Create Your Perfect Bedtime Routine (4 Sample Routines Included!)

A bed with white pillows against a wood wall, lit by evening light

Many of us would love to sleep better.

In fact, according to a recent survey, about one in three Americans are having a hard time falling asleep.

Practicing good sleep habits should be as big a priority as maintaining your physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation can affect your mood, cognitive performance, heart health, and immune system. 

The things you do throughout the day can impact your sleep and whether or not you get a good night’s rest. By managing a good bedtime routine, however, you can set yourself up for a pleasant night’s sleep. 

The perfect bedtime routine consists of:

  • Slowing down. Right before bed is not the time to be running around or squeezing in a workout. You’ll want to avoid any activities that spike your heart rate. Instead, slow things down and prime your body for sleep.
  • Quieting your thoughts. It might be tempting to check one more work email or finish one more work assignment but it’s important to start quieting your mind before bed. This means avoiding correspondence or work that would be taxing on your mind. Too much mental stimulation is a recipe for tossing and turning all night. 
  • Dimming the lights. It’s recommended to start dimming the lights one hour before bed. This softens your environment and cues your body for sleep.
  • Removing screens and devices. Along with dimming the lights, you’ll want to start withdrawing from screens and devices an hour or two before bed. The light from your screens disrupts your internal clock, making it that much harder to fall asleep. Not to mention, you probably don’t want to read the news or go down the rabbit hole of social media and risk increasing your stress levels. 

1. Bedtime routine idea: Journal writing and introspection

While it’s not recommended to mentally tax yourself right before bed, it is a good idea to add a little bit of journaling and introspection into your bedtime routine.

If you’ve ever suffered from insomnia, then you know just how hard it is to fall asleep when your mind is racing a mile a minute. Between work stress and family concerns and worrying about the state of the world, it’s no wonder that your mind has trouble shutting off at night. 

But writing in your journal is one of the keys to a soothing bedtime routine. By putting pen to paper, you release all the energetic thoughts onto the page. And, as a result, you’ll feel less weighed down by the stresses in your life.

What’s more, an evening journal writing practice is a nice way to end the day. It’s so easy to go through the motions of our days and feel like a passive participant in our own life. But journaling helps you take the time to engage with your thoughts and what’s around you. It’s a chance to ask yourself: How did my day go? What experiences did I have? How am I feeling right now? 

So instead of reaching for the phone at night, try grabbing your favorite notebook instead. 

This bedtime routine would be perfect for you

  • If you are seeking a quiet moment at the end of the night. 
  • If you like expressing yourself on the page. 
  • If you’re looking to spend less time watching TV or on your phone. 

2. Bedtime routine idea: Self care and pampering 

Raise your hand if you feel guilty or self-conscious when it comes to taking care of yourself. 

You’re definitely not alone. It’s so easy to take care of the people around us–coworkers, family members, friends–but when it comes to our own pampering and self-care needs, we shy away.

But what if I told you that a self-care routine could help you get a better night’s sleep? 

A self-care ritual is a soothing antidote to modern life. And it’s a much more restorative alternative to Netflix or social media.

Plus, a hot bath can help you fall asleep. A hot bath lowers your core body temperature and a lower temperature helps convey to your body that it’s time for bed. It’s also a great excuse to surround yourself with soothing candles and calming bath oils. 

This bedtime routine would be perfect for you

  • If you’ve been meaning to take better care of yourself. 
  • If you love all things sleep masks and bathrobes and lotions. 
  • If you’re craving some alone time before bed.

3. Bedtime routine idea: Admire the night sky

Sometimes it’s nice to get a bit of cool night air before bed. And there’s nothing like admiring the constellations to slow down your mind and put things into perspective. That work squabble doesn’t seem quite as significant when you’re comparing it to the vastness of the universe!

So instead of retreating to your living room couch and watching TV after dinner, take a short walk outside or look out your window and admire the night sky. You’ll feel immense gratitude for the world around you.

This bedtime routine would be perfect for you

  • If you love all things nature. 
  • If you’ve been cooped up all day and need some fresh air. 
  • If you need a moment to slow down and be more mindful

4. Bedtime routine idea: Cozy up with a comforting book

Far too often, we slip into the nighttime routine of binge-watching Netflix shows or burying our heads in our devices. So why not change it up and get cozy with a book?

In addition to helping you sleep better, reading has numerous health benefits. It’s been shown to improve your mood, release stress, and cultivate compassion. And more than that, reading is a chance to escape from the stresses or drudgeries of your day, and transport yourself to another world. You can travel to far-off places or inside the minds of interesting characters—without ever leaving your couch.

This bedtime routine would be perfect for you

  • If you’ve been meaning to read more books this year
  • If you want to do something relaxing before bed
  • If you want to be entertained but without watching TV or being on your computer 
Written by JiJi Lee
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