Falling asleep is hard when you have a lot on your mind, but there are some golden rules that CEOs follow every night for better sleep. Having a stressful job and a lot of responsibilities may interference with your sleep schedule. A busy life doesn’t always allow you to rest as much as you would want, and sleep is the one thing that gets sacrificed the most when life gets crazy.
Getting enough sleep is very important for your health as well as a good bedtime hour. Not sleeping enough will affect your productivity throughout the day so if you suffer from insomnia, these strategies will help you fall asleep easier and wake up full of energy.
Here are 16 things CEOs always do before bed, try them and see what works for you!
Set an alarm for bedtime instead of wake time
You can’t get enough sleep if you do not go to bed at a reasonable hour. It’s harder than it seems, but not impossible. Douglas Smith, CEO of True Nutrition shared his best tricks that help him be consistent with his sleep schedule:
“Most people set an alarm for waking up, but I’ve discovered it should be the other way around,” he says. “I set my alarm for 30 minutes before I should be in bed, and I stick to it. This helps me get to sleep at the same time every night. Once my body adjusted to it, I’ve found that I sleep better and I don’t even need an alarm to wake up. I wake up on my own, feeling well-rested.”
Use a light-filtering app
The blue light screens can affect your natural circadian rhythm, making your brain into thinking it’s morning instead of evening. Jason McCarthy, CEO of DigiNo shared his secret and shared how he combats this using an app that changes the light on all screen devices.
“I use the F.lux app. It gradually decreases the brightness and white light from the screen as bedtime draws closer. This leads to much healthier and easier sleep. Plus, it reminds me not to keep working too late!” he says.
Drink some vinegar and honey
It seems gross, right? It isn’t as bad as you may think. If you have trouble falling asleep follow the advice McCarthy received from Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek:
“He recommends drinking hot water with a spoonful of organic apple cider vinegar and natural honey as a sleep aid. No matter how busy my mind is from a stressful day at work, this drink manages to knock me out for a soothing sleep within 20 minutes. And it tastes better than you think it will!” McCarthy explains.
Use a “mail butler”
Email managing seems like a full-time job these days, especially for CEOs. Having your inbox full of unread messages can make it really hard for you to fall asleep. Email notification can be a constant worry that won’t let you sleep at a reasonable hour.
Billy Goldberg, CEO of the Buckeye Group, uses Mailbutler and swears by it. Maibutler is an extension of your email that automates certain tasks.
“After dinner but before bedtime, I tidy up my inbox and get it down to zero. I use Mailbutler to ‘snooze’ emails and remind me of them at a set time in the future when I’ll need the information or need to follow up with someone. I use the extra time to hang out with my teenage daughters if they are into me at that moment” he explains.
Have a nutritious bedtime snack
Falling asleep to an empty stomach is almost impossible even though a full tummy isn’t a good idea either. In fact, insomnia’s main cause is overeating before bedtime. Goldberg suggests having a nutritious, high in fiber and healthy fats snack before bed.
“This may sound strange, but eating a spoonful of almond butter right before bed is the key to getting a good night’s sleep. I wake up energized, and my blood sugar is maintained. Honestly, it’s been a game-changer for me” Goldberg says.
Pack a gym bag
Exercising before work really improves your mood, increases your energy level, makes you more creative and helps you to stay focused and productive all day. Waking up before the sun’s even up is the most challenging part, but you’ll be thankful later on the day that you did it.
Joyce Shulman, CEO of Macaroni Kid, shared her secret that keeps her consistent with going to the gym every morning.
“I set out my clothes for my morning workout in the bathroom, so when I get up at 5 a.m., I have no decisions to make—I just do it. I also set up my coffee the night before because, well, coffee” she says.
Pack a healthy lunch
Packing your lunch for work will help you make healthier choices and saving money at the same time. Also, many studies have shown that eating healthy increases one’s concentration and productivity at work.
“I commute two hours each way and don’t want to scramble in the morning, so the night before, I pack my food and lay out my clothes for the next day. I wake up and I’m ready to go,” says Wendy Lund, CEO of GCI Health.
Text your loved ones good night
Saying good night to your loved ones is more important than you think. Thanks to all the devices and technology that we have nowadays, it’s easier than ever to stay in contact with your family. Talking on the phone with your children before bed will relax you instantly.
“The last thing I do before going to sleep is text ‘good night’ and ‘I love you’ to my children, who live on their own,” she says. “Staying connected to them in this way gives me peace of mind, and I sleep better.”
Write your thoughts in a journal
Journaling is very common for many CEOs and it is a bedtime ritual for many people. Jeremy Lyman, CEO, and co-founder of Birch Coffee explains why.
“So much of my day is spent communicating with others, including our team, customers, and partners. By taking quiet time for myself at night to write, I let my thoughts turn inward,” he says. “I find this routine has been a great way to relieve stress. It helps me organize my thoughts, cultivate a sense of peace, and wake up the next morning feeling more creative.”
Make a prioritized to-do list
Making a list with all the things you have to do for the next day is a great way of organizing your schedule and setting your priorities. Try to resist the temptation of setting too many priorities, because you’ll end up even more stressed. Sticking to just three will keep you from being overwhelmed and you’ll feel better at the end of the day.
“Each night, I draft a to-do list for the next morning, and then I prioritize the top three items that must get done,” he says. “This keeps me focused on what’s really important without getting sidetracked by smaller tasks,” says Jeff Petro, CEO of Cool Beauty Consulting.
Take some deep breaths
Doing meditation before bedtime has many powerful benefits, including better sleep. This is the reason why so many CEOs, athletes, scientists, celebrities and other people at the top of the fields practice meditation before sleep.
“I spend 10 to 20 minutes using one of a few different meditation techniques, including guided meditations and breathing exercises on my own. Using apps like Headspace and Buddhify makes it easy. I just have to follow the directions” says Keith Cushner, CEO of Tuck.
Spend time with your partner
Nowadays, it is easier to get caught up on your phone and forget to socialize with your partner. You’d be lying if you said that you never laid in your bed next to your loved one and didn’t interact at all because you were both busy with your phones. Spending quality time with your partner before bedtime helps you fall asleep faster.
“Every night before bed, I make sure to have a little flirty time with my husband. This could mean talking about your day, snuggling, or any other activity that helps you bond. This keeps us connected daily throughout the challenges of our work and personal lives” says Rachel Pedersen, CEO of the Viral Touch.
Use a smart plug to shut off all screens
This is not an easy thing to do but try as much as you can to shut down all your devices one or two hours before bed.
“I shut down my phone, laptop, TV, and tablet at least two hours before bed, which is tough when you have a lot to do or are in the habit of checking email and other notifications,” says Michael Alexis, CEO of Team Building Hero.
“My pro tip for making the no-screens effort easier: I have my Wi-Fi router connected to a smart plug that shuts off at 10 p.m. and turns itself back on at 8 a.m. when I wake up. When the Wi-Fi stops, so does my access to the Internet.”
Block out all noise and light
If you’re one of those people who can’t sleep when there are all kinds of distractions around, like the sound a refrigerator makes, or your neighbor’s porch light, try using earplugs and a sleep mask, it will make a huge difference.
“This combination is, of course, helpful for blocking out light and noise, but I find it helpful even in quiet dark rooms,” he explains. “Putting the sleep mask on feels like a trigger to go to sleep, and I usually fall asleep within five minutes or so,” says Alexis.
Do some light exercise
Stay away from hardcore workouts before bed, because you’ll find it harder to fall asleep. However, doing some light exercises before bed is actually a good way to relax and relieve the stress accumulated throughout the day.
“I have a water-rower machine that I like to use each night,” says Ammad Khan, CEO of IrisVision. “It gives me some solitude to clear my mind and helps me focus on things that are most important. I go into a type of ‘meditative zone’ while I am rowing, and many of my important decisions have been made while I am in this zone.”
Practice a favorite hobby
Life’s not all about work and responsibilities. Make the time for doing something you really enjoy. Some like to play video games before bed, while others like to read a book or watch a movie. It doesn’t matter what hobbies do you have, try to include them into your bedtime routine from time to time.
“I’m going to be honest: Every night, I play video games on my Xbox for 15 to 20 minutes,” says John Waldmann, CEO of Homebase. “Virtually fighting for survival helps me completely clear my mind from work, even more than running, meditation, or reading do.”