We know that it is important to have a healthy morning routine, but what about the evening? Is it enough to watch tv, read, or relax until our eyelids are too heavy to keep open, then stumble into bed and hope for a restful night of sleep? Most likely not. There is a bit more effort required to prepare ourselves to sleep well and wake up rested.
Ending our day in a relatively predictable, healthy manner can also provide us with some needed purpose. I know it sounds so simple and almost obvious, but it’s really not. Many women have shared that as they move into their 60s with retirement, or caring for an ill spouse or parent, or drastic change in daily lifestyle, that their own personal sense of identity and purpose becomes blurry and unfocused, seemingly lost.
And although it is not the end-all answer to everything, this blog post will discuss why having a healthy bedtime routine for women over 50 is beneficial for both your health, your mood, and keeping the balance in your life.
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- Why are routines important?
- Are morning and evening routines good for our health?
- 5 Things to leave off of the evening routine list
- 12 Evening Routine Ideas and Tips
- An Bedtime Routine Checklist can be a helpful tool
Why are routines important?
A routine can be a helpful tool to help improve your life in many ways. You might think of it as the backbone of your day, or even the glue that sticks all aspects together!
A routine is a sequence of actions that you do repeatedly.
Routines are also important because they promote healthier habits and make them easier for you to do every day. They can serve as an anchor for the unknown in your life and give direction to those parts of your day. When you know what to expect next, it is easier for you to be able to prepare for the day ahead.
Are all routines good for us? No, not all of them, unfortunately.
If you sit down in front of the TV after dinner and automatically grab a bag of potato chips to snack on, that is a routine, but not a healthy routine, nor is it good for your midlife middle!
Lighting up a cigarette after breakfast is a routine, but it’s one that may likely shorten your life. Better to nix that one, asap.
Are morning and evening routines good for our health?
Morning routines are great for beginning your day, because how you start out the day can certainly influence how the rest of the day will go. This is the time to set yourself up for success, and make sure that you have created habits that are going to carry you through the rest of the day.
A healthy bedtime routine can help you get a good night’s sleep. This is important because as women over 50 we know that good sleep can help us look better (and younger), prepare us for the day ahead, give us the energy to stay active, and more. Night after night of fitful sleep can wreak havoc with our lives.
For me, beginning my day and ending my day on a healthy note with a predictable routine helps me maintain the balance between body, mind, and spirit. If one of those areas is out of whack it can affect everything else I do, how I think, my perspective, and my sense of stability.
This post will focus on the evening routine ideas, and a suggested evening routine list, to help you end your day in a healthy way.
5 Things to leave off of the evening routine list
If the goal of this healthy bedtime routine is to prepare you for the day ahead as well as restful sleep, there are a few things that you really don’t want to be doing at this time of the evening.
- spending time on the computer or other electronic devices can be detrimental to your sleep. This is because the light from a computer screen or phone can disrupt melatonin production and can make you feel too awake for bed. The topics you’re soaking up on social media can also contribute to wakefulness when you’d rather be sleeping!
- strenuous workouts that increase your heart rate should not be done too late in the evening because they can cause your body temperature to spike, increase your heart rate, and make it difficult for you to fall asleep. A strength training workout should be done at least four hours before bedtime, while an aerobic workout should not come less than two hours beforehand.
- consuming alcohol before bed can lead to fitful sleep and disrupt your circadian rhythm, which will make you feel groggy in the morning instead of refreshed and well-rested. I enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, and make sure that it’s gone a couple of hours before going to bed.
- late night snacking, or snacking on heavy foods, is also a no-no if you want to sleep well. That heavy food in your stomach can cause issues like acid reflux, indigestion, or just plain leave you feeling uncomfortable. And awake.
- going to bed when you’re angry will disrupt any thoughts of a peaceful night of rest. Although it can be harder to put into action than it seems, letting go of the anger may not make the issue disappear, but it will help you sleep better. You’ll be rested and ready to address the issue in the morning.
12 Evening Routine Ideas and Tips
These 12 ideas for creating a healthy bedtime routine include a variety of actions you can take when preparing for a good night’s rest. Some are intended to help you relax and get your mind and body ready for sleep.
Others are suggestions that will help create a more peaceful and stress-free wake up in the morning.
And there are a few that are intended as gentle reminders of the simple yet necessary hygiene and self care actions we should take each evening as we prepare for bedtime. Obvious? Maybe. But it never hurts to have a little bit of a nudge.
Some may fit into your lifestyle and preferences more than others, and that’s okay. We don’t all do the same things and find relaxation in the same way. Others, like Tips 1, 2, and 3, are so beneficial, we could all put them on our evening routine list and come out ahead in the morning!
1 | Set a time to go to bed
Sure, there are times when the schedule and events in our life prevent us from going to bed at the ‘appointed’ time, but in general, when you have a predictable time to go to bed in the evening and get up in the morning, your body adjusts to that and anticipates it.
Think about the last time you were on vacation, or traveled somewhere, and everything was different, including when you went to bed. Your body reacts to that, and the night time rest just isn’t the same.
So when you’re at home, give yourself a set time to retire, even if it’s a range of 30 minutes or so. Then, allow enough time before that to take care of your other evening routine activities.
2 | Clean up, tidy up
No, don’t shift into gear and spring clean the house before retiring for the evening, girlfriend. Just give the surroundings a tidying up so that when you wake up in the morning you aren’t immediately looking at a messy house.
For me, that little task is taken care of after dinner. I clean up the dishes, tidy up the kitchen, then do a quick walk through and put away the stuff I’ve left sitting around, make sure I don’t have clothes laying on the bed, etc. It takes less than 10 minutes typically, and is one less task waiting for me in the morning.
Besides, it’s a gentler way to wake up and begin your morning routine!
3 | Skin care and Self Care
Our maturing skin needs gentle and regular attention, included as part of our evening routine. Whatever skin care regimen you subscribe to, stay faithful to it, my friend.
I’ve never been able to go to bed with makeup on, but I know that some women do it regularly. Clean that beautiful face and moisturize it before putting your head on the pillow.
Other self care activities such as vitamins, supplements, medications, that are appropriate for pre-bedtime should be part of the routine, as well as good oral hygiene. If you’re someone who says to yourself, “I’m too tired, I’ll brush my teeth in the morning”, please make evening brushing a priority.
4 | Listen to some music
Listening to music before bedtime can help you relax as well as reduce anxiety, which is the goal of a successful evening routine. If you suffer from chronic pain or depression, music can be soothing and helpful.
Choose a venue that you love, or a particular artist or group that you know will give those feel-good vibes you’re anticipating.
Some people find it helpful to listen to music before going to bed; others will slip on the ear buds and let the music take them to dreamland. Do whatever works for you.
5 | Tea time
Sipping on a cup of tea before bed is a natural way to help many people get a better night’s sleep.
Green tea is a healthy and refreshing choice for an evening routine. It can help reduce stress levels, increase dopamine production, boost metabolism and also lower inflammation.
Chamomile tea is another popular evening choice. It contains antioxidants, apigenin, specifically, that may promote sleepiness, and it can help improve overall sleep quality.
Valerian tea is a popular sleep aid, and although researchers aren’t quite sure how it works, it can help promote sleep with no adverse side effects like morning drowsiness.
The aromatic Lavender is soothing in scent, and the tea is made from the small purple buds of the flowering plant. It’s popular for calming the nerves and aiding in sleep.
6 | A healthy snack
If you’re like me, that little craving for an evening snack just won’t go away. Keeping my choice both healthy and sleep-friendly are priorities. It’s best to consume your snack about an hour before bed as opposed to right before bed, so plan accordingly in your nighttime routine.
Here are a few wise options that won’t keep us awake and would work well in a healthy bedtime routine:
- banana – eat it plain, or jazz it up with some cottage cheese, bake them with a bit of cinnamon and lime juice.
- peanut butter – spread on a piece of whole wheat toast
- yogurt – try it with a few fresh berries (the wise replacement for sugar!)
- milk – warmed up if you like, or have some almond milk, which contains magnesium and is linked to good sleep.
7 | Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a wonderful way to create a relaxing atmosphere. Our sense of smell is quite powerful, and it goes directly into our brains. So, certain smells can impact our mood and behavior.
Essential oils are typically used in aromatherapy treatments. One of the most popular, lavender oil, has been shown to have calming effects and even help with insomnia symptoms by reducing anxiety levels.
The aroma from these essential oils can be brought into your bedroom in a variety of ways. A diffuser is a popular choice. Other options include burning candles (safely!) while soaking in bath with oils like lavender or ylang-ylang. Learn more about essential oils and how to use them here.
8 | A good book
Reading a book is a great way to wind down and relax your mind for bedtime. Try to stay away from topics like politics, or any other type of book that will wind you up instead of calm you down!
People who read regularly before bed report higher rates of sleep quality and better moods the following day. Reading can also help distract you from racing thoughts that disturb your peace of mind, like worries about health or loved ones.
Reading a book with someone else is even more enjoyable! Even if one person reads while the other listens, it can be an effective way to have quality time together.
I read right before going to sleep, and always choose a book that is considered light reading. Although I really enjoy crime novels, they are not my choice when I want to go to sleep! I can start reading my light romance novel of choice, and usually in about 5 to 10 minutes I’m out for the count.
Many people can’t read in bed and then fall asleep, though, as the light used can keep them awake. Or, the blue light from the electronic device is too stimulating. You can try a lower wattage light bulb, or, do your reading in another room and keep that activity separate from the bedroom.
If you’re a bedtime reader, do what works for you!
9 | Stretch and breathe
Deep breathing and stretching are two relaxation techniques that can help calm the mind and release the tension of the day.
Deep breathing is often used in meditation and yoga, but anyone can practice it to manage stress or anxiety.
When deep breathing, you take in a slow breath through your nose and exhale slowly from your mouth. The idea is to fill up your lungs with air by using your diaphragm (a large muscle underneath the stomach) as opposed to taking shallow breaths.
Many people think about stretching in the morning, but stretching before going to bed can improve the quality of our sleep. It helps us forget about the stresses of the day and focus on our breath and our body. And, it can help relieve muscle tension, which will help us sleep better, too.
Here’s one example of a stretch that can help alleviate shoulder blade discomfort (poor posture??) or other shoulder issues. It’s called the Bear Hug:
- Stand tall and inhale as you open your arms out wide.
- Exhale as you cross your arms, placing your right arm over your left and your left over your right to give yourself a hug.
- Breathe deeply as you use your hands to draw your shoulders forward.
- Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
- To release, inhale to open your arms back open wide.
- Exhale and repeat with your left arm on top.
I do a similar warm-up exercise on some of the workouts offered by Mighty Health. It feels great!
10 | Journaling and gratitude
A journal can help you to prepare for bedtime by helping you identify any stressors in your day. It can also be very helpful to write down the good things that have happened, or to list the things you are grateful for. A little bit of honest gratitude can go a long way toward helping us pause, reflect, and prepare our minds and hearts for rest.
It always helps to clear your mind of the day’s events when you’re preparing for bed and anticipating some restful sleep. Try writing down 5 things you are grateful for, or, list your worries/stresses of the day, knowing that you can get some rest, then deal with the things that need to be addressed in the morning when you’re fresh.
11 | Meditation and prayer
Many people find solace, strength, relaxation, support, and encouragement from meditation and prayer.
The benefit to us as individuals is a quieted heart and mind, that flows through to relax our bodies. We are more prepared for a night of good rest and healthy sleep.
12 | Make yourself comfortable
Yes, we’re talking about the jammies, my friend. We all have our preferences, and yes, some of us choose to sleep sans the p.j.’s.
I prefer to have a little bit of something on when I sleep, and might get those comfy clothes on several hours before bed. It really doesn’t matter if you change into those comfy nighttime clothes early in the evening or right before bed.
The goal is to be comfortable when you sleep, to wear what works for you and makes you feel good. If it’s going to give you the opportunity for better sleep so you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the new day full of opportunity, then go for it!
Take a peek at your surroundings, too. Is your bedroom clean and ready for sleep? Window coverings in place, fan turned on, acceptable cleanliness of the bedding, lowered lighting, comfortable sleeping temperature, etc.
An Bedtime Routine Checklist can be a helpful tool
Sometimes it’s helpful to have a few extra tools to help you create and instill new, healthy habits. If the idea of a list or set of actions to do each evening before bedtime sounds a little foreign to your ears, no worries.
Here is a simple checklist to use that will help you determine the best bedtime routine for your lifestyle. You might use it every night for a couple of weeks, tweak it here and there, then these actions will become part of the bedtime routine automatically.
You can print a free copy of the Evening Routine Checklist from the Resource Library.
When we create and sustain healthy habits like a bed time routine, we not only give ourselves a better opportunity for a good night’s sleep, we create a positive start for the next day and what it may hold for us. Use these evening routine ideas to their fullest!
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