Look, I’m a sucker for those twelve-step, aesthetically pleasing nighttime routine videos on Youtube and TikTok. That being said, elaborate routines aren’t for everyone. In my opinion, the best way to create a better nighttime routine (and actually stick to it) is to keep it simple.
Remember: what you do right before bedtime affects how well you’ll sleep and how rested you’ll feel when you wake up. Why not invest some time and intention in crafting a routine you enjoy?
Here’s how to start building and practicing a nighttime routine you’ll want to keep.
Benefits of a Nighttime Routine
Rest in any form is good for you (Did you know there are seven types?), but sleep is by far the most important. It decreases inflammation, improves mental health, and gives your body a chance to recover from the day.
Creating a nighttime routine isn’t just about getting enough sleep, though. It’s also about getting consistent, restful sleep. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends (bummer, I know). It also means creating space in your schedule to truly prepare your body for deep sleep.
But don’t worry, night owls. This doesn’t mean you have to go to bed at 8 pm and be up before the sun. You just have to work with your body’s natural rhythm and create a routine that fits into it.
How to Create a Better Nighttime Routine
STEP 1: Set a bedtime.
This might be the most difficult part of creating a sustainable nighttime routine. It’s easy to say, “I’ll be in bed by 10 every night and up by 6 every morning.” But at the end of long, stressful day, it’s a lot easier to fall into bed and scroll TikTok until 2 am. (Trust me. I’ve been there.)
The key to creating a timeline you’ll actually stick to is being realistic. If you usually fall asleep at 2 am, don’t push yourself to be in bed with the lights out by 10 pm. Instead, push your bedtime to 1 am, stick to that schedule until it feels natural, and then try midnight. The trick is to make small changes over a long period of time, not one huge change right at the beginning.
Once you decide on a bedtime, you can work backwards from there.
STEP 2: Prepare for the day ahead.
Ideally, a great nighttime routine gets you ready for a great morning routine the next day.
Before you start winding down for the night, spend some time preparing for the day ahead. Some nighttime chores I’ve tried out in my routine:
- Packing a lunch for work the next day
- Getting the coffee pot ready
- Picking out the next day’s outfit
- Tidying up around the house
- Setting an alarm or music to play in the morning
Even a few small chores before bedtime will increase your chances of sticking to your routine the next morning. Your future self will thank you for it!
STEP 3: Put your phone away.
Yep, you heard me! Getting away from your devices (phone, computer, television, all of it) before bed will help you slow down, unwind, and prepare for sleep. Any light at all can decrease melatonin production and make sleep more difficult, but blue light (the kind our devices emit) can make sleep even harder.
I always recommend spending at least the last hour of your night without your phone or computer. Personally, I put my phone on silent and leave it in another room an hour before bedtime. I don’t pick it back up until an hour after I wake up in the morning.
STEP 4: Relax and wind down.
The last hour before bed is the time to wind down and get ready to sleep – however that looks for you! Find activities that aren’t too stimulating (no TV or work-related tasks) and that help your mind slow down before you hit the hay.
Some favorites bedtime activities from my one-on-one coaching clients are…
- Taking a warm bath or shower
- Reading a book in bed
- Journaling about your day
- Do some light yoga or stretching
- Meditate in silence or with some white noise
The purpose of this time is to prepare your mind and body for sleep. If reading is too stimulating for you, meditate instead. If you can’t sleep right after a shower, do some stretching. Experiment with your nighttime routine to find the best flow for you.
How to Stick to Your Nighttime Routine
Believe it or not, many of my coaching clients struggle more with keeping their nighttime routines than they do with their morning routines. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense: you get home from work exhausted, scarf down some dinner, and then fall onto the couch with no energy left to practice self-care. At least with a morning routine you get to start with a clean slate (and maybe some caffeine to get you going). With a nighttime routine, you have to push through those last few hours of the day, no matter how tired you are.
If you really want to stick to your nighttime routine, you have to make it something you’ll genuinely look forward to. That means no forcing yourself to do something you hate. You should look forward to your nighttime routine all day, not dread it as soon as you get home from work.
When you’re first starting out, don’t be afraid to treat yourself! Invest in some high-quality skincare, try a new kind of herbal tea, or buy a book you’ll be excited to read. These little treats make sticking to your routine that much easier.