Being busy is nothing new. As leaders in particular there are always things to juggle and keep moving. As things pile up we have to cut certain activities that we consider luxuries. Sometimes the first thing to go is one of the last things that should: sleep.
It has often happened to me during a particularly busy time that I’ll just be lying in bed with my brain spinning unable to fall asleep. Or I finally fall asleep but wake up at 4:30 already thinking about the next day. After just a couple days of that I’m probably no more than half as effective as I am when well rested.
So how do I protect my sleep? There are many ways, from eating right near bedtime to turning screens off. Besides the physical things you can do I want to offer 3 tips to mentally prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep.
- Live your day intentionally. Some people are planners, some people prefer a little more flexibility to their day. Either way you should know what you are doing each day and why. Identify the one or two things that MUST get done and make them the priority. By doing this, you relieve your brain of the biggest stressors. Small things are easy to fit in or reschedule and won’t take up the same amount of mental energy to deal with as you’re nearing the end of the day.
It may take some time to identify the day’s top priorities so plan 5-10 minutes in the morning to look ahead to the day and identify the things that are truly important, not just urgent. Then at the end of the day you will be much more calm and peaceful knowing that you accomplished what really mattered.
- What about the times that I’ve still got a million things running through my head? Make a list. Write out each thing that jumps to mind or disrupts your mental state as the day ends. Take some time to evaluate each item and if possible identify when that item can be addressed. This allows your brain to recognize that the issue is taken care of, and if it still comes to mind you can quickly remind yourself that you have addressed it.
If possible this should be finished at least an hour before bed to give your mind time to settle before sleep.
- Take time to pray/meditate/journal. It doesn’t really have to be one of those three but you should do something intentional to calm your mind. Take a bath, play soft classical music, it’s up to you. But have some time focused on mental relaxation and reflection. These lead to a much more peaceful state of mind and one that will prepare you for a good night’s sleep. Ideally you should have at least 30 minutes to relax and reflect but if that’s not possible try for at least 10 minutes. Every bit counts.
Sleep is too important to leave to chance. In addition to these 3 things there are many others that you can do. Find what works best for you and start each day recharged and ready to go.