Do you have an evening (pre-bed) routine?

The great thing about having a morning and evening routine is that no matter how stressful your day is, you start and finish it feeling more in control.

There’s a definite comfort in bookending your day with that feeling of it being on your own terms.

People rightly see having a winning morning routine as a way of setting themselves up to feel and perform at their best each day. But it can be difficult to really nail this if you aren’t also looking at how you finish each day.

The two go hand in hand.

Often when people describe themselves as ‘not being morning people’ it’s down to the fact that they go to bed late and don’t get enough sleep.

A positive morning routine usually means getting up at the same time each day. Which relies on getting enough sleep. To get enough sleep you need to be getting to bed at a set time. And to get to bed at a set time ready to go to sleep, you really need to have strong evening routine too.

Let’s see if you can give that morning routine a better chance of succeeding – and realise you might be a morning person after all – by looking at how you finish each day.

Here are 10 tips to help build your own Winning Evening Routine:

1. Have a set bed time
Most people need 7-9 hours sleep to perform optimally. Look at what time you need to get up, count back 7-9 hours and this is your new non-negotiable bed time. Lights out.

2. Have a cut off time where you stop working
To get to bed ready to go to sleep, you need to have had a chance to wind down. This isn’t happening if you’re staring at a screen and working too close to when you’re going to bed. Aim to have a good few hours from when you stop working until you go to bed where you can power down.

Set a time and then stick to it. Close the laptop and keep it closed.

3. Make a plan for the next day
If you go to bed still thinking about work and you wake up thinking about work, it can be a sign you haven’t properly switched off.

Stopping work earlier will help. But so will writing a plan for the next day.

What are the tasks you need to complete? Who do you need to speak to and in what order will you do these things?

Before you finish working for the day, take 5-10 minutes to write your plan for the next morning. Having this in place allows you to go to sleep feeling like things are under control and you can relax.

4. Prepare for the next day
In the same way that having a plan can help you feel at ease. So too can having everything ready for the next morning.

Set your clothes out, prepare your lunch, pack your bag and build this into your evening routine.

Knowing that the next morning won’t be a stressful rush will aid a more restful sleep.

5. Set an alarm to remind you to start winding down
This might sound stupid but it makes a huge difference. Often before you know it the evening has gone and you haven’t started switching off.

We set an alarm to make sure we get up when we need to. Why not set an alarm to remind yourself to begin your evening routine and to start switching off.

Some phones have this as a function now under health settings. If not just set an alarm on your phone or watch. You’ll very quickly start to do it without the need for an alarm.

6. Limit screen use
Staring at bright screens before bed – whether it’s phones, laptops, iPads or even TVs – is providing stimulation at a time we want to be powering down.

Set your phone to automatically go onto night-mode at certain time. You’ve hopefully now got a time where you’ll stop working and close the laptop. Now set a time where you put your phone away too. Ideally you should aim to avoid looking at your phone right before sleep. 

Yes it is possible to sleep with your phone out of arms reach! 

In fact sleeping with your phone in another room is one of the single most positive changes you can make for your health and performance!

7. Dim the lights
In the same way that bright screens can be stimulating, so too can bright lights in your home.

Avoid this by dimming the lights, using lamps or even lighting candles.

It creates a much more calming environment. You can make the ritual of lighting candles part of your evening routine.

8. Make a drink
There are loads of teas available now that aid restful sleep. Good old camomile tea is one of the best.

It’s not just the tea itself though, it’s building the ritual of having it every night. You start to associate having that tea with winding down and switching off. 

Decide what time works for you to put the kettle on, and do it at the same time every night.

9. Have a warm shower
Having a warm shower or bath before bed has been shown to improve sleep.

If you struggle to switch off this is something else you can build into your evening routine to help you relax.

10.Read a book
The great thing about reading a book (a real one) is that you’re off your screen.

Find a book that you’ll look forward to getting to bed and reading. But not so good that you’ll stay up reading it later than you should!

Spending the last 10-15 minutes of your day reading is a great way to end your day feeling relaxed.