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Bedtime routines aren’t just for kids.
It would be crazy to expect that after a long, busy day, we could hop right into bed and be sound asleep in minutes. Perhaps if we’re depriving ourselves of sleep or running ourselves ragged during the day, that might be the case—but if that’s your norm, it’s an even bigger problem that a nice bedtime routine won’t solve.
A good bedtime routine is just as important as a routine for starting the day. Getting into a habit of preparing for sleep helps us fall asleep faster (because the routine signals to our body that it’s time to rest) and it can also help in “revenge bedtime procrastination“—when you feel like you haven’t had enough time for yourself so you put off going to bed.
Many of us understand how this feels. No matter how much you may love what you do for a living, and the chores involved in having a nice home, and the work involved in raising a family, at the end of the day, it can sometimes feel like there was no time left just for you. However, while it might seem like a bedtime routine is just taking away more time from what little is left, by increasing the quality of your night’s rest, you’ll be increasing the quality of the day following, too.
The goal is to not only make your bedtime routine a habit—which might take some practice if you’re the type who typically jumps straight from the chaos of daily life and right into bed—but to also build some things into the routine that you look forward to. That way, it won’t feel quite so much just another chore.
You can even create a few different routines to choose from each day, depending on how much time you have in the evening, the day of the week, or even if you’re traveling. It might also help to set an alarm to begin your routine every evening, not just to remind yourself to start, but also so that you stay somewhat consistent with when you go to bed.
Here are a bunch of suggestions—DIY a beautiful bedtime routine from these:
1. Have a small, healthy(ish) snack, like little bit of yogurt with banana and nuts.
2. Include your pets in your routine: snuggles, a quick brush, and a bedtime treat.
3. Five minutes of window gazing after you’ve put on your PJs—look at the sky, the stars and moon if they’re visible, and your surroundings. Use this moment to take a few deep breaths.
4. Light a tealight and do a guided meditation.
5. A calming bedtime yoga practice or yoga nidra.
6. Get present with your bed: once you’ve snuggled in, pay attention to how your bed feels, how the sheets feel, how your pillow feels, how your body feels, how the room smells and sounds.
7. Listen to classical piano music.
8. Have a warm bath and read a book (that you’ll be able to put down).
9. Prepare for tomorrow: lay out your clothes, prepare your lunch or breakfast, make tomorrow’s to-do list, and set the coffee timer.
10. Apply lotion to all of the neglected parts—especially your knees and elbows!
11. Clean the kitchen.
12. Make a list of three things you were grateful for that day.
13. A nighttime swim.
14. Put your phone on airplane mode or turn it off entirely.
15. Say a prayer, an affirmation, or a mantra.
16. Watch an ASMR video.
17. Listen to a feel-good podcast.
18. A glass of wine and a comedy for some laughter before bed.
19. Review your day: a peak, a pit, and a lesson you learned.
20. A little bit of Tai Chi.
21. Have a bubble bath (with a tray for candles, tea, and your tablet/phone) and watch calming art videos.
22. An evening stroll around the block.
23. Journaling (but maybe avoid shadow work at bedtime).
24. Work on a jigsaw puzzle or an adult coloring book with some favorite (calming) music from years past.
25. Switch your house from day mode to night mode: lock the doors, open or close the curtains (depending on the room and the weather), turn down the thermostat (winter), turn on a fan if you use one, turn off the lights, turn on a night light.
26. Tidy up—not a big clean-up, but just putting things away, wiping the counters and table, closing the dryer door, etc. Go into each room and scan it for things that are easy to tidy before bed.
27. A hot drink and a soothing audiobook.
28. Listen to a lo-fi mix on YouTube and give yourself a manicure.
29. Do some light stretching right in bed.
30. Don’t forget basic self-care: skin care, brush your teeth, brush your hair, clean your ears, take your meds.