Take a look at your typical evening, and you’ll often find a general pattern. Maybe you watch TV and carry out other tasks at certain times before heading off to bed.
Over the past month, I have been experimenting with a regimented evening routine aimed at optimising my sleep and therefore recovery.
The basic idea is to gradually turn down the stimulation dial to prepare the body for rest. Sleep is a vital component in developing strength and resiliency. With sleep comes adaptation and repair.
A evening routine may look like this…
7.30pm – Finish eating for the day (ensure meal is not too heavy)
7.30-8pm – Final chance to watch TV and check social media
8-8.15pm – Light stretching or foam rolling
8.15-8.30pm – Journaling and planning for the next day. During this time I clear my mind by writing down any and all thoughts floating through my head. This could range from a significant event or lesson learnt from the day passed, to something as mundane as a shopping list.
Over time I have developed a structure to my journal entries to make my brain as thought-free as possible. I also use it to review occurrences of the day – what I did well, and what I can improve on.
8.30-9pm – Fiction reading. Steering clear of non-fiction is important as we don’t want the mind churning over concepts in a book. Chipping away at a novel is more relaxing and less thought provoking.
9-9.15pm – Meditation. Whether sitting quietly, focusing on your breathing or utilising one of the many apps on the market. Meditation is making a comeback, and rightfully so. Although it can often be misconstrued as mumbo jumbo, it is what you make of it. By this I mean, meditation or mindfulness is an umbrella term for many different practices. Finding what works for you might involve some searching, but it’s well worth it.
9.15-9.30 – Give yourself 15 minutes to fall asleep.
The major benefit to employing an evening routine is the improved sleep quality as your body is appropriately prepared for sleep.
Another positive of this strategy is it allows you to tick some useful boxes to end the day, such as mobility, mindfulness and journaling. This will compound over time, resulting in significant improvements in these areas.
How could evening routines possibly be to your detriment?!
For me, and my personality type, I found that once I found a solid routine, I locked myself in to it rigidly. Socially this can be very limiting!
Furthermore, if you’re in any sort of rush, the anxiety of missing the correct timing of your routine can in fact hinder sleep.
Optimising Evening Routines –
For the most part, adopting a regular routine will have positive pay-offs. Having said that, I have some thoughts to prevent you from falling prey to my mistakes.
- Rather than specific times, give yourself time ranges. Reading, for instance can start anywhere from 8.15-8.45pm and duration can vary from 15 to 45 minutes.
- Give yourself the weekend off. Don’t blow off social engagements purely to stay in check with your evening routine.
- Develop a condensed version of your full routine to combat surprises and increase your overall flexibility. An example might be, 10 minutes of journaling and 5 minutes of meditation then bed.
Do you have an evening routine? What have you found to be most effective in producing quality sleep? Leave your comments below, I look forward to reading them.