Optimizing your evening routine can offer a vast array of benefits. Doing the right things improves your sleep quality — and, automatically, your immune system, stress levels, appetite, cardiovascular, and cognitive health. But even more, having well-planned evening habits can help make your mornings and days even better.
Guest post by Sarah Kaminski.
But the truth about developing and adhering to the best possible nighttime ritual is that there’s a lot of conflicting advice on improving your sleep. And even if you plan your routine based on scientific data, modern life can make it challenging to stick to your ideal nightly habits.
So, if you’re thinking of elevating your evening routine for better mornings and even better days, here are the nine tips you’re sure to see benefits from.
The best way to ensure you have the best sleep ever is to practice consistency with when you go to bed and when you wake up in the morning.
According to scientific research from 2020, “having regular sleep patterns with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times” is favorably associated with health.
In other words, if you want to optimize your body’s ability to restore during the night, you must do your best to go to bed (approximately) at the same time each night and wake up around the same time every morning. And, no, sleeping in should not be an option (unless you’re ill). Shifting your wake-up time by even as little as an hour can disrupt your circadian rhythm, making it more difficult to fall asleep and negatively impacting your sleep and your wellbeing the next day.
Dim the Lights and Close the Curtains
You probably already know that exposing yourself to blue light late at night (between 10 P.M. and 5 A.M.) harms your sleep quality. But did you know that it’s not just your TV or phone screen that can undermine your efforts to get some good rest?
For the ideal evening routine, do your best to block out all sources of light while you sleep. Turn off nightlights, close the blackout curtains, and put some black tape over those annoying LED lights on any appliances in your bedroom.
And if it’s not your bedtime yet, it’s best to dim the lights in your home. Turn off any overhead lamps. For your ambient lighting, choose warmer tone bulbs with temperatures of 1000-2000 K (the equivalent of candlelight).
In other words, optimizing the evening lighting in your home is not only good for you, but it can also be quite romantic.
Skip Scrolling through Social Media and Mute Your Phone
When it comes to your phone’s role in stopping you from having a relaxing evening routine, it’s important to note that its effects aren’t only related to blue light.
According to data, using your phone too much — especially scrolling social media — triggers the release of dopamine and exposes you to chronically elevated cortisol levels.
So, if you want better mornings and days, it might not be a bad idea to keep your smartphone out of the bedroom while you sleep. If that’s not an option, consider using an app like One Sec to block social media and other addictive apps during bedtime. And maybe consider doing something else to relax once you’re in bed — like reading, meditating, or listening to calming music or white, brown, or pink noise to enhance your sleep.
Know What You Need to Stay Comfy
The proper evening routine is practically impossible without embracing habits and tools that help you keep comfy and relaxed.
Ultimately, your goal for optimizing your nighttime ritual is to allow your body and mind to enter a state of relaxation. That way, you’ll be able to slowly drift off into a restful slumber from which you’ll wake up energized and ready to tackle any challenge life throws at you.
So, to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success in the mornings and during the day, consider investing in the equipment you use every evening.
No, this does not mean buying all the latest sleep tech (though a tracker can’t hurt). Instead, focus on acquiring a really good quality mattress — preferably one made of natural latex — a supportive pillow suited to your favourite sleeping position, as well as other tools like air purifiers and blackout curtains that will help you optimize your environment.
Have an Early Dinner
Did you know that eating late at night — three hours or less before your bedtime — can harm your body’s ability to recuperate for the next day?
That’s right. One of the best ways to optimize your evening routine for sufficient rest and a productive next day is to move your dinner to an earlier time. Of course, this adjustment does mean you will need to re-think how, what, and when you eat. But if you have enough control over the when (i.e., you don’t work late), you’ll only need to make minor adjustments to your routine. And you might not even notice the change while enjoying the positive results.
Finally, one of the easiest ways to optimize your evening routine for more rested mornings is to pay attention to the role of body temperature in improving your sleep.
According to data, the best temperature for sleep is between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. But in addition to turning down the thermostat, consider the other factors that impact your body’s temp.
For example, working out raises your body’s temperature. As does having a warm shower.
However, by timing these activities — scheduling your workout for at least four hours before bed and your warm shower two hours before you want to sleep — you’ll give yourself plenty of time to cool down, instantly improving your sleep quality and allowing yourself to wake up rested the next day.
There you have it, the six easy steps you can take to build the perfect evening routine and set yourself up for better mornings and even better days.
If paying attention to your sleep hygiene is something you’re new to, the best thing you can do is take things one step at a time. Start experimenting with your habits, try embracing positive changes, and pay attention to how you feel with each change.
At the end of the day, mastering sleep doesn’t come easy — which is quite surprising, seeing how important it is for our physical and mental health. Nonetheless, making the effort to optimize our nighttime rest promises huge benefits, so the work is more than worth it. Even if it takes time to come up with the perfect routine.