Don’t Read This Before Bed (unless you print it out)

I love writing, speaking, learning, and teaching about leadership.  Specifically, I’m fascinated with showing people how to apply the elegant principles of the Japanese martial art of Aikido to their business and personal life to achieve clarity, make amazing decisions, and create unlimited success.

And to do this, you need a strong foundation of self-care.  That is, making sure your well-being is in tip-top shape.  (You can read more on how to do that here.)  Because if you don’t take care of your well-being, you will not have enough energy, vigor, and creativity to succeed at all your endeavors.

I recently came across a study in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that found reading on a light-emitting device before bed (smartphone, tablet, e-reader, laptop, am I missing anything else?) makes it more difficult to fall asleep, negatively impacts the quality of your sleep, and even adversely affects your performance the next day.  To quote the study,

“Overall, we found that the use of portable light-emitting devices immediately before bedtime has biological effects that may perpetuate sleep deficiency and disrupt circadian rhythms, both of which can have adverse impacts on performance, health, and safety.”

Yikes.  I sure hope you are not reading this on your iPhone before bed.  This might explain why my mind would race with a mixture of worry and excitement when I used to check my email on my smartphone before bed.  You know what I mean — 60% of you with a smartphone are connected to work almost 14 hours per day.  That means that you are reading emails before going to bed.  Or looking at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.  Probably “all the above”.

Like I said, I used to do the same thing.  I would lay in bed staring at my glowing smartphone screen and read emails before trying to sleep.  Then wake up and start my day doing the exact same thing.  It was a miserable existence — completely reactive and at the effect of my situation.  I was never really “running on full”.

So if you find yourself in a similar situation, here are five solutions to help you “power down” at night, take better self-care, and wake up each morning well rested, alert, and ready to tackle the day:

  1. Remove wireless email from you smartphone.  Immediately.  You don’t need it.  It is nothing but a distraction no matter what time, when, or where you read it.  Plus, when have you ever really crafted a thoughtful, productive reply longer than “Ok.” on your phone?
  2. If you are not ready for the big, bold step of removing email from your phone (trust me, it will happen one day for you) set boundaries.  Do not bring your phone into the bedroom.  Buy a separate alarm clock if you use your phone’s alarm to wake up.
  3. Make your bedroom a “tech-free” zone — no cell phones, tablets, e-readers, laptops, or TVs.
  4. Buy an electronic timer for your wireless router so it automatically turns it, and your internet access, off at 8PM and turns it back on at 8 AM.
  5. Get a good book of fiction to read.  And read it!  (No non-fiction at night.  You spend allllll day reading non-fiction.  Let your mind power down with some wonderful fiction before bed.)

I promise you, if you implement these steps, you will fall asleep easier, sleep better, and wake up clear and refreshed.  And THAT is the strong foundation you need to succeed in life.  To achieve clarity, make great decision, and truly practice the Mushin Way.

What other techniques do you use to ensure you get a good nights rest?  Let me know by posting a comment below or hitting me up on Twitter or Facebook.  Just make sure you DON’T post before going to bed, ok?