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A simple change to my nighttime routine

Ali Abdaal
Ali Abdaal

Hey friends,

I want to talk about a simple change I made to my nighttime routine that’s changed the game for me. It came about after I skimmed through ‘Why we sleep’ by Matthew Walker, a book that was doing the rounds on tech/entrepreneur recommended reading lists recently.

Anyway, the simple change is that I've stopped taking my phone into bed with me. Instead, I leave it on charge across the room, and the only device I have next to my bed is now my Kindle Paperwhite.

This has a few benefits. Firstly, when the phone alarm goes off (usually at 6:30am so I can hit the gym before work), it requires me to physically get out of bed to turn it off, which decreases my odds of hitting snooze and going back to bed.

Secondly, it prevents me from mindlessly scrolling through Instagram/YouTube before bed, an activity that used to add at least an hour (often a lot more) to my bedtime, while not really adding any value to my life.

Thirdly, it means that the only entertainment I have while lying in bed alone (😭) is my Kindle, who I named Arya after my favourite characters in Game of Thrones, Pretty Little Liars and Eragon.

Having Arya to keep me company means that I get at least 30 minutes of reading done each day - sometimes fiction (currently Crazy Rich Asians #2 by Kevin Kwan) and sometimes non-fiction (currently ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear) depending on my mood. Whether I’m reading fiction to wind-down or non-fiction to get inspired/learn new stuff, it’s a tonne more value than I get from scrolling through attractive people in exotic places on Instagram.

And finally, I’ve found that reading before bed helps me get to sleep. I just read until I notice my eyes start to close, at which point I rapidly remove my glasses (and fold them in a single, fluid motion), place them on the bedside table, chuck Arya onto the floor beside me, and roll over into a deep blissful sleep.

This one simple act has thus been a game changer in my nighttime routine. Thought I’d share it here for fun.

Have a great week!

Ali

PS: If you don’t have a Kindle, I would implore you to invest in one (preferably with this affiliate link). It’s literally the single purchase that’s added the most value to my life, by a long mile.

PPS: If anyone cares, my morning alarm is ‘Everything has Changed’ by Taylor Swift (ft. Ed Sheeran) and has been since the song came out in like 2013. I think I’ve developed some sort of Pavlovian response to it, because as soon as Ed says ‘we good to go?’ in the intro to the song, I jump out of bed like Mrs Norris being electrocuted.


I listened to this episode of Matt D'Avella's podcast 'The Ground Up Show' a few days ago. There were a tonne of really useful actionable points from it, and after listening to it I immediately bought James Clear's new book 'Atomic Habits' (on Kindle of course).

If there's one thing you consume this week, I think it should be this podcast episode, because there is literally so much good stuff in it. You can watch it on YouTube, or on whatever podcast app you've got on your phone (I like Overcast personally).

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Ali Abdaal

Junior doctor, YouTuber, web designer, aspiring musician. Trying out this blogging thing.