A “bedtime routine” might sound like something for children, but adults usually need help falling asleep too. Very few of us can fall asleep on command, so a few healthy practices can help set the tone for better rest.
Let’s breakdown the best evening routine for a good night’s sleep in a few simple steps.
The Problem With Sleepless Nights
First, why is sleep so important? Experts say it’s just as important as healthy eating and exercise, but when we’re busy and stressed out, sleep is usually the first thing we sacrifice.
But there are severe consequences to missing sleep, especially if it’s a regular occurrence. Sleeping problems can lead to weight gain, hormone imbalance, lack of productivity, depression, poor immunity, and a higher risk of contracting diseases.
It’s easy to get into a habit of sleep deprivation. After a bad night of sleep, most adults supplement with caffeine to make it through the workday. However, this usually leads to too much caffeine, which disrupts the sleep cycle for the next night and continues the pattern.
It doesn’t take long before we’re trapped in a cycle of staying up late and relying on caffeine, power drinks, or other energy boosters during the day. Luckily, a healthy evening routine can stop this vicious cycle.
How to Design an Evening Routine
Everyone’s evening routine can look differently, but there are a few basic principles to keep in mind that will help you wind down for the night. However, just like it took several nights of bad sleep to get into a pattern of sleep deprivation, it will take time to reverse your old habits and nail your evening routine.
Don’t try to incorporate too much at once. Instead, start with a few simple changes and add more as they become habits. Your evening routine can always be adjusted, but the important thing is to take the time before bed to help your body wind down and prepare for sleep.
Try incorporating these habits:
- Go To Bed at the Same Time Every Night
Going to bed around the same time every night will help get your body used to sleeping during the same hours instead of having a sporadic sleep schedule. If you struggle with your alarm clock every morning, going to sleep at the same time every night will also help your body naturally wake up at the same time in the mornings.
- Put Your Devices Away an Hour Before Bed
Studies show that the blue light from screens can suppress melatonin secretion, so staying up late scrolling Instagram or watching TV has a bad effect on your sleep. Put all of your devices away an hour before bed so your body can prepare for rest without interruptions from blue light.
Consider plugging your phone in outside of your bedroom so you aren’t tempted to be on it in bed. You can leave it charging in your bathroom or right outside your bedroom door so you can still hear your alarm in the morning, or leave it farther away and get an old-fashioned alarm clock to wake you up instead.
If you do need to be on your devices before bed, invest in blue light blocking glasses so your sleep is less impacted.
- Unwind From the Day
A big reason people can’t sleep is that they go straight from the stress of their day to bed without any time to unwind. Instead of feeling ready for sleep when their head hits the pillow, they immediately run through the day in their mind, or they’re preoccupied with what still needs to get done.
Set boundaries between your responsibilities and your rest time so you go to bed ready for sleep. One way to do this is to do something you enjoy every night to help you decompress from the day. Maybe it’s one episode of a sitcom (but try not to watch in bed), a walk or some light stretching, crafting, or reading a book.
Whatever it is, choose an activity that will help you leave the stress of the day behind so you can unwind and prepare your body for sleep.
- Prepare for the Next Day
If you lay awake at night thinking about everything that still needs to get done, try accomplishing a few basic tasks the night before instead. Eventually, they’ll become part of your evening routine and signal to your body that it’s time to wind down.
Doing them at night will also help cut down on the stress and rush of your morning so you can start your days at a slower pace.
Try 15 minutes of cleaning and tidying before bed. You could also prep your lunch, lay out your clothes, or do a quick sweep of your floors. Getting these basic tasks done will help you feel accomplished and deserving of a great night’s sleep.
- Relax Your Body
Finally, now that you’ve let go of the stress of the day, turned off your devices, and spent time preparing for the next day, you can start preparing your body for a better quality of sleep. An hour before bed, turn off all of the bright overhead lights in your home and only use dim lamp lights.
Now, do something relaxing like taking a warm bath with Epsom salts and essential oils, or try an evening meditation, some light yoga, or reading a fiction book. You can also try a relaxing cup of herbal tea or natural sleep supplements for better sleep.
You can experiment to find what works for you, and you might want something different each night, but the point is to relax your body so it’s naturally triggered to fall asleep.
Sleep for Your Health
Designing the perfect evening routine for you will take time and trial and error, but the impact on your health will make it all worth it. Better sleep will lead to greater happiness, productivity, immune function, and overall health.
For more resources and health and wellness tips, check out the rest of the blog.