I Tried the “3 Things” Nighttime Routine I Learned from TikTok and Got the Best Sleep I’ve Had in a While

published Jan 19, 2023
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Credit: Rachel Manns

While the end of the holiday season is always a bit bittersweet, I love the seemingly collective exhale everyone seems to take as they all slowly make their way back to normal routines. January feels like the beginning of actual winter, and the colder weather paired with the post-holidays exhaustion has me aching for rest, relaxation, and time to recharge. And a perfect way to do just that is to reassess my nighttime routine.

I knew TikTok would be the place to find some fresh wellness inspo (but of course), and TikTok creator @bad_art_everyday certainly delivered — her page is a very cozy corner of the platform, filled to the brim with simple videos inviting viewers to slow down. The advice isn’t overly complicated, and the creator’s recommended nighttime routine is just lovely. It’s called the “three things” routine, meaning you do one thing for your future self, one thing to connect with loved ones via play or creativity, and one thing for rest and reflection. The simplicity of the routine is what inspired me most, so I decided to try it out for the night, with hopes that it would ease me into a restful night’s sleep. Read on for the play-by-play of my routine, and other ideas to try for your own three things routine!

One Thing for Your Future Self 

I anticipated this would be the most high-impact thing for me, because it made me think of my morning routine and how I can set myself up for success first thing. I always try to tidy up my kitchen before I go to bed each night so I can start the day with a clean space for breakfast, and I ended up doing exactly that. Clearing the sink of dirty dishes, wiping the counters down, and removing clutter makes my mornings that much more pleasant — greeting the day with clear counters is so much nicer than seeing rogue dishes in the sink first thing. 

Since I normally do this, however, I wanted to add an extra step to make this thing for my future self a little more special, so I decided to schedule my morning coffee. It’s never occurred to me to use this feature on my Keurig before, so it was fun to try something new. My phone buzzed in the morning with a notification that my brew was ready, and all I needed to do was confirm it. What a treat to come downstairs to a hot cup of coffee ready to go!

One Thing for Connection

This was the easiest for me, since I live with my husband and we always make time for connection at night. Cozying up on our couch at the end of a long day is how we normally spend our evenings, and we always chat about how our days were before settling in. We usually opt for chill, easygoing shows or movies to watch (think: “The Office” reruns, “The Great British Bake-Off,” “Love Is Blind,” etc.). It’s currently football season, so we watched Sunday Night Football and started to doze. Calling or FaceTiming a friend or loved one is another great way to create connection!

Credit: Julia Steele

One Thing for Rest 

I had lots of ideas for ways to wind down (yoga, meditation, gratitude, journaling), and even though I know all of these things can help, I honestly never do them. Last night I was feeling stiff, so I knew a little yoga and stretching would do me good. I didn’t follow a video or specific sequence, I just listened to my body and moved accordingly. I’m not even sure how long I stretched for but man did it feel good. It also made me realize that for the past few nights I’d been having trouble falling asleep because of how tight my muscles had been. My movement wasn’t complicated either — it involved lots of twists on my back, a long-held child’s pose, some lunges and downward dogs. Dozens of videos pop up if you search for “bedtime yoga” on YouTube, and if late-night stretching is not your thing, you could do the same search, just for bedtime meditations or bedtime journaling. 

The Verdict

I’ll be honest, this three things nighttime routine wasn’t groundbreaking, especially since two out of the three things I normally do anyway. But I think that’s exactly the point. It’s not meant to take a long time to get through and this routine is a simple way to consciously check in with yourself (and your loved ones!) at the end of the day. I thought my mornings would be impacted the most, but the biggest impact was actually one thing for rest. Carving out time to move really helped me sleep soundly, and I fell asleep faster than I had in weeks, thanks to my stretched-out muscles. This routine taught me a good lesson as well — change doesn’t have to be huge to have an effect, and a new routine doesn’t have to be drastically different from what you’re already doing. Creating a restful, peaceful nighttime routine doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it shouldn’t. It can be simple, easy, and slow. Isn’t that the point, after all?