If you’ve got a busy life that just seems to get busier and more unpredictable, bedtime routine ideas aren’t on your radar at all. But they should be if you want restful sleep.
If you’re not creating a bedtime routine that helps you wind down at the end of the day, you’re bringing your daytime anxieties to bed with you. This will make it harder to fall asleep.
However, simply injecting a little routine into your pre-bedtime moments can have majorly positive effects on your sleep quality.
Read on if you want to learn some easy bedtime routine ideas that lots of people are using to get healthy sleep and wake up to a better tomorrow.
(Note. While we earn commission from the links in this article, we only recommend the products we truly believe will improve your sleep the most. These commissions come at no extra expense to you and help us to keep providing you with expert sleep information for free.)
Why is a Bedtime Routine Crucial to Sleep Health?
A consistent bedtime routine can mean the difference between a night of tossing and turning and a restful night’s sleep. If you implement a few simple changes, falling asleep doesn’t have to be such a challenge.
Sleep psychologist, Dr. Shelby Harris says that going to bed shouldn’t just be a crash time.
“Sleep is not an on/off switch. If you think you can just turn the light switch off and go right to sleep, you likely are a sleep deprived person. […] It should be like a process of a dimmer switch where you’re slowly dimming your body, your brain, to wind itself down to land the plane gently so you can then glide into sleep.”
Implementing a consistent bedtime routine will work wonders for both your quantity of sleep and your quality of your sleep.
Time to kick those poor sleep habits and set up some good evening routines!
11 Bedtime Routines Ideas to Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
These bedtime routine ideas are sure to help you get a more restful night’s sleep. They will help you wind down your day and mentally prepare you to finally get that quality sleep you’ve been searching for.
Give some of these a try and see for yourself why sleep specialists and regular people alike recommend setting up a consistent nighttime routine.
1. Stick to a regular bedtime
Going to bed around the same time every night helps to give you an endpoint to your day. This primes the brain to know that sleep is coming, effectively serving as a trigger for sleep.
As Dr. Harris puts it,
“We are meant to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time, seven days a week. We do not have a different alarm for the weekdays vs. weekends. If you are having trouble sleeping, consistency every day as much as possible is key.”
A regular bedtime is a critical part of a positive bedtime routine.
2. Dim the lights
In modern society, the night sky is constantly lit up.
But those bright, artificial lights are inhibiting your ability to fall asleep by interfering with your melatonin levels.
Melatonin is the hormone that helps your brain recognize that it’s time for sleep, and if it’s disrupted, it can mean that you won’t be falling asleep any time soon.
As part of your nightly routine, dim the lights before you go to bed.
Better still, switch to a light that emits green light in the evening hours.
You can try the Allay Lamp, created by a Harvard neuroscientist. The green light is non-irritating as it generates smaller waves, which is more calming to the brain and can help you get some quality sleep.
3. Read yourself a bedtime story
There’s a reason why the bedtime story has become such a ubiquitous part of putting kids to bed. Reading before bed can help your brain slow down from your flurry of daily activities and shift toward sleep mode.
Cognitive neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis explains that in a study, after raising people’s stress levels then trying to bring them down, “‘reading worked best, reducing stress levels by 68%”.
Getting stress and anxiety levels down is an important part of a positive bedtime routine. When it’s time for bed, pick up one of these bedtime reads.
4. Lower the temperature in the room
If you’re having trouble falling asleep, it could be because your room is a bit too hot.
While your body temperature fluctuates throughout the day, when you sleep, your core temperature dips.
If you keep a bedroom too warm, you’re basically fighting against yourself.
While everyone is a bit different, sleep psychologist Michelle Drerup recommends setting a bedroom temperature between 60-67°F (16-17°C).
As Dr. Drerup explains,
“If the bedroom becomes uncomfortably hot or cold, you are more likely to wake up, and the comfort level of the bedroom temperature especially impacts the quality of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the stage in which one dreams.”
Since your core body temperature decreases while you sleep, why not help it along by optimizing your room temperature as part of your nighttime routine.
5. Block out blue light
Blocking blue light is an important nightly bedtime routine idea for both children and adults.
Blue light is the bright light that’s streaming out of your electronic device. It has been linked to disruption in melatonin production and melatonin secretion.
Screens at bedtime can cause sleep issues, but if you block the blue light, they will have a lower impact on your ability to get restful sleep.
If you aren’t quite sure about how to block blue light, don’t worry, there are some easy solutions.
If you must be on your device in the evening, one of the most popular solutions is to wear blue light blocking glasses an hour before going to bed. Research shows that wearing blue light blocking glasses in the evening is effective at enhancing your quality of sleep.
Try blue light glasses tonight to keep your melatonin levels on track.
6. Try progressive muscle relaxation
You may feel tense from all the stress you’ve encountered throughout the day. This tension can manifest as aches and pains or anxiety and is almost always a real boon for falling asleep.
Progressive muscle relaxation is one of many relaxation techniques to sleep and it’s easy to do even if you have no experience.
Here’s how to practice progressive muscle relaxation:
- Lie comfortably on your back.
- You’re going to tense muscle groups starting from your head, working down to your feet. Breathe in and tense your forehead and face for four to ten seconds.
- Breathe out and relax everything very suddenly.
- Stay relaxed for 10 to 20 seconds before moving to your next muscle group.
- Work through the neck and shoulders, arms and hands, stomach, buttocks, thighs, calves, and feet.
- When you reach the end, count backward from five to bring yourself back to the present.
7. Drink an herbal sleepy tea
A particularly relaxing bedtime routine idea is to sit with a nice warm cup of decaffeinated sleepy tea. There are lots of tried-and-true natural remedies for falling asleep and sleepy teas are no exception.
The most well-known sleepy tea is chamomile. Chamomile contains apigenin which helps promote sleep, and has lots of other health benefits too.
But beware, not all teas are created equal and many pack a serious caffeine punch which can have the opposite effect from what you’re looking for.
Picture yourself with a nice warm cup of chamomile tea and a good book.
8. Write tomorrow’s to-do list
Research shows that writing out a specific to-do list five minutes before bedtime helps facilitate falling asleep even better than journaling about your day’s completed activities.
The research also shows that the more specific your to-do list, the faster you will fall asleep. Plus, it’s great prep for tomorrow.
Dr. Harris echoes this and says that she uses this tactic with her patients suffering from insomnia. She explains that trying to remember all those things while trying to fall asleep leads to anxiety and actually can prevent you from drifting off.
Before your head hits the pillow tonight, try writing down some specific things on your list for tomorrow.
9. Have a warm bath
A warm bath can be soothing at any time of day, but just imagine slipping into the tub after a long day. Sound relaxing? Science agrees.
Taking a warm bath, even for just 10 minutes, can improve your quality of sleep. The sweet spot is from 104-108°F (40–42.5°C). A very hot bath may not have the same effect so don’t go overboard.
Hop in the tub 60-90 minutes before your bedtime and look forward some better sleep at night.
10. Try some light exercises
Adding a bit of light exercise into your bedtime sleep routine a couple hours before bedtime can help your body to burn off any extra energy that might be keeping you hyped up at night.
Studies show that light exercise in the evening can help, but vigorous physical activity can delay sleep time in some people.
Break out that yoga mat, take the dog out for a quick walk, or get in some light aerobics before bed. Adding a little physical activity to your routine can help you get a restful sleep.
11. Set a consistent wake-up time
Just like setting a consistent sleep time, you should set a consistent wake-up time as well.
Inconsistent wake up times can confuse your internal body clock, also known as your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is critical for ensuring proper sleep and wake times.
It may be difficult at first so you can use an alarm clock, but over time, your body will adapt and your consistent wake time will become normal.
To get your body used to waking up at the same time every day, it truly has to be the same time every day, including weekends!
Now you have 11 easy options for bedtime routine ideas. Try making a few of these your bedtime rituals and see the positive effects they have, not only on your quality of sleep, but also on your quality of life.
Set your bedtime right now and try to stick to it. Find that dimmer switch in the evening hours and get ready for a great night’s sleep thanks to your new evening routine.
Developing some healthy habits can have a fantastic impact on sleep and help alleviate sleep troubles.
Whichever bedtime routine ideas you choose, start the wind down process with an Allay Lamp — remember there’s free shipping on all purchases!
Welcome to Snoozerville! I’m Dr. Alex Hartley, your guide to the world of restful sleep. With a Ph.D. in Sleep Science and years of experience as a sleep therapist, I’ve dedicated my life to understanding and improving sleep quality. My passion lies in uncovering the mysteries of sleep and sharing practical, science-backed advice to help you achieve the best rest possible. Beyond my academic pursuits, I’m an advocate for mindfulness and relaxation techniques, which I incorporate into my daily routine. At Snoozerville, I aim to transform your nights, combining the latest research with easy-to-implement tips. Whether you’re a chronic insomniac or just looking to improve your sleep hygiene, join me on this journey towards peaceful, rejuvenating sleep.