You might have realised from our previous article that crafting a morning routine can set you up for success for the rest of the day. After a long day of routines, however, it is only normal that we want to pop a beer open, put on a Netflix series and chill rather than to bother with another night routine.
As tempting as it sounds, our evening ‘relaxation’ activities (also known as sleep hygiene), might be hindering us from having a good night’s sleep, which causes us to *snooze our alarm clocks* and start us in a vicious cycle of lowered productivity.
Our sleep is like a dimmer knob rather than an on and off switch, meaning that it takes time for our bodies to wind down for bedtime, unlike the ‘sleep mode’ on our mobile phone. In fact, Dr Britney Blair, a board-certified clinical psychologist at The Clinic, San Francisco, recommends one hour of ‘relaxation of the mind’ before our expected bedtime so that we may fully ease into our sleep.
This is where a consistent night routine (counting down to your bedtime) will come in handy in getting you to that undisturbed, tranquil sleep you aspire to have.
Before the one-hour bedtime routine:
Do a quick check of your living space, bathroom and kitchen. In emptying the mind and releasing it for the night, it is also important to make sure that the areas that you will be using during the day are also tidy. Were the dishes washed? Have the toilet rolls been refilled? Have the pillows on your sofa been fluffed back?
The idea of this quick check is so that you do not have to do all of these trivial chores when you wake up in the morning and more importantly, so that you may start the day afresh without any leftover menial tasks holding you back.
Tip: A good tip is to have a small whiteboard so you or any of your other housemates or family members can write and write-off any household chores conveniently.
First to the 15th minute:
Do your physical night routine. That includes brushing your teeth, flossing, washing your face, and putting on any night creams on your skin. Apart from that, it is good to change out from your current clothes to a nightclothes, which also acts as a physical separator from your previous task to your bedtime mode.
Tip: If you have a number of skincare steps you have to take, you could get the bottles ready on the vanity stand so that you do not have to look high and low for it later on.
16th to the 25th minute:
Check your to-do list for the day. If you have completed at least 80% of the list then you have had a successful day. Any unfinished task should be put at the top of the new list for tomorrow (unless an indefinite postponement is in place) along with any existing tasks you already plan to complete the next day. A good rule of thumb is to not exceed 6 major tasks at hand and to ensure that you have buffer time in between tasks.
Tip: If you are an amateur at time management, you may check out this article that will bring you some tips on to-do lists and how to make use of your time during the day effectively.
26th to the 35th minute:
The amount of light in a room affects the melatonin production in our bodies which in turn, affects our sleep. Thus with the invention of light, it became harder for us to go to bed as it could be virtually daytime 24/seven. In this case, switch off all remaining lights in the room and tuck yourself into your comfort blanket.
At this time, ensure to put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ and send it away. This is crucial as the blue lights from our phones negatively impact our production of melatonin, making it harder for us to fall asleep. Should you not be able to keep your phone away all night, it is advisable to activate night shift mode, where the phone’s screen display will shift to warmer tones to tone down the blue light it emits.
Tip: Installing a dimmer switch would be useful in the bedroom, as you can control the light intensity according to the amount of natural light outside, allowing you to still have a dim source of light before bedtime.
36th to the 50th minute:
Make use of the opportunity to have some quiet time in the dark. Spend 15 minutes meditating on your day, thinking about what are the positive things you have done and the negative things you want to improve on tomorrow. The dark helps to eliminate most distractions pertaining to sight, helping you to reach the state of self-observation faster.
Tip: If you are new to meditation, take a look at our beginner’s guide to meditation with our resident yogi here
50th till bedtime:
By now, your eyelids may feel heavier as you yawn and start drifting off to bed. This is a good sign and you should embrace it wholeheartedly. But there might be some of us who might need more than the hour to drift off, and that is alright too. The point is to let your body slowly wind down rather than to become frustrated that you are not asleep by now yet.
One very good method for those of us who find it harder to sleep is to do the four-seven-eight breathing technique where you silently inhale for four seconds with your lips closed, hold your breath for seven seconds after, and exhale through your mouth with a whooshing sound for eight more seconds. This will help slow down our heart rate while giving us another method of ‘sheep counting’ and white noise and well, is basically the perfect concoction for sleep.
Please feel free to tweak the time or add any extra steps to your nightly routine, as it should always be tailored to suit your daily needs. Perhaps you might want to add in a cup of tea or hot milk before to have before your sleep, or maybe you want to take some extra time to write a journal while planning out your to-do list for the next day. In all, this night routine is a skeletal structure for you to build on, and you should not be limited only to the above steps.
Do tell us if you tried this routine, we are always happy to hear your thoughts on our articles!