Did you think a bedtime routine was something you outgrew when you were a kid? We want to go to bed when we want and wake up when we want, darn it. We’re adults!
As much as we think we’re grown and in control, our body clocks crave being on a schedule. Somehow our circadian rhythm knows when it’s time to sleep or wake up, when to release different hormones, and even what our body temp should be.
So you must be wondering, just what does a good bedtime routine for adults look like?
Remember, you’re a grown up. 🙂 You don’t have to do boring stuff like brushing your teeth and being in bed by 8pm. Your routine is going to be full of relaxing activities to prepare your body and mind for sleep. Matter of fact, it’s easy to design your own sleep ritual you’ll actually look forward to going through every night!
Why Should I Develop my Own Sleep Routine?
Ok, so I might have been a little selfish when my son was little. I wanted him to know nighttime was for sleeping and daytime was for playtime. Momma did not want to be up at 2am because he thought it was a good time to play trains. 🙂
So I made sure I put him on a routine: wind down after dinner with quiet activities, next a bath, story, then bedtime.
So what does that have to do with your grown self? Before you totally blow off the idea of an evening bedtime routine, let me just explain the main benefits of establishing a healthy pre-sleep routine, especially if you suffer from insomnia.
- A good sleep routine helps you to practice good sleep hygiene by eliminating bad sleep habits that are unfortunately normal adult behavior nowadays. Case in point: caffeine, smartphones, TV, computers, sugary snacks. Yeah, basically everything that we love to do and eat.
- Our busy days bleed over into our evenings and make us overstimulated, which can lead to overthinking and a racing mind. Establishing a healthy bedtime routine helps you relax the mind by doing relaxing activities that lead to sleep instead.
- Good sleep is a learned behavior. When you practice a nightly bedtime routine, sleep comes easier because your body and mind has learned it’s time to wind down and sleep.
What Makes a Good Bedtime Routine for Adults?
The best thing about having an adult sleep routine is you get to have your “me” time and just chill. And it doesn’t have to be a long drawn out thing. Your routine can be 20 minutes long or even an hour.
As long as it’s calming and you do the same activities every night so your body learns, hey, this is what we do before we go to sleep!
I know what you’re thinking, what the heck am I supposed to do during my bedtime routine? To help you out, here’s a list of things you can do during your evening ritual.
Get Everything Ready for the Next Day to Keep your Mind Calm
If you’re like me, you remember stuff last minute. Do you usually remember something you needed to do and your eyes bolt open just as soon as you’re drifting off?
So you, A, either jump up right then and do it so you don’t forget. Or, B (the more likely option) you don’t rest because all you’re thinking about is what you need to do before you leave in the morning. Either way your night is shot. And sleep? Yeah, there’s precious little of that going on.
Getting things in order the night before gives your mind closure. It doesn’t give your mind the option of nagging at you or suddenly jolting you into reality just as you were relaxing and drifting off to asleep.
Pack lunches, set your clothes out, get everything together you’ll need and put it by the door. Whatever you think is important to do for the next day, go ahead and get it out of the way.
Cut the Cord to your Electronics
Eliminating your exposure to electronics an hour before bed is an activity that must be in any sleep routine. Electronics like smartphones, laptops, tablets, even the television emit blue light that keeps your brain from releasing melatonin. Using these devices within an hour or two of your bedtime pretty much guarantees you’ll be wide awake when it’s time to go to sleep.
I know what you’re thinking, there’s no way in heck I’m not using my phone or tablet for two hours every night!
Diffuse Sleepytime Essential Oils in your Bedroom
Diffusing sleep promoting essential oils, like lavender, in the hour leading up to bedtime, can make your bedroom feel relaxing and conducive to sleep. Think of it as giving your sleep environment a spa-like feeling.
Diffusers are pretty inexpensive. (I found mine for less than $25) There’s almost 20 essential oils that are good for sleep, but if you’re not sure which one to use you can’t go wrong with lavender. 🙂
Fill your diffuser with water up to the fill line, add 5-10 drops of lavender and let it run while you’re doing your sleep routine and even after you’ve gone to bed.
Take a Warm Soak in the Tub (or take a relaxing shower)
This is the very first thing I do in my nightly routine. I’m a bath person, but if you’d rather take a shower it’s totally okay to do that, too.
If you choose to soak in the tub, you can make it even more beneficial by adding sleep promoting bath salts. The bath salts contain magnesium, which gets absorbed through the skin. Insomnia can be a symptom of magnesium deficiency, so if you have trouble sleeping incorporating supplements and Epsom salt soaks may help.
Shower or bath, make sure the water temp is as warm as you’re comfortable with. Your body temperature will naturally rise, then drop when you get out. That’s a signal to your body that it’s time to start the sleep process.
Write in a Sleep Journal to Quiet your Mind
Do you ever go to bed just to lay there and think about what you did that day/what you have to do the next day? It’s usually because you’re so busy your mind doesn’t have an opportunity to process the day’s activities until you’re not doing anything: When you go to bed.
Writing your thoughts in a sleep journal helps your mind wind down. I’m not saying you have to get all philosophical, just write down whatever’s on your mind. For example, if it’s a situation you had at work that day, write it down. Trying to come up with a solution to a problem? Write it down. Just keep writing until your mind is settled and blank.
Have a Relaxing Drink that Promotes Sleep (no caffeine though!)
If you have an active bladder, this might be an activity you want to do early in your routine or skip it altogether. Drinking all the sleep drinks in the world won’t help you snooze if you’ve got to get up every half hour to go to the bathroom.
Sipping on a cozy drink while you’re curled up with a good book is a perfect combo to add to your sleep routine. The sleep promoting ingredients in your drink, plus reading a calming book really encourages relaxation.
Not sure what to drink? Relaxing herbal teas or milk-based drinks like almond milk and honey or a blackstrap molasses tonic are good choices. You can find a roundup of delicious sleep promoting drink recipes in my post, Bedtime Beverages to Help you Sleep Soundly.
Do Something Monotonous like Color in an Adult Coloring Book or Do a Puzzle
Coloring relaxes the brain almost in a meditative way because you’re concentrating on something outside of yourself. You’re not worrying about whatever stressed you out earlier in the day, you’re just wondering what color your happy little tree should be.
Doing a jigsaw puzzle has a similar effect. The monotony of looking for a certain puzzle piece, then flipping it around until it fits has a hypnotizing effect and lulls you into a relaxed state.
Do Relaxing Sleep Exercises Right Before Bed
If you struggle with winding down before bed, mentally or physically, sleep exercises can be a good thing to add to your nighttime routine. They can really help you switch off your mind so you can sleep like a boss.
These can be in the form of gentle stretches, yoga poses, or even tapping.
Stretching loosens tight muscles and helps your body to let go of tension and move it into a more relaxed state. If you typically have trouble getting your mind to wind down, I recommend doing breathing exercises once you’ve gotten in bed. There’s many different ones you can do, and I’ve listed a few in the post Beginner’s Guide to Sleep Relaxation Exercises.
Tapping (EFT) is also a great tool to use to calm your mind and your body, especially if you’ve had insomnia for so long you’ve developed sleep anxiety. You can find a how-to video, along with two tapping scripts in the post How to Cope with Sleep Anxiety Using EFT.
Pray or Meditate Before Bed for Inner Peace and Relaxation
Prayer is a key element in my sleep routine. It brings me a feeling peace because I know that someone else is in control. If you’re a not a Christian, you can do positive affirmations or meditations instead.
Why does this work?
There’s evidence that prayer and/or meditation can affect you mentally and emotionally. A study done by the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University, found that meditation impacts your state of mind and releases hormones that make you feel happy and more at peace.
What I found surprising about that study is its participants included those of all faiths.
Now Create your Own Adult Bedtime Routine for Sleep
Now that you have some ideas of what you can do during your sleep routine, you can design your own nightly routine. Whatever ritual you put together, it’s important to do it every night without fail.
So if you decide to soak in the tub, read a book, and meditate, soak in the tub, read a book and meditate in that order every single night.
I’ve created a printable bedtime routine checklist for adults to help you remember your steps until they become, well, routine and second nature to you. I’ve also included a bonus: 20 more bedtime routine ideas. 🙂
Free Printable Bedtime Routine Checklist
The best way to use your printable is to print out a week’s worth at a time. Choose your activities from the bonus list and write them on each line. As you do each item on your checklist, check it off. Use your checklist every night until it’s second nature to you.
Do you Have a Nightly Sleep Routine?
Have you developed your own sleep ritual? Do you do any other activities other than I’ve listed here? I’d love to hear about your routine and/or your thoughts about the idea of a sleep routine for adults.