I’ve never really been a morning person. At all. I have learned that I can try to be, however, thanks to a nighttime routine. Waking up every morning and feeling more tired than I did when I went to bed is exhausting. I yearned to be able to wake up naturally and feel actually ready for the day without a blaring alarm bursting my ear drums. And while I still sometimes struggle to leave the warm and cosy haven that is my bed on a cold and early morning, I do manage to wake up – on my own and feeling rejuvenated. Here’s the nighttime routine that has helped me make this change, but also helped me better my mental health.
9AM: The Start of Your Nighttime Routine?
Weird, right? A nighttime routine that starts in the morning?
Well, one of, if not the most important part of your nighttime routine, begins when you wake up. You’re awake…without any alarms blaring from your phone. But, how?
Figuring out how long you need to sleep in order to wake up and feel like you’ve actually had a replenishing night’s sleep is a vital part of your nighttime routine. I tend to need to be awake at around 8am during the week for university, except on Tuesdays, when I need to wake up at 7am. And I know that I need eight to nine hours sleep. So, for every day except Tuesdays, I count nine hours back from 8am to 11pm. As a university student with mostly late starts, I’m lucky. I can be in bed by midnight and still get a good night’s sleep. However, on Tuesdays, I make sure that I’m in bed by 10pm.
Sleeping too much can be just as bad as sleeping too little. Figuring out the balance that works for you is crucial. As soon as I wake up, I set my alarm for the next day as a backup. Sometimes, my warm bed is so much more appealing than getting out and ready for the day ahead.
6:30PMish: Winding Down
As the evening begins to draw near and my brain begins to start failing me, I set about winding down. On different days, this means different things. But one thing I always do is watch an episode (or five!) of a program I’m watching – right now, it’s The Umbrella Academy on Netflix. Watching a TV series or a movie after a day of working feels rewarding. It allows me to shut off the parts of my brain that are required to figure out why Shakespeare decided to change parts of King Lear. I also love doing things like face masks since I’ve learned that, for myself, it really helps me unwind and fully relax.
Winding down is not the same as relaxing. Its the precursor. If you don’t teach your mind and body how to wind down after a hectic day, working and being active, then you’ll find it difficult to truly relax in the evening. I often try to tie the loose ends of things I’ve been doing that day, but if I know I need more time to complete them, I make a list of the things I need to do first thing the next day. This is a great way to wind down for the evening since you’re being proactive about the tasks at hand by ensuring they’ll be done, without setting unrealistic expectations for when you’ll be able to do them. You won’t be worrying about things you haven’t done since you have made a plan for when to do them.
7pm: Do Things To Relax My Mind and Body
Every single person relaxes in a different way. Some people like having an hour-long bath while others simply enjoy having a cup of hot chocolate while reading a book. Whatever it is that makes you feel relaxed, you should set a time to stop thinking about the daily responsibilities of work or university, and for the rest of the evening, dedicate that time to relaxing. I love having a bath once I’ve completed all my work at around 7pm – sometimes later, of course – because I’ve found that it helps me have a better night’s sleep.
When I get to bed, I don’t feel as though I’m lying there for hours, trying to fall asleep, since having a bath has made my mind feel ready to slip into my dream world, and my body feels ready to reset. Having a cut-off point of tasks you have to do is an important part of a wellness nighttime routine since you’d otherwise always be thinking about what you should be doing or could be doing and thus never really allowing yourself time to sit back and relax.
11pm: Where You Sleep is Just As Important As How Long You Sleep For
As I said earlier, I know that I need between 8 and 9 hours of sleep in order to feel ready for the next day. So, I always try to ensure that I’m in bed before 11pm -sometimes 11:30/12pm- so that once it gets to 11pm, I’m asleep and getting my full nine hours of sleep. However, you may find that you sleep for the right amount of time but still feel tired when you wake up. This often, has a lot to do with where you’re sleeping.
When I was in sixth form, my bed was essentially my desk. I spent hours sitting in my room, on my bed, doing work. But, since then, I’ve learnt that it’s so damaging to my sleeping pattern to do this. It’s important to separate your work from your sleeping space and using my bed as a desk only encouraged my brain to think that I should be doing work when I’m trying to sleep. Since beginning university, I have committed to using an actual desk to do my work and, although I study in my room, I am still able to distinguish between work and sleep, thanks to not sitting on my bed when I’m doing work.
Your nighttime routine may look significantly different to mine. And it makes sense that it does – different things help us unwind and relax. But the key thing that you should take away from this is that setting boundaries between unwinding, sleeping and relaxing and working is crucial to having a successful nighttime routine for wellness. You need to consider what is best for your mind and body. Think of things you can do to perpetuate a healthy mindset that allows you to have a productive day after waking up.