15 Little Nighttime Habits That’ll Give You Better Sleep (You’ll Feel Less Stressed!)

published Apr 17, 2024
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There’s nothing worse than climbing into bed at the end of the day, only to find yourself tossing, turning, and unable to fall asleep. Maybe you have trouble turning off your brain, or maybe your body is tight and restless from the day you’ve had and you can’t get comfortable. If any of these sound familiar, it may be time to give your night routine a refresh. 

“Getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis is vital for both health and mental health,” says Dr. Allie Sharma, chief medical officer at Being Health. “Many people at night have trouble getting to sleep, what we call sleep latency. This can happen for a variety of reasons, and the key takeaway is to find a way to prepare and set a good foundation for sleep.”

To find some new night routines that can help you settle into a restful night’s sleep, I asked Sharma for the nighttime habits she recommends. Read on for 15 tips and tricks for getting the sleep you deserve, and mix and match them to create your perfect night routine. 

1. Meditate

Nighttime meditation is a great way to ease racing thoughts before you drift off to sleep. “Studies have shown that mindfulness practices and meditation can improve sleep quality,” Sharma says. “Deep breathing and relaxation techniques are excellent ways to calm both the mind and body.” Not sure where to start? There are a number of meditation apps like Calm or Headspace that offer beginner-friendly meditations, or even a quick search on YouTube will give you lots of options.

2. Connect with a Loved One

Calming your nervous system after a long day is key for quality sleep. “If you find your mind active and thinking through the events of the day, or working through emotional reactions to things, or obsessing over your task lists, find a way to calm your mind,” Sharma says. “Talking to a loved one can be an excellent way to expunge what’s on your mind.” 

Spend some quality time with your partner or roommate before bed, or call a friend or family member. A cozy conversation is the perfect way to wind down and help you transition from your afternoon to your evening. 

Credit: mimagephotography/Shutterstock.com

3. Journal

If I have racing thoughts, one way I personally calm my mind is with a good old-fashioned brain dump. A brain dump is exactly what it sounds like: Simply write down all of the thoughts you have on paper, even if they don’t make sense. If pen and paper isn’t your vibe, the Notes app on your phone is an excellent substitute.

4. Practice Gentle Yoga

If it’s bedtime and you’re not quite ready to be still, try moving your body — you can even stretch from bed. “Gentle yoga and stretching can be helpful,” Sharma suggests. She also recommends saving your big workouts for waking hours. “Exercise during the day to avoid being too activated at night,” she continues. Try some gentle twists on your back, stretch your arms overhead or move your spine by doing some cat-cows. If you’re looking for more guidance, there are a number of yoga apps to explore or a YouTube search for “bedtime yoga” will give you so many options. 

5. Set an Alarm

Night routines are all about consistency. You not only want to stick with it so it becomes a habit, but also for the sake of getting enough sleep every night. “Fall asleep and wake up at the same time every night and morning,” Sharma recommends. “Make it a priority to sleep on average seven hours per night, or what your minimum requirement is.”

While your night routines can help you fall asleep, an alarm obviously helps you wake up at a consistent time. Both are great tools to help you get your optimal amount of sleep. 

Credit: Rachel Otero

6. Try a Sleepy Girl Mocktail

I tried the now viral cherry juice sleepy girl mocktail more than a year ago (along with a few other TikTok sleep hacks), and let me tell you, it works. Whether you sip on straight-up cherry juice or add magnesium powder, a bedtime drink is a nice ritual that can let your body know it’s time for bed. As for what you drink throughout the day, Sharma says, “Be mindful of daytime routines and minimize alcohol, which can disrupt sleep-wake architecture. Minimize caffeine before noon or in the initial hours after being awake as well.”

7. Clear Away Clutter

I rest a little easier knowing I won’t trip over anything when I wake up in the morning, so a quick bedroom tidy is a nice habit to have before climbing into bed. Place laundry in the hamper, tidy up your nightstand, and put away anything that may be out.

8. Take a bath

Another tried-and-true TikTok sleep hack is taking a warm bath an hour or two before bedtime. Soaking in a warm tub relaxes sore and tight muscles, making it easier to slip into bed in a calm state. A hot shower will also suffice — try both and see which one you prefer. I like both, but nothing beats how warm and cozy I feel after a bath. 

Credit: JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

9. Read a Book

Bookworms know there is nothing sweeter than reading a chapter or two of your book before bed. If you find reading relaxing, curl up with a soothing book before bed (save your thrillers for the afternoon!). A paperback or hardcover copy may be better for easing into sleep than a Kindle or iPad, as the light from devices could affect your sleeping patterns. 

10. Put Away Screens

Speaking of screens, Sharma recommends shutting them down right before bed. “Decrease the digital, avoid social media and screen time. These can be activating in the hour before you wish to fall asleep,” she says. Blue light is known to negatively affect your sleep, so if screens are a must, consider wearing blue light glasses to minimize the effects of the light. 

11. Prepare for the Following Day

The “three things” night routine suggests doing something for your future self before bed. Preparing for the following day, whether it’s making a to-list or tidying up so your routine is easier in the morning, is a great way to spend a few minutes as you wind down for the evening. I highly recommend setting a timer on your coffeepot and scheduling your morning cup of coffee if you’re able to — your future self will thank you. 

Credit: Layne Dixon

12. Dim the Lights

Investing in light bulbs that can dim have been a game-changer for me and my husband. Dimming the lights is a great way to set the mood for relaxation. You get optimal sleep in a dark room, but even before it’s time to go to sleep, dimming the lights is a nice feature to incorporate into your night routines. If you don’t have a dimmer, turn off big overhead lighting and opt for smaller light sources like lamps. Salt lamps are also great for a soft, nighttime vibe at home. 

13. Wash Your Face

Evening skin care is a wonderful addition to your night routines if it isn’t already. Washing your face before bed will lead to healthier skin, and soothing night creams and moisturizers will make you feel luxurious and relaxed. After my evening skin-care routine, I love putting on lip balm and hand cream as my last step before drifting off to sleep.

14. Listen to Calm Music

Nothing affects your mood more than music, so try turning on a calming playlist (think: dreamy ballads and soothing instrumentals) as part of your night routine. Soundscapes are another great option if you prefer to listen to something without a melody — nature sounds and white noise can have the same calming effect as music. 

15. Indulge in Aromatherapy

Creating a relaxing vibe at home means engaging all of the senses, and layering in scent can give your night routines a peaceful boost. Light a candle or spritz your bed with linen or pillow mist — lavender is known to have a calming effect on the mind and body, so it’s an ideal choice for the bedroom.