Everyone knows that sleep is important. Getting good, quality sleep for the right amount of time every night is an absolute game changer in your life. It’s one of those things (like caffeine or mascara) that you don’t FULLY appreciate until you don’t have it. … But what else goes into a good nightly routine, before the sleep?
I’m so glad you asked! There are several things that you SHOULD be doing every night before bed that will really help you maximize your day, relax, and get the rest and rejuvenation your body needs and your soul deserves!
While there are loads of self care routines and rituals that you can choose to add to this, I think these 11 habits are the key components of a simple, yet effective nightly routine.
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Nightly Routine: 11 Things You Should Do Every Night
1 . Turn off Tech
Technology is great, right? It connects us to our friends and family, allows us to research anything our weirdo hearts and minds desire at the drop of a hat.. and allows us to communicate so easily.
But now think about the flip side of that.
Technology connects us to our friends and family.. whether or not we want to be connected. Whether or not those people are needy, bring drama into our lives, or have no boundaries or not.
We can research anything we want. So when you have that “brilliant idea” or.. just “wow was Debora Messing in that movie we were going to see 5 years ago but never did? Hmmm” random, useless thought… you will want to do so.
If you have technology available to you, you WILL use it. Ceaselessly!
In addition to the negative effects of blue light, the fact that technology doesn’t allow you to ever just “turn off” your mind and relax makes using technology before bed another big no-no for your nightly routine.
Some people suggest shutting it off 30 minutes or an hour before bed.
I say as soon as you can.
Unless you have a legitimate situation where someone might call you in a dire emergency… just put it all away. You can deal with the goofy texts, endless emails, Insta updates, and fake news TOMORROW.
The first step of your nightly routine should always be to turn off technology!
2 . Declutter
Having clutter around the house causes stress and anxiety for most everyone, even if we aren’t directly aware of it.
So to de-stress before bed, the second step of your nightly ritual should be to declutter!
Preferably, you can do a quick “10 Minute Tidy” sort of a thing and generally pick up your whole living space. However, if you’re short on time, or the rest of the house is filled with other people’s messes..
At least clean your bedroom.
Even if the rest of the house is out of control, or you have crazy hoarder tendencies – with newspapers lining your living room (omg email me, I’ll send help!).. at LEAST go to sleep in a clean, clutter free environment.
You will sleep more soundly, wake more rested, and then have one less thing to worry about the next day.
Win. Win. Win.
Don’t get me wrong here: it’s not like you need to bring in cleaning products, vacuum, scrub the windows and mirrors every night before bed. Just take a moment to pick up the clutter – make sure your clothes, shoes, books, and any other possessions are away in their permanent homes. Trash should be in trash cans (not piled up!). And your bed should be free of everything but pillows.
This is how you really start to set the mood for an effective nightly routine! Clear. That. Clutter.
3 . Use Scents for Relaxation and Better Sleep
Scents are a great way to train and condition your brain!
You can use scents to help you form habits, like getting focused work done at a certain time, or to help you relax or feel a certain way.
This nightly routine tip combines the two ideas!
Use scents to condition your brain for sleep. If you make a habit of lighting a candle, melting a wax, or burning incense before bed.. after a while, your body will automatically start to get sleepy when you smell that particular scent.
Then if you’re feeling stressed, traveling in a different time zone, or have any other out-of-the-ordinary sleeping situations, you can use the scent you’ve conditioned your brain with to relax and settle in for a good night’s sleep!
Additionally, there are several scents that specifically help people relax and sleep better:
As you can see, some of those overlap! That’s unsurprising, as we humans do try to relax when sleeping 🙂
Just pick your favorite scent (the ones listed above are good starting places!) and add that aromatherapy to your nightly routine!
Note: Do NOT leave anything burning or warming overnight.
Be sure to blow out any flames or unplug any heaters before going to bed! I’m related to a police officer and fireman, and I’ve heard TOO MANY stories of burning homes due to these type of nightly routine products not being put out, and I don’t want that for you.
4 . Write in a Journal
Journaling is a vital, and totally versatile step in a nightly routine!
Don’t feel like in order to “journal correctly” you need to sit down at your vanity in a silky nightgown, look up dreamily, smile, and then start writing:
“Dear Diary, John came up to me and poked me in the head today! First I thought he was like so totally mean.. but now I think it means he likes me! OMG!”
That’s movie BS.
Journaling is something you do for YOU that lets out your feelings, thoughts, ideas, or whatever comes in your head.
Some people like to do a version of “morning pages” at night where they just basically brain dump. Write whatever comes in your head. What happened today, what you want to do tomorrow. What you REALLY thought of tonight’s cooking. A story you might write one day. Rants about a coworker. What. ever. the. hell. you. want.
No one but you ever needs to see this. EVER.
If you want to take the happy, relaxing approach, you can go for a Gratitude Journal. All you’ve got to do is list things you’re grateful for!
You can set some boundaries and structure for yourself, such as “5 Things I’m Grateful For Today” every day.. or “3 things I”m grateful for” – but it has to be something different every day. Or truly, this can be anything you want.
The whole idea is to get you thinking positively about your life and what you’ve got.
If you prefer creative writing, or more writing for self discovery .. I’ve got a fun list of prompts here that will help you out!
These are designed to open you up and see what’s inside! Find out your fears, regrets, joys, and dreams! Or let the incredible story teller you’ve been hiding for years out of her cage!
Journaling is such an important part of a nightly routine.
So, do whatever makes you happy. Just write something.
5 . Skin Care & Make Up Removal
Everyone wants to look gorgeous! And we all know that our faces are basically the billboard for .. well, us.
So, it makes perfect sense to want your face to look amazing, right? Right.
Some of us (me) don’t really wear make up very often, and some of us do! Cool! Truly, whatever makes you happy makes me happy.
If you wear make up, the first step of your skincare nightly routine is to remove the make up!! I don’t know a lot about make up, but I do know you’re not supposed to sleep in it. It clogs your pores and smears all around in the night, leaving you looking like a drunk raccoon when you wake up!
Nobody wants that. Nobody.
So first, clean off your make up. I like using these wipes.
Second, adopt a face cleansing & moisturizing strategy that works with your skin type.
This may include a specific kind of face wash, moisturizer, face mask, or something else. You do you.
Just do it every night before bed, and wake up with baby’s-butt style skin.. er.. I mean, Smooth, beautiful, clean skin!
If you need some extra motivation, check out Girl, Wash Your Face. 🙂
6 . Hygiene: Brush Your Teeth & Floss + Take a Shower or Hot Bath
Remember those stories your mom and grandma told you when you were little? About your teeth turning yellow and falling out if you don’t brush your teeth?
They’re real. DO IT!
You want healthy teeth and gums! In order to do this, satisfy your ‘twice a day’ requirement and brush and floss before bed.
This easy, habitual aspect of your nightly routine will not only keep you healthy, but it will help you have better breath!
Brushing and flossing every night means you can spend quality time with your loved one between the sheets without scaring them off with stanky (morning) breath!
If you’re a nighttime shower-er.. now’s the time. Add a nice hot shower or hot bath to your nightly routine as well, and go to sleep clean as a whistle!
7 . Stretch
I strongly believe that EVERYONE’S nightly routine should include stretching!
Stretching has a number of health benefits! Some of my favorite are relaxation, relieving muscle tightness, tension, and pain, and improving flexibility!
Whatever your reasons, try to stretch at least 2 – 5 minutes per day, just before bed. (It will be much easier in a decluttered room, too! Woohoo!)
It will help you release physical and mental tension, relax, and prepare your body and mind for bed.
Here are a few stretches you can do before bed:
8 . Meditate, Do Breathing Exercises, or Pray
One step in a nightly routine that people tend to overlook is a little chunk of time for mindfulness.
Some people love meditation. They can focus on the movement of their bodies, space out, and forget the outside world for a few minutes.
Here’s a video of a guided meditation. This is great for beginners who aren’t totally sure where to start or what to do while meditating!
Others (like me!) love breathing exercises.
Forget the stress and distractions of the outside world and just breathe. There are zillions of variations on breathing exercises! Check out some beginner techniques here, or find an exercise that suits you!
Finally, if you are a religious person, this mindfulness, totally alone, you-time can be used for prayer. Whomever you pray to, and however you pray, that’s perfectly fine. Just add it to your nightly routine and do whatever you need to do.
9 . Read for 15 – 30 Minutes
Reading is probably my FAVORITE part of my nightly routine. I look forward to it all day, and sometimes head to bed early just to dive into my book!
Reading is one of those incredible things that can truly transform people, change our moods, and give us insight and power we never thought possible.
In fact, if you think about reading too hard, it starts to get kind of crazy!
Nuts how zillions of people can sit down in a chair or lay in a bed and stare at little squiggles on sheets of paper, and learn, grow, be transformed, travel to distant lands, or become a different person!… right?
But I digress.
Reading is amazing because it CAN change us. We can travel to Mars, fight in a battle, overcome adversity, learn a lesson, learn a language, solve a murder mystery, defeat Voldemort.. or do basically anything!
I love reading before bed because I know I have NOTHING ELSE to do afterward, so I don’t feel guilty about completely investing and “buying in” to my book.
I commit my entire being to the story while I am reading.
I become the character.
I get totally lost in another world, and don’t emerge until I fall asleep, or put the book down.
In my opinion, reading before bed might just be the most important and effective habits to include in your nightly routine.
Find a good book and dive. in.
P.S. I know I said to turn off technology, but I love the Kindle Paperwhite.
It just looks like a book, without all of the harmful blue light. Plus, if you want to save some space and avoid clutter in your house, never lose your page again, and be able to grab nearly any book you want at the drop of a hat… I think this is the way to go!
10 . Absolutely Relax
The first 9 steps in your nightly routine have now led you here.
You’ve cleaned your face, teeth, body, and room.
You’ve set the mood with no technology and relaxing scents. You’ve released your feelings into your journal, picked up some new ones from a book.. and now it is time.
I know it’s hard to relax, but try to just STOP THINKING. Put tomorrow’s To Do list out of your mind. Stop thinking about the things you “should’ve” done today. It’s too late.
All that matters is relaxing.
If you relax, you’ll get a good night’s sleep.
If you get a good night’s sleep, you’ll be better equipped to handle tomorrow, and all that the day brings you.
If you’re having trouble, here are 25 Tips for Relaxation !
11 . Get to bed EARLY
Listen, I’m a night owl.
I don’t understand those people who can just happily hop out of bed after hearing one second of their first alarm, and I never will.
I AM that meme of someone setting 8-20 alarms to wake up. Every. Single. Morning.
However. I am aware of the health benefits of getting to sleep early, and waking up early, as well as the fact that it seems to be the most consistent habit of successful people across time and space.
Sleep allows our bodies to rest and recover from the work and stress we put them through. Sleep allows our mental faculties to function as they’re intended, and keeps us from being cranky JERKS.
(And no, coffee cannot ever fully make up for a lack of sleep- no matter how much we claim it can)
Human adults need at least 7 hours of sleep EVERY NIGHT. 8 is even better.
But.. very few adults get to sleep in, as we have work, kids, exercise, or other responsibilities and duties to take care of early in the morning.
So this means that dummies like me are out there, staying awake WAY too late, then getting up EARLY for work, day after day… and that’s no good.
But we can’t really change what time we wake up in the morning.
How do we make sure we get enough sleep, then? Go. To. Bed. Early.
Yes, it pains me to say that. But..
A good nightly routine ends with getting to bed early.
I’m sorry, but it’s true.
Just try it. See if you like it… and thank me later!
When will you start your nightly routine?
Now you’ve got everything you need to successfully put together a nightly routine! These are all strong suggestions, but if some don’t really apply to you, feel free to change it up and include just what you need.
This is the real deal here:
Relax. Be Clean. Empty Your Mind. Get Enough Sleep.
I hope this helps you get restful sleep and have happy, productive days!
and remember, make good life choices!