you smile. Remembering it and reliving the feelings just before you go to sleep will help you to sleep better and wake up feeling awesome.”
—Janet Mohapi-Banks, life coaching, Cornwall, U.K.
Watch a calming clip
“At night, I turn on a video called ‘Fireplace for your home.’ It’s an hour-length video of a crackling fireplace. Then I do whatever calls me for the evening—journal, paint, or stretch with this video in the background. I don’t like to watch regular TV or look at my iPhone before bed because media can put harmful images in my mind or distract me from my goals. Having this practice helps me take control of my time, calm my worries, and prepare for restful sleep.”
—Andrea Bijou, artist and author, Los Angeles, CA
Check on the kids
“My one nightly habit is to pop in and see our two young boys just before I go to bed. Seeing them sleeping safely and knowing they are happy and healthy is a hugely calming experience for me. It helps me reset and reframe any concerns, worries, money woes, work problems as ultimately they are problems of our own.”
—Andy Dougan, advertising & communications, London, U.K.
Create a no-phone zone
“When we moved into a new house, my husband and I committed to leaving our phones outside of our bedroom at night. We sleep much better without any phone disturbances at night. There also isn’t the temptation to look at your email or text messages right away in the morning, which I have found is never a calming way to start to the day.”
—Michelle M., corporate retail, Rhinelander, WI
Take to paper
“I’ve written in a journal every night before bed since I was in elementary school. I feel it helps me process my day and what ever unresolved feelings I may have. It’s also nice to be able to look back at any point in my life and see exactly what I was going through.”
—Jessica Yorkin, student, Los Angeles, CA
Play family games
“My Dutch in laws recently came to visit my husband and I in San Francisco. After after dinner each night, we played board and card games together, laughing, and getting to know each other better, During that visit, I forgot about watching the nightly news, thinking about work, and, emailing and texting. I woke up happy each morning. It pays to disconnect from routine and replace it with great company, a little mind exercise, and, laughter.”
—Kirsten, design management, San Francisco, CA
Try a sleep meditation
“After years of nightly anxiety, I found myself on an insomniac’s quest for relief online. At first I’d look for happy content (think puppy videos and goats tumbling in meadows) but then discovered the world of sleep meditations and hypnotic stories. My favorite channel is Michelle’s Sanctuary because I am completely transported from my thoughts and have found I have better dreams (that I remember) and wake up happy.
—JMK, attorney, New York, NY
Record your thoughts
“To sleep with a clear head, I occasionally audio-record my thoughts on my phone. At that point of the night I am too tired to write and don’t want to power up my computer. I verbalize the concerns I have with no one judging me. I usually fall asleep instantly after recording. Surprisingly, I don’t remember what was bothering me so much the night before when I wake up.”
—SC, psychology, San Francisco, CA
Stretch to release tension
“About an hour before bed, I stretch, doing held yoga poses and meditate for at least 15 minutes. The physicality and quiet reflection help me release any tension or stress-related thoughts I built up during the day.”
—Estelle Atney, C.P.A., Playa del Rey, CA
“After a near-death experience many years ago, I began a nightly, deep meditative practice that sustains me from day to day. My meditation allows me to free up the constraints of my physical body and mind and lays forth another worldly existence where all possibilities exist. I’m able to recharge effectively and seamlessly, while recovering from the depletion of the day.”
—Peg, writer, Raleigh, NC
Set the tone for a good night’s sleep
“When I get that solid 8 hours of sleep, I wake up feeling rested, recharged and ready to tackle the day’s challenges. To ensure I get sufficient sleep, I make sure to get into bed at a set time every night. My evening routine after work generally involves exercise, dinner, to-do’s for that day, maybe some TV and a warm shower before snoozing. I usually turn off the TV an hour before bedtime. Light poetry reading in bed for few minutes sometimes helps me relax and unwind.”
—Vijaya Yelisetty, M.D. of sleep medicine, California
Make your bed an oasis
“For me, it’s cold sheets and lots of pillows! I prepare myself for a great night of sleep by making sure I’m as comfortable as I can be. I absolutely love pillows — the more the better! My boyfriend jokes that every night I build a pillow fort around myself. My comfy bed oasis ensures a great night’s sleep and on most days I wake up ready to bounce out of bed, make my bulletproof coffee, and conquer the day!”
—Elle Westley, empowerment coach, Ventura, CA
“Every night before I go to sleep, I say ‘thank you.’ I am not a highly religious person, but I do believe in a higher power and I believe I am looked after. Showing gratitude, even when I’ve had hard day, helps me realize that nothing bad is permanent, and that I am more lucky than I think.”
—Aleks Slijepcevic, project coordinator, Newark, DE
Share your appreciation
“My husband and I do what we call ‘Shared Appreciations’ before we go to bed at night, where we each share 3 things that we appreciate about ourselves and the other person. It helps us to feel connected and appreciated before we sleep, so that we are wake up feeling loved and off to a good start to our day!”
—Elsie Storm, M.A., transformational life coach, Duluth, MN
Try a repetitive habit
“I sew every night; whether this is embroidery, sewing cushions or dresses. I have recurring nightmares, and a doctor told me the repetition of sewing helps put thoughts ‘in the right place’ so you can relax at night. And this has been very helpful for me. I sleep better and am refreshed in the morning.”
—Susan Heaton-Wright, impact and speaking mentor, Hertfordshire, U.K.
Think heart-warming thoughts
“At night, when the monkey chatter is there as I’m trying to fall asleep, I stop and think of 3-5 things that made my heart smile that day. It shifts the brain and I’m drifting off to sleep from a place of relaxation.”
—Marja Norris, author and mentor, Franklin, MI
Put things in perspective
“By being grateful every night before sleeping for my countless blessings is one habit that makes me wake up inspired and blissful the next day. Thinking about people who had nothing to eat today, who don’t have any shelter (let alone a comfy bed), who are debarred the joy of being with their families, or who just met a disaster that took away all their happiness makes our problems look smaller.”
—Anisa Muhammad Ali, marketing, Dubai, U.A.E.
Take a bubble bath
“One night after a hectic few weeks, my partner suggested taking a bubble bath together to catch up on our day and unwind. This has become a ritual that we try twice a week at least. Beyond the obvious romantic, intimate and beautiful time to emotionally connect there is no place for our devices anywhere near a bubble bath. We genuinely have a captive audience with each other. We refer to our bubble bath time as ‘meetings’. Without fail, I always sleep better and wake up exhilarated more than ready to attack the day ahead.”
—Lara Smith, CEO, Calgary, AB Canada
Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here