how to establish an evening routine for better sleep

The Importance of Establishing an Evening Routine for Better Sleep

You've probably heard it a thousand times: A solid evening routine is essential for high-quality sleep. But what does sleep science really say about it?

It's more than just an old wives' tale; decades of sleep research have illuminated the deep links between our evening habits, sleep stages, and overall sleep quality.

So keep reading to learn more about the science behind evening routines and to hear from Leah Santa Cruz and Ofosu Jones-Quartey, the Balance app's meditation experts, about their evening routines in a three-part video series.

The Science Behind Evening Routines and Quality Sleep

Our bodies operate on a 24-hour schedule known as the circadian rhythm. This internal clock, influenced by light and darkness, governs many physiological processes, including sleep. When the sun goes down, our bodies start producing melatonin, the hormone that signals it's time for sleep. Good sleep hygiene—that is, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and creating a sleep-friendly environment—reinforces this rhythm, helping us get enough of that all-important REM sleep and reducing the chances of sleep disorders like insomnia.

In contrast, sleep deprivation isn't just about feeling grumpy the next day. It messes with our bodies on a fundamental level, from impairing memory to increasing disease risk. Thankfully, cultivating a robust evening routine can help. Whether it's reading a book, meditating, or sipping chamomile tea, winding down before bed is crucial for restorative sleep. After all, we aren't just trying to clock in hours of sleep; we're aiming for quality sleep that nourishes our minds and bodies, allowing us to wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day.

So, next time you're tempted to skimp on your bedtime routine, remember the sleep physiology at work. And in the meantime, check out this short video—part one of our three-part series—to learn more about the importance of evening routines directly from a meditation expert:

How to Create Your Personal Evening Routine

Creating your own personalized evening routine can make a world of difference to your sleep hygiene and overall well-being. Consider it an essential part of self-care—a kind of nightly ritual that prepares your mind and body for restful sleep. And let's be honest, who doesn't want that? 

An effective evening routine cultivates positive nighttime habits that signal to your body that it's time to wind down and go to sleep. So, you might start by turning down the lights and minimizing screen time at least an hour before bed. And instead of scrolling through social media or binge-watching your favorite show, why not try incorporating relaxation techniques like meditation or mindfulness exercises into your pre-sleep routine? 

You could also try reading a book, journaling your thoughts from the day, or engaging in light physical activity like yoga or stretching. According to sleep science, all of these calming activities help reduce stress and promote feelings of relaxation, preparing you for a better night's rest. 

Remember, the goal here is to create a peaceful environment and a sense of quiet time, transitioning from the hustle and bustle of the day to the calm and tranquility of the night. Your evening routine should be something you look forward to, not a chore to be ticked off your to-do list. So, make it personal, make it enjoyable, and most importantly, make it work for you.

For more inspiration, ideas, and tips, check out part two of our video series:

How a Consistent Bedtime Contributes to Better Sleep

Who knew our parents were onto something when they insisted on a consistent bedtime? As it turns out, sticking to a regular sleep schedule can have a significant impact on the quality of our sleep. One of the secrets to achieving restful sleep and maintaining healthy sleep habits is bedtime consistency. Essentially, this means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends and holidays.

When you maintain a consistent bedtime like this, you're supporting your body's natural circadian rhythm, which again, is your body's internal clock that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. This can lead to better sleep quality and even help to prevent sleep disorders. You see, our bodies crave routine. When we sync our bedtime with our internal clock, we move through our sleep cycle more effectively, leading to more restful, restorative sleep.

So, aim to hit the hay and wake up at the same time every day. Sure, this might mean resisting the urge to hit the snooze button or stay up late binge-watching your favorite show, but the payoff will be worth it. 

To learn more about setting up a consistent bedtime routine—and some of the challenges that can pop up while trying—check out this final part of our evening routine video series:

Unlock Free Sleep Support

Establishing a consistent and personalized evening routine is crucial for better sleep quality. By understanding the science behind your circadian rhythm and the importance of winding down before bed, you can create habits that lead to improved mental and physical well-being. Remember, it's not just about the quantity of sleep but also its restorative power.

To take your sleep journey a step further and unlock additional sleep support, download the Balance meditation and sleep app on iOS or Android. You’ll enjoy expert-led guided meditations, bedtime stories, soothing soundscapes, and more—all free for an entire year! Give yourself the gift of better sleep and enhanced overall wellness by incorporating Balance into your daily life. Sleep well!

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