There are a myriad of articles that have been written about the importance of establishing a morning routine–and iterations of the quote “how you spend your first hour pretty much defines your entire day, so make it good” is in constant social media circulation–but there is little about the importance of routine nighttime rituals in comparison. A definite missed opportunity, if you ask me. Nighttime rituals are my fav. Creating your own PM routine tonight that will add soothing structure to your nights while allowing you to wake up fresh, well-rested, and ready to take on the day tomorrow. This combination of productive, proactive nighttime habits have the power to seriously improve your morning. And day. And (eventually?) life. NBD. Commit to doing these things in this order for just a week and you’ll likely be shocked by just how good you feel. Wind down, level up.
-Make sure your space is set.
There’s really not much worse than falling asleep in a messy, cluttered room. Do a quick pick-up and clear off your floor and bedside tables. From there, focus on creating a space that embodies tranquility and serenity. Make up your bed the way you like it. Consider soft, dim lighting options. Collect your optimal number of pillows and place them accordingly. All of this lends to a better nighttime experience, and thus, better sleep. Another oft-overlooked but surprisingly impactful variable to be aware of is room TEMPERATURE. Studies show that we tend to get better-quality ZZZs in cooler climates, so don’t be afraid to open a window or crank the AC.
-Prep for tomorrow.
Now that your bedroom is set for optimal relaxation, it’s time to take a minute out for future you. Doing next-day prep work the night before allows you to be clear-headed and stress free while completing tasks, and it saves you valuable AM time, too. Make a list of things you want/need/have to get done tomorrow. Set your alarms. Pick out and lay out the outfit you’re going to wear. Have a bag? Make sure it’s already packed full of your essentials and ready to go before you hop into bed. This step is a non-negotiable–it makes every morning experience easier and less chaotic.
-Debrief and disconnect.
I know, I know: you don’t WANT to. But you totally should. Not only is all of that artificial blue light totally messing with your body’s ability to regulate sleep hormones, all of your devices make it difficult to disconnect mentally. So, stop. Stop WORKING. Stop studying. Stop stressing. Just shut it off. Ditch your phone, laptop, and tablet and grab an actual book. Turn off the TV. If you’re especially tech-obsessed, you can start small by turning on do-not-disturb and night shift modes. Baby steps. Just really commit to being “done” for the night, whatever that means for you.
-Create a ritual that feels soothing + indulgent.
Done with your phone? Then it’s time to reward yourself with a little ritual action. Here’s the thing: routine = habit. Ritual = experience. Treat yourself, girl. This part of my night is by far my fav, because not only do these ritual practices subconsciously aid in preparing us for sleep over time, but they also offer up a micro-dose of “me time”. Indulgent rituals are different for everyone. I like to cover myself in dry oil and use aromatherapy pillow spray before climbing under the covers. Maybe you drink a mug of caffeine-free tea while doing some gentle stretches. Brush and braid your hair. Jot down a quick gratitude list. Listen to a podcast–there’s even one specifically designed to lullaby you to sleep! Slather your feet in body cream and put on a pair of fluffy socks. Do a yoga flow. End your night by nurturing yourself and you’re sure to wake up feeling awesome.
-Aim for a regular bedtime.
The only thing left to do now is to actually GO TO SLEEP. Let’s be real–it becomes virtually impossible to feel healthy and on top of things, let alone refreshed, when your sleep schedule is all over the place. Even if you can’t fall asleep at the same time every day, choose a designated “lights out” time and try your best to stick to it. (If this is something you find difficult or if you find yourself regularly staring at the ceiling despite your best efforts at consistent timing, don’t be afraid to try out a sleep aid. I’ve had an awesome experience with melatonin.) You won’t hit your actual bedtime on the dot EVERY night, of course, but the more consistent you can be with regular timing, the better. This allows your body to get into a healthy sleep-wake pattern and helps to regulate your circadian rhythms.