If your bedtime routine starts and ends with Netflix, you’re missing out on one of the most important transition times in your day. Nighttime routines and rituals are a simple and underrated way to keep ourselves on a more regular sleep schedule, research suggests. They provide a healthy structure for us to check in with ourselves and process anything stressful or upsetting from our day so we can get a night of deep, quality sleep. 

The trouble is, many of us haven’t had a regular nighttime routine since we were little. Neglecting this wind-down time can leave our minds racing long past our bedtime, which risks leaving us feeling exhausted, on edge, and not at our peak performance the following day. If you don’t have a go-to way to relax and unwind at night — or you skip the routine altogether — this could even be a sign that you’re not getting enough quality rest as it is. 

Now for the good news: It’s never too late to take small steps toward committing to better sleep habits. Clinicians at the University of Southern California’s Occupational Therapy Faculty Practice suggest soothing, low-stimulation, screen-free activities, like preparing a mug of herbal tea, to switch gears from our daytime go-go-go mode into evening rest mode. By implementing this small Microstep, you’ll be easing your body and mind into a state of relaxation, which will allow you to sleep more soundly and wake up feeling fully refreshed.

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  • Mallory Stratton

    Director of Content Operations at Thrive

    Mallory is Director of Content Operations at Thrive. Prior to Thrive, she was Associate Editor on “It’s All In Your Head” by Keith Blanchard (Wicked Cow Studios, 2017), an illustrated brain science book, and worked closely on its accompanying cross-platform partnerships with Time Inc. and WebMD. She spends her off-hours curating playlists, practicing restorative yoga, and steeping new teas.