Morning routines are a hot topic. For good reason, too. Who doesn’t want to start their day refreshed before the sun comes up? But what about a bedtime routine?
For so long, I thought I wasn’t a morning person. I’d hit snooze and eventually drag myself to the coffee maker. Then, I’d sit in zombie-mode until the caffeine made me human again.
Let me tell ya, zombie-mode is not cute.
They say to give yourself a couple of days before you adjust to an early-bird schedule, but the struggle was real. I never adjusted. I needed to accept that it’s just not in my Spanish blood. We like our sleep.
That is.. until I discovered that morning routines don’t start after your alarm goes off.
Morning routines start at night, an hour before bed. They start with a bedtime routine.
Find Your Time
First step: Find the right time for you to go to bed.
When I was waiting tables, I wouldn’t get home until midnight. I struggled to come to terms with my nocturnal schedule. For months, I went straight to bed as soon as I got home, only to stare at the ceiling with insomnia.
I’d set my alarm for the time I thought I should wake up—7 a.m.—because in our society, waking up early means success and productivity. But my work schedule didn’t allow it. Whenever I slept through my alarm, I’d feel defeated and start my day disappointed in myself. This went on for months.
My realistic bedtime was 2 a.m. and my wake up time was 11 a.m.
This sounds like a college kid’s schedule, but it worked. I got 9 hours of sleep and still reaped the benefits of a bedtime routine and a morning routine. This didn’t make me any less productive. It just meant my hourly planner looked different than a 9-5er’s.
Whether you’re going to bed at 9 p.m. or 2 a.m., consistency will get you there.
It wasn’t realistic for me to go to bed at 9 p.m. consistently, because that only happened on my nights off. Instead, no matter what, I went to bed at 2 a.m.
We all want to wake up before the sun, get our work-out in and have a full-spread breakfast. And hey, this might be where you’re at right now. But sometimes, we have to own the season we’re in.
Pick your bedtime and stick with it.
The iPhone has a bedtime feature in the Clock app. It reminds you when to get ready for bed and tracks each night’s sleep.
Sleep Cycle is another app with a reminder and tracking feature available on Android and iPhone.
Routines start with habits.
Find what works for you and stick with it in a specific order. It’s all about establishing a familiar pattern that tells your body what’s happening next.
Maybe your routine starts when you change into comfy clothes, brush your teeth, wash your face, and finally ends with 20 minutes of reading before lights out.
This includes smaller habits as well. Like prepping your coffee maker at night or making lunches for the next day.
You’ll fall into your system and naturally flow through it each night.
Do you ever realize you haven’t changed out of your work clothes until hours after you get home?
Take them off! This is a sweatpants-only zone.
Changing into your comfies is the first step toward disconnecting from the day, even if it’s way before you “head that way”. It signals to your brain that you’re not in the office anymore.
After you swap out the heels for fuzzy socks, it’s time to chill.
Some people fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow, but I need time to get sleepy.
Read a book, take a bath, journal, draw, listen to soft music.
I tend to lose myself in this step. Before I know it, I’m four chapters deep and an hour has flown by. Set a timer for 20-30 minutes so you don’t get carried away. If you must scroll, do it mindfully. When the timer goes off, I shut my book or put away my phone, turn off the lights and fall asleep a little lighter.
Make It Known
Accountability makes all the difference.
You need back-up. Self-discipline is hard, especially when you’re relying solely on yourself.
Let your household know your bedtime plans. Announce it to your roommates, your family, and your significant other. Announce it to your cat.
“I’m going to bed at 10:30 tonight and no one is going to stop me.”
This will create a standard to hold yourself to. You’re more likely to stick with your bedtime routine if your support system already expects it from you.
Accountability is what gets you to the gym to work-out with a friend. It’s why people join book clubs.
Eventually, the people around you will adjust to your routine and respect it, even if its not their routine. And who knows, you might inspire them to find a routine themselves!
After you find your realistic bedtime, stay consistent with it as you establish a new bedtime routine. Soon it’ll become second-nature.
Wind down slowly and strategically to prepare for a full night’s rest. Then wake up ready for that sunrise yoga class and celery juice come morning. You can do this!