Remember when you were a kid and your parents would help you get ready for bed?
My evening routine as a kid included a bedtime snack, picking out the stuffed animal that I wanted to sleep with that night, and one of my parents reading me a bedtime story.
That was THE LIFE.
Where are the awesome bedtime routines for adults? We deserve them too!
So I’ve picked out the best evening routine ideas to help soothe you to sleep AND make the morning a little bit easier.
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Why Have an Evening Routine?
Everyone has their own reasons for wanting an evening routine. However, there are a couple of reasons that you may want to have a evening routine.
Getting Your Brain and Body Ready for Bed – When you have a routine, it signals to your body and brain, “Hey! this *thing* is coming!”. The thing might be work, school, sleep, or dinner. When they know the routine, they can anticipate it meaning, “this is the time that we go to sleep”.
Make Your Mornings Easier – I’m sure you realize this, but there are plenty of things that you can do before you head to bed to make sure that your morning goes as smooth as possible. From making your lunch to doing 10 minutes of cleaning, your nighttime routine can help your morning be just as relaxing as your evening.
Practicing Self-Care – Due to everything that we all have to do during the day, we might not get in any self-care at all. Developing a relaxing evening routine or just practicing one soothing nighttime habit can have a large effect on your mental health and overall wellbeing.
Evening Routine Ideas & Habits
These are just a few ideas that you can try out to add a little bit of comfort to your night. If you incorporate one or two of these ideas, you’ll be well on your way to a routine that makes you look forward to the end of your day.
I talk a bit about my evening routine too (along with some extra tips). Hopefully, it helps you figure out what ideas are best for you.
By the way, all of these ideas are also perfect for adding to a bedtime routine if you have anxiety!
I’ve mentioned this numerous times but I LOVE journaling. And I do most of my journaling at night.
I do most of my journaling at night because in the morning, I want to get up and start my day (and my bladder tells me to get up). At night, I feel more relaxed and ready to give myself space go over anything that is on my mind.
Another great journaling method, especially right before you go to bed is brain dumping. Brain dumping is a journaling technique where you “dump” or write down all of the thoughts that you’re having onto paper.
Later, you can organize your thoughts into something more coherent and actionable. But the point of brain dumping is to let it all out.
For me, meditation hasn’t always been the easiest thing to do. I actually did an entire self-study on meditation when I was in graduate school to see it’s affect on me.
While meditation isn’t the easiest, it definitely helps a lot of people. Don’t think that to meditate you have to clear your mind, close your eyes, and think of nothing. That’s not exactly how it works (though if you can do that, that’s awesome!).
You can meditate on an idea, a quote, or even a particular sight (like a candle burning).
Read a Book
Reading a book before heading to sleep feels like the quintessential nighttime habit. Like I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, many of us got into this habit because our parents read us a book or told us a story before tucking us in.
If you’d like to read a book before going to sleep, the sky is the limit to what you’d like to read. thought I recommend something that won’t be you think *too hard*. No nuclear physics before bed, okay?
Before I go to sleep, if I do choose to read, I usually read a fiction book. My favorite genre is historical fiction.
Watch Something Soothing
I know that you’re not really supposed to watch television before you go to sleep but I’m not a perfect person so I do a lot of the time.
However, when I do, I try my best to watch something that is soothing to me. What soothing means changes from time to time, but generally for me, that means documentaries.
**bonus tip** If you can, try to block the light from your screen as much as possible. When I’m in bed, I use an iPad to watch tv and use the cover/case to block the light. So technically I’m only listening.
Listen to Soothing Music or Sounds
Like just said, I’m often just listening to something instead of actually watching it. So why not take it one step further and just listen to music?
I usually don’t listen to music before going to sleep because it tends to activate my brain too much. By trying out these different nighttime habits you’ll figure out what works best for you – what soothes you and what makes you *anxious* or too excited to sleep.
However, there was about a month period last year where I could not sleep at all without listening to Disney instrumental music. Nothing else I tried would work.
So I definitely recommend it, but you could also try meditative music that will activate different brain waves. I talk a bit more about this concept in my post about my experience with a gong sound bath.
Get Your Drink On
I’m talking about tea of course!
Many studies have shown that drinking tea before bedtime can be beneficial in combating insomnia. So why not make it a part of your evening routine?
The some of best teas for your night time routine are:
- Chamomile – reduces inflammation and anxiety
- Valerian Root – reduces anxiety and treats insomnia
- Lavender – reduces fatigue and heart rate (especially because of the scent!)
- Magnolia Bark – reduces stress and abdominal discomfort
You may want to be careful about tea that has caffeine because it can keep you awake and stimulated. Definitely not what you want when you are trying to sleep.
Take A Bath
Im not a huge bath taker but baths can be incredibly relaxing, especially if you take a bit more time to make it special. Now, what makes your bath special will be different for everyone, but adding candles, a book, bath bombs are all great ways to maximize your relaxation time.
After your bath, don’t forget to slather yourself with some luxurious lotions or body oil to seal in the moisture. Better yet if it’s scented with lavender or chamomile to keep the relaxation going.
Prepare For The Next Day
Future you will thank you for it! There are multiple ways that you can prepare for the day ahead. One of the things that I usually do in might nighttime routine to prepare for the next day is load up all of the websites on my browser that I plan on using once I make it to my computer.
Here are a couple of other ideas that you can use to make your morning time a bit easier:
- Prep your breakfast, lunch, or coffee
- Set out your clothes for the next day (just like mom made us do!)
- Create a to-do list
- Do 10 to 15 minutes of light cleaning so you don’t have to do it the next day
Create Some Connection
Before I go to bed every night, I always make sure that I say goodnight to my family (we have a group text) and my boyfriend. While it is not much (and doesn’t have to be), it’s nice to have that one last connection between my loved ones and myself before going to sleep.
It leaves me feeling more at peace because I know that there are people out there who love and are thinking about me.
You can create this connection with anyone or anything that you would like. Your best friend, your dog, your plants, and even the universe. This can be low lift. Send a text, email, Facebook message, or even update your status on Twitter.
Move Your Body
But not tooo much. Light stretching or yoga is one evening routine idea that helps prepare your body to go to bed. Regular stretching keeps your muscles flexible, which in turn helps to prevent discomfort and injury.
I can’t tell you how many times I haven’t stretched before bed and immediately regretted it as I went to lay down. Below is a simple stretching routine that you can easily incorporate before you go to bed.
As a sub-category to moving your body, you may also want to massage your body while you’re at it. If you have a significant other, you can get them in on the action (it may even lead to other actions).
But if you’re single (or in a long-distance relationship like me), a massage can still be had. I personally have a back massager that I use – and highly recommend, but you can also use foam rollers, vibrating wands/massagers, a jade roller for a relaxing face massage, or the massagers that you were born with (your hands).
If you’re using your ands, grab some lotion or massage oil, and just take extra time to smooth them over your body. Pay attention to any spots that feel sore or tight and give them some more love.
And I don’t think this needs to be stated, but yes – masturbation IS moving and massaging your body.
Before you head out, I wanted to leave you with some additional tips for having a restful evening before you drift off to sleep :
- Avoid alcohol a few hours before going to sleep.
- Dim the lights. If you have electronics, there are great stickers you can get to cover their lights.
- Cooler temps tend to help you fall asleep faster (try sleeping with a fan), but you know your body best!
- The fan can also act as a noise machine. Or buy a noise machine if that is more your style.
- Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (yes even on weekends and when you go on vacation!)
What do you think of this night routine list? What nighttime habits do you currently have? I might try adding tea to my evening routine! Let me know your thoughts in the comments 🙂
Briana Hollis is a licensed social worker and self-care coach. She earned her Master of Science in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University in 2014 and her Master of Education from Tiffin University in 2019. She has spent the last 5 years working in crisis intervention. Her passion for serving others is the heart of this site. She started Learning To Be Free to assist others in bringing freedom to their lives.
Briana is also the author of The Self-Care Journal for Young Adults.