How to Optimize Your Nightly Routine

              I have already written about my morning routine hacks. Now I’d like to walk you through my nightly routine that sets me up for a great night sleep. The best preparation for tomorrow is a great night sleep. Great sleep is not just about quantity, but quality also plays a crucial role in recovery and helping to provide a refreshing feeling when you wake up. If you’re still not sold, I’ll share a quick story about last night. I had a very stressful day which doesn’t come around often for me. Usually I am very aware about controlling my stress, but yesterday was one of those days where I found myself snowballing into constantly more stress. When night time came around, I did my normal nightly routine, but this time I did it more carefully than I normally do since I really wanted to beat the stressful feeling I had during that day. As a result, I went to bed with a smile on my face, feeling fully relaxed, and woke up this morning feeling refreshed as ever. I completely corrected my mood and today is off to a very good start. I can only thank my routine last night for this feeling. That is why I feel compelled to write this blog right now. Here are some hacks and tips I like to take advantage of when getting ready for bed.

  1. GO TO BED THE SAME TIME EVERY NIGHT – This is probably the most important and advertised trick that I will outline for you. Your body has a clock, and if night after night you’re making it guess when you’ll go to bed, then you may find yourself staring at the ceiling for a while. Going to bed the same time every night takes away the guessing game. For me, I get in bed around 9pm. I know, this is early. But I like sleep and realized how important it has been for my mood, productivity, and recovery for the next day. When I climb in bed around 9pm every night, my body knows what it’s supposed to do. Since I’ve been in this routine for quite some time. It knows that it should be shutting down and gearing up for sleep. This can be difficult to do the more social life you allow yourself to have during the evenings. It’s up to you to find the balance and stick to it. It’s ok to stray off this schedule from time to time if you want to have more fun nights out, but when it comes to the workweek, try to stick to this habit of going to bed at the same time.
  2. AVOID SCREENS – Ok fine. I’ll be easier on you. Keep screens in dark/night mode. Almost all devices with screens these days will have this feature. In a perfect world I would recommend no screens all together, but I know some people may find it difficult to put their phone or laptop down. So here is my compromise. Stay away from screens, but if you must look at a screen, make sure it’s in that dark/night mode.
  3. DIM LIGHTS PRIOR TO GETTING IN BED – A good night’s sleep starts before you climb in bed. Our body reacts to light. When we see light, our body’s are tricked to thinking it is sunlight, which then relays the information to our mind telling it to wake up. That’s why I recommended in my Morning Routine Blog that you should find a way to allow sunlight into your room in the morning. When we see the absent of light (or darkness for all you bright minded geniuses), our body’s affiliate that with night and tell our brains to shut down. If you have every gone camping, you will find that this is a great way to get on a great sleep schedule. Because during camping, there is little to no light at night and lots of light in the morning, making you sleepy when your body has been engineered to sleep and awake when your body has been engineered to be awake. I’m not saying walk around in the pitch black before your climb in bed but be mindful of how many lights are on and ask yourself if you really need all of the lights.
  4. READ – Nothing makes me sleepier than getting through about 20 pages of whatever book I’m reading at the time. I know in my last point I recommended to leave lights at a low, but you will obviously need a small reading light or lamp to read. Just make sure all over lights are either off or dimmed. Reading is one of my favorite things to do to prepare me for bed. It also gives my mind something to think about while asleep. It’s fairly well-known that studying right before bed will help you remember things better. So, I suggest finding a book that will positively influence your life, whether it’s an exciting fictional novel, or some sort of self-development book.
  5. WATER – Having a glass of water can be very helpful for waking up feeling refreshed. The grogginess feeling we get in the morning can often times be traced back to being dehydrated. So just one glass of water should be enough to do the trick.
  6. AVOID CAFFEINE – I try to avoid coffee in general. I limit myself to about one coffee a week. Sometimes 2 if needed, but never will I drink it in the afternoon. I mostly drink green tea, which has a small amount of caffeine in it and won’t disrupt your sleep schedule.
  7. CHAMOMILE TEA – Chamomile tea is an herbal tea so it has 0 caffeine in it. It will actually help relax your body and start to make you sleepy. I don’t drink much in the summer, but in the winter I love what it does to my body to prepare me for a good night’s sleep. It really works well. I like to add in some honey with mine. This is a tasty solution that is very simple, calming, and relaxing.
  8. MEDITATION – My bedtime meditation is different than my meditation at any other time during the day. For this mediation routine, I simply will take deep breaths in and out through my nose. On each exhalation, I focus on the stress and tenseness leaving my body, relaxing certain points around my body such as shoulders, back, neck, and knees. Then I’ll start a count. On the first inhale, I count ‘1’. On the first exhale, I count ‘2’. On the second inhale, I count ‘3’. And on the second exhale, I count ‘4’. Then repeat. This helps your mind from wondering off and overthinking and getting trapped in that cycle of thought keeping you awake. It gives your mind something to focus on while keeping it simple. Focus on your breath and the count for about 10-20 minutes. I leave a wide range here because sometimes you may feel yourself getting tired quicker. When this happens, I’ll stop counting and just relax. If I’m not feeling as tired or if my mind still seems distracted, then I’ll go longer. In other words, I go as long as I feel I need to in order to relax and ease my mind. This is a crucial technique for having high quality sleep. The more relaxed you are, the deeper sleep you will have. You will be surprised how tense your body will be and how easy it is to relax it, it just takes a little attention to ease your body.
  9. NATURE SOUNDS – Yes this is cliché. But it’s very nice to listen to especially throughout your mediation. For this, I use an app called ‘Calm’. It’s free and there is a setting where you can listen to a scene from nature. Some of the scenes they offer are waves, forest noises, thunderstorms, babbling brooks, fireplaces, rain, ect. I prefer thunderstorms or beach waves. They just seem the most calming for me. The best part about this app is that you can set a timer when it turns off.  I usually set the timer for 30 or 45 minutes, giving myself plenty of time to fall asleep, then it turns off automatically with my phone locked and away. Another tip I have is that I used this on a Bluetooth speaker. I place the speaker near one of my windows. This tricks me into thinking that the noise is coming from my window and that there is a real rain storm out there, which is nice.

There you go. These are just some of the hacks I use to set myself up for a great night’s sleep and a great morning the following day. If you have any other tips or suggestions, drop them below in the comments. Sleep dreams. Hope this helps.

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