Day 4. Your Evenings Are Everything, So Let's Set Them Up Right
Most nights we have every intention to get to bed on time.
We know morning is coming early, sleep is super important, and let's be honest, most of the time we're craving our beds.
Yet for some reason, once bedtime rolls around, one thing leads to another and before we know it we're scrolling through Insta, binge-watching Netflix, and finding a million other "to-dos" we have to get done before we can sleep.
And then alas, there we are at 11pm, wide awake and not exactly sure how we got there.
This is known as "bedtime procrastination" and it happens to all of us. Left unchecked, it will destroy any shot you have at a successful Damn Early Days.
Of course, every so often you need to stay up late, but when you really look at those moments, they are few and far between.
You know when the alarm is going to go off and you can do the math to figure out what time you have to go to bed, so why is it so difficult to get yourself to actually stick to it?
Let’s take a look at what’s stopping you.
There are a couple things we know will stop you from getting to bed on time:
1. You didn’t get everything done yet.
Sometimes, when you get to the end of the day, you realize that the to-do list just isn’t done yet. You panic a little and to make yourself feel better, try and cram it all in before bed.
2. You feel entitled to have extra time at the end of your day.
Sometimes, we get a sense of entitlement about having a certain amount of time to do the things we care about (work on passion projects, unwind, watch TV, socialize) before bed. We feel like we haven't gotten the chance in our day to live our own lives and have time to ourselves, so we feel we are owed it at the end of the day.
In reality though, that sense of entitlement keeping you up is probably leading you to prioritize poorly and ultimately leading you into a vicious negative loop of late nights, sluggish mornings, and less time for yourself.
3. You don’t have the proper signals to tell you it’s bedtime.
We’ve become the “whatever I want when I want it” society. Our shows start when we want them to start, we open our phones at our desire, and most things are created to be there when we want them. This means we don’t have many of the normal cues or signals that tell us to go to bed.
You might tell yourself "I'll watch a single episode", but then you end up going down a rabbit hole of "just one more". Without a good measure of how long we’re spending on these activities, it’s easy to get caught up in them and let the time slip away.
Before you know it, your bed time is hours behind you and once again you're left scrambling to figure out why.
Most of the time we rationalize our ways out of these traps, convincing ourselves that we'll do better tomorrow.
But time and time again, we don't.
So let's look at some serious ways to overcome this and get yourself to bed earlier each night.
5 Steps To Get Yourself To Go To Bed Earlier Tonight
Step 1: Set up your evening ritual.
We touched on this early on in the program, but if you skipped out on creating your evening ritual, go back and get to it.
Seriously, this is the most important part of Damn Early Days. Creating the right evening ritual will give you something to go back to every single night and help you reduce the energy you need to stay on track.
Do this right now: If you haven’t done so already, go back and re-read the evening ritual post, and then go create your evening ritual.
Step 2: Make the change gradual.
If you're used to going to bed at 11pm, it’s going to be tough to switch to 9PM in a single night. Your internal clock resets by about one hour per day and some internal systems can take longer.
Over the next few days, set yourself up to take small steps and within a few days have your bedtime at to your desired time. If/when you stumble, lean on your evening ritual to get reset.
Do this right now: Create a plan on how you will move your bedtime from its current time to your desired time, if you haven't already done that.
Step 3: Set reminders and stick to your plan.
Once you’ve figured out your evening routine, make it unmissable by setting reminders for yourself. Be liberal.
Set alarms on your phone, put stickies on your fridge and bathroom mirror, and get the people around you to remind you.
Also, these alerts shouldn’t just alert you in the moment, but also act as little habits that you can build on.
For example: Set your alarm for 7:30PM. As soon as your alarm goes off, you are going to give yourself 10 minutes to close down whatever you're doing, pull out a book, and read 30 pages As soon as you hit 30 pages, get up, brush your teeth and get into bed.
Do this right now: Decide what time you’re going to begin the process of getting ready for bed (ahem, this should have been done with your evening ritual above). Create a detailed plan for what you're going to do once that reminder goes off.
Step 4: Reduce light exposure before bed.
Your eyes serve two purposes – seeing whats around you (duh) and detecting the rise and fall of daylight. Yep, your body uses the light around you to set your internal clock, which helps you wake up in the morning and fall asleep at night.
The problem is all of the technology we use emits the same blue light that wakes us up in the morning. At night, this suppresses production of melatonin and messes up your circadian rhythm. All of this adds up to you being wide awake long after the sun has gone down.
There are a couple ways you can combat this:
- Shut your phone and tech off at least one hour before bed (preferably two, if possible).
- Download and install f.lux on your computer. F.lux adjusts the amount of blue light your device emits based on the time of day. It's worth the free download.
- Buy some cool blue blocking glasses that stop all the blue light from hitting your eyeballs. Seriously, they work. Caveat: just because you buy these DOES NOT give you permission to bring your phone to bed and scroll till you pass out.
Step 5: Set up your environment to avoid Distractions and objections.
The more distractions and objections you have surrounding you, the harder it's going to be to go to bed. Take a serious look at your environment and what's going to de-rail you from getting to bed.
Keep an eye out for things like an easily accessible TV, having your phone in your room, your computer open before bed, unimportant social obligations...
Have a no-BS conversation with yourself and ask what you want more – that distraction or your why.
If you have a roommate, partner, or family member that you live with, get them on the same page with you and ask that they act not only as an accountability partner, but that they don't do things that might hinder your progress.
We'll leave it at that.
Congrats! You now have the knowledge to be 90% of the way there. All you got to do is act on it.