A healthy evening routine is essential for quality sleep, but as adults, we tend to overlook how critical it is to wind down and get the rest we need.
Sleep is one of the first things I work on with my clients. In my 20s and 30s, I was a terrible sleeper. I traveled almost 48 weeks a year and was in a different bed several times a week. I overtrained and overraced in ultra-endurance competitions, wrecking my hormones and sacrificing sleep for an early morning workout.
To manage my Hashimoto's Disease and counteract accelerated aging, I decided when I hit 40 to focus on sleep. It resulted in a massive shift in how I recovered physically and mentally.
If you want to know about the products I use for sleep, listen to podcast episode 60. I won't be covering those here.
Bedtime routines tell your brain it's time to wind down. It gets you out of work or problem-solving mode and allows your brain the time to rest and relax, dream and recharge for the next day.
I recommend Matthew Walker's book Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams to learn more about sleep science and The Power of When by Dr. Michael Breus. Both fascinated me and helped me change my nightly routine.
Here's what I do in the last hour before bed. Your healthy evening routine will be different. I'm only sharing mine to give you ideas on how you can prioritize and plan yours.
- I go to bed between 9-9:30 during the week. On weekends, unless I'm at a show or with friends, I still go to bed by 10 or 10:30. I try to go to bed about the same time most nights because that matters to our bodies.
- I may watch a show on TV a couple of times during the week for about an hour. On the weekends, my husband and I like to watch movies. I wear my Zenni blue-ray blocking glasses to keep the harsh light from tricking my body into thinking it's daytime and suppressing my melatonin.
- Other nights, I'll do a crossword puzzle, read, or just hang out and talk to my husband for 30-60 minutes before heading to the bedroom. He doesn't get home until about 8pm, so I'd rather talk to him than watch a show.
- Sometimes I'll take a theanine supplement, but I always drink Natural Calm mixed with Kombucha at dinner. The magnesium is good in the evening, but it's more just my routine and triggers me to think…wind down.
- Most nights, I have some type of snack around 7:30 or 8pm. Often cottage cheese, flackers or Trader Joe's crispbread, cheese, olives, walnuts, or protein powder mixed with almond butter. Emphasis is on fat and protein. I'll have about 100-200 calories because otherwise, I tend to wake up hungry in the middle of the night and not be able to get back to sleep. None of these spikes my blood sugar.
- I LOVE spicy foods but try to limit those at dinner and get my hot sauce fix at breakfast or lunch. I also stop drinking caffeine by 1 or 2pm. I don't drink alcohol, so I don't have an issue with it disrupting my sleep in the middle of the night when it wears off.
- We keep the lights down pretty low in the evenings, and they automatically adjust to a calming blue hue around 8pm.
- While I would love to put my phone away completely in the evenings, I wait until my husband gets home in case he needs me. Around 7:30 or 8pm, I'll check the weather for the next day, review my Oura ring data, and decide which Daily Burn* or Crossrope workout I'll do. At 8pm, my phone screen automatically darkens, so when I pick it up, it's not bright in my eyes, and screen time begins, limiting my ability to get to certain apps.
- An hour before bed, I put my Apollo Neuro on relax and wind down mode for 60 minutes.
- I turn on my lavender oil diffuser and get in bed, which has a pre-set temperature thanks to my 8-sleep mattress cover. I set my Apollo Neuro to sleep mode for an hour, plug in my phone, and turn it to Airplane mode.
- Sometimes I'll read a little of a book that isn't too stimulating, often fiction or a novel, but not a business book because it sparks too many ideas. I use my Amazon Kindle Paperwhite because it doesn't have the blue-ray effects that a Kindle Fire or tablet would have.
That's it! I encourage you to check out the episode on the products that are critical to my sleep routine. Think about what you are doing the last hour before bed. Is it something stimulating that keeps you up thinking? Are you looking at email, doomscrolling, or looking at what's new on Pinterest? Studies show that none of these help you relax and can even be detrimental to your sleep because of the blue rays.
Prioritize sleep. The quality of your next day depends on the quality of your sleep.