Do you wake up in the middle of the night stressing over what you didn’t get done or what you still have to do?
Are you checking your phone, scrolling through news feeds, and replying to emails as part of your bedtime rituals?
Do you wake up groggy and unrefreshed even if your bedtime began 7 to 8 hours ago?
The evening is your P.M. bookend to your day. Your evening routine is your “me time” at night that helps you to unwind, quiet the nervous system and prepare for sleep. How you end your day is essential to recharging from it.
Your shut-down sequence – before bedtime – creates the environment for you to rest, relax and sleep. Without a full rejuvenation overnight, it’s harder to take charge of your day.
1. The importance of both productive tasks and restorative tasks in your evening routine. You need to review your day and plan for the next as well as relax and rest completely. If you wind down enough before your bedtime, you will have space for an effective evening routine.
2. The value of sleep and how the sleep cycle works –
- Stage 1 – alpha state
- Stage 2 – theta state
- Stages 3 and 4 – delta state
- REM sleep
3. Ways to create a sleep sanctuary to improve sleep quality and duration
4. Key things to avoid in your evening routine –
- Screens (e.g. TV, computer, laptop, tablet, phone) in the 30 to 90-minute period before bedtime
- Dinner in the 2 to 3-hour period before bedtime
- Vigorous exercise and full workout in the 4 to 6-hour period before bedtime
- Caffeine intake after 2 to 3 p.m. or in the 5 to 8-hour period before bedtime
- Alcohol consumption in the 3-hour period before bedtime
5. Key things to include in your evening routine –
Productive tasks –
- Review your day and preview the next day
- Do prep work, e.g. pick out clothes and clean up your work space and living space
- Learn new information or practice a hobby
Restorative tasks –
- Read fiction or other nonwork-related book
- Enjoy a teatime ritual with noncaffeinated herbal tea (e.g. camomile or Valerian root) about an hour before you go to bed
- Do gentle movement or exercise
- Practice relaxing breathwork
- Pray or meditate or listen to mellow music
6. The advantage of a maintaining a consistent bedtime, synching with your circadian rhythm, and building good sleep habits
- Shawn Stevenson, Sleep Smarter
- The Incrementalist podcast, Ep. 8, How to Plan Your Ideal Week
- The Incrementalist podcast, Ep. 14, Morning Routines and Rituals to Start Your Day
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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps.