You know the early bird gets the worm, but if you're a night owl, becoming that early bird may seem totally impossible. The key is becoming a better sleeper, and that means creating and following a bedtime routine. These simple steps will help you wind down at night and thoroughly prepare for the next day. No more restless nights and rushed, stressful mornings—you're free to go catch that worm (or bagel, in case worms aren't exactly your thing).
1. Pick out tomorrow's outfit
If you don't wear a uniform in your day-to-day life, take some time out of your evening to decide what you're going to wear the next day. Go through your options and, when you've chosen your outfit and accessories, hang them out for easy access in the morning. This way, you don't even have to think about it in the morning, so waking up early and getting dressed won't seem as stressful. Bonus: If you normally find yourself trying on everything in your closet and rushing out the door, now you'll never come home to a pile of clothes on your bed—you can simply put them away when you're done and hit the hay.
2. Pack your things for tomorrow
Along the lines of choosing what to wear ahead of time, packing your things at night will save you a lot of time and hassle in the morning. If you bring your lunch from home, make sure it's ready to just grab from the fridge and go. If you bring a purse or a briefcase with you, put everything you need in it ahead of time. Heading to the gym after work? Pack your sneakers and gear so you don't have to worry about it later. When you wake up in the morning, all of those things will be done, so you can have a much more relaxing start to your day. Plus, if you do get your things together at night, you won't have to worry about groggily forgetting your wallet at home, or misplacing your keys when you're already running late.
3. Write down tomorrow's tasks
You'll never fall asleep if you keep stressing out about what you have to do tomorrow, so keep a notebook or planner near your bed. Take a few minutes in the evening to write down the tasks you need to complete the next day and anything else you want to remind yourself of. By doing so, you ensure that you won't forget your plans and ideas, and you'll be more likely to clear your head before bed. Making that to-do list will hopefully stop you from staying up late worrying that you're forgetting something, and it certainly will help you be more organized in the morning.
4. Set a pre-bedtime alarm
The first step to this particular part of your routine is giving yourself a bedtime and sticking to it. Then, once you know when you need to go to sleep, set an alarm for an hour ahead of time as a reminder that it's time to start winding down. When the alarm goes off, you should go through your usual bedtime routine (brushing your teeth, washing your face, etc.) and start getting your bedroom sleep-ready. Dim the lights, adjust the temperature if you like it a certain way at night, and turn off the TV. Getting your bedtime routine going in advance of the time you want to go to bed will help your body ease into sleep, and will keep those nighttime tasks from cutting into your sleep time.
→ 5 Reasons to Return to Using an Alarm Clock