I decided to stop cold. I needed to break the cycle. I was getting a little nervous about what's been happening to me lately, and this was a pretty drastic measure.
That's right, I have started turning off my Apple iPad at night. I'm here to tell you that leaving the device in my office has worked wonders, and I'm sleeping much better at night. The stark glow from the screen, even if you use "night" mode, tends to get my mind racing. Studies have shown that using a gadget at night leads to a restless night of sleep.
For the past few weeks, I've tried a totally different (you might say, radical) routine. Instead of using any electronic gadget to check the news, my social media feeds, and catch up on the Texture app (it's awesome, you should try it--just not before bed) I've used a new routine that lasts only four minutes and is super easy to explain.
I used to climb into bed and use an iPad, but now I'm mentally thinking about the best things that happened during the day. I know it sounds simple, but it works.
The basic steps are as follows:
Think about the the best things you accomplished during the day. Why is this helpful? For starters, it puts your mind at rest because you are not thinking about what is coming ahead the next day but about the things that worked. Just mentally flip through the "wins" of the day quickly--a project you completed, a coworker who said you were a big help on the team, a wonderful commute into work without any mishaps. Set a timer by your bed if you have to, but make sure you think about the positives from the day only. (If you use Alexa on the Amazon echo speaker, you can ask the bot to set a timer for you.)
Part of my process before bed, other than not using a gadget, is to then reflect on why those events were so important. Tie up the loose ends. Link the wins to the reason, and ponder that for a few seconds. As an example, if you were really happy about finishing a report, think about what worked and why you were so productive. This step--for only 60 seconds--helps you see the cogs that turned the wheels in your favor.
You're keeping track of the minutes, right? Be sure to keep things in the past, recalling the previous day and not thinking about what lies ahead. This will help you sleep. For the third minute, think about the people who helped you achieve the milestones, even the small ones. A boss? A coworker? A friend? Run through that list and think about how they were helpful and where they had an impact on you as far as work and your personal life.
For the last minute--and maybe you are already drifting off by now, following a pretty quick nighttime process--end the routine by giving a "thank you" speech in your head. (No need to talk aloud, although that's not out of the question.) You're a famous movie star recounting the people who helped out that day. List them out, one by one, and think about how important they are to you. This works because it takes you mind off of the day entirely and gets you thinking warm thoughts about other people. You'll feel at ease knowing you are not alone, you have support, and your friends and family are the keys to success.
That's it! Four quick minutes--what worked, why that is, who helped, and saying thanks.
Here's a quick sampling of some of the things I've thought about just in the last few weeks:
1. I was happy to see Elon Musk tweet about one of my articles. It's not that big of a deal, but at least it seems like the Most Important Person in Tech read what I wrote.
2. I've been mentoring college students for the past nine months, usually on Fridays. One of them agreed to keep working on the team after she graduates, which was a big milestone.
3. My wife bought me a techie waffle-maker for my birthday recently. It's awesome. I will admit that I don't quite know how to use it yet.
4. I met my daughter for dinner, and we talked about her life plans. I gave her some advice, and it seems like she is going to take it seriously this time!
How about you? If you follow my bedtime routine, if you fall asleep faster, and you sleep longer, send me a quick email and list out some of your "wins" that helped.
Also, be sure to shut the phone, laptop, and tablet off. You'll be extra thankful.