Morning routines get all the hype these days. If you listen to any podcasts, follow any social media influencers, or attend a personal development conference, they will tell you that the way you set up your day is KEY for success. Morning meditations, matcha, and mindfulness right?
And sure, it can definitely help. I even have my own morning routine.
But I’m also a huge advocate of……a nightly routine. I’ve found that how I spend the last few precious hours of my day are equally as important to set myself up for success.
I think of it this way…at night, “Current Jaime” is setting up “Future” Jaime” for success.
Hear me out. What does your normal nighttime routine look like? Do you relax in an hour long bath, surrounded my eucalyptus, while listening to a relaxing playlist? Or do you destroy a box of Velveeta Shells and Cheese while binge watching The Witcher until you realize oh crap it’s 2AM and hop into bed, makeup still on, in a huge shirt you’ve had since college?
No judging either way. Honestly, each of those has a place in my life and I have found myself alternating between them in varying degrees. But I’ve found the more focus I put on a mindful nighttime routine that winds me down, the better sleep I get AND the better I can perform the next day.
See? “Current You” taking care of “Future You”.
Here’s somethings I do to create the ideal nighttime routine to set myself up for a better week:
Stop My Work Day at a Certain Time
My office day “ends” at 5pm, but more often than not, I find myself responding to emails, finishing projects, or putting out major fires well into the night. Sound familiar? Work-life balance starts with leaving work exactly where it belongs: at the office (or closing the door to your designated home office if you work in a hybrid situation like me). Give yourself a daily cut-off like 6pm or 7pm (if you need a couple of extra hours), and then make sure that’s it for the rest of the night. I have an out of office message set to go every day at 5PM so I can set expectations with my coworkers that I won’t be able to respond until the next day.
I’ve implemented steps to transitioning out of my workday with a closing ritual. I sweep my email, check my to do list for the day to ensure I didn’t miss anything important, and then I scan my calendar for the next day. I’ve found that creating these “last steps” of the day into a ritual signals to my brain that it’s no longer work time. This is a good idea if you find yourself checking emails at 11PM or unable to fall asleep because you’re worried about your to-dos for the next day.
PS–am I successful at this all the time? No. Sometimes I do have big projects or customer calls I have to take past my “cut off” but I try to at least make an attempt to stick to a schedule.
Make a To Do List for the Next Day
OK, so I told you we weren’t supposed to think about work again, right? But before you transition into your chill time, make a to-do list so you feel in control of your next day (it will also prevent you from having to run to Target on the way to school drop off because you forgot it was your turn to bring the class snack, I promise!). I take a quick scan of my calendar and order each work task or chore by importance and priority, and then star the top-priority task tomorrow (that way I’m sure to see it first thing in the morning). I also lay out my clothes, make lunches, sit out my supplements, and pack my gym bag. Feeling prepared for the next day, will helps me relax and enjoy my evening.
Stop the Screen Time
I’ve found something that I’m craving at the end of most days is stillness. No matter how busy I feel like I am, I aim to turn my phone off by 8PM each night and practice a few minutes of total stillness, whether it’s in a bath, snuggling with the hubs (or the dog!), or writing in my journal. Taking a break from the blue light and constant stimulation of my phone screen has dramatically improved the quality of my sleep. It also carves out dedicated time for me to connect with my husband and also explore some creative things at night that I might have not prioritized if I got sucked into scrolling Instagram for 2 hours.
Do a 15 Minute Quick Clean Up
I don’t know about you but I’m physically unable to relax with a pile of laundry on the floor or dirty dishes languishing in the sink. It’s a strategy for me to make sure that I wake up every morning with a clean and organized home–which helps me feel calm, centered, and ready to start the day. Spending just a quick 15 minutes every evening to wipe countertops, do the dishes, and declutter the bedroom of anything that piled up throughout the day (looking at you, stack of rejected outfits and random shoes) makes a huge difference in your evening routine and your state of mind when waking up the next morning.
Turn Your Bedroom into a Tranquil Sanctuary
I’m very conscious of setting up our bedroom to be a place that we associate with rest and relaxation–doing what I can to make sure it feels like a peaceful oasis. Over the last few years, I’ve invested in quality bedding (we LOVE Boll and Branch), soft lighting, and removing any crap that’s contributing to clutter. I’m very strategic with the color pallet for the bedroom as well–sticking to creamy neutrals and removing anything with dark or bright colors. Hot take–we also removed the TV from our bedroom years ago and it was the absolute best decision. Another small thing I’ve done is placed small plants on our nightstand, a stack of books, and a water carafe in case we wake up thirsty in the middle of the night. We also added an air purifier which helps remove toxins and allergens from their air too! All of these small hacks, have created the perfect retreat for us to focus on rest and relaxation!
Read, Read, Read, Read.
Speaking of books on the nightstand, If you’re serious about using your nights to set up your days for success, I highly recommend adding at least 15 minutes of reading. Reading in the evenings is the perfect screen-free way to wind down and relax. I tend to spend about 30 minutes reading each night–nothing heavy (mostly just fiction! My current pick is Caraval by Stephanie Garber). Just keep in mind that what you read will likely be the last thing you think about before falling asleep, so I try to leave my thrillers or true crime books for the afternoons!
Go to bed at the same time every day.
Aren’t you tired (pun intended) of complaining to your partner about how little sleep you got the night before, or of feeling groggy and irritated when your alarm goes off in the morning? Take control of the amount of sleep you get even if your schedule doesn’t always feel controllable by getting into bed at the same time every day. By establishing a consistent bedtime, you encourage your body to fall asleep quicker and get a more restful nights sleep. I try to avoid staying up late on the weekends (and then sleeping in way later the next morning) because it messes up with my sleep cycle and makes me feel more tired.
If you ask me, there are few things as satisfying as a solid’s night rest ( I live for sleep). You wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, refreshed and ready to take on the day feeling on top of the world. While I know there isn’t a one-size-fits-all nighttime routine that’ll magically guarantee quality shut-eye, I hope some of these ideas will help provide the calmness you’re searching for in your new nighttime routine!