The power of a good night time routine should not be underestimated. However, it’s an often-overlooked practice. This post will tell you all about the importance of a good night time routine, and share some tips for creating your own night time routine to help you be happier and more productive!
We’ve all been there. You come home from a long day of work, you’re tired and drained, and all you want to do is switch off and zone out. So maybe you order in some take-out, watch a couple episodes of your current favorite Netflix offering (it’s never just one episode, let’s be honest…) and drag yourself off to bed to start the cycle again….
But once you’re all snuggled in, your mind starts racing about the next morning’s to-do list, what tomorrow might bring, or you remember all those things you were supposed to do when you got home!
Only to wake up feeling the complete opposite of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed! And then it’s another slow crawl to make it through the day? It’s time to take some concrete steps towards wrapping up the day with a good night routine!
But why are we so in-favor of creating a good nighttime routine?
In our books, a good evening routine is important for three primary reasons:
1. First, it helps make the transition from the workday to home life easier on your mind and body by getting out of “work mode” and easing back into home life.
2. Second, sticking to a routine in the evenings can really help manage those hours more effectively.
3. The final reason relates to getting better sleep every night, and who wouldn’t want that!
So here are 10 strategies we use to make the most of our evening hours to help you build a good nighttime routine.
Related read: 10 Top Free Resources To Boost Your Productivity
1. Limit Screen Time
Setting a healthy nighttime routine can be a game changer for your hectic life. And one of the first simple changes you can implement is limiting screen time in the evenings.
Why should we be careful about our nighttime tech use? Two words: circadian rhythms. The blue light from all our technology has been proven to disrupt our biological clocks, and as a result, we may struggle to fall asleep and get the rest we need keep our minds and bodies functioning at their best.1 So as much as possible, try and limit that evening screen time!
2. Quality Time
Making time for quality time in your evenings is really a must. It’s incredible easy to neglect spending time with our significant others, children, or even close friends in favor of those tasks that overflowed from your day, or those “other things” that we feel we should be doing, or because we simply feel too tired.
But in reality, spending time with those closest to you is one of the most important things you can do for your mental well-being. Dinner time is a great way to build this quality time into your schedule, as it’s already an “activity” in your everyday routine. Whether it’s dinner at home with your family, or a weekly/bi-weekly standing arrangement with friends, it’s a great way to nurture those relationships, which in turn, nurture your wellbeing.
3. Meal Prep
If you’re always feeling pressed for time during your week, a really effective strategy to help relieve some of that time pressure is meal prepping. And I can personally vouch for the time and stress meal prepping has saved me! Firstly, with the bulk of the preparation done on Sunday afternoon/evening, the time spent prepping both work lunches in the morning and dinner in the evening has been greatly reduced!
Now, mornings are not a mad rush, and when it comes to dinner, there’s no more need to spend unnecessary time in the kitchen! There’s so much more time to spend with loved ones, or doing something I enjoy in the evenings. There’s also a lot less “what’s for dinner” stress!
If you’d like some help getting started, I found this video by Lisa from Downshiftology to be incredibly helpful!
4. Limit Caffeine
Limiting your caffeine intake from late afternoon into your evenings is another simple change that can make a world of difference. We are all aware that caffeine can keep us up at night, but caffeine may also be guilty of stimulating your anxiety levels. And while caffeine can’t cause anxiety in and of itself, it has been proven to increase anxiety, particularly in people who are already prone to anxiety.2 So if you tend to feel restless in the evenings or frequently find yourself unable to sleep well, you may want to consider switching out those caffeine-heavy beverages for other options like peppermint, ginger, or chamomile tea.
5. Break Out the Books
Do you have a TBR (to be read) list that’s a mile high? (You and be both!) And I don’t know about you, but the metaphorical weight of these unread books often weighs heavily on me. And so in order to alleviate this, I work “reading” into my evening routine. And depending on what each particular week looks like, this is something I either do early evening, instead of switching on Netflix for some mindless watching, or in the time when I’m in bed before I sleep.
Not only do I get personal fulfillment, whether it’s that great fiction book I’ve been wanting to sink my teeth into, or that “self-help” book offering a mound of wisdom. But actually working through all the books I want to read just feel good. It somehow boosts my overall productivity levels, and I feel like I’m “on top” of things, rather than always feeling like I’m running behind schedule.
6. A Little Self-Care
Quality time with loved ones is important, but it’s equality important to build time into your evening routines for some quality time for you to do the things that you enjoy.
This is commonly referred to as “self-care” and while it’s become a buzzword of late, this should not diminish it’s importance! Whether it’s a series you want to watch (or rewatch, nothing wrong with a good rerun every now and then!) a nice long bubble bath, an online class, or a little arts and crafts, set aside some time in your evenings for a little soul refilling.
This doesn’t have to be every evening, of course, but regularly including some self-care activities in your evening routine can help rejuvenate your mind, soul, and body, helping you be more productive, ward off burnout, and improve your overall wellbeing.
7. Practice Some Gratitude
Another simple strategy to own your evenings is to get into the habit of practicing gratitude. Not only is this practice therapeutic for the mind, body, and soul, but practicing gratitude can have a dramatic effect on your health! Some research has found that being grateful improves sleep quality, reduces depression, and can even lower blood pressure and boost your immune system.3
So keep a journal on your bedside table, and take some time each evening to list the things you’re grateful for, and just feel the difference an attitude of gratitude can produce!
8. Prep For Tomorrow
Boosting your productivity tomorrow starts with a little prep today. Doing a little planning the night before can help you be super efficient at all you need to do in the day.
Writing up a to-do list, jotting down things you want to prioritize the next day, or just making notes of the things you want to remember can help you maximize your time and elevate a great deal of stress.
The time to prepare for tomorrow is today!
9. Chip Away at That Inbox
Is your inbox swamped? Have you signed up to all sorts of newsletters or email campaigns, and you want to read them, but now you’re drawing in unread emails? It’s time to take back a little control! Just putting aside 10 minutes in the evenings can make your inbox a whole lot more manageable.
Don’t look at the ones that require a lot of brain power. You’re simply looking to clear out those emails that clog up your inbox, or organize your emails into manageable categories. Remember, files are your friends! Make specific folders for the emails you want to keep, and spend some time each day sorting through the day’s haul. Once they’re in proper folders, it’s much easier to make some headway by setting aside time to read x amount of emails from a specific person or category.
10. Small Habits, Big Gains
This is perhaps less of strategy and more a point of encouragement. Never underestimate the big impact small changes can make. Just putting some of these seemingly simple strategies into place really can make a big difference to your productivity and happiness.
And doing these small things consistently can convert to good habits that, in turn, result in some seriously big gains in your life.
11. Set An Alarm
No, I’m not talking about your morning alarm. (Although that is helpful for a good morning routine. For more on making your morning routine work for you, check out this post.) I’m talking about an alarm…for bed time! Most smart phones have a “bedtime feature” that allows you to set an alarm to help you get to bed at a consistent time each night. The alarm can be set to remind you at some time before the time you actually want to be in bed so that you have time to wind down and drift off to a great night’s sleep…
Which brings us to our final tip…
12. Prioritize Quality Sleep
Quality can never be underestimated for all that it does for our bodies and our minds! Getting consistent, quality sleep gives our body a chance to maximize its repair and regenerative efforts while we sleep.
This means that we’ll have the energy to check off a whole lot of items off our to-do list each day, we’ll feel energized, and our creativity and problem-solving skills will be in full force, all of which means we’ll be able to lead happier lives overall.
If you’re looking to improve your sleep and productivity, it may be time for a nighttime routine. The good news is that there are plenty of low-effort ways to do this; they just require some discipline on your part.
Your nighttime routine is important. It helps you use your evening hours effectively, and not wasted in front of Netflix or scrolling through social media feeds.
It might be time to rethink how you use the evening hours of your day and create a nighttime routine that will help make better use of these precious hours while also improving sleep quality and productivity levels in the long-term.
- Harvard Health Publishing: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
- Everyday Health: https://www.everydayhealth.com/anxiety-pictures/7-surprising-causes-of-anxiety.aspx
- Health.org: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/mental-health-and-wellbeing/thankfulness-how-gratitude-can-help-your-health