15 things successful people do right before bed

15 things successful people do right before bed
15 things successful people do right before bed - Business Insider

These bedtime routines from leaders like Sheryl Sandberg and Bill Gates are key to a good night's sleep and a more productive day ahead.

Bill GatesBill Gates
Every night before bed, Bill Gates makes a point of reading for one hour.
  • Everyone knows that getting enough sleep is important, but the things you do right before bed can also set you up for success the following day.
  • It can be difficult to fall asleep if you're stressed, which is why it may be key to adopt new routines to help reduce anxiety before bed. 
  • From taking a hot bath to writing out the next day's to-do list, successful people have a number of nighttime rituals that may lead to their success.
  • We rounded up 15 things that highly successful people do right before bed.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The last thing you do before bed tends to have a significant impact on your mood and energy level the next day, as it often determines how well and how much you sleep.

But it can be difficult to fall asleep if you're stressed. This is especially true now, as many Americans struggle to cope with nationwide unrest. 

There are some strategies you can adopt to help yourself relax before bed. Good bedtime routines are key for successful people, who depend on getting enough sleep to help them through their busy days. 

Business Insider gathered pre-sleep rituals from business leaders like Sheryl Sandberg and Bill Gates. Here are 15 of the most effective. 

They read.

Reading a book in bed
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Experts agree that reading is the very last thing most successful people do before going to sleep —President Barack Obama and Bill Gates are known to read for at least a half hour before bed.

Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of "You Can't Be Serious! Putting Humor to Work," says he knows numerous business leaders who block off time just before bed for reading, going so far as to schedule it as a "non-negotiable item" on their calendar.

"This isn't necessarily reserved just for business reading or inspirational reading. Many successful people find value in being browsers of information from a variety of sources, believing it helps fuel greater creativity and passion in their lives," he says.


They unplug completely.

Phone Bed
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The blue light from your phone mimics the brightness of the sun, which tells your brain to stop producing melatonin, an essential hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm and tells your body when it's time to wake and when it's time to sleep. This could lead not only to poor sleep, but also to vision problems, cancer, and depression.

Michael Woodward, Ph.D., organizational psychologist and author of "The YOU Plan," agrees, saying, "The last thing you need is to be lying in bed thinking about an email you just read from that overzealous boss who spends all their waking hours coming up with random requests driven by little more than a momentary impulse."

Give yourself a buffer period of at least a half-hour between the time you read your last email and the time you go to bed. 

They disconnect from work.

couple watching tv

Truly successful people do anything but work right before bed, Kerr says. They don't obsessively check their email, and they try not to dwell on work-related issues. 

Studies have found if you associate your bed with work, it'll be much harder to relax there, so it's essential you reserve your bed for sleep and sex only.

Disconnecting from work is important once you get home, and especially right before bed. It's good to let your mind recharge, spend time doing something you enjoy, and feel ready to tackle the next day. 

Work burnout may actually hinder your productivity by causing you to become easily irritated or stressed out. Taking time after work to fully disconnect from your job may actually increase your productivity the next day. You'll be feeling fresh and ready to take on the day's tasks.

They make a to-do list.

to do list
Getty Images

"Clearing the mind for a good night sleep is critical for a lot of successful people," Kerr says.

"Often they will take this time to write down a list of any unattended items to address the following day, so these thoughts don't end up invading their headspace during the night."

For example, Kenneth Chenault, former CEO of American Express, writes down three things he wants to accomplish the next day.

They spend time with family.

family home backyard summer
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

Woodward says it's important to make some time to chat with your partner, talk to your kids, or play with your dog.

Laura Vanderkam, author of "I Know How She Does It" and "What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast," says this is a common practice among the highly successful. "I realize not everyone can go to bed at the same time as his or her partner, but if you can, it's a great way to connect and talk about your days."

They spend quality time with their partners.

bed cuddle
Toa Heftiba / Unsplash

Another great way to connect with your partner: sex.

Apart from the health benefits — sex is exercise, after all, and it can reduce stress and anxiety levels — and the positive effect it has on your relationship with your partner, a study published by The Institute for the Study of Labor in Germany also found a correlation between sexual frequency and wealth.

The study found that people who had sex four or more times a week earned a salary 5% higher than those who didn't, and those who said they weren't having sex at all made 3.2% less than their counterparts who were having sex.

"People need to love and be loved (sexually and non-sexually) by others," study author Nick Drydakis, an economics lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, told CBS News. "In the absence of these elements, many people become susceptible to loneliness, social anxiety, and depression that could affect their working life."


They go for an evening stroll.

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People use night vision goggles to look at the night sky during an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) tour in the desert outside Sedona, Arizona February 14, 2013. Picture taken February 14, 2013.
REUTERS/Mike Blake

Joel Gascoigne, cofounder and CEO of Buffer, takes a 20-minute walk every evening before bed. "This is a wind-down period, and allows me to evaluate the day's work, think about the greater challenges, gradually stop thinking about work, and reach a state of tiredness," he writes in a blog post

While it's a popular belief that exercise before bed can prevent sleep, the National Sleep Foundation found that exercising whenever you can, even at night, helps you sleep better. Numerous studies have also found walking to reduce stress and anxiety.

They reflect on the good things from the day.

computer thinking
Norwegian interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv, 24, who reported being raped, pauses during a Skype interview at the Norwegian Seamen's Center in Dubai, July 21, 2013.
REUTERS/Jumana El Heloueh

Kerr says many successful people take the time just before bed to reflect on, or to write down, three things they are appreciative of that happened that day. 

"Keeping a 'gratitude journal' also reminds people of the progress they made that day in any aspect of their life, which in turn serves as a key way to stay motivated, especially when going through a challenging period."

It's easy to fall into the trap of replaying negative situations from the day that you wish you had handled differently. Regardless of how badly the day went, successful people typically manage to avoid that pessimistic spiral of negative self-talk because they know it will only create more stress.

Benjamin Franklin famously asked himself the same self-improvement question every night: "What good have I done today?"


They picture tomorrow's success.

Sleeping in is a common way for people to ruin their Monday morning productivity.
Corrie Barklimore

Many successful people take a few minutes before bed to envision a positive outcome unfolding for the projects they're working on, says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job." "For most, this is not a task or exercise; they're wired with a gift of solid resolution skills that come naturally."

They meditate.

Getty Images

Many successful people use the 10 minutes before bed to meditate. Dale Kurow, a New York-based executive coach, says it's a great way to relax your body and quiet your mind.

They plan out sleep.

alarm clock
Maskot / Getty Images

"Much has been written around the dangers busy people face running chronic sleep deficits, so one habit I know several highly successful people do is to simply make it a priority to get enough sleep — which can be a challenge for workaholics or entrepreneurs," Kerr says. One way to do that is to go to bed at a consistent time each evening, which is a key habit all sleep experts recommend to help ensure a healthy night's sleep.

Vanderkam further suggests that you plan out when you're going to wake up, count back however many hours you need to sleep, and then consider setting an alarm to remind yourself to get ready for bed. "The worst thing you can do is stay up late then hit snooze in the morning," she says. "Humans have a limited amount of willpower. Why waste that willpower arguing with yourself over when to get up, and sleeping in miserable nine-minute increments?"

They keep a hygiene ritual.

foaming face wash

The National Sleep Foundation recommends you create a hygiene ritual that sends a psychological signal that you are getting ready for bed. This can include brushing your teeth, washing your face, flossing, combing your hair.

Stephen King's nightly routine includes washing his hands and making sure all the pillows face a certain way.

They decompress.

bath relaxing
Studio Romantic/Shutterstock

Maybe you like taking a warm bath. Perhaps listening to calming music relaxes you. 

The most successful people find ways to unwind and decompress before heading to bed. It allows them to de-stress, fall asleep quicker, and sleep more soundly so they're ready for the next day.

They skip the wine.

wine sunset
Rachel Askinasi/Business Insider

When researching her sleep manifesto, "Thrive," Arianna Huffington consulted a number of sleep specialists for tips. One of her favorites is avoiding alcohol right before bedtime.

While alcohol can certainly help you fall asleep, the National Institute of Health finds that it robs you of quality sleep. Alcohol keeps people in the lighter stages of sleep from which they can be awakened easily and prevents them from falling into deeper, more restorative stages of sleep, the institute finds.

They write down what they accomplished that day.

Writing in journal, diary in bed

In a LinkedIn course on how to build resilience, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg shared that she adopted a new bedtime routine to help with grief and anxiety after the death of her husband, former Survey Monkey CEO Dave Goldberg. The routine is simple: Write three things down that you accomplished that day. The accomplishments don't have to be big, Sandberg explained. 

She continues it to this very day, and recommends others do it too. It helps you keep a positive outlook on life, she said. 

Rachel Gillett and Jacquelyn Smith contributed to an earlier version of this post. 

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