A lot of emphasis is placed on morning routines.  We regularly hear all the things successful people are accomplishing before 6 am.  Don’t get me wrong; I am a person who finds immense value in repeating the same rituals every morning.  But while creating a solid morning routine is crucial to a healthy day, an evening routine is just as essential, if not more. A great day begins the night before with a good night’s sleep.  And what leads to a good night’s sleep?  A calming evening routine.

What is a good evening routine?

Just like a quality morning routine can be short and simple, so can an evening routine.  Having a few key habits that you stack together before bed can be the difference between falling asleep quickly and staying asleep through the night. If you struggle with sleep or simply feel like you need to bring some consistency to your evenings, check out the tips below to get started.

1. Create a window to wind down

It’s so easy to watch another episode on Netflix, and next thing you know, you’re nodding off on the sofa again. Give yourself the chance to settle in for a full night of sleep by choosing a time each night that you’ll disconnect from devices, turn off the tv, and let your mind wind down (for me, it’s 8:30, 9 pm at the latest!). If you need some stimulation as you get ready for bed, consider soothing music, a calming podcast, or an audiobook.

The most important part about any content you’re absorbing before bed, whether it be a book, podcast, or audiobook, is that it’s not provoking strong emotion.  For this reason, I don’t recommend looking at social media or the news before bed.  The last thing you want before closing your eyes is to get worked up about something silly that’s out of your control.

2. Go to bed at the same time every night

You’ve probably heard this one a million times before, but it’s a game-changer.  Your body thrives on cycles and rhythms, and one of the best things you can do for your internal systems is to provide them with the knowledge that you’ll be winding down at the same time every day. I’ve known people who abide by their children’s bedtime religiously, so why would adults not do the same?

Going to bed at the same time each night (yes, that means weekends too) benefits children and adults alike. A study from Duke showed that older adults with irregular sleep patterns were more likely to report stress and depression. Those respondents were also likely to weigh more, have higher blood pressure, and have an increased risk of developing heart disease.

3. Make your dentist proud

The evening is a great time to get in your daily flossing.  You may be running out the door first thing in the morning, but you can spare 30 seconds to floss at night before you fall into bed.  This guarantees a clean environment for your teeth overnight, which can help limit tooth decay over time. You can stack the habit of brushing and flossing with washing your face or any other bathroom activity you do at night.

4. Put racing thoughts on paper

If you’re someone who struggles to fall asleep at night because your mind is racing, consider journaling to get your thoughts out of your brain and on paper instead.  Sometimes simply writing down your worries for the morning or things you don’t want to forget can be enough to allow you to drift off.  Plus, it’s easier to keep paper and pen by your bed in case you need it than to think of something just before nodding off and having it disappear come morning.

5. Read a book

Some people read before bed to fall asleep. They’ll make it through half a page and be snoring.  I like to use the time before bed as defined reading time (it’s one of the things that enables me to read one book a week!).  I’m also encouraged to get ready for bed earlier since I know I’ll be rewarded with a good book.

Reading before bed can also be a good indication when you’re ready to start trying to sleep. I know it’s time to shut my eyes if I have to go back and re-read something I’ve just read.

Be sure to set your kindle or any other reading devices to night mode so the blue light doesn’t keep you awake!

6. Set yourself up for a good morning

Especially if you have young kids, mornings can be crazy.  Take some time when you’re winding down to set yourself up for morning success.  That might mean grabbing a glass of water to put beside your bed so you can drink it first thing.  It can also mean charging your devices so you won’t need to worry about having enough juice to make it through the day.  Consider doing simple tasks like choosing your clothes or deciding what’s for breakfast. It will make the next morning that much more relaxed and ease your decision fatigue. Future you will thank you for planning ahead!

The Bottom Line

Good habits take time to form.  Start simple and choose one item as the basis on which to create your calming evening routine (something like brushing your teeth is a great choice since you’re likely to already be doing that every day). Before you know it, you’ll be drifting off to sleep around the same time each night and hopefully improving your attitude and clarity throughout the day.

Do you have a calming evening routine that you swear by? Tell me about the most important aspect of your evening routine in the comments!

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