If you read “5 Activities Successful People Do in the Morning,” you know about the importance of having a morning routine. But what about evenings?
While morning routines help us get energized and ready for the day, an evening routine can have a different but equally important purpose. Evening routines help us wind down and get ready for sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is important for our well-being, yet millions of people don’t get a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep can impact our ability to focus and work safely, or it could impair activities like driving. Developing an evening routine can help us get the sleep we need to do our best work.
Like a morning routine, an evening routine is going to be very personal and take some time to develop. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to developing an evening routine:
1. Find a way to clear your head. Take a moment to reflect (not obsess) about the day. It could be journaling your accomplishments or the things you’re grateful for. The idea is to use this time getting the work day out of your head, so you can relax.
2. Decide if meditation or mindfulness makes sense. Speaking of clearing your head, if your morning routine just doesn’t have time for meditation or mindfulness, maybe the evening would work. Even if it’s only engaging in a deep breathing activity, it can help with relaxation.
3. Think about what you eat and drink. Some people say spicy foods don’t help them sleep well. It’s been noted that alcohol and caffeine can interfere with sleep. But it’s not just figuring out the food and drink to avoid. Maybe consider adding a glass of water or a cuppa tea to your evening routine if it helps you sleep.
4. Put away the technology. Studies have shown that the blue light associated with our computer screens can hurt our sleep patterns. Playing a video game on our tablet or doing some online adult coloring might be relaxing, but try to put the devices away early enough so it doesn’t negatively impact sleep.
5. Read. If you enjoy reading, it might help to use reading as a way to unwind and relax. Actor Reese Witherspoon recently shared her reading routine. She schedules her heavier reading for the morning and uses evenings to read something light and fun.
6. Understand your optimal sleep environment. This includes lighting, smells, heating/cooling, bed linens and pillows. We won’t sleep well if we don’t create the right environment. It could take some trial and error to figure out the right combination of items, but it’s worth the time.
7. Consider white noise. If you’re not familiar with it, white noise is a sound used to mask background noises that might prevent sleep. There are white noise machines of all varieties. You can also get white noise apps and some voice devices such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home have white noise options. If you don’t want to have technology in the bedroom, a fan could also do the trick.
8. Document what works and what doesn’t. Once you figure out what works best for you, make a list somewhere. Same with the things that don’t work. Think of it as a scientific experiment where you add elements and take them away to find the right combination of ingredients.
A plus item! Once you’ve figured out what works, take a moment to think about how you can have a successful evening routine when you travel. Whether it’s for business or vacation, one of the most common complaints about travel is that people don’t sleep well. And it impacts our patience as well as our ability to interact with others.
Having a morning routine is important, and so is having a great evening routine. Ending the day relaxed so we can sleep well is good for our well-being and helps us start the day even stronger. Think of evening routines as an extension of morning routines — both habits will help us be our best.