bedtime routineWhat do Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, Huffington Post Co-Founder Arianna Huffington and world-renowned designer Vera Wang all have in common? They value their bedtime routine.1

What can you say about yours?

If you spend your entire day dreaming about the pizza and Netflix marathon you will begin the second you walk in the door, ask yourself how your evening’s events will benefit you tomorrow as you work on assignments for your online classes? Although we all need time to be lazy every now and then, there are benefits to maintaining a productive routine before bed. Sleep is essential to keep your brain in the best shape possible as you work toward your degree.

Take a cue from Benjamin Franklin. His daily bedtime routine consisted of the same simple question: “What good have I done today?”1 If you want to do more good during the day, start the night before.

Here are five ways to improve your bedtime routine for a better night’s sleep:

1. Unplug

Yes, you may be tired of hearing this one. You are not on your phone that much, you tell yourself. And maybe you’re not. But if you find yourself checking your phone every night as soon as your head hits the pillow, you may want to reconsider. posted a video revealing what happens to your brain and body when you check your phone before bed: you are exposing your eyes to a stream of photons that tells your brain to stay awake.

When you think catching up on your social media and reading your news updates on your phone is making your eyes tired and preparing you for a good night’s sleep, you are actually doing the opposite. According to the video, the lack of sleep this causes can result in your memory faltering, an inability to handle challenges, and it is toxic to the cells in your brain.

2. Reflect

Reflect on your day — especially the good things. Reflecting on your day includes positive self-talk, which studies are showing actually increases your performance levels.

In a study published in Frontiers in Psychology3, participants were instructed to use one of three ways to mentally approach a task:

• Picture yourself being successful in a given situation,
• Tell yourself you are capable of performing at a high level (self-talk),
• Or use an “if-then plan” to plan how to achieve an outcome.

After being tested on four different aspects of performance (process, outcome, emotion control and instruction), the research team found that the greatest improvements were achieved through the self-talk method.

If you want to stay motivated, even in the midst of challenge, reflect on your day. Avoid creating more stress by engaging in positive self-talk, like Benjamin Franklin did.

3. Make a to-do list

Every evening, American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault incorporates a to-do list into his bedtime routine: he writes down three things he wants to accomplish the next day.2

This allows him to have a clear idea of the goals he needs to work toward when he wakes up the next morning. If you think you need some more direction throughout your day-to-day activities, try writing down a short list of goals or tasks you want to complete the next day.

4. Read

Did you know that reading for as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by 68%?1

Not only that, but it can improve the long-term health of your brain. Every time you read, you are getting in a mental workout, so don’t feel too bad about skipping the gym. Reading is a small task to include in your bedtime routine, but it has big results.

5. Take a walk

If you are either constantly busy throughout the day or spend most of your day sitting at a desk, taking a walk can be a great way to unwind during your bedtime routine.

This can also allow you the opportunity for uninterrupted quality time with any loved ones who want to join you.

A Stanford study also found that walking can improve creativity because your mind is not working as vigorously, which allows for the free flow of ideas. If you need a creative solution to a challenge you are facing, go ahead and take a stroll before bed. You may be surprised by how great you feel in the morning.

A Better Bedtime Routine Means a Better Future

Working toward a degree can get tricky when you have to juggle multiple commitments throughout the day. Do yourself a favor and use these five suggestions to define a bedtime routine you can look forward to. You can go to bed with a clear mind and wake up ready to tackle your day and succeed in your online education.

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