With our fast-paced and busy schedules, it can be hard to take a minute for rest, even at night. However, introducing a calming routine before going to bed can be extremely beneficial for your mental and physical health.
Here’s what my evening typically looks like: I get home from work around 6 pm. I cook dinner, connect with my boyfriend, and watch some TV. Then I usually sign back into work at 8 pm and work until 10 pm. I close my laptop, wash my face, slap on some moisturizer, and hit the sheets.
So I have a routine…but not exactly a positive one.
If you’re like me, you know a nighttime routine will make you feel better the next day. Yet, you’re overwhelmed by the idea of adding more to your to-do list. Luckily, It doesn’t have to be so hard. Research shows that if we simply set aside some time before sleeping to take care of ourselves, we could positively impact our mind and body.
Yes, even us go-getters can spare an hour. So let’s leave our laptops closed, turn off the TV a little earlier, and take some time for ourselves.
Go for a walk or do some light yoga.
I used to exercise pretty hard around 9 pm — I’m talking heavy deadlifts, sprints, boot camp classes, you name it. As a result, my sleep was inconsistent at best. I switched to a morning workout and kept my nighttime chill by only walking for 10 minutes at the park, or doing a calming Yoga with Adriene routine. I noticed an increase in my REM sleep immediately (thanks to my Sleep app). Turns out, it’s beneficial to save your harder workouts for at least three hours before sleep and to do some gentle activity before you rest.
Total time: 15 minutes
Take 5 – 10 minutes each night to center yourself. I use the Calm app, but there’s a ton of options out there. You already know meditation is good for you so aim to meditate a few times per week. In the summer months, pick your favorite spot outdoors, or simply set up a personal space in your place and tune everything out. It’s as easy as tucking a meditation pillow into a corner of your bedroom and creating a quiet space for reflection.
Total time: 5-10 minutes
Tend to your skin
Wash your face, put on a soothing mask, and follow up with a moisturizer. My favorite tried and true face mask? This one. I like to sit on my couch with this on and drink some lavender tea.
Total time: 10 minutes
Prep for the next day
Set yourself up for success in the morning by getting things done that could eat up your time in the morning.
– Lay out your workout clothes and work clothes.
– Pack your lunch, snacks, water, etc.
– Schedule your coffee machine.
– Check the weather and commute.
Total time: 15 minutes
Read or journal
To me, a nighttime routine is all about collecting your thoughts for the day, then consolidating and releasing them. It’s about reaching peace. This is why journaling about your day and setting tomorrow’s intentions is beneficial. We put together a list of journal prompts if you need help getting started. If writing isn’t your thing, try reading. The most important thing is that you’re not mindlessly scrolling through your phone; you’re engaging and relaxing your mind.
Total time: 30 minutes
Go to bed at a consistent time
That means eating your last meal a few hours before bed, going to bed at a decent hour, and waking up early enough to have a calm morning (5:30 am for me!). Try sticking to this schedule as often as you can during the week. With regular daily activities, our various body systems are able to prepare for and anticipate events.
I encourage you to take the time. Try a few options and see what you like. Practice what calms you and eventually, your night time routine will become a habit. Your future self will be grateful!