Wellness Wednesday: Nighttime Routine

Happy Wellness Wednesday, my friends! I mentioned on Monday that things are getting pretty busy in my neck of the woods- work is picking up, and it’s getting to be the time in the semester where I’m getting deep into research and writing and presenting for my classes. For me, this is usually the point in my life where all the rules go out the window and I just doc whatever I need to do to aim order to keep my head above water. This strategy has been successful, in terms of getting through rough patches, but hasn’t really done anything to preserve my sanity.

Enter: my wellness routines. You all know that 2015 is my year of wellness and establishing some healthy rituals seemed like an easy way to ensure that i am able to refocus on wellness every single day. Today I’ll talk about my night time routine, and If anyone is interested I can follow with my healthy morning routine 🙂
So I’ve designed my bedtime routine to help make sure that I am in the best possible position for have a great morning and a great day. (Oh! And I’ve linked to items in my routine that I actually use, just so you can see what I’m working with. I’m always really interested in real products that people use, so thought you might be too!)

Nighttime Routine1. Sleep app
I first started using a sleep app last summer, and at first I thought it was silly- how in the hell is technology supposed to help me sleep? Oh, friends- I had so much to learn. I use Sleep as Android, my experience with it has been great, and I really look forward to talking more about it in a post dedicated to wellness apps. For the purposes of my night routine, though, my sleep at knows what time I like to wake up in the morning, so it knows what time I need to go to bed in order to get eight hours of sleep, which is my preferred duration. Using this information, the app lets me know when it’s an hour before bedtime, and as soon as I hear that alarm I know that I need to start to power down and start my bedtime routine. It’s so handy!

2. Power down screens
The first thing that happens when I get the alarm is I start to power down my screens. Evan definitely makes fun of my technology addiction in our house- it’s not uncommon for me to have my laptop, phone, and ipad going all at once for different functions, and frequently there’s a tv on besides. A ton of research shows that screen exposure before bed, especially phones, computers and tablets, leads to difficulty falling a sleep and lower quality of sleep. So, one hour before bed I start to power down. My laptop goes in the yoga room for a morning practice, my iPad gets plugged in downstairs (so I’m not temped) and my phone gets plugged in on my bedside table. Ideally my phone would go in another room, but I use it for sleep tracking, so…bedside table it is.
2. Coffee pot
My coffee routine is absolutely the best part of my morning, so I always make sure to set it up at night. Here’s the thing, guys- I use an in-bedroom coffee set-up, and I cannot even underscore the difference that this has made in my morning. It’s awesome. So, I have this coffee pot at the end of my bed (it’s very inexpensive and it’s small, but it’s programmable). I program it to start at 6:00, and then add fresh coffee and fill with water.  It is a small miracle, then, to be able to wake up to the sound and smell of coffee brewing 🙂
3. Prepare my room
I like to take a few minutes to straighten my room for sleeping. Nothing crazy, but I clear off my bedside table and make sure that my laundry is either in a hamper or in the closet. I also like to staighten our sheets and blankets- Evan and I have separate sheets and blankets on the bed, to preserve our sanity, so I like to make sure those are pulled up and separated so we can just climb in. This winter has been brutally dry, so I’ve also recently added in the step of filling and starting our humidifier for the night. This usually takes less than five minutes altogether, but it’s so important to me to make sure my room feels calm and organized- it’s much easier for me to fall asleep if I’m not thinking about what a mess it is.
4. Prepare food, clothes, bag, for next day
I mentioned above that I like to use my night routine to set myself up for the next day, and here’s where that really comes into play. I know it reminds you of elementary school, but I absolutely set my clothes out for the day, pack my lunch, and organize my awesome work bag to include everything I need. I do morning yoga, so I also set my yoga clothes out at the end of my bed so I can just toss those on as soon as I wake up. If there are things that I feel like I might forget (like I need to print something, or stop at the store on my way, or get gas) I write myself a post it and stick it next to my bag where I’ll see if before I leave. This habit helps me to intentionally plan for the next day, and not have to think about thingsg in the morning when I’m rushing around. Like I said, childish, but it works.
5. Down load into thought journals or meditate
Occasionally, I just can’t turn my brain off enough to relax at night. For these times, I have two resources. One option is using a journal to do a brain dump; I like to use the Simplified Journal by Emily Ley because there are a few prompts and ton of space for me to get out everything that’s on my mind. A thought journal can be helpful for tracking thoughts, concerns, and obligations, but sometimes I don’t really need to commit those things to paper. In those cases, I like to just meditate- I like guided meditations slime the ones offered through Headspace. I don’t get my thoughts out, necessary, but I can come to peace with my ticker tape of thoughts and find some space for mental clarity. Either way, this is absolutely a vital part of my winding down.
6. Body maintenance 
I know showering preferences can be divisive, but I like to shower right before bed. For me, it means that I always climb into clean sheets and it conveniently eliminates the need to make time for that in the morning. A lot of people can’t, or don’t prefer to, shower in the morning but I like it and studies suggest that it results in a drop in body temp that makes falling asleep easier. Even if I don’t actually shower before bed, I absolutely wash my face and apply eye cream and moisturizer so that it has time to work over night. And, of course, I brush my teeth and address my contacts and all that jazz; the usual.
7. Pajamas
I didn’t used to wear dedicated pajamas, and even now I don’t always. But there certainly is a case to be made for clothes that are dedicated to one activity- sleeping. Just as experts make the argument that all you should use your bed for is sleeping, having clothes that are only sleeping clothes really cues your mind, letting it know that it’s time for sleep and preparing for that task. Plus, I’ve recently learned that VS jammies are actually really comfy and convenient!
8. Book time
Finally. If there’s any time left over in my evening, I like to read a book. Like, an actual book. As in paper and pages. I’m a reader to start with, but this is my time for trashy novels or the magazines that I haven’t had time to read all month, or doing crossword puzzles or sudoku, or anything that involves paper- I also sometimes too needlework in this time, if I’m so moved. The point here
  • Katie

    I’m with you on so many of these preparations! If I go somewhere during the evening, I’ll even prepare my clothes for the next day 2 or even 3 days in advance sometimes so that when I get home later, I don’t need to stress about getting it ready for the next day. I don’t think it’s childish at all! It’s more teenager-ish to still be running around like a chicken in the morning grabbing clothes and books and stuff. I’d rather be calmer during my morning mindlessness. 🙂

    • Erin

      Wow, I can handle one day, but I could never do three days advanced wardrobe preparation! Or maybe that should be my next goal- prepping all of the outfits for the week on the weekend?

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