Building an Evening Routine
And in the evening, it’s even more important to ensure that your last few hours before sleep are unplugged, screen-free. Studies have found that back-lit screens like your phone, tablet, computer, and even television can reduce the body’s natural production of melatonin, the chemical that makes you sleepy at night. If you bring your phone to bed and scroll until the bitter end, you might notice that you have trouble falling asleep. (Never mind the stimulation that a quick scroll sends to your brain; when we’re inundated with notifications and posts and advertisements, our brain has to work overtime to process that information.) The notorious “blue light” emitted from these screens can also drastically reduce the number of REM cycles your body receives at night. Yikes! Experts recommend unplugging at least 1 hour before bed these days.
Practices to consider for your evening routine:
Extended body care: a shower, bath, skincare routine, dental care. Bonus points if it feels super luxurious.
Slow stretching (avoid vigorous exercise right before bed)
Herbal tea or hot lemon water
Read (certain books may help you fall asleep faster than others...)
“Turn down” your bedroom - close the curtains, unmake the bed, begin a diffuser and sound machine
Apply calming essential oils
Write a daily gratitude list
Listen to calming music
You’ll find that certain things that work well in your morning routine are not a good fit in your evening routine, because many of them are things that work to “turn on” your brain. Your morning and evening routines are a practice, meaning they take consistency, trial and error, and intentionality before they become habit. Tonight, try unplugging one hour before bed and go from there. How do you think you’ll feel tomorrow? Pretty great, I bet.
Cleveland Clinic. (2019, April.) Put the Phone Away! 3 Reasons Why Looking at It Before Bed Is a Bad Habit. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/put-the-phone-away-3-reasons-why-looking-at-it-before-bed-is-a-bad-habit/
Pachecho, D. (2020, November.) How Electronics Affect Sleep. The Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/why-electronics-may-stimulate-you-bed
Suni, E. (2020, August.) Sleep Hygiene. The Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleep-hygiene