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Morning routines are all the rage but have you heard of an evening routine? Daily evening routines are a reliable way to wind down at the end of the day and ensure a good night’s sleep so you can get up and have a productive day tomorrow. The best evening routine ideas and the ones to avoid are all discussed below.
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8 Things to Do Before Bed
You can do anything as part of your evening routine, but these eight are the best evening routine ideas that promote productivity and good rest.
1. The Night Was Made for Reading
It turns out Byron was wrong.
Reading is the best habit for anyone who cares about personal development. It’s the best way to learn and find new ideas and exposes you to people and situations your might never experience otherwise.
Reading is also the perfect way to wind down in the evenings. It doesn’t overstimulate the mind; many people find they fall asleep quicker after reading.
Keep notes of what you read by having a note-taking system or second brain close by because you’ll likely forget what you read that close to falling asleep.
If you want to build a strong reading habit, don’t read while in bed, but if you want to use reading as a sleeping pill, go for it.
Reflection or Prayer at the End of the Day
People of all faiths have said their prayers before bed for thousands of years. It helps them review the day, recounting the good and the bad and closing it out before heading to the land of nod.
There are plenty of ways to spend some time in quiet reflection or prayer, even if you’re not religious.
- Talk to a higher power
- Write in a journal or diary
- Take Bible notes
- Ask yourself what you’re grateful for
- Ask yourself what went well and what didn’t
Take a Shower or Bath to Wash the Day Away
To fall asleep, your body needs to lower its body temperature. Usually, an ambient temperature of 65°F (18.3°C) is recommended in the bedroom to help induce sleep.
However, there is a hack to help you quickly lower your body temperature and get ready for sleep—a late-night hot shower.
When you have a hot shower or bath, your body temperature climbs, so when you walk out of the bathroom, the body dumps body heat to cool you down.
As the body temperature drops, it becomes ideal for falling asleep. Try it.
Set Up Your Room for Optimal Sleep
Where you sleep is essential, and preparing the room for a good night’s sleep should be part of your evening routine.
The three most important factors of your sleep environment are:
Blackout curtains are the best way to keep your room pitch black, although an eye mask will do the same thing. You may think that a dim room is all you need, but once you’ve slept in pitch darkness, you won’t go back.
Light sensors on your skin can tell if there is light in the room, even small amounts, and thinking that it’s the sun starting to come up, they will tell your body to release hormones to wake you up. As a result, the depth of your sleep will diminish, and you’ll wake up feeling unrefreshed.
Creating a quiet environment is more tricky, depending on your living arrangements. Nevertheless, white noise machines and basic earplugs are easy fixes.
You can doze off when it’s warm, but your body needs to be cool to fall asleep. It increases melatonin production, which sends you off to sleep at night and to stay in a restful, deep sleep, so keeping the room cool is essential. The ideal temperature is 65°F (18.3°C.)
Trust Your Internal Clock but Set an Alarm too
Setting the alarm might be part of your current evening routine, and for a good reason. You need to be awake for work.
Although experts will tell you that you should wake up naturally, it’s not always an option. It’s not worth losing your job over. But if you are getting the required amount of quality sleep, you should be able to wake up on time.
If you can’t, you likely have a sleep issue to resolve. The tips in this article should improve your sleep, but if you’re still struggling, speak to a medical professional specializing in sleep disorders.
Prepare Your Outfit
An evening routine should complement a morning routine. You don’t want to burn out in the morning with many small decisions, so you should premake as many as possible the night before.
Go into your closet and pull out the clothes you’ll wear the next day. Then, pre-decide what you’ll make for breakfast and any other decisions you can make the night before.
Save your decision-making energy for the important ones that will make a difference in your day.
Create Tomorrow’s To-Do List
To-do lists are like weird voodoo magic. They make everything seem easier. Why?
- You don’t need to remember what to do
- You don’t need to decide what to do
You look at the list and start doing whatever is next. But making a to-do list in the morning, while doable, will rob you of some of that decision-making energy that Roy Baumeister talks about in his book “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.”
No one wants to wake up to a mess, even if it’s yours. Each day should be a new chance to do whatever you wish, so starting with a clean slate is essential. Before you go to bed, spend a few minutes making the living room, kitchen, or wherever you spent the evening look nice. You’ll appreciate it in the morning.
Now you know some of the best things to do before bed, here are some of the worst ideas for your morning routine.
Eating too Much Food
Late-night eating has always been discouraged by health professionals and fitness fanatics, but why? Is eating before bed really going to ruin your sleep?
Alexis Supan RD, of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine says, “When you eat late at night, you’re going against your body’s circadian rhythm.”
You eat to supply your body with energy so you can do the day’s tasks, so eating before bed naturally confuses the body. It expects you to do something with all those calories.
But eating before bed doesn’t only hurt your sleep. It’s also easier to gain fat this way. Insulin levels are higher in the evening, so any calories you eat will quickly be stored as fat.
New research, however, shows that you can eat small amounts of food without it affecting your health. This study shows that meals of less than 150 kcals “does not appear to be harmful.”
Supan agrees, “If you’re really hungry, steamed or raw vegetables is the best way to go.”
Drinking too Much at Night
Managing interruptions to sleep is vital here.
If you’re drinking a full glass of water within the last hour before going to bed, needing to pee in the middle of the night will likely reduce the quality of your sleep.
If you sometimes need to get up to go to the bathroom during the night, it’s a sign that you need to reduce the amount you drink before bed.
Sleep disorder specialist Dr. Vensel Rundo advises, “As a general rule, drink less than a glass of water in those last two hours before bedtime if you have to. And drink small sips,”
It’s important to note that only water is advisable to drink in those last two hours. Fruit juice or anything with calories will bring the same issues as eating found above.
Drinking coffee before bed is a recipe for a disastrous night’s sleep, but you might be consuming other caffeinated products unknowingly.
- Coffee (even decaf)
- Energy Drinks
- Some Supplements
- Chewing gum
- Coffee/Chocolate flavored foods (ice cream, cakes, bread, cookies, etc.)
- Some Medicines
Caffeine has a long half-life of five hours, which means that a quarter of the caffeine from a cup of coffee will still be in your blood ten hours later. Therefore, most recommend avoiding caffeine after midday to reduce the likelihood of it disturbing your sleep.
That means checking labels to make sure you’re not consuming it inadvertently.
Is a drink before bed helping you sleep, or is it damaging your sleep quality?
Studies have shown that there is a correlation between excessive drinking and poor sleep quality, sleep duration, and sleep disturbances.
But what about the occasional glass of wine or beer to help relax?
Alcohol can indeed help with sleep onset (falling asleep) due to its relaxing effects. However, studies show that even low amounts of alcohol decrease sleep quality by 9.3%. So it shouldn’t be a part of your daily nighttime routine.
Exercising too Late
Exercise is great for your health and your sleep. A hard workout during the day is the best way to ensure quality sleep. However, working out too intensely too close to bedtime will be detrimental to your sleep, so it’s to be avoided.
The best way to work out without destroying your sleep is to either
- Workout at least three hours before bed
- Do steady-state cardio or some other non-intense activity
Screens After Dark
As the sun goes down, the color of its light changes from blue to red, and then everything fades to black. These signals are hardwired into humans and tell us that it’s time to sleep.
Our devices break this signal cycle because they emit blue light – the color of the sun during the day. So when you use your phone, tablet, or laptop in the evening, your brain thinks it’s still daytime and releases cortisol to keep you awake.
Blue light filters can help reduce the amount of blue light reaching the light sensors in your eyes but turning them off is best.
Go to Sleep!
Remember, nighttime helps the brain process information and maintain your health, but only if you go to bed. Set up your evening routine to promote a good night’s sleep. If you find yourself looking for one more thing to squeeze into your routine, maybe you should stop and go to bed instead.