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Sleep Hygiene: Productive Days Begin at Night

Schedule a Healthy Life

A basic principle in Life Coaching is to choose life affirming behaviors, transform them into good habits, and then use them as the building blocks to construct a satisfying, healthy life style.

Creating good habits and healthy life styles requires a close look at all areas of your life, including diet, exercise, sleep, health, recreation, career and work, relationships, sexuality, finances, and spirituality.

A daily time schedule is an important tool in creating a healthy, happy life. Time is the most basic currency of life: how you respect it, invest it, and spend it will determine how your life will manifest. When you schedule time for an activity, you are both spending and investing that time. Your time is a finite resource limited to 24 hours per day. All hours that you spend and invest in activities that do not bring adequate returns cannot be made up later—once used they are gone.

Regular examination of how you schedule and spend your time will reveal whether you are investing your time in activities that reflect your most important values and goals. You can use that information to help you plan and use your time more effectively.

Prepare for Success the Night Before

A good place to start is to look at how you spend your time preparing for each new day. Getting ready for a productive day means that you must perform certain life affirming tasks, such as hygiene and grooming, exercise, prayer and/or meditation, dressing, eating breakfast, and making a "to do" list that includes a schedule for the tasks you plan to accomplish.

However, as important as morning rituals may be, preparation for a successful day actually starts the evening before. One of the most important life affirming activities is a full night (7 to 8 hours) of restful sleep. Some of your body's necessary biological functions can be performed only while you sleep. During sleep, your body heals, grows, and replenishes your energy. Sleep also nourishes and stimulates the creative and problem-solving parts of your mind.

If you have problems getting enough sleep or feeling rested and refreshed in the mornings, please read my article on Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, and Other Sleep Problems and discuss your concerns with your doctor.

Life Affirming Bedtime Activities

There are many life affirming activities that you can use to complete your day and prepare for restful sleep. These are among the most important:

  • For several hours before bedtime, avoid activities that are emotionally stressful (like paying bills, arguing with family, or watching/listening to news reports or scary or tense dramas).
  • As bedtime nears, choose activities that are enjoyable, quieting, and relaxing.
  • Briefly review what you accomplished today. It may be helpful to check items off of your "to do" list (which can help you begin tomorrow's list). If you like to write in a diary or journal, you can list or discuss your accomplishments there.
  • At bedtime it is important to let go of all worries, including concerns about unfinished tasks or tomorrow's agenda. Sometimes it helps to take just a few minutes to start your list of tomorrow's tasks. Be careful not to slip into problem-solving now—the goal is to use the list as a bookmark or container to hold these items outside of your conscious mind so you can release yourself to fully relax and rest. Then, finish making your "to do" list in the morning.
  • Take some time for prayer and/or meditation. Take this opportunity to surrender your cares and offer gratitude for your blessings.

Here are more tips for your evening activities:

  • Exercise can be a good transition between your work day and your personal time. However, it is usually best to exercise at least four hours before bedtime.
  • Spend quality time with family members (in person or via telephone).
  • Allow adequate time to prepare clothing, lunches, etc. for the next day. Keep in mind that these chores are not your most important evening activities.
  • Check with your doctor about whether a bedtime snack is okay and which foods are best for it.
  • Some people find that a hot shower or bath before bedtime helps them to relax and fall asleep.
  • Plan adequate time to complete nightly grooming tasks.



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