Whether Donald Trump, Mahatma Gandhi, your mother or yourself, everyone has an evening routine. Maybe you check your WhatsApp messages before you go to bed or you watch a movie. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we are creatures of habit and feel comfortable with regularity.
In this article I would like to go into what activities are recommended to get a good night's sleep and thus be fitter during the day. I also introduce you to three daily routines of successful people and list suggestions on how you can build an evening routine with your child or your dog.
the essentials in brief
- An evening routine is anything you do before bed. This can be a small bread snack in the evening, brushing your teeth or even your new Netflix series. The hype about evening routines aims to make you consciously take time for yourself in the evening and thus have a better sleep.
- Tips for activities that you can incorporate into your evening routine are yoga exercises, a gratitude journal, creating a to-do list for the next day, reading something, tidying up, turning off your cell phone, drinking less alcohol, not eating too late, soft music and meditation. They help to calm your body and reduce stress hormones, or no additional stress hormones.
- Consciously taking time before going to bed has also proven itself with children. You can establish an evening routine with your children that includes eating a small healthy snack, taking care of hygiene (brushing teeth, bathing), reading to them and giving them a massage. Even infants sleep more peacefully if they are gently massaged beforehand.
Glossary entry: The term evening routine explained in detail
Routine is always used when an activity is carried out regularly and therefore safely. The evening routine is your habitual activity that you do before bed. It can be that you watch a Netflix series, drink a glass of champagne like Mark Twain or write your music compositions until one o'clock in the morning like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
No matter where you sleep tonight, you can apply the bedtime routine tips in this article (Image source: Clarke Sanders/Unsplash)
If you're reading through this article, though, you're more likely to want to read about recommended daily routines, like a session of yoga poses, meditation, or making a to-do list. First of all, here is an overview of the studies that have been carried out on this topic and the answer to the question for whom an evening routine makes sense.
What is an evening routine and when is it useful?
Everyone has an evening routine. As explained earlier, anything you do regularly before bed is your evening routine.
So the answer to the question about the usefulness of evening routines is simply said: yes, it makes sense, for everyone.
Now, there are also evening routines that have been shown to relax and put your body into sleep mode, while other routines can make you more restless and lead to interrupted sleep(7.9">. I'll go into more detail on these in the next section.
Clinical studies on the subject of evening routine
The focus of the studies listed here was the investigation of the sleep quality and the mood of the subjects, who either had a conscious evening routine or not.
A 2020 Oxford Academy study found that people who routinely go to bed later than planned (i.e., have virtually no set evening routine) have more restless sleep and are more prone to depression (9). In addition, Jodi A Mindell et al. in a series of studies the sleep quality of children with a fixed evening routine.
They found that children with a regular evening routine had longer sleep periods, fell asleep faster and were fitter during the day. The parent-child bond was also strengthened (2,3,6">. These observations were also made in adults who, as a result of poorer sleep quality, were more irritable and tended towards depression (9,10">. You and your little ones in the evening So giving a little more time can definitely pay off.
10 tips for a healthy evening routine
The evening routine serves to give you a quick, restful and continuous sleep. This also means that you feel fitter during the day and live healthier overall. There is no recipe for exactly what your perfect evening routine looks like, you can try it out yourself or you are already happy with what you are currently doing.
Reading a book before bed can help you unwind. (Image source: Matheus Ferrero/Unsplash)
Here are a few tips that have worked well for many people. It's all about getting to know your body and recognizing the signs it's giving you. For example, that we feel restless when we have a cup of coffee in the evening.
- yoga exercises If you consciously relax your body, for example by bending forward and letting everything relax, then your body will also become calmer. You can do some of these or similar exercises in the evening to consciously feel into your body and let it slowly relax(13,15">.
- gratitude journal Writing gratitude journals can make you happier overall. If you want to invest the 5 minutes a day, just give it a try and write down 5 things you are grateful for that day. It can also be very small things and of course it can also happen that some things are repeated(14).
- Create a to-do list If you notice in the evening that you haven't progressed as well as you had planned, then don't worry too much about it, but write yourself a realistic to-do list for the next day. That way, you don't feel like you're taking your thoughts to bed and forgetting them(11).
- To read As soon as we become restless, our body produces stress hormones that are supposed to prepare us for a dangerous situation. Everyone knows the feeling of being stressed and we also know that it can also affect our health over a longer period of time. You can counteract this very easily by going back to your favorite book in the evening and reading for 30-60 minutes. Reading is said not only to minimize stress levels, but also to promote health(15). Reading is also great for sleeping because you distract yourself again and your eyes are not exposed to the bright light of a television or computer.
- Clean up You don't have to start a big cleaning before every bedtime, but if it's just small things like emptying the dishwasher or putting away clothes, then that can already calm you down. A particularly chaotic household is also said to interfere with sleep(7).
- Turn off cell phone Our mobile phone is our constant companion. Today we no longer only use it to make calls and send messages. It's a toy, encyclopedia, music player, credit card and much more. However, you should use your mobile phone sparingly, especially when you want to concentrate or before going to bed. Because the mere presence of the mobile phone can lead to you releasing stress hormones and becoming restless. So it's best to switch it off completely in the evening(16).
- Little alcohol consumption The after-work beer or glass of wine in the evening won't keep you from sleeping, but once you get high, your sleep quality will suffer as a result. Especially in the second half of deep sleep, your brain cannot calm down. You should therefore avoid regular alcohol intoxication(12).
- Don't eat too late Try not to eat too late in the evening, but also not too hearty either, otherwise your stomach will be busy all the time and won't be able to settle down during bedtime. Because your stomach actually has completely different tasks at night and these are simply pushed back by late and, above all, very hearty eating, which means that it can no longer produce the sleep hormone melatonin(17).
- soft music Listening to soft music may induce sleep. It's not directly part of an evening routine since you're already in bed by then, but if you're generally having trouble falling asleep, you can try it out. In a study from Taiwan, seniors in particular were able to benefit from the influence of music(2).
- meditation Regular meditation sessions can heal true miracles. Our body is an incredibly complicated construct made up of many chemical reactions, and our trains of thought are, quite simply broken down, only electrically transmitted signals. With the help of meditation, you shut down a large part of these signals and try not to concentrate on anything. It's very difficult at first and that's okay, then you can also feel into your body and individual body parts during meditation. You can also do a guided meditation in the form of a dream journey or just focus on the spot between your two eyebrows. Maybe start with 10 minutes and set an alarm. If you notice that it is good for you, you can extend the time or meditate without any time limit(18).
Which evening routine makes sense for my child?
A regular evening routine of quiet activities could improve your child's sleep quality(3). Even with babies, you can build in a small routine and activities such as brushing your teeth, a healthy evening snack or packing your school bag for the next day are also part of it.
The recommended activities for the evening routine could be divided into four areas: eating, hygiene, communication and physical contact. Here I have noted a few examples for you.
|Eat||Healthy little evening snack, like some vegetables or a slice of bread|
|hygiene||A little bath, brushing your teeth|
|communication||Reading, singing, telling stories|
|physical contact||Massage (you can already incorporate this into your baby)|
Should I set an evening routine for my dog too?
For a healthy evening routine with the dog, in addition to going for a walk in the evening, where your daily companion can really let off steam, it is also recommended not to send him to bed with a full stomach.
You can keep yourself calm because your dog will adjust to your mood.
You could take a little break after the long walk before he gets his food. In addition, dogs enjoy the time that you plan all alone for them. One idea for trained dogs is to let them fetch their toys.
Shortly before bedtime you can go for a short 10-minute lap with him, but only walk and not run. In general, you can make sure that you remain calm yourself, because your companion often adapts to your mood. If you are very hectic, then he will also have a harder time calming down(8).
When can I start my evening routine?
That's entirely up to you. Depending on what time you want to be in bed and how much time you schedule for your routine.
The sleep hormone melatonin is released in our body when it gets dark.
But you can tackle some tasks during the day, such as creating a to-do list or tidying up, if you would like to have a little more time for other things in the evening. It is also helpful to know that the sleep hormone melatonin is already being produced in your body when it gets dark.
Therefore, it makes sense to do activities where you want to concentrate or where you prefer to do sports in sunlight. This means that the time you start your routine can also vary in summer and winter, as the sun sets at different times.
Evening routine of successful people
Success can be measured very subjectively. While some people are likely to measure success in terms of power and/or money and notoriety, for others it may mean living a very humble life, or even an attitude towards life or dealing with other people. Therefore, I have tried to create a list of successful people and their evening routines that is as diverse as possible.
- Jessamyn Stanley : Yoga teacher, founder of UnderBellyYoga and the podcast Dear Jessamyn 1. Shower or bathe by candlelight 2. Small cheese snack 3. Watch historical documentaries
- Mohamed Ali : boxing legend 1. He got a massage after a hilarious day of training 2. Dinner 3rd bath 4. Prayer 5. Watching TV
- Greta Thunberg : climate activist 1. Dinner 2. Reading
As you can see here, there is no formula for the perfect evening routine. Two of the people listed also included activities in their evening routine that are generally not recommended. But in the end you can decide that for yourself. And success does not depend on the perfect evening routine either, but also on how you define success.
What happens with a lack of sleep?
If you don't get enough sleep for a long period of time, you may have noticed that you are more irritable and less productive. While we sleep, your body continues to work. Your brain deletes unimportant information and forwards important memories to long-term memory.
Your immune system creates defenses and your body produces your growth hormone, which is also responsible for the regeneration of muscle tissue and bones (this is why babies need so much sleep). In summary, sleep helps us to regenerate.
If you have serious sleeping problems, you could try one of the sleeping tips listed. Or you drink a herbal tea with valerian, chamomile or St. John's wort in the evening. The scent of lavender is said to have a calming effect.
A lack of sleep over a long period of time makes us more susceptible to diseases, increases blood pressure, impedes metabolic processes and triggers stress and anxiety. For the brain in particular, sleep is the only opportunity to concentrate on processed impressions(10). So make sure you have a healthy and restful sleep.
Should I also build in a morning routine?
If there is an evening routine, what about a morning routine? Here, too, you can decide individually for yourself how it is good for you and how you feel fitter during the day.
Katherine A Kaplan et al. observed in a study that a detailed morning routine led to less sleepiness and less fatigue throughout the day. The morning routine can include a sports unit, yoga exercises or even meditation. Just some time that you use for yourself and your body(4).
Setting aside some time for yourself each day can help you be more focused, fitter, and alert. An evening routine that slowly prepares your body for bedtime might be a good idea. For example, gentle yoga exercises, meditation or writing down thoughts have a positive effect on the quality of your sleep and thus on your energy level the next day.
Children can also enjoy a continuous and peaceful sleep with a fixed evening routine, which consists of a massage and/or something to read, for example. But at the end of the day, we all have an evening routine because it's what we usually do before we go to bed. You can try out for yourself whether you want to add a few activities to this routine or whether you are happy with your current routine.
- Medline Plus, US National Library of Medicine Bedtime habits for infants and children
- Hui Ling-Lai and Marion Good, National Library of medicine, 2005 Music improves sleep quality in older adults
- Jodi A Mindell et al., National Library of Medicine, 2009 A nightly bedtime routine: impact on sleep in young children and maternal mood
- Katherine A Kaplan et al., National Library of Medicine, 2018 Rise and shine: A treatment experiment testing a morning routine to decrease subjective sleep inertia in insomnia and bipolar disorder
- Jodi A Mindell et al., National Library of Medicine, 2017 Massage-based bedtime routine: impact on sleep and mood in infants and mothers
- Jodi A Mindell et al., National Library of Medicine, 2018 Benefits of a bedtime routine in young children: sleep, development, and beyond
- Jodi A Mindell et al., National Library of Medicine, 2017 Implementation of a nightly bedtime routine: How quickly do things improve?
- Guide to a recommended evening routine for your dog
- Sun Ju Chung et al., Oxford Aacademy, 2020 What do people do before going to bed? A study of bedtime procrastination using time use surveys
- Jared D Minkel et al., US National Library of Medicine, 2014 Sleep Deprivation and Stressors: Evidence for Elevated Negative Affect in Response to Mild Stressors When Sleep Deprived
- Colleen E Carney et al., National Library of Medicine, 2006 Effects of a structured problem-solving procedure on pre-sleep cognitive arousal in college students with insomnia
- Timothy Roehrs, Ph.D., and Thomas Roth, Ph.D., National Institute on alcohol abuse and Alcoholism Sleep, Sleepiness, and Alcohol Use
- Marilyn Wei MD JD, Harvard Health Publishing, 2020 Yoga for better sleep
- Cheng Sheung Tak, Apa PsycNet, 2015 Improving mental health in health care practitioners: Randomized controlled trial of a gratitude intervention.
- Denize Rizzolo et al., Research Gate, 2009 Stress Management Strategies For Students: The Immediate Effects Of Yoga, Humor, And Reading On Stress
- Adrian F Ward, The University of Chicago Press, 2016 Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One's Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity
- Annette Gallant et al., National Library of Medicine, 2014 Nutritional Aspects of Late Eating and Night Eating
- Julie Dunlop, National Library of Medicine, 2015 Meditation, stress relief, and well-being