For me, bedtime is where I get to make peace with the day that I just endured.
Sort of like a magical ritual to indulge in myself so I can start the next day brand new. You know, instead of as a continuation of yesterday.
I’ll admit that I don’t always have the time or mental capacity to do everything on this list. But it never hurts to have a bunch of routines you can choose from.
In fact, I think that gives me the gift of variety depending on what I need.
To help you cap off the day, here are 13 nighttime routines that guarantee a more productive morning.
1) Set a specific bedtime
Just as you can synchronize your circadian rhythm by waking up at a reasonable time, going to bed consistently can help you manage your natural rhythm as well.
In addition, having a consistent bedtime can help you feel more grounded by knowing what to look forward to. It’s also a great excuse to just shut off everything and make time for yourself.
Try blocking off around 2 hours before bed if you can so you can treat this time as sacred as it can be.
2) Review your day that just happened
Some days are just so fast-paced that I never get a chance to fully process what happened until I get to the end of it.
And since this is a ritual and all, I suggest grabbing a journal and really letting your mind flow onto the pages.
Think about what worked and what didn’t. It can be a really wonderful way to learn something new about yourself.
Even just having yourself as a best friend you can vent to does the trick.
These insights can then be brought into your daily habits and set some more realistic goals for the future – even if that’s just the day ahead.
3) Plan for tomorrow
Create a loose guide on what you want to achieve tomorrow.
Feel free to include your findings from the daily reflection, because it’s a great way to keep track of your emotional growth.
For example, I like to give myself proper permission to set boundaries in certain social situations in order to prepare myself for them.
I also sometimes feel overwhelmed if I know that my tomorrow has a bunch of appointments and tasks. Breaking them down can help me manage my stress.
This is also a time for you to prioritize your responsibilities and decide what should be done first so you’re not scrambling in the morning.
4) Prepare your outfits and essentials
Ah, my favorite part – choosing my outfits and packing my bag.
As someone who loves to beautify myself, picking a nice outfit based on what plans I have the next day helps me look forward to it.
Even if it’s just a bunch of work meetings and what not, I can relieve some of the pressure by knowing that I love my outfit.
And in terms of the essentials, this is where you can pack your purse or bag so it has everything you need.
That way you can just grab your bag and go, instead of double, triple, quadruple checking to see if you have everything.
5) Charge everything
Please tell me I’m not the only person who finds joy in waking up to everything being fully charged.
Especially if I remember to charge my portable charger, I feel invincible for the day ahead.
Probably because there is nothing like a dying phone or device that can ruin your grind and get in the way of productivity.
Anyways, this also means you will not go on your phone until you fall asleep! I’m guilty of this too but you can do other things to tire yourself out that doesn’t involve scrolling.
6) Limit screen time
In the digital age, having a rectangular device is almost like we’ve been microchipped in some ways.
We have access to everything at our fingertips. Which is great, but it can get in the way of relaxing by stimulating your mind…
…Having the opposite effect of what you need before you sleep.
Screen exposure can also trick your mind into thinking it’s still daytime, not giving your brain a chance to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the day.
So give your eyes a much needed break and try to do the rest of your routine digital-free. Maybe with the exception of putting on some relaxing music.
7) Limit caffeine intake
Sounds obvious but I’ve been guilty of drinking a coffee a few hours before bed.
Even if you have a lot of work you need to get done, if you can, it’s better to prioritize your rest. Like it’s an energetic thing as much as it’s a physical thing.
So more than creating a restful sleep, this is to help you better manage your time to have a healthier work and life balance.
And also save your relationship to coffee because it is indeed possible to have too much of a good thing.
8) Avoid being available for work
Maintaining a structured daily routine involves creating clear boundaries between work and personal life. So once you’ve clocked out, stay mentally clocked out as well.
As a writer, I’m guilty of always brainstorming even when I’m supposed to be resting.
Sure, it’s nice to whip out my notes app when I have inspiration. But what ends up happening is that I start burning out and becoming unnecessarily stressed.
Every time you say no to something, think of it as you saying yes to other things. Like hobbies, rest and personal relationships.
Valuing the quality of your life in this way will create an overall sense of balance and well-being in addition to helping you get some sleep.
9) Avoid heavy meals
Or beverages for that matter!
Now, I’m not saying that this is scientifically proven but just from personal experience, I find that certain foods have an effect of waking me up because my mind is processing how good it is.
Sure, it’s a little funny but I realized that eating 2-3 hours before bed definitely helps to keep me focused on getting a good night’s rest.
It’ll also ensure that your body won’t be doing any crazy nighttime digestion.
And if you must eat, opt for lighter and easily digestible foods like lean proteins, yogurt and fruit.
10) Find a nice skincare routine
Indulging in some nice skincare products is a great way to enhance your night, but I’m also talking about really enjoying your nightly wash-up time.
This is another thing I can only explain by giving a personal example.
But those nights I go to bed without doing my whole skincare are incomparable to the nights that I do. It just feels like something’s missing!
If I could explain it, it’s like missing a day of my Duolingo streak and not feeling motivated to start again in the morning.
So having a routine is less about the routine itself, but setting the tone for all the other days and nights.
Having great skin and teeth is just a byproduct.
11) Bring your attention back to the present
Once you’ve freshened up your mind and body, it’s time to reconnect with your soul.
Maybe this is my overactive mind speaking but getting ready for bed and then sleeping are totally different things.
Out of all the things I’ve tried to tire myself out so I can pass out, becoming more present calms my mind like no other.
So try meditating or breathing exercises. If you have the space and time, some light yoga can also help bring your focus back to the present.
Nothing that will make you too sweaty because come on, we just did our skin care.
12) Dim the lights
Dimming the lights can be an effective way to set the sleepy tone at any time in your routine.
I personally like to dim the lights around 45 minutes to an hour before I go to sleep.
And not to sound like a dog but it’s my way of training my brain to equate a certain brightness to bedtime.
I even had color-changing light bulbs for a while where I fell asleep to dimmed pink lights. Now every time I see pink lights, I think of my bedroom.
Different things work for different people, but just like you’d take a break from the screen, this is to help calm your mind.
13) Listen to some white noise
White noise is really great if you live in a noisy neighborhood, or if you have a roommate that snores.
And depending on your stress levels, sometimes even house noises can be distracting as you try to doze off.
So masking them with white noise can help you create more consistency in how you fall asleep, as well as help you stay asleep.
Not everyone responds to white noise the same way so try a bunch of different ones out. There are apps available with all the colors, and you can never go wrong with YouTube either.
You could even try out the whole rainbow and have a different colored noise for each day of the week.
A productive morning starts with a peaceful night.
Make your nights predictable, and watch as your awareness for what helps you be at peace increases during all hours of the day.
Sweet dreams, and don’t forget to set your alarm.