How a nighttime routine will help you sleep better

by Beth Graham
create a nighttime routine

Do nighttime routines work?

Sleep is more than just a time for your body to rest. This is the time when your bodily functions are actually pressing their own reset button. All of your systems slow down and your muscles and organs work to repair and restore themselves. So it’s important that you have a bedtime routine to prepare your body for all this work it has to do while you’re sleeping. Just make yourself a night time routine checklist and you’ll be sleeping soundly in no time.

What the experts say about how to create a nighttime routine

Establishing a consistent nighttime routine is crucial for overall well-being. If you’re wondering why you need a nighttime routine, here are some key insights from experts:

1. Improved Sleep Quality Consistency: Going to bed at the same time each night regulates your body’s internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up consistently. Relaxation Techniques: Activities like reading or meditating signal to your body that it’s time to wind down, leading to better sleep quality.

2. Stress Reduction Unwinding: A routine allows time to decompress and let go of the day’s stress. Activities like journaling or gentle yoga can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.

3. Enhanced Mental Health Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness or gratitude exercises before bed can improve mental health by fostering a sense of peace and positive thinking. Preparation for the Next Day: Simple tasks like setting out clothes or making a to-do list can reduce morning stress and provide a sense of preparedness.

4. Physical Health Benefits Good sleep hygiene practices, such as a dark, cool, and quiet sleep environment, can prevent sleep disorders and improve overall health. Routine Activities: Regular nighttime activities like skincare routines can have physical benefits and promote a sense of self-care.

5. Enhanced Cognitive Function Memory Consolidation: Quality sleep is crucial for memory consolidation, enhancing learning and memory. Cognitive Performance: Consistent sleep patterns improve overall cognitive function, including attention and problem-solving skills.

10 things to do before you go to bed for better sleep and wellness

why you need a nighttime routine
  1. Clean the kitchen – You’re probably thinking I’m crazy but this is like making your bed in the morning. It’s just an important habit and should be part of your nighttime routine. Mornings are generally busy as you’re rushing to get out the door or trying to fit in that workout. The last thing you want to worry about is having to take the time to clean the kitchen. Waking up to a sink full of dirty dishes just puts me in a bad mood.
  2. Stretch – Nothing vigorous required here but just like a good morning stretch is important to wake up those muscles, a light evening stretch is important to unwind from the day. Get into the habit of just sitting on the floor next to the bed and doing a few gentle stretches of your legs, back, neck, and arms. I keep a yoga mat and blocks next to my nightstand to remind me.
  3. Nighttime routine skincare – This probably goes without saying but you’d be surprised how many people don’t wash their face before bed. Even if you don’t wear make-up, think of all the things in the air your skin is absorbing. Nighttime is when I like to use my heavy duty war paint remover, ie. acids, so my overnight anti-aging serums can really soak in. And make me wake up looking younger. Not really.
  4. Take your pm vitamins – I’ve mentioned this before but there are some vitamins best taken in the morning and others best taken at night. It’s important to research each vitamin you take to learn the optimal time of day to take it.  For example, probiotics are best taken at night because of all the activity going on in your gut while you sleep.
  5. Plan for the next day – If you’re not a list person, become one. Trust me on this. Take five minutes to plan out your next day and write out any appointments or events you have scheduled. Also write down things you need to accomplish that are timely, like scheduling that dental appointment or checking the fermentation of your kombucha (that’s actually on my to do list for tomorrow).
  6. Use lavender – This is one of my favorite nighttime rituals. It’s proven that lavender has relaxing effects on the body and can help you sleep better. When my mom was in the ICU after a stroke, she was extremely anxious and agitated and we found that infusing lavender essential oil into the room really helped calm her down. I’ve become addicted to it to calm my mind before bedtime; I keep a rollerball of the essential oil next to my bed and I also made a linen spritz with witch hazel (this also works with vodka but who wants to waste vodka on the sheets?).
  7. Fill a glass with water – Keep it on your nightstand. Remember that your body is really working hard overnight and it needs to stay hydrated. Going 8 hours or so is a long time for your body to go without fluid. I’ve actually trained myself that when I wake up at night (for those 3am worry sessions) for whatever reason, I take a big sip of water.
  8. Use hand lotion – If you’re like me, you don’t use much hand lotion during the day. I always end up with it on my keyboard or I go to pick up a glass and it slips through my hands. So I slather it on at night once I’m in bed (when my hands get really dry in winter, I’ll sleep in gloves to let it really soak in).
  9. Journal – I journal in the morning about what I hope to accomplish that day and then again at night to write down my accomplishments. You can find plenty of bedtime journal prompts online. I try to include a little bit of gratitude along with a few notes about what my next day holds for me. It’s just a good way to clear your mind – to avoid those 3am worry sessions.
  10. Turn off your phone – I’ll be the first to admit, this is the hardest one for me. I have two very needy Millennial kids and I always want to be there for them. But the reality is, we’re on different time schedules. We live in the same time zone but we may as well be on different continents because I go to bed early and they go to bed early. So getting a 1am meme text is not unusual for me. One of my biggest fears is my kids needing me and me not being there. But I learned to turn off all notifications and my kids know that they can call if it’s really urgent.

Do you have an evening routine checklist? How about a nighttime routine for kids or a bedtime routine for teens? I’d love to hear your tips for getting better sleep!

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