What Is a Good Nighttime Routine?

Medically Reviewed on 6/30/2021

good nighttime routine
Establishing a solid nighttime routine that helps you wind down is key for getting quality sleep

We all know how crucial sleep is to our health, but getting good, refreshing shut-eye can be a huge challenge. Establishing a good nighttime routine is one of the best ways to help you fall asleep and stay asleep, leaving you well-rested and ready to tackle the day ahead.

However, just like any other routine, establishing and perfecting it will take some work. Here are some ways to improve your sleep quality each night.

Stay on schedule

Go to bed at the same time every day, and wake up at the same time every day. Our bodies like regularity, and a regular sleep schedule helps our bodies naturally anticipate when it’s time to wind down. Set a daily alarm on your phone to remind you that you have 30 minutes to wrap up your day and head to bed. Aim for 8-9 hours of sleep each night.

Set yourself up for success

  • Stay hydrated throughout the day but don’t drink too much before bed.
  • Be cautious of taking too many naps
  • Refrain from caffeine in the late afternoon and early evening. 
  • Avoid alcohol in the evening, since it can disrupt REM sleep.
  • Avoid screen time at least an hour before bed, since blue light emitted from electronic devices can reduce your body’s release of melatonin, which is important for sleep.

Get comfortable

  • Take a warm, soothing bath or shower.
  • Wear comfortable sleepwear.
  • Use room darkening curtains to block out unwanted light.
  • Put in earplugs or use a white noise machine to dampen distracting sounds.
  • Set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature.
  • Eliminate distractions and electronic devices from your room.

Can listening to relaxing sounds help you sleep?

Soft music

  • Classical music in particular can help slow the pulse and heart rate, as well as reduce levels of stress hormones.
  • Soft music can help soothe anxiety and quiet racing thoughts.
  • Research has found that listening to classical music at bedtime helps improve sleep quality in young adults with sleep problems.
  • The National Sleep Foundation recommends choosing soothing songs with slow rhythms, between 60 and 80 beats per minute.

Nature sounds

  • Sound machines and apps for sleep often use outdoor noises of forests and oceans, which has been shown to induce sleep.
  • Researchers have found that nature sounds lead to more outward-focused attention in the brain rather than inward-focused attention. Inward-focused attention is associated with anxiety, stress, and depression, which are antithetical to sleep.
  • Researchers have also found that nature recordings can cause nervous systems to relax and move to a mode of rest.

Finding sounds that work for you

Our response to sound is highly individual, in both our waking and sleeping lives. Like sight and smell, sound is connected to memory and can stimulate both positive and negative emotions. So if you feel like classical music or the sound of waves crashing on a shore don’t produce a positive response, try to find sounds that you respond to better.


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Medically Reviewed on 6/30/2021
Bedtime Routines for Adults: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/bedtime-routine-for-adults

The music that helps people sleep and the reasons they believe it works: A mixed methods analysis of online survey reports: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6235300/

How to Design the Perfect Bedtime Routine: https://www.sleep.org/design-perfect-bedtime-routine/