Sleeping well and exercising regularly are generally accepted as two ingredients necessary for physical and mental health, but there are other factors that can contribute to happiness, well-being and quality of life. We asked some working professionals about morning and evening routines they feel have helped contribute to their success. We also asked them what changes these practices have made in their personal and professional lives, along with any other tips for sleeping well they can share with our readers. Here are their responses:
Nancy Gerstein, Yoga Instructor, Author of Guiding Yoga’s Light and CEO of Chicago-based Creative Marketing Associates, starts her day with 8 minutes of yoga. According to Nancy, the morning yoga routine energizes and helps her focus on the important matters in her personal and professional life. “Once I complete this short practice, I’m ready to take on the day with a clearer and more positive state of mind. It allows me to see the positive aspects of my job, my staff and my clients, as well as override the usual afternoon energy slump.” Nancy adds that to make the yoga routine fit more easily into to her life, she makes it a part of her usual morning practices, such as brushing her teeth, enjoying a cup of coffee and checking her email.
Before retiring, Commercial Real Estate Management executive, successful author and working mother Carrie Aulenbacher lays out everything from shoes to jewelry that she’ll need to dress for work the following morning. “Picking out my complete outfit the night before avoids being in a rush to decide what to wear,” says Carrie. “I also mix an omelet and keep in the fridge for breakfast. This is a healthy, high protein meal that helps me avoid the temptation to grab a less nutritious snack on my way to work.” Carrie adds that by not rushing to get dressed or fix breakfast in the morning, she has time to watch the news, or even run errands before work. “I have more energy and less stress over getting to work on time. Following this routine, I even have time to work on podcasts during my 40-minute commute.”
Once a night owl, Health Coach and YouTube podcaster Marta Taylor has switched her routine and is now a dedicated early riser. Rather than going to bed late and waking up groggy, she became a morning person by following a routine that has her retiring for the night by 10 p.m., when sleep-inducing melatonin is naturally released by the body. “Missing this window can result in getting a second wind that interrupts the circadian rhythm and disrupts natural sleep, which makes it difficult to wake up in the morning,” says Marta. “I put my phone, which I use as an alarm clock in another room so that I’m forced to get up rather than lie in bed and repeatedly hit the snooze button. Once I’m up, I go to the kitchen for a shot of water with either pink Himalayan or sea salt or lemon juice added, which rehydrates the body and gives the kidneys and adrenal glands a boost.” Next, Marta goes outside to watch the sunrise. “Sunlight in your eyes before 9 a.m. wakes you up and ensures melatonin kicks in at the right time for good, deep sleep.” She ends her morning ritual by going back inside to sing and dance to a favorite song, which according to Marta awakens the brain and releases natural endorphins that help start the day with a relaxed and pleasurable feeling.
Cardiac psychologist, author and heart attack survivor Stephen Parker begins each day by walking for one hour on a treadmill equipped with a computer keyboard and monitor. “I’m convinced that starting this routine following a heart attack saved both my heart and my life,” says Dr. Parker. “I even wrote Heart Attack and Soul while on the treadmill. For the first 20 minutes, I walk about two miles an hour, which is slow enough to watch the news, read or respond to email.” After half an hour, he increases the speed to three miles an hour for another 15 minutes, during which he either reads or types on his computer’s keyboard. Dr. Parker spends the final 15 minutes engaged in a combination of high intensity and aerobic exercise. During the winter, Dr. Parker, who lives in Alaska, uses a lightbox to lessen the effects of Seasonal Affect disorder (SAD) and synchronize the body’s circadian rhythm. “Without this routine, I’m not sure I would wake up in the morning,” says Parker.
Professional Self Care Coach Carley Schweet winds down her evening with a cup of herbal tea while catching up on events of the day with her partner. Next, the two share after dinner cleaning and dishwashing chores before going upstairs to the bedroom. “My before-bed routine starts with dimming the lights to their lowest setting, brushing my teeth and starting my skin care ritual,” says Carly. “I begin by removing my makeup before applying a mixture of jojoba oil, blue tansy, frankincense and ylang-ylang to my skin, which I smooth with a jade roller and finish by applying eye cream.” Next, she mists the sheets and pillowcases with an aromatic blend of vetiver, cedarwood, and lavender. “Making sure the mobile phones are switched off, I climb into bed and fall asleep within moments.” According to Carley, the best way to start a new sleep-enhancing bedtime routine is to put your phone away and turn off the TV.
Do you have a morning or bedtime routine that helps you succeed? Tell us about it on Facebook or Twitter – we’d love to hear from you!