No one can deny the power of a strong morning routine — it can set you up for success, make you more productive, and generally help you become the best version of yourself. But what about a night routine?
A night routine might be an afterthought to many people. After all, when you climb under the covers after a hectic day, a bedtime routine might be the last thing on your mind, and even if it is, you’re probably writing it off as a chore. Nighttime is undoubtedly reserved for unwinding and letting go of the day’s stresses, but there’s a difference between relaxing and practicing bad bedtime habits.
You might not realize it as it’s happening, but indulging in a nightcap and binging the latest Netflix series until you’re dozing off on your couch at 2 a.m. are surefire ways to disrupt your sleep and squash your productivity the next day. However, sticking to a night routine can help you decompress and set you up for success in the morning.
Let’s take a look at some of the habits you can incorporate into your night routine to unwind and wake up feeling refreshed.
If you come home after work and head straight into the kitchen to start meal-prepping your lunch for the next day, your night routine is going to feel like a laborious task, which is why it’s essential to take some time to unwind. Easy as it sounds, many people struggle to clear their minds and make time for themselves, which often leads to racing thoughts at night.
Whether it’s for 20 minutes or an hour, make sure you do something that feels relaxing to you. It could be taking a warm bath, catching up on your favorite show, or just spending some quality time with your partner or family.
Not only is it easy to wake up in the morning when you don’t have a million and one things to get done, but you can also sleep soundly knowing that you’re well prepared to tackle your day.
Anything that you can get done the night before is one less thing to tend to in the morning. This could mean picking out your outfit beforehand, packing your lunch, or even loading up the coffee machine so that your cup of joe is ready to go as soon as you wake up.
Even the most minor things, such as deciding your outfit, can make a difference in the mornings when you’re fighting yawns and resisting the urge to crawl back under your covers. If you check off menial tasks as part of your night routine, you could probably even get away with hitting the snooze button once or twice.
Try to have your dinner at least a few hours before you head to bed so that your body has sufficient time to digest the food.
To ensure you don’t experience any heartburn or indigestion at night, it’s best to eat a light and healthy dinner. Avoid anything that’s fried, processed, or too spicy. Instead, opt for whole foods that help you sleep, such as fish with brown rice, grilled chicken or turkey with a side of vegetables, or a vegetable stir fry.
At the end of a stressful day, it might be tempting to wind down with your favorite nightcap, but to get a good night’s sleep, it’s imperative to limit your alcohol intake and avoid it altogether at least 2 hours before you hit the sack.
As an alternative to the nightcap, try to incorporate a decaffeinated warm drink into your night routine. Herbal teas, such as chamomile, peppermint, and valerian root, are all popular choices that can lull you to sleep.
If you don’t have any sleepy time teas on hand, drinking a glass of warm milk before bed is a good choice because it’s rich in tryptophan and calcium, both of which are essential for a good night’s sleep. You can also step outside your comfort zone and experiment with other popular drinks, such as banana tea, turmeric latte, and a pink latte made with beets.
It’s hard to get a good night’s sleep when you’re wearing something itchy, tight, and generally uncomfortable. What you wear to bed is as essential to your night routine as practicing healthy sleep hygiene habits. The best part about slipping into sleepwear after you come home is that it instantly sets the stage for relaxation.
The only rule you need to keep in mind when selecting sleepwear is picking something that feels comfortable when you wear it. For colder months, opt for pajamas with a fleece lining to ensure you’re warm and cozy throughout the night. However, if you overheat and need something that allows for better airflow, look for a moisture-wicking fabric, such as bamboo and linen.
In addition to fabric, pay special attention to the fit. The last thing you want is to wind up with a pair of too-tight pajamas that are uncomfortable and cut off circulation. In general, loose clothing, such as sweatpants, nightgowns, and oversized sleep shirts, are a safe bet for getting a good night’s sleep.
The circadian rhythm, also referred to as the body’s internal clock, is responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Our circadian rhythms coincide with the sun and earth’s 24-hour cycle, which means light plays an important role in our sleep cycle. Light can suppress the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone that your brain produces in response to darkness.
To make the most of your night routine and fall asleep at a reasonable hour, try to dim the lights as soon as you get home. A good practice for regulating your sleep-wake cycle is getting as much sunlight as possible during the day and keeping your room dark and cool at night.
Binging a show until the wee hours of the night may have been a part of your old night routine, but if you’re making an effort to practice healthier sleep hygiene habits, it’s best to ditch the screens and opt for a book instead.
Even though catching up on your favorite TV show might be the best distraction after work, it’s crucial to avoid screens close to bedtime as part of your night routine. This is because devices, such as computers, phones, and TV screens, emit a blue glow that suppresses melatonin production.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your circadian clock is most sensitive to light 2 hours before your regular bedtime, so try to turn off your devices by then and curl up with a good book as you’re getting ready for bed.
Reading before bed has numerous benefits, including reducing stress and improving sleep quality. By incorporating reading into your night routine, you’ll be able to distract yourself from the day’s events and lose yourself in the story, allowing you to feel more relaxed.
The quality of your sleep relies on the quality of your mattress. To ensure your night routine is optimized for your comfort, try to invest in the best mattress possible. A high-quality mattress is a one-time investment that’ll last you for many years.
When it comes to finding the most comfortable mattress, the best part is that you have numerous options. If you need help deciding, here are some of the features of the two most popular mattresses:
Setting your alarm might already be the most crucial aspect of your current night routine, but try to keep it for the same time every day. This can help you establish a consistent sleep schedule, which will improve the quality of your sleep in the long run.
Along with setting a wake-up time, it’s essential to try and go to bed at the same time every day so that you can regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Once you get into the habit of following a consistent pattern, you’ll notice that, over time, your body naturally becomes used to falling asleep and waking up around the same time.
Bad days are inevitable, and when they happen, it can take a lot more than reading and drinking a mug of chamomile tea to calm your mind and prepare you for sleep. Whether you have a stressful day at work or a spat with your partner, it can be challenging not to carry the day’s conflicts to bed with you.
To ease your anxious thoughts, start jotting down something you’re grateful for as part of your night routine. If you don’t keep a journal, just think of at least one thing before going to bed. It can be as small as being grateful for a delicious dinner. Practicing gratitude before bed is a good way to lift your spirits and end your day on an optimistic note.
Creating a night routine is all about finding habits that help you unwind and puts you at ease before bedtime. Once you find the routine that works best for you, all that’s left to do is climb under the covers and catch up on some well-deserved sleep.
Share your night routines in the comment section below!
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Disclaimer. We love sleep and we want you to get the best sleep possible. But we do not provide medical advice. This blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical info, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our blog.