Sleep is all about performance. Physical performance. Mental performance. Social performance. Performance at work. Performance in sports.
How well you perform during the day starts with the night before. One person stays up late watching TV and messing around on the internet. Another plans their next day, stretches, grabs a book and is asleep before 10pm.
Of the two, who do you think will have the better day? Compounded, who do you think will have better physical health or career?
You are a mental athlete
Imagine your days are being watched by thousands of adoring fans. You’re an admired professional athlete with commentators discussing and analyzing every move you make.
I know what the play-by-play commentary would sound like for me with that first late night scenario.
Jon, “Zack’s already going for his second cup of coffee. This does not look good. I don’t know if this is procrastination or an energy management issue for him.”
Rob, “Let’s look at his stats, Jon. Oh no! What was he thinking? I can see from his FitBit that he is only working with 5 and a half hours of sleep. That is not enough recovery to do the mentally taxing writing he was hoping to get done this morning.”
Jon, “It certainly isn’t Rob. Zack should have gotten five or six 90-minute sleep cycles in. That’s what’s required to consolidate his memories and flush out the toxins that build up every day in his brain. That means at least 7.5 hours of shut-eye. With only 5.5 hours, he wasn’t even finished with his 4th sleep cycle. To top that off, he likely woke up in deep sleep… that will leave him groggy for hours.”
Rob, “Here we go, Jon. I see what the problem was. His Rescue Time stats show that he watched Game of Thrones. The program finished at 10:45pm. But that show contains too much stimulation for ol’ Sexton. It generally takes him another hour to settle down after watching those intense fight scenes.”
Jon, “Let’s see what Zack can do in his sub-prime condition. He’s opening up the laptop now. Looks like email is still up on his browser. Will he close the tab without…? nooo! He’s in his email inbox. Something looked urgent. This is not the way to start the day. I’m not optimistic about his productivity levels Rob.”
Rob, “Neither am I, Jon. I also notice he neglected to write his most important tasks down the night before. Without that kind of daily prioritization, you can’t be Asian Efficient or effective. This is going to be a long day for Sexton.”
The announcers are more optimistic about the results of an evening ritual that prepares me for the next day and gives me 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
Jon, “Zack’s had his breakfast and morning joe and is opening up his laptop now.”
Rob, “Looks like he is going right to his to-do list to make sure he is working on his most important task for the day.”
Jon, “That little play was made easier by Zack’s evening ritual. He makes sure to close all his computer programs down the night before. This process, which Asian Efficiency insiders call clearing to neutral, saves him the willpower of resisting email or potentially distracting websites.”
Rob, “That’s true Jon. But I have a feeling Zack could have resisted the cutest of puppy videos this morning. Look at these stats. 8 hours of recovery according to the FitBit.”
Jon, “I agree, Rob. But no point in draining his reserves on puppy pics. Let’s see what he does with that extra reserve of willpower.”
Rob, “I like where this is going. Yep. He’s opening Scrivener. Now he’s turned on his focus music. And yes. Fullscreen writing mode. He’s started the day with a writing Pomodoro session on the article for next week.”
Jon, “This day is looking good. I wouldn’t be surprised if all his frogs are eaten before noon.”
Rob, “I love seeing this. You can tell that he’s about to get into flow.”
Jon, “It’s all about preparation. Those small tweaks the night before always pay off big. If Zack can keep his evening ritual strong, I have no doubt his career will lead to the hall of fame.”
Jon, “You said it. In fact, they should get his picture for the hall of fame today. He looks so vibrant and well rested. A smile on his face, no bags under his eyes, he looks good and he knows it.”
The Evening Ritual Challenge
That’s what this challenge is all about. We want to improve your performance. We want you in the hall of fame. And we want you to look good while being inducted.
To get there, we’ll help you create an evening ritual that will increase your performance. You’ll do this with a good night’s sleep and a few productive routines to set your next day up for success.
What is an evening ritual?
An evening ritual is how you wind down your day. It is the step-by-step sequence you go through to get quality sleep.
We will post a new piece of the evening ritual formula each day for the next 5 days. Each day will build on the last. It will all come together with an effective ritual that will allow you to perform at your best. This evening ritual will give you an edge on the millions who have sporadic or unhealthy evening routines.
There are going to be hundreds of fellow Asian Efficiency fans from across the world participating in this evening ritual challenge. Should you be one of them?
Who this challenge is for?
The evening ritual challenge is for you if you…
- want more energy during the day
- want to get your work done faster
- want to be more creative
- want to hit the pillow each night satisfied that you’ve given the day your best and you’re ready for the next one
The challenge is especially for you if you…
- have difficulty getting to bed on time
- have difficulty falling asleep once in bed
- hit snooze 2 or 3 times most mornings
If the evening ritual challenge sounds like a good fit for you, commit now and commit publicly. Research shows that committing to friends and family helps people follow through on a new action. So Tweet, text, or Facebook the following message to a loved one (especially the loved ones you share a bed with).
Once you’ve committed, feel free dive into the first evening ritual challenge.
Challenge #1: Set your reverse alarm clock.
How does it feel when you wake up naturally? You open your eyes and you are ready to roll out of bed and begin another day. You’re fresh. You’re rested. You’re in a good mood. The problems of yesterday don’t seem so big.
I love waking up naturally. Especially when compared to scaring myself out of bed with the jarring noises and vibrations of my cell phone’s alarm clock.
When you wake up to your internal clock, you know you have gotten enough sleep because your body only takes what it needs for optimal performance.
For most, rising naturally only happens on weekends or during vacations. It doesn’t have to be this way. Waking up to your body’s clock can be an everyday occurrence. Here’s how to kill the snooze button.
Kill the snooze
The snooze button can be a thing of the past with a reverse alarm clock. You can wake up naturally every day. This may seem like a borderline mystical feat. But waking up naturally requires only one not-so-magical ingredient.
You. In your bed. At the right time.
The math is a can be a little tricky. You need to know your takeaways (also know as subtraction). But don’t worry, I’ll walk you through it with a few examples.
Let’s say you need to wake up at 7am. You want 7.5 hours of sleep. You give yourself 20 minutes to drift off. Let’s round up and say you need to bed in bed an even 8 hours before your desired wake time. That means you need to be in bed no later than 11pm.
Not bad huh?
Wait what if you need to be up at 6am to prepare for the day or get in an early morning gym session? That’s fine. You need to be in bed by 10pm to wake up naturally.
What about those 5am miracle peeps? 9pm is your be in bed time.
Here’s a chart for those who don’t like to do takeaways:
With most of the math out of the way, it’s time to set your reverse alarm clock. To do this you need to go into your phone’s alarm clock settings and set an alarm for 9 hours before your in bed time.
I use a specific iPhone app called Alarmed to give me a message that lets me know I have an hour to do what I need to do to get ready for bed.
We’ll talk about what you can do with that extra hour after your reverse alarm but before your in bedtime tomorrow. For now, all you need to do is:
- Decide what time you would like to (or need to) get up.
- Subtract 9 hours from your desired wake up time.
- Set a repeating alarm on your phone that lets you know you have an hour to get to bed.
- Be in your bed and ready for sleep 8 hours before your scheduled wake-up time.
Note: You’ll still want to keep your standard alarm clock operational. Even if you get to bed on time, you may not fall asleep right away. You may also be catching up on some sleep debt you’ve accumulated from too many late nights and early mornings.
The live challenge is over, but you can follow along to the next day here. You can also enter your name and email address below to join us on our next challenge!
How Productive Are You?
Take our Productivity Quiz to find out. Learn the tactics and techniques that will work for you.