I’ve always been a terrible sleeper, from childhood to adulthood. It takes me forever to fall asleep, and I decided to get serious about my sleep routine this year to help my mental and physical health. That’s why I came up with 10 evening routine ideas for a peaceful night.
Unwinding before bed is key to having a solid night’s sleep. Now more than ever our days are often chaotic, and we are glued to our screens morning to night. The blue light from our screens stimulates a part of our brain that makes it harder for us to fall asleep, and the experts recommend putting your phone down at least TWO hours before bed.
I got into the habit of listening to podcasts before bed, but I’d be scrolling on social media or playing a game on my phone while I listened to an episode, which was counter productive. Now I’ve got a few new ways I wind down that have helped me fall asleep faster. I’ve noticed deeper, more consistent nights’ sleep too. I swear I feel younger!
10 Evening Routine Ideas for a Peaceful Night
1. Step Away From The Screens
The blue light from computer, phone, and tablet screens (or any such electronic device) interferes with your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone your body produces to help you sleep. This interference disrupts your circadian rhythm (your sleep cycle) which makes it harder for you to fall asleep, stay asleep, and why you feel so groggy when you wake up the next morning.
Instead of scrolling till you drop, try putting your phone away two hours before you intend to be asleep. It’s hard at first, but you can set an alarm as a reminder and it is a good way to practice some discipline. Instead of looking at screens, try some of the activities below.
We often think of stretching as something you should do in the morning to help you wake up, or before and after a workout to help prevent injury. Stretching at night, however, with slow, gentle moves, can help your body relax and let your muscles unclench from a long or stressful day.
I have started meditating for 5-10 minutes a day, which isn’t very long, but I’ve found it to be very helpful. Meditating helps me practice being in the moment and staying present, even when my brain is trying to fire on all cylinders. Meditation also helps with slowing down the thoughts that race when we finally lay down to sleep and are suddenly distraction-free.
There are so many apps out there, but I’ve used Calm and Headspace and found those two to be the best. I use Calm personally, and found their “Deep Sleep Release” meditation so useful. I almost always fall asleep before it ends.
Calm also had “Sleep Stories” which are like bedtime stories for grownups (and they have them for children, too) with all kinds of narrators including Harry Styles, Eva Greene, and Mandy Moore, among so many others.
Reading before bed is the original relaxing activity. Long before reading on your phone or tablet was a thing, people read books in the evening to pass the time and to unwind. I love reading before bed because it’s “me time” and reading is my favorite activity.
When I read at night I am signaling my brain that I am done working for the day, I’m away from the screens, and it is time to relax. One piece of advice though: make sure your book is relaxing and not too exciting…sometimes I get too into my book and stay up way past my bedtime. Oops!
5. Sip Herbal Tea
There is a tea by Celestial Seasonings called “Sleepytime Tea” and it is so delicious—it’s a blend of chamomile, spearmint, lemongrass, and other herbs to promote relaxation. I like to sip it an hour before bed to relax. I can feel my body let go of the day as I do.
There are many great herbal teas out there, too! The Capsule Collab’s Gift of Rest box includes “Snooze” tea by Tea Sip, which is a rooibos blend with herbs to help you sleep, including valerian root. Find your favorite flavor, and give yourself twenty minutes of quiet time to sip away!
Writing down your thoughts before you go to bed is a great way to unwind. It’s like a brain dump for all of the things you’ve been thinking about. I know that when I have a busy day, or just don’t take time to sit with my thoughts, those thoughts pop up as I’m trying to fall asleep and my mind races.
Writing down what your worries are, what you did for the day, or just what you’re grateful for is a great way to give your self space to think and feel. If writing down your worries before bed mixes up too many feelings, though, try practicing writing down things you’re thankful for or the highlights of your day.
7. Listen To A (Gentle) Podcast
As I mentioned in the beginning, I’m in the habit of listening to a podcast before I go to sleep. I’ll start listening as I get ready for bed, brushing my teeth, etc. Then, I either finish listening while I sip herbal tea, or I listen with the lights off so I’m not tempted to pick up my phone and scroll.
My favorite podcast to listen to at night is Stuff You Should Know. I like the hosts, and love learning new things! Another tip, though, is to pick an episode of a podcast that isn’t too engaging, or loud, because that can startle you or keep you from unwinding if your brain is spinning to try to solve the murder mystery. Leave the True Crime Podcasts for the morning!
GenTwenty has a podcast, if you didn’t already know, and not to be biased but I think it’s a great way to unwind!
8. Diffuse Essential Oils
Essential Oils are known to be used for homeopathic medicine and therapeutic treatments. Diffusing essential oil means using a diffuser to mix the oil with water in a chamber and mist the vapor out into the room. Think of it as a tiny humidifier with scented oils inside.
You can mix oils like eucalyptus, lavender, and peppermint to promote relaxation and sleep. I like to mix lavender and eucalyptus and a bonus is that my diffuser hums quietly like a white-noise machine.
Just note: certain oils can be toxic to pets, and it is always best to consult with your doctor about using essential oils if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a young child.
9. Light A Candle
For those of us who love candles, this is an easy task. Candles are a great way to signal to your brain a new task, because you’re literally lighting it and starting it. I began lighting a candle every time I sat down to write, and it became a peaceful and cozy way to get my brain into gear.
If you light a candle an hour or two before you want to fall asleep, you’re reminding yourself that it’s time to switch gears, move away from the screens, the work, the distractions, and start to unwind.
10. Soak In The Bath
There’s two camps of bathers: people who bathe in the morning to wake up, and people who bathe in the evening to unwind. But taking a hot shower, while soothing, is different than soaking in the bath. Taking a bath is another way to set a ritual.
You can light a candle, add bath salts or bubbles, play some music, and then dive in. The best part is that you are forced to stop moving, because you can’t go anywhere else in the tub. I like to listen to my favorite album on my phone (which is placed a safe distance away from the water).
With each of these 10 evening routine ideas, there is a similar theme: step away from the day. Let yourself stop working. Let yourself put down the phone.
I promise, nothing happens on social media that you can’t wait until tomorrow to see. And the emails that come in after 4:55 PM can wait to be answered in the morning. You deserve to rest, reset, and relax.
So often, it’s hard to “stop.” We have our computers attached to our hands at all times now with our phones, and it’s easy to get sucked in again. Give yourself time to unwind!
Try some of these evening routine ideas and be consistent. Pick one or two an do them every night for a week or two—then notice if you feel better. Maybe even jot down notes about how you slept when you wake up in the morning and review at the end of a two-week period.
Which of these evening routine ideas will you try? Let us know your favorites below!