My Four Pillars of healthy weight loss
• Food • Activity • Mindset • Sleep
• Sleep

Revamp Your Nighttime Routine
Mornings got you down? Read on for morning routine ideas to jumpstart your day.

By Crystal Raypole,
Set yourself up for success tomorrow
A bedtime routine that includes a few steps toward preparing for the next day can have several advantages.

First, getting a head start on tomorrow’s to-do list gives you one (or two or three) fewer things to stress over as you try to fall asleep. Having less to do in the morning can help you feel less rushed, making it easier to set aside a few minutes for morning meditation or a mindful breakfast that’ll start your day off right.

Take care of morning chores
If you struggle to get started in the morning, ask yourself what usually holds you up.
Setting aside 15 to 30 minutes every evening to prepare for the next day can help prevent hectic mornings and promote peace of mind as you get into bed.

Make a to-do list
There’s only so much you can do in preparation for tomorrow. But for everything else, there’s a list. Spending just 5 minutes writing a to-do list each night can help you avoid the sleep-disrupting habit of thinking about everything you need to do as you’re trying to fall asleep. A paper to-do list can free you from the urge to constantly run through a mental version. It can also help you feel more in control of tomorrow before it even begins.

Try journaling to relieve stress
A journal provides a space to express any concerns weighing on your mind, reducing the need to unpack them mentally in bed. While journaling may not be enough to relieve severe anxiety or chronic stress, it can help reduce anxious thoughts. Physically writing about things stressing you out can help you visualize them leaving your mind and reinforce your sense of relief.

Wind down
You don’t have to wait until it’s lights-out to start winding down. Filling your evening hours with calming activities helps you avoid overstimulating your mind and body as the day draws to a close.

Cut off caffeine early
A regular post-lunch cold brew might help you make it through the day, but this caffeine boost can have consequences later. Having caffeine even 6 hours before bedtime can disrupt your rest. If you often have trouble sleeping, try sticking to beverages without caffeine after lunch.

Avoid strenuous exercise
Yes, regular exercise can improve sleep, but you’re better off saving intense workouts for the morning or afternoon. It’s perfectly fine to do light or moderate-intensity exercise in the evening, though. Just keep in mind that even with light exercise, it’s still best to wrap up an hour to 90 minutes before bedtime.

A regular meditation practice can help you relax physically and mentally. Mindfulness meditation, in particular, may help improve your ability to release the day’s stress and tension in preparation for a good night’s sleep. Focusing your awareness and sitting mindfully with your thoughts gives your body a chance to rest and relax. All those slow, deep breaths you’re taking? They cue your body to slow down at the same time.

Create a family bedtime ritual
Connecting with loved ones — whether that’s your partner, children, or (good) roommates — can increase feelings of love, trust, and happiness. Generating these positive emotions just before bed can put you in a better mood, helping you feel more at ease when it’s time for bed.

Make hygiene a ritual
It’s pretty normal for basic bedtime hygiene to happen on autopilot. But performing cleansing routines with more mindfulness than absentmindedness can help your brain and body tune in to your approaching bedtime.

Don’t forget your teeth
Every nighttime routine should include 2 minutes for toothbrushing. Practicing mindfulness during this essential ritual can make it even more beneficial. Set a timer for 2 minutes, then focus on your emotions as you brush. Notice the sensation of the bristles on your teeth and the taste of the toothpaste. Remind yourself of everything your teeth do for you. You might even try a mantra, such as “I’m grateful for my teeth.”

Set the mood
Instead of simply switching off the lights at bedtime, try preparing your environment for sleep earlier in the evening. This gives your body time to adjust to the idea of sleep.

Dim the lights
Like electronics and the sun, electric lighting also produces blue light. Avoiding bright lights in the evening can help signal to your body that it should start preparing for sleep.
  • Switch off bright overhead lights and turn on dimmer table lamps an hour or two before bed.
  • Consider replacing lamp bulbs with ones that produce amber light.

Try aromatherapy
Calming fragrances, like lavender and cedarwood, can promote restful sleep.
To benefit from aromatherapy:
  • Scent your bath with a few drops of essential oil.
  • Place a diffuser containing essential oil in your bedroom.
  • Use a few drops of essential oil on your pillow before bed.

Check your bedding
Clean sheets and fluffed pillows can make the bed seem more inviting, and a comfortable bed can help you get better sleep. Use season-appropriate sheets and blankets. Flannel sheets in the summer can make you too warm, and you might wake up sweaty and itchy. For year-round bedding, go for easily removable, light layers so you can make quick adjustments if you feel cold during the night.

The bottom line
Good sleep is a key factor in mind and body wellness, but it can be hard to come by. A personalized nighttime routine can help you get better sleep, allowing you to wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day. 😴💤
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