The Importance of Evening Routines
Evening routines are arguably just as important if not more important than morning routines. (For more on morning routines, check out my last blog post). This is because evening routines can make or break how our body relaxes in the evening, sleeps at night, and how we approach our morning routine the following day. Similar to morning routines, having an intentional evening routine that supports our daily life while enhancing positive behavior before we go to bed, sets us up for success the next day and enhances our overall habits and lifestyle.
If you’re looking to create a new evening routine or add to your current one, here are 13 recommendations to consider.
Stop looking at blue light 30-90 minutes before bed.
Blue light prompts our brains into thinking it’s daytime and to stay awake. Rather than producing melatonin to make our bodies sleepy, blue light from TV’s, gaming devices, phones, and tablets, keeps us awake longer. Scrolling through social media to numb our brain actually keeps our mind more alert. Admittedly, this can be particularly tricky if you live with a roommate or spouse in a small apartment who watches TV to relax since there isn’t much room to remove yourself from the light.
Take a hot shower or bath.
Warm water helps our muscles relax and the steam opens our pores. If time permits, baths especially can soothe an achy body after a long day and bring a sense of relaxation. Try reading a book, drinking tea, or adding a bath bomb or essential oils for a calming scent.
Drink sleepy time tea or magnesium.
Sleepy time tea is an underrated component of night time routines. Not only do herbal teas have antioxidant health benefits, sleepy time tea contains elements that calm the body and induce sleep. Drinking powdered magnesium with hot water also de-stresses the body before bed.
Write in a gratitude journal or journal your thoughts before bed.
Writing in a gratitude journal every evening can create a sense of satisfaction, fulfillment, and perspective in our daily lives. Simply start with a small list of 3 – 5 things you’re thankful for from the day. Journaling before bedtime can also help alleviate the brain of anxious or busy thoughts to create a better chance of falling asleep quickly.
Reading 10 pages of a book a day is a great habit to establish. With work, family responsibilities, and personal life, reading before bed is often the best time in the day for many people. Reading can have a relaxing effect (depending on the topic), but good books can also enhance our creativity, build life skills, and depict stories of virtue that can be applied to our own lives.
Take an evening walk.
Exerting energy through active exercise like HIIT or cardio can keep our bodies awake longer in the evening. But taking a walk after dinner is a perfect opportunity to stretch our muscles, reduce stress from the day, and spend time with our loved ones. Plus, LISS (low intensity steady state) workouts have tremendous benefits for our bodies – improved blood flow, reduced stress, and increased fat loss, to name a few – when combined with HIIT and weight lifting.
Mediate, pray, or read Scripture.
Meditation calms the brain and can help with a variety of things such as increased focus, deeper visualization, and anxiety reduction. Meditating before bed is a great way to get into a quiet place to eliminate extra thoughts that clog the mind and prevent sleep. Praying or reading Scripture provides space to thank God for the day and create a deeper sense of peace before sleep.
Stretching our muscles before bed can deepen our sleep by improving blood flow and relieving muscle tension. If you work out regularly, stretching before bed also aids in muscle recovery, flexibility, and strength.
Write a to-do list for the next day.
If you live a busy life, it probably seems like there is a never-ending list of things to do. Thinking about the next day’s activities can seem overwhelming and keep your brain alert before bed. Writing out a to-do list for the following day ensures you don’t forget the necessary items that need to be completed while relieving precious space in your mind before sleep.
Take care of any remaining chores or preparation for the next day.
Cleaning the extra dishes, folding laundry, or making lunch for the next day can create a sense of satisfaction and feeling of preparation before bed. Completing a chore the night before is just one less thing you’ll have to do the following day.
Diffusing calming essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus can help the brain relax. Plus, it makes the surrounding environment smell wonderful as you drift off to sleep.
Turn down the lights.
Similar to blue light, bright lights can stimulate the brain to stay awake longer. Instead of bright overhead lights, turn on lamps or nightlights, or turn off most lights altogether. This will signal to your brain that it’s time to go to bed.
Create a hygiene ritual.
Most people brush their teeth and wash their face before bed. Consider when you do this in your evening routine and how long it takes. Is there a better way to do it? Perhaps add a calming soap or lotion that you only use during bedtime to prompt your brain to know its time to sleep.
This is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully it provides some ideas to incorporate into your evening routine. Try starting one of them tonight!