Bedtime For Adults: The Importance of a Calming Evening Routine

Many of us have not had a proper bedtime routine since we were kids but bedtime rituals work for adults too. The Harvard Medical School states that calming bedtime routines are essential for both children and adults. A healthy bedtime routine can help us relax, reduce or even eliminate sleep problems and increase sleep quality.

The foundations of a goodnight’s sleep begin long before we close our eyes. To get a better idea of what a healthy evening ritual looks like we asked two of our own expert therapists at the Sydney Anxiety Clinic some questions about how they end their day.  Anna Kellerman, Art Therapist, and Linda Hayes, Clinical Psychologist and Parent-Infant Therapist, were happy to share their evening routines:

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1. What do you like to do when you get home from work to wind down?

Anna: I mostly work from home, but I have a natural break in my day when I pick up my daughter from school. We come home for afternoon tea or get caught up in afternoon activities and play dates. I also love to cook so I take time to prepare nourishing food which gives me time to unwind. I might listen to an interesting podcast or music, chat with my daughter, or allow myself to think of ideas for issues I might have during the day. It's very therapeutic.

Linda: Cuddle my cat then feed her, sit with my partner and have a debrief of our day over a tall soda water with freshly squeezed lemon. Sometimes we fit in a 30min walk then make a nutritious meal together.

2. What time do you generally go to bed at night?

Anna: I generally go to bed at around 10pm.

Linda:  Usually around 10.30pm

3. What are three things you do before going to bed at night that help set you up for a good sleep? 

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Anna:

  1. Good homemade nourishing dinner, eaten by 8pm.
  2. Write out my to do list for the next day, so they don't play over in my mind.
  3. A cup of camomile or peppermint tea in bed reading an interesting book or magazine - no phone or TV in my room.

Linda:   

  1. My phone is not looked at after dinner, any messages or emails are left for the next day.
  2. We make a meal that has no sugar yet “slow carbs” so no sugar comma or heavy carbs to  keep me awake.
  3. A herbal tea or a hot cocoa with coconut milk goes down a treat after dinner whilst watching a series of some sort… currently I’m loving “Suits” I have a shower before bed, put phone on flight mode and snuggle in for a chat with my partner or a brief read.

4. Are there any things you avoid doing before bed because they stimulate your mind?

Anna: No alcohol or chocolate. No phone or scrolling on social media in bed.

Linda: I’ve been alcohol free in the evenings for 3 weeks now and am sleeping so much better.

As Linda and Anna have expressed winding down for the evening is gradual and begins with a natural wind down from the work day. If we do not mentally put away our work before bed it impacts our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep or even shows up in our dreams.

Establishing a calming bedtime ritual looks different for each of us as the demands of children, pets and work vary from person to person. However, the foundations of a healthy evening routine should include decreasing light exposure and avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Self-awareness can help us avoid activities that give us anxiety before bed and identify others that calm us down. While it’s impossible to always have a consistent bedtime doing so will help your body plan for sleep better and make waking up easier.

How do you end your day?

Dr Jodie LowingerComment