The Ultimate Guide to a Mindful Evening Routine

Relaxing Rituals for Better Sleep and a More Productive Morning

You’ve probably heard about the power of a mindful morning routine from our previous post, and its myriad of benefits for a healthier, more productive life. You may even practice one yourself.

But what about your evening routine? 

Although nighttime routines are often overlooked due to busy schedules and chaotic lifestyles, the way you spend your evenings has a huge impact on your life. It’s important for both your physical and mental wellbeing that you take some time every night to relax, unwind, and de-stress.

What Is an Evening Routine? 

Also referred to as a nighttime or bedtime routine an evening routine is a set of practices or rituals you perform every night, usually in the 30 to 60 minutes before you go to sleep. These routines can vary, but often include calming activities like reading, warm baths, meditation and journaling. 

Why Is It Important?

Implementing a mindful evening routine is a simple lifestyle change that will lead to positive shifts in your mind, body, and soul.

According to research by the National Sleep Foundation, adults should aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night (7 to 8 hours for older adults). Quality sleep is essential for health and longevity, and a lack of sleep can cause a variety of health issues, trouble concentrating, irritability, weight gain, poor work performance, and more. 

Creating and maintaining a consistent evening routine can help you get the sleep you need to feel well-rested and alert the next day. 

Additional benefits of a nighttime routine and quality sleep include: 

  • More energy, focus, and productivity the next day
  • Lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression
  • Improved brain functioning 
  • Faster healing 
  • Lower levels of inflammation 
  • Increased metabolism 
  • Improved mental health and wellbeing
  • Healthier, more balanced hormones 
  • Increased feelings of purpose, connection and gratitude 

Having a mindful evening routine is one of the best things you can do to create a healthier, more fulfilling life. Your nighttime rituals will help you reflect on your day, clear your head, and cultivate relaxation and calm before sleep. 

How Long Should Your Evening Routine Last?

In order to create a lasting and sustainable routine, it’s important to create something that suits your personal needs and goals.

You want your evening routine to uplift and inspire you, not overwhelm you. So let go of what you “should” be doing, and focus on what works best for your unique lifestyle. 

The best way to figure out what suits you best is to simply experiment. Start with a short routine (one or two practices) of about 15 minutes, and gradually build it up from there. 

Powerful Rituals for a Mindful Evening Routine 

Ready to dream up your ideal bedtime routine? Read on for 10 tips and practices to help you relax and ease into your evenings.

Keep in mind that this list is in no specific order. Some of the practices will resonate, and some won’t. That’s ok. There’s no perfect equation for everyone. What matters, above all else, is that it is realistic and feels good for YOU. 

Prepare for Tomorrow 

Many successful people spend their evenings getting ready for the following day. Not only does this help to reduce stress, but it also frees up your mornings to get a jump on meaningful work. Furthermore, when you don’t have a million things to do upon waking, it’s easier to fall asleep. Try ending your evenings by writing down three things you want to accomplish the next day. 

Additional Evening Tips for a Stress-Free Morning:

  • Plan your outfit.
  • Prepare a make-ahead breakfast.
  • Prep your lunch/snacks. 
  • Set the coffee maker.
  • Have young kids? Lay out their outfits, prepare breakfast and lunch, and pack their bags the night before.
Decide on a Set Bedtime 

Decide when you will go to bed, and do your best to stick with this every night. Once you decide on your bedtime, you can choose a time to begin your evening routine (ideally, anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours before bed). 

Following a consistent evening routine can feel challenging (especially on the weekends), but it’s an important step that trains your brain to naturally feel tired when it’s time for bed. 

P.S. – A consistent wake time is equally important. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep, set your alarm for the same time every day, and avoid hitting the snooze button.

Minimize Screen Time 

Say goodnight to your electronics (yes, even your phone) at least an hour before bed (2 hours is even better).

Electronic devices, including computers, televisions, smartphones, and tablets, all emit blue light. This light suppresses the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, and makes falling asleep more difficult. 

To make this easier, choose a set time to put your phone on Do Not Disturb, and leave your electronics outside of your room at night. 

Sip on a Relaxing Bedtime Drink 

No, I don’t mean alcohol. Unfortunately, that nighttime glass (or two) of red wine can disrupt your sleep cycle. Although many people feel drowsy or fall asleep more quickly after consuming alcohol, your sleep won’t be restful. Sleep problems may occur later in the night, after the alcohol has been metabolized. 

If you plan on drinking alcohol, stop consuming it four hours before bed. This will allow your body plenty of time to metabolize the alcohol and get it out of your system. 

An even better option? Skip the booze altogether. 

One of my favorite evening rituals involves a calming sleepy time tea. Brewing tea in and of itself is a simple ritual, and by having it as a consistent part of your evening routine, your body will associate this habit with winding down before bed. 

Use herbs that promote relaxation and sleep, such as valerian root, chamomile, lavender, and passionflower.

You can also try a dreamy nighttime latte. Here are a few options to consider: 

  • Moon Brew: A calming and soothing blend of adaptogens with chamomile, rose, and magnesium.
  • Sleeptime SuperLatte: A caffeine-free nightcap infused with potent sleep-supporting botanicals.
  • Want to make your own? Here are 3 bedtime latte recipes for the ultimate rest, or try this Pink Moon Milk {a sleep tonic made with almond milk, honey, and tart cherry juice}.

Bonus Tip: Ditch caffeine 6 hours before bedtime. Caffeine disrupts your circadian rhythm and stops the production of adenosine, a key player in making you sleepy. 

Practice Nighttime Yoga 

Incorporating gentle yoga into your evening routine can soothe both physical and mental tension, helping you release stress before sleep. It also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which triggers relaxation.

It’s a beautiful opportunity to stretch, unwind, and focus on restorative movement after a long day. 

Some of my favorite evening yoga classes are Yoga with Bird’s bedtime yoga stretch to release tension and stress, Jessica Richburg’s slow flow yoga for better sleep, Yoga with Adriene’s 20 minute bedtime yoga practice, or Boho Beautiful’s gentle evening yoga.

Enjoy a Warm Bath or Shower 

Throughout the day, your body experiences various hormonal changes. One of these is melatonin production, which begins in the evening and prepares you for sleep. As this happens, your core body temperature drops, and scientists have found that a warm bath or shower can trigger a similar sleep response. As soon as you step out of the bath or shower, your body temperature drops to re-regulate with the temperature of the room, creating a sensation that makes you feel more tired and relaxed.

And it doesn't stop there. Immersion in warm water releases the bonding hormone oxytocin, which counteracts feelings of loneliness. 

Luxury Tip: Turn your evening soak into a luxurious ritual. Make your shower a soothing escape by hanging fresh eucalyptus or lavender from your shower head. If you’re taking a bath, a couple drops of essential oils or epsom salts will make for an extra treat-yourself moment. You could also include a hydrating face or hair mask, body polish, candles, and your favorite book (or some relaxing music). 

Meditate or Focus on Your Breath 

Incorporating meditation and/or breathwork into your evening routine is a beautiful way to connect with your mind and body and prepare yourself for sleep.

You can practice mindfulness meditation by simply closing your eyes, focusing on your breath, and allowing yourself to witness whatever comes up without judgment. 

Meditate to soothing sounds or relaxing music, or find a guided meditation made specifically for sleep. There are plenty on the app Insight Timer, or try one of these sleep meditations from YouTube:

Reflect on Your Day 

Many people find it restorative to journal, and doing so in the evening will help you clear your mind before going to bed. The end of the day is the perfect time to reflect on how you’re feeling, and bedtime journaling has been scientifically proven to help you get a better night’s sleep.

Consider the following journal prompts to spark your creative expression before bed:

  • One word to describe my day is…
  • Emotions I felt today include…
  • My biggest challenge today was…
  • Today, I’m proud of the way I…
  • My favorite moment of the day was…
  • Today I’m grateful for…
  • Today I learned that…
  • Something I’d like to achieve tomorrow is…
  • Tomorrow I want to feel…

If you don’t have a lot of time, use this opportunity to express what you’re grateful for. Practicing gratitude before bed can lead to a longer and more refreshing sleep, so try writing down at least one thing you’re thankful for every night. 

Read a Book or Listen to Relaxing Music 

Reading before bed is one of the best ways to wind down. Not only does it help you take a break from screen time, but research also suggests that nighttime reading can help ease stress, improve sleep quality, reduce insomnia, and improve brain health. 

If you’re too sleepy to read, try listening to some relaxing music. Calming music can help distract you from your worries and calm you down before you sleep. Other types of audio, like ambient sounds or white/pink noise, are also good for sleep. You can find playlists on YouTube, Spotify, or smart home devices like Alexa.

Prepare Your Bedroom

Dedicate part of your evening routine to transforming your bedroom into a sleep oasis. Set your thermostat to somewhere between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (the ideal temperature for sleep), turn off noisy electronics, and dim the lights.

Bonus Tip: After sleeping for (ideally) 7-8 hours, your body needs to rehydrate! Keep a glass of water next to your bed and drink it as soon as you wake up.

Final Thoughts 

Creating a more mindful nighttime routine doesn't need to be complicated – instead, focus on a few things you can implement into your evenings that will help you relax, sleep well, and wake up refreshed. Your ideal evening routine is about adding simple rituals you can sustain, to continue to grow and bring yourself closer to the person you know you’re meant to be.