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April 1, 2018: Evening Routine

This week, we’re talking about creating an evening routine that will help you wind down, sleep better, and set yourself up for a better morning.

What is an Evening Routine?

An evening routine is whatever you do from dinner time until you hit the hay. We all have some type of evening routine. Maybe it’s trudging home from work just in time for dinner and TV. Maybe you hit up a yoga class, come home, and iron your clothes for the next day (show off).

What you do in the evening affects how you sleep and, eventually, how your morning will go. It’s worth your time to create a helpful evening routine that will cap off the day and prepare you for restful sleep and an energetic morning.

Why Create an Evening Routine?

You’re busy. You spend all day running around, working hard, and just plain killing it. You deserve the time to wind down, relax, and prepare for sleep. Quality sleep is crucial for you to get right back at it all over again the next day.

Your evening routine will not only help you get into the right state to have excellent sleep, but it will do double-duty to support a calm, struggle-free morning.

What Can You Do in the Evening?

Let’s start by thinking about your current evening routine:

  • What time do you get home/start your evening?
  • When do you eat dinner?
  • Do you have evening responsibilities (e.g., homework, activities, social events)?
  • Do you do anything to prepare for the next day?
  • What do you do to wind down?
  • What time to you go to bed?
  • How long does it take you to get to sleep?
  • Do you wake up during the night?
  • What tends to get in your way of a peaceful evening and on-time bedtime?

Now, let’s think about how you’d prefer your evening to go (be realistic):

  • What time do you want to get home/start your evening?
  • When do you want to eat dinner?
  • What evening responsibilities are you okay with?
  • How can you prepare for the next day?
  • What do you want to do to wind down?
  • What time to you want to go to bed?

Let’s step through your preferred evening list. Start with what time you want to go to bed and work backwards. How much time do you have between when you’ll get home and bedtime to work with here? When will you have dinner in order to leave some time to digest before bed? Looking at your morning routine from last week (see here if you missed it), how can you set yourself up for success in the morning? What can be done the evening before?

Do you need to cross off some steps in your preferred evening routine? Save those for later, as you may find you have more time in the evenings as you make the routine into habit. Be nice to yourself.

Write out your new routine. Select one or two items from your routine to begin adding in. Do not add everything at once!

If you’re stuck, here are some other ideas for your evening routine:

  • Go for a walk
  • Tidy up
  • Play a game
  • Review what you accomplished that day
  • Plan the next day’s activities
  • Iron and lay out your clothes
  • Pack your lunch/snacks
  • Set up what you’ll need for breakfast
  • Pack your bag for tomorrow
  • Do a mask or other skincare
  • Read
  • Journal
  • Meditate/pray
  • Think of things you are grateful for

Tips for Restful Sleep

  • Set - and stick to - a consistent bedtime. Experiment a bit to find how much sleep you need to feel rested. Most of us need 6-8 hours, but we’re all different.
  • Turn off the technology at least an hour before bedtime. Yes, even the Kindle, iPad, and phone. The light from these devices inhibits sleep and makes it harder for you to wind down. If you want to read, go low-tech with an actual book.
  • Create a pre-sleep routine to physically relax. Try stretching, yoga, a warm shower, or meditation. Slow everything down and get yourself physically ready to sleep.
  • Wear a sleep mask. This is the biggest game-changer for me. If you wake up during the night, the mask keeps everything nice and dark...and you’re off to sleep moments later. It also works great if you have a room with lights from devices or from outside.

Look out for my April newsletter all about giving your sleep habits a Spring makeover!

Making it Work for You

Be honest with yourself about how much time you have in the evening. Remember that you will want to leave time to eat, be with your family, have some quiet time, watch TV, or otherwise unwind from the day. Take a look at the time tracking and gap-finding you did a few weeks ago in the Time Management GYSTS email (see here if you missed it).

Also, think about how your evening routine sets you up for success in the morning. What can you do in the evening to support the morning routine you figured out in last week’s GYSTS email (see here if you missed it)?

Select a few things to add to your evening routine and see how they go. This will take some experimentation. Maybe you add more. Maybe you subtract. Play around. The point is to design an evening routine that you’ll actually keep doing and that will eventually become habit.

Next Sunday, we’ll switch gears and talk about gym bag essentials that make you more prepared than the best Girl Scout.

Do you have a friend who could stand to G(her)ST? Feel free to forward this!

I hope you have a wonderful week,


Kelly Morgan, Ph.D.

Tsirona -

My weekly GYSTS email give you one actionable thing to do for the week that will make you life a little easier. As "they" say, "Fail to plan; plan to fail." Get these emails (and more!) delivered right to your inbox by clicking HERE.