Establishing a Nighttime Routine
We already know the benefits of a morning routine, and just as starting your day on the right foot can set you up for success, it’s important to set aside time for yourself each evening.
By creating a nighttime routine, you’ll ensure a better night’s sleep, an easier wake-up, and a more productive day in general. Sleep is just as crucial to your health as a nutritious diet and regular exercise, and poor sleep can negatively impact your hormones, performance, and brain function.
While everyone’s bedtime routines look different, here are a few ways to wind down and guarantee a successful day ahead:
Prepare for the morning
Your bedtime routine doesn’t only have to include getting ready for bed. Make preparing for tomorrow a nighttime priority. Prep your breakfast and set up your coffee maker, lay out your clothes, and pack your workbag. You’ll sleep soundly knowing everything is in order and make your morning a bit easier!
Put your devices to bed, too. Just as you give yourself a bedtime, set a shutoff time for all electronic devices. The blue light from our phones, TVs, laptops, and e-readers negatively impacts our sleep by disrupting our body’s natural circadian rhythm.
Clear your mind
There’s nothing more distracting than climbing into bed and remembering all the things you have to do tomorrow. Clear your mind each night by dedicating 10 or 15 minutes to journaling. Try free writing or, if you’re looking for something a little more structured, pick up a prompted book like 1 Page at a Time. Avoid worrying about the following day’s tasks by making tomorrow’s to-do list at night or even before you leave work at the end of the day.
Reading is a great way to relax before bed without exposing yourself to blue light. Consider reading a physical book or using an e-reader without backlight. Just six minutes of reading is shown to reduce stress by 68%, but be sure to stay away from those murder mysteries before bed!
Keep a consistent schedule
Try to regulate your sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day, even on the weekends. Your body’s circadian rhythm runs between sleepiness and alertness on a 24-hour cycle, which is why you may feel sleepy at the same time each day. When your sleep schedule is irregular, your cycle is thrown off; sticking with regular sleeping patterns will keep your circadian rhythm in check and help you sleep more soundly.
Be mindful of your daytime habits
Your nighttime routine doesn’t only include what happens when the sun goes down. In fact, your actions throughout the day can impact whether you have trouble falling and staying asleep at night. If you find yourself overly alert at bedtime, try avoiding caffeine late in the day, do away with your afternoon nap, and get moving – the National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 Sleep in America survey found that those who get regular, vigorous exercise reported better sleep.
Keep reading to learn how a few Integrative Nutrition Health Coaches prepare for bed:
Lottie Bildrici ’15
“My nighttime routine is pretty simple, but having a routine helps me wind down. I brew a cup of minty tea to help with digestion and settle my stomach at the end of the day. Next, I make sure to clean my skin thoroughly. I use a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer that are formulated with collagen. I’m doing everything I can now to avoid wrinkles in the future, especially with all the time I spend outside in the sun.”
Michelle Cady ’14
“I'm all about keeping it really simple at night and trying to turn off my brain to truly wind down from the day. Here's my mental checklist that I go through most every night:
- Phone detox by 8pm: I plug in my iPhone to charge in the far corner of the living room, literally tucking it away to sleep for the evening.
- Get ready for bed by 9pm: I wash my face, moisturize, and brush my teeth with products approved by the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Living app.
- Magnesium: I try to take magnesium drops 1–2 hours before bed. They're magic for mitigating the stress cycle and help lull you to sleep like a baby.
- Blackout curtains: I swear by ultimate darkness, especially living in NYC, and a very cool room with extra blankets.
- Earplugs: I have a highly sensitive nervous system, and earplugs allow me to tune out the world and go to sleep in a cocoon-like, womb-like state.
- Catch the sleep bus: I use this analogy with my health coaching clients. Try to catch the first sleep bus of the evening, as they come in circadian rhythms every 90 minutes. Sleepy by 9:30pm? Try to go to bed then because the next sleep bus might not come until around 11pm! And the next at 12:30am!”
Maureen Lake ’16
“My nighttime routine starts in the morning when I first wake up. It sets the day on a positive note, clears out the stress, and allows me to set the tone for my entire day and night. If you can get yourself into a habit and change your morning routine, you will be on the road to better sleep at night.
- Don’t hit the snooze button. This is telling yourself that you’re not ready for the day – get up right away.
- Meditate – start your day with the best stress relief possible and your mind-set will thank you for it.
- Keep a gratitude journal near where you meditate and write down what you are thankful for today.
- Make your bed! Start your day with an organized environment, and you will set the tone that follows you into the rest of your waking hours.”
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