How to design your perfect nighttime routine
If you’re like most people, then you’ve probably fallen into these two traps before:
1. You work RIGHT up until you go to sleep
2. You spend your time before going to sleep in front of a screen – whether that’s your phone, computer, or TV
If either (or both!) of these things apply to you, don’t worry – you’re so not alone.
In fact, MANY of us tend to engage in unhealthy behaviours before bed (like the two above) that actually make it harder for us to fall asleep!
Now, if you’re reading this, you probably already know the importance of having a healthy nighttime routine in place, but you may be having trouble actually implementing one (can I get an amen?). Perhaps you’ve read all the “top 10 things you NEED to do before going to bed” articles, but are still left where you were before – without a solid routine in place. UGH. Why is it so darn difficult?!
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Well, the problem is, a lot of these articles only focus on ONE nighttime routine. But we’re all different – so how can ONE routine work for all of us? It doesn’t make any sense!
That’s why for this blog post, I wanted to teach you how you can design your own unique nighttime routine that works for YOU (and JUST you).
The following list of habits, therefore, is fairly long, but it’s not intended for you to do EVERY single one of them. Instead, I’m going to be discussing:
1. What each habit is
2. Who it will work for, and
3. Who it won’t work for
That way, YOU’LL be able to make a decision yourself as to whether or not it will fit with your lifestyle.
So are you ready? Because by the end of this blog post, you’ll have created (for once and for all) YOUR – and no one else’s – PERFECT nighttime routine!
Habit #1 – Stop working before going to bed
Okay, so for this first habit, I would actually suggest that we all try to incorporate it into our routine. Why? Because you need to mentally separate “work time” from “rest time”. This allows your mind to have time to wind down instead of just trying to immediately switch ‘off’.
But what if I’m a night owl? What if I’m more creative and more productive at night?
I hear you. In fact, I’m the same way. If this applies to you, you should still take up this habit. Let’s say you want to work up until 1:30am. Instead of trying to fall asleep immediately after you finish working at 1:30am, just make sure you leave time after that to wind down (maybe stay up until 2am).
Going to bed late isn’t this big, bad thing that a lot of people make it out to be. If it works for you, then it works for you – you just have to make sure you still have some chillax time!
Habit #2 – Switch off your devices
I would recommend this one to most people as well, but not necessarily everyone.
Here’s the thing: the screens on our laptops and phones emit a “blue light”, and it’s been proven that this type of light contributes to poorer sleep quality. So if you’re using your phone to endlessly scroll down your social media feeds and watch videos at night – this is something you’ll definitely want to stop doing.
However, some of us may actually benefit from watching certain videos before we go to bed. For example, there are some amazing ASMR videos on YouTube that work wonders in helping a lot of people sleep.
To determine whether you’re someone who will benefit from this type of content, I recommend checking out this YouTube channel. If these videos make you feel relaxed, you may want to consider adding them to your nighttime routine. If they don’t do much for you, then I suggest avoiding screens altogether.
Habit #3 – Eat a small snack
You’ve probably heard a gazillion times that you “shouldn’t eat before bed”. The thing is, this isn’t necessarily true for everyone!
While some people’s metabolisms may get thrown off if they eat before bed, some people find that evening snacking works perfectly fine – if not better – for them (check out this article to see what I mean!). Personally, I find that having a small piece of fruit is a great way to end my day and signify to my body that it’s time for bed. If you’re like me, then a small and healthy (keywords!) evening snack is perfectly fine.
However, if you have a tendency to overeat, or if you only want to snack on unhealthy foods – this is when you know that you shouldn’t be adding this habit to your nighttime routine.
Habit #4 – Drink a hot tea
If you’re anything like me, then you love a nice cup of soothing herbal tea before bed!
I especially love drinking lemon balm tea because it’s known for inducing drowsiness (and honestly, it DOES). Some other teas that help promote sleep include chamomile, valerian root, lavender, and peppermint.
Many people find drinking tea before bed to be a calming and benefiting ritual – but not everyone.
Some people find that drinking tea before bed makes them have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. This doesn’t affect me because I’m a fairly heavy sleeper (there could be a raging tornado outside and I’d sleep through it like a log), but if you’re a light sleeper or if you have a more sensitive bladder, then I suggest staying away from this one.
Related Article: 10 Sunday Habits for Your Most Productive Week Ever
Habit #5 – Take a shower
This one is prone to causing some debate. I myself am on the side of the evening shower supporters. I find that showering at night relaxes me and immediately makes me think “chill-time”. If you’re like me, then having a shower every night is a great addition to your nighttime routine. Just make sure you don’t wash your hair every night!
For some people though, nighttime showers just don’t work for them. Many people find that showering is something that makes them feel more awake and energized. If this applies to you, then definitely skip this habit and save it for your morning routine.
Habit #6 – Listen to relaxing music
Okay, this is one I’m alllll for. Listening to calming music before going to bed immediately gets me into a zen mood.
My favourite types of music to listen to in the evening are ambient music, spa music, nature sounds, or sometimes even somber classical music. But honestly, there are SO many genres to choose from.
I encourage you to explore Spotify or YouTube to find what genre of music suits you for your nighttime routine.
Listening to music before bed may not be for everyone though. A lot of people prefer just plain peace and quiet to help them get to sleep. Again, everyone’s unique, and you’ll have to do a bit of experimenting to find what suits you!
Habit #7 – Use essential oils
Ahhhh, aromatherapy – how I love a good smell before bed!
I find that using sleep-inducing essential oils in my diffuser such as lavender, cedarwood, and clary sage works wonders in helping me relax. Sometimes I’ll even put my diffuser on in my bathroom as I shower to create my own little “relaxation chamber”. I love it!
Some people, however, may be a little bit sensitive to scents, and so using essential oils before bed may not be right for them. I encourage you to sample some scents and see what feels right for you!
Habit #8 – Dim the lights
This is one that I beleive pretty much everyone should add to their nighttime routine. Why? Well, I think we can all agree that when it’s darker, we feel more relaxed (this isn’t personal preference, it’s biology). Dimming the lights is therefore a super easy and super effective way to signal to your body that it’s time to unwind.
I love using candles at night because they instantly put me into a very zen headspace. I also suggest investing in a Himalyan salt lamp. These beautiful lamps emit a wonderfully soothing orange light that is just sooooo calming. If you haven’t tried one yet, I highly recommend it!
Whether you choose candles, salt lamps, or both, be sure to put something right beside you on your bedside table so that you can see what you’re doing. And this brings me to my next few habits…
Habit #9 – Journal
Honestly, I swear by this one!
For me, writing stream of consciousness at night helps me get all my remaining thoughts out before I go to bed. This makes it much easier for me to sleep because I have no thoughts left in my head to keep me awake!
So if any of you have difficulty sleeping because of overthinking, I highly recommend taking up this habit. To learn more about how to use stream of consciousness journaling, check out this article: How to Use Stream of Consciousness Journaling: 7 Tips to Start Clearing Your Mind.
Some of you, however, may not benefit from this habit. Why? Because some people may find that they get too caught up in the writing. This is especially true for people who really enjoy writing and people who feel more productive/creative at night. If this is you, then journaling at night may actually energize you and make you feel more productive! This is counteractive in a nighttime routine, and I’d suggest leaving this for your morning routine instead.
Habit #10 – Write down three things you enjoyed about the day
Another pretty much universal one here!
I would recommend this one to everyone simply because practicing gratitude is 100% beneficial and has ZERO side effects if you do it at night!
By writing down three things that you enjoyed about your day (in other words, three things you’re grateful for), you’re able to reflect on your day in a healthy way and end it on a positive note. Too often, we spend our nights thinking about all the things we didn’t do during the day and stressing about things we have to do tomorrow. This practice shifts the focus from the past and the future to the present moment.
Habit #11 – Plan for the next day
Okay, this is one that I personally like doing during my morning instead of my evening. Many of you, however, will definitely benefit from this one at night.
If you find that you waste a lot of time throughout your day making decisions – what to wear, what to eat, what to work on, what show to watch, what book to read, etc., then you may want to consider setting aside 20 minutes from your evening to plan your next day. It could honestly end up being a HUGE time-saver and and stress-reducer for you!
For me, I find that scheduling at night makes me think a bit too much, if that makes sense. It energizes me and makes me feel like I’m ready to go (not exactly what I want to feel just before bed!).
If you’re not quite sure what would suit you, I recommend spending one week trying this habit and seeing how it makes you feel. It may work for you, it may not be quite right! Again, we’re allllll different.
Habit #12 – Read
I can’t go one night without reading. In fact, for as long as I can remember I’ve always set aside a good 30 minutes to get through some pages of my book before going to bed. Not only does it help me get through my ever-expanding reading list, but it also makes me super drowsy!
A lot of people find that reading helps them sleep, but some people may not. If you’re the type of person that gets super-duper invested in a story and can never seem to put a book down, then maybe this shouldn’t be something you do RIGHT before bed. If it makes you lose sleep rather than help you get to sleep, you may benefit from reading at a different time of day.
Also – it all depends on what book you’re reading. I find that non-fiction books that require quite a bit of thinking and brain-power aren’t the best for me to read at night. Instead, I tend to go for fairly easy-to-read fictional stories before bed (here’s a list of some fun ones to get you started!).
Habit #13 – Exercise
Okay, similar to the whole “don’t eat before you go to bed” thing, you may have also heard that it’s not great to exercise before bed. But again – it’s totally different for everyone. For some people, doing a full-on exercise before bed helps them sleep better, and for others, it may make them lose sleep.
If you’re not quite sure what side of the spectrum you fall on, I suggest starting by doing some gentle stretches or a mellow yoga flow (like this one) before bed. For me, this works best. Also, paired with a chilled-out music playlist makes for the PERFECT pre-sleep ritual!
Habit #14 – Breathing exercises
This last one is another pretty much universal one. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – deep breathing works wonders. It’s an instant way to feel more relaxed and centred – which is just what you want before bed!
Final thoughts and reminders
Your nighttime is unique to you, so it’s important you take some time to figure out what works the best for you, not for someone else. We’re all different, and we all benefit from different things.
Once you’ve designed your own personal nighttime routine, I guarantee that not only will you get a better sleep and feel more motivated the next day, but you’ll also actually look forward to going to bed!
Sweet dreams for now!