It's 4:59 AM and I'm waiting outside of Starbucks at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. A mob of exhausted travelers gathers near the entrance and waits impatiently for the barista to lift the gates. Each weary traveler scans the menu with their bloodshot eyes, anticipating the quick hit of caffeine and sugar before they head to their final destination. With their sunken eye sockets, drooping shoulders and outstretched arms, they look more like a group of zombies than a group of upper middle-class business travelers.
After getting my morning cup of coffee, I head to the bathroom and look in the mirror. An unrecognizable set of bloodshot and sunken eyes stares back at me in the mirror.
I am one of them.
As I return to my waiting area I'm reminded of the importance of a good night of sleep and a successful routine that always precedes a night of rejuvenating rest. In the last year, I found that you burn out fast when you aren't doing the little things that set you up for success. With that in mind, I've highlighted 9 things that I try to do each night before bed. I don't always complete each one, but when I do, I know tomorrow will be successful. It’s that simple.
9 things may seem like an awful lot, but you’re already doing 9+ things each night and what I'm going to describe isn't that crazy. Most of these ideas I've borrowed from top performers like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Charlie Munger, Dave Asprey, Napoleon Hill, Thomas Edison, Jim Rohn and my dad.
My intention with this is to give you a set of tools to help you maximize your nightly routine.
See what resonates with you. Try one. Maybe two. Test and see what happens.
Let's dive in.
1. Take Away Aches: The Acupressure Mat
As you age, your body accumulates more aches and pains, especially if you sit for more than 8 hours each day or have the battle scars of a weekend warrior. As you age -- things hurt. There’s no way around it.
A few years ago, my T6 spinal disc slipped when I was tying my shoes (not my best moment). Soon I was paralyzed with horrific back pain, and spent the next few days sprawled on the floor. After the injury "healed", the pain was constant. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life popping Ibuprofen, so I started researching "natural" ways to manage the pain. That’s when I discovered acupressure mats.
Each night, while reading a book, I lay my back on the acupressure mat and allow the pain from the day to drift away. From there I enter a state of deep relaxation and sleep like a baby.
How It Works: The mat consists of a series of small points which cause localized inflammation that decreases muscle soreness, increases levels of feel good endorphins, and increases the uptake oxygen in your body. All of which improve the quality of sleep and digestion.
The technology is based off of the work done by Dr. Robert Becker who found that your body has a series of meridians that send pain signals to your brain. When these pain signals are overridden (short circuited) your brain does not get the signal from your body. No this isn’t just magical mystic medicine. 
Think of it like a series of old telephone wires connected to your house (location of pain) that connect to an centralized switchboard (your brain). When the signal is shorted (location of pain), it can't reach the switchboard (brain) and the call isn't made.
Where to start: Check out ZenSufu's low cost acupressure mat. It's the one I use.
Further Reading: The Body Electric by Robert Becker
2. Sleep Like The Dead: Get Blackout Curtains
Each and every I week tell someone who has trouble sleeping to get blackout curtains. And every week I hear a plethora of excuses:
- “Aren’t they expensive?”
- “They look ugly”
- “I don’t want curtains.”
- “My husband/wife won’t let me.”
- Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Inevitably, that same person will contact me 6 months later after installing blackout curtains and say the same thing:
- “Dude, I feel amazing! I’m finally sleeping again!”
- “I slept for 11 hours for the first time in a decade!”
- “I will never go back!”
- “Why didn’t you tell me this before????”
How it works: Your eyes and skin have photoreceptors that sense light exposure and what time of day it is. If you’re falling asleep with the TV, ambient light or the glow of your iPhone, you’re not getting good sleep. Blackout curtains work well because they block ambient light and allow you to enter a state of deep relaxed sleep. 
Here’s the rule of thumb with blackout curtains: If you can see your hand in front of your face, there’s too much light.
How to start: Get blackout curtains and don’t overthink it.
3. Set Your Internal Clock: Avoid Blue Light From Electronics
Are there certain nights that you just can't fall asleep? You toss. You turn. You think. You get anxious because you know the morning will be here soon and you'll have ANOTHER day where you feel exhausted.
Exposure to blue light from your TV, computer or mobile prior to sleep may be the culprit.
Most people don’t sleep well, because their circadian rhythm (sleep and waking cycle) is completely out of whack. You’ll know this is an issue if you wake up exhausted each day, and have a very hard time falling asleep (feeling tired all day and wired at night).
Research shows that excess exposure to blue light can disturb your circadian rhythm and it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
How does it happen? Prolonged exposure to blue light from your smart phone, computer, TV, or in-home lighting suppresses your body's natural production of melatonin and increases the production of cortisol. When this happens you don't get the restorative benefits of sleep and don't wake up feeling energized. 
Extra Credit For Peak Performers: Install F.Lux on your computer to naturally reduce the amount of bluelight your computer emits. You can also wear super stylish blue blocking glasses (not recommended for single guys trying to make a good first impression).
4. Get Inspired: Read A Biography
Peak performers need inspiration and “inspirational posts” on Instagram are not going to cut it. We need stories. Real stories of people just like you and me who achieved the impossible. We need to know that tomorrow will be better than today. Else we we’re not motivated and feel scattered or lost.
Reading the biographies of the world’s greatest people is the best way to inspire you to lean into your edge and put a dent in the universe. You’ll learn their greatest lessons, hear their stories and understand how they think. After reading a few you will realize the only thing separating the world's greatest leaders and you... is time. You’ll start to develop their courage and tenacity, while tackling bigger challenges. The minutiae of each day will seem insignificant when you start working higher level problems.
If you don’t know where to begin, here are a few of my favorites:
- Steve Jobs
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Mother Theresa
- Michael Jordan
- Charlie Munger
- Nelson Mandela
- Warren Buffett
- Malcolm X
- Andre Agassi
Read their stories and allow yourself to be inspired to continue creating and giving your gifts.
5. Be Like Jim Rohn: Plan For Tomorrow Today
Entrepreneurship Philosopher Jim Rohn famously said: “Plan for tomorrow today”
This simple strategy works because it uses the conscious and subconscious parts of your mind to the greatest effect.
It works because your brain is like a multi-million dollar laser guided heat seeking missile. It needs a clear target, otherwise it get’s lost and blows up in the water. When you plan for tomorrow today, you allow your subconscious to work on tomorrow's goals while you rest. It’s one of the most simple and easiest ways to get more done and have a greater impact through your work.
How to start: Each night write down your top 3 goals for tomorrow. Keep a running journal and do it each day.
Recommended Resource: The Power of Ambition by Jim Rohn.
6. Get Unstuck. Dream. And Grow Rich: Use Subconscious Problem Solving
Have you ever come up with a great idea right before bed and then forgotten about it the next day?
This phenomenon has been happening to peak performers for millennia and it’s time you harnessed the incredible power of subconscious problem solving.
I've experimented with this for a few months and this is the basic process I follow:
- Step 1: Write your problem/struggle on a notepad or journal.
- Step 2 Write the end result or outcome you want from solving this problem.
- Step 3: Relax, breath, go to bed and keep the notepad nearby. When your eureka moment strikes, write down the answer.
- Step 4: Get unstuck. Dream. And Grow Rich.
If you would like to learn more, check out this in-depth look at the subject.
7. Heal Your Spirit: Practice Gratitude
As soon as we get into a relaxed state, the floodgates open and all of the problems of the day come rushing to the front. The kids, the bills, daycare, payments, loans, debt, someone who was rude to you, the guy who cut you off in traffic, your high school significant other who’s posting obnoxious pictures on Facebook, etc.
The second we put our guards down, the negative self talk and the worries of the day come crashing down on our minds.
There’s only one way to guard and protect your mind from the bombardment: Gratitude.
I’ve written about it before and I'll write about it again. If there’s one way to keep your ego in check, it’s gratitude. It’s the ultimate human emotion. You can't be scared, fearful, anxious, or upset when you are grateful.
Be grateful for the good things that happened today and you’ll find that more good things will happen tomorrow.
How to Start: Check Out The 5 Minute Journal and use the coupon code “stopstartdo” for 10% off. Or you can sit with your partner and discuss what you are grateful for. Or if you are really an overachiever... do both.
8. Stay Ahead of The Curve: Supplement With Magnesium
Most people don’t have enough magnesium in their diets and each night they're anxious, stiff and can't relax. As western culture moves away from eating locally grown foods and towards a centralized farming model we’re eating foods that are not rich in essential minerals. Magnesium is crucial because It’s used to many neurochemical reactions, 300+ enzymatic reactions and has been shown to promote states of deep relaxation.
Among US adults, 68% consumed less than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of magnesium, and 19% consumed less than 50% of the RDA. That's really bad.
How to start: I rarely recommend supplements for everyone, but most people get less than 250 mg/d of magnesium from food, a dose of 400 – 600 mg/day with your last meal of the day is ideal. Chelated forms like glycinate and malate work best. 
9. Go To Your Happy Place: Use Strategic Relaxation
Have you ever worked like a maniac for a few months (maybe years) and then finally taken a vacation? It's only when you're sitting on the beach, at the lake home or in the massage parlor that you realize how completely exhausted you are. In an instant, all of the aches, pains, knots and tightness come rushing out of you as you finally relax and allow your mind to melt into the moment.
Due to the non-stop, hectic, break-neck speed of modern life, most people don't know how to turn off and get to a 'vacation-like' deep restful state. The stresses of the day turn on your fight-or-flight response and make it nearly impossible for you to sleep deeply.
Your nervous system doesn't know the difference in between something real and something imagined. When you visualize your Happy Place using strategic relaxation you get many of the benefits of vacation without traveling to a sunny spot near the equator.
How to do it:
- Lie down in bed.
- Breath deeply into your nose for 3 seconds and imagine the air filling your heart and into your lower belly.
- Exhale for 3 seconds out of your nose.
- Focus on your breath and visualize yourself in a place where you felt completely relaxed (the beach, mountains, camping, with friends/family, etc.)
- Repeat for 3 minutes.
If you've pushed yourself to the point of exhaustion and turned into a member of the walking dead, it's time to shake things up.
If you want to look, feel and perform your best throughout the day, try one of these strategies out and see what happens.
Let me know in the comments below if you have tried any of these strategies or if there's something YOU DO each night to sleep like the dead.
-  Becker, R. O., & Selden, G. (1985). The body electric: Electromagnetism and the foundation of life. New York: Morrow.
-  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/q-a-why-is-blue-light-before-bedtime-bad-for-sleep/
-  http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
-  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21552190
-  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22364157
-  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15930481
-  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19828898
-  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8264519
-  https://justgetflux.com/research.html
-  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19493002