Routines are an important part of life.

They make us more efficient by helping us to accomplish sets of tasks without giving too much thought to them.

Coming up with new ideas and patterns is difficult for your brain but following a set routine is easy.

Your brain craves routine.

This may sound funny, but it's true.

Think about it.

You probably eat a similar breakfast each morning. Stop at the same coffee shop. Sit in the same desk at work. Talk to the same people.

Your brain loves routine because it allows for it to go on 'autopilot' so to speak.

The Importance of Routines

While the idea of routine may sound stifling (especially if you have a love for new and exciting things), having a routine is important because it allows your brain to focus and get tasks done.

Simply put, Routines = Productivity

When your brain is presented with a new task or a new environment, it has to think extra hard. It forces you to make decisions. This requires that your brain work overtime, which it doesn't always like.

New ideas, jobs, and environments can also lead to decision fatigue, a problematic experience were your brain starts to tire as you make more and more decisions.

An easy way to comprehend this is to think of your decision making ability as a pitcher of water.

Each decision you make throughout the day requires you to pour out some of the water. As you near the bottom of the pitcher, it becomes increasingly more difficult to make a good decision.

A good way to combat decision fatigue is to have a well planned routine. Creating a buffer between yourself and new activities is important, it allows you to protect your time and increase your productivity.

How Routines Improve Your Sleep

While the idea of starting your day off with a morning routine (learn how to create a morning ritual here) has become popular, creating an evening ritual is just as important.

And evening ritual is beneficial because it allows you to create a routine that helps to wind your body down. This has several results.

First, it prepares your body for restorative sleep. By having an evening ritual, you are signaling your brain to start a routine leading to sleep

Second, it eases your mind and body by removing stressors in the coming day. By taking steps to prepare for the day ahead, you make it much easier to wind down at night without worrying about tomorrow’s tasks.

And third, a more relaxed evening makes for a more productive morning. By prepping for your day the night before, you can flow directly into your morning routine without rushing around.

Read below to learn how to create an evening routine

How To Create an Evening Routine

Creating an evening ritual is a fairly straightforward activity. In fact, you already have an evening ritual (whether it's good or bad).

Here are a couple of simple steps for creating a good evening ritual that will boost your sleep.

Finish Out The Tasks Of The Day

Work claims a majority of our energy and brain power each day. Whatever your work is, every person has a surplus of stressors and a shortage of energy.

Often, these stressors will keep us up at night. A way to combat this is by creating, and completing, a list of tasks.

The act of writing down tasks is an important part. It allows your mind to relax because now you won’t forget the tasks you need to accomplish!

A great evening habit is to write down a list of tasks for the day ahead.

You can do this at the end of your work day, or you create your to-do list at night before you go to bed.

One popular method for creating to-do list is the Ivy Lee Method. It is named after early 20th century productivity consultant Ivy Lee (you can read more about him here). The method is simple, at the end of every work day, spend a few minutes writing down the six most important tasks for the next day.

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Choose no more than six tasks.

Order them according to true importance, one through six. When the next work day begins, work on task one until it is finished, then move on to task two, and so on. Move any unfinished tasks to your list for the next day.

Repeat.

This productivity hack not only increases your daily productivity, it also removes stress. You have clear goals to accomplish every day. Once you finish them, you can move on to the next thing.

Having an actionable plan can be a game changer for reducing stress and improving productivity! This will also help you to get a better night of sleep.

Think Relaxation

One of the main points of having an evening routine is to relax your body.

A couple ways you can do this is by

  • Scent. Use a aromatherapy diffuser to fill your bedroom with the smell of calming essential oils. The relaxing scents will let your body know that it is time for sleep. You can read our article on the most important essential oils for sleep here.
  • Sound. Turn your phone off an hour or two before your bedtime. The constant bombardment of pinging and buzzing works to keep your brain wired and active, this makes it difficult to wind down. Turn your phone on airplane mode and relax.
  • Sight. Instead of watching a movie at night, read a book. TV screens (with their blue LED lights) keep your brain active and makes it hard to fall asleep. Turn off all screens (TV, tablet, smartphone, etc..) two hours before bed. Doing this will help your brain to prepare for sleep.

Use Nutrition To Improve Your Sleep Quality

What you eat at night can either help or harm, your sleep. Unfortunately, research tends to be mixed on best foods to eat before bed. Some research says carbs are best, other research shows that protein is better before bed.

Taking in a high amount of protein can cause issues since your body has to allocate resources digesting it. Carbs can be a problem because too many of them will cause your blood sugar to spike in the middle of the night, resulting in a sudden wake up in the middle of the night.

So what should you eat before sleeping?

Eat a light combination of protein and carbs. Not too much of either. Find what works for your body.

A great pre-bed snack idea is to eat greek yogurt with berries. You get some protein, you get some carbs (plus probiotics!). This will help to knock you out and give you a good night's sleep.

Read our article on the 10 Best Foods To Eat Before Bed for more inspiration.

In addition to the food you eat before bed, another way that nutrition plays into sleep is via sleep aids. Sometimes you need something a little extra to wind down at night. Taking a sleeping pill is a great way to do that.

Make sure that any supplements you take are natural formulas. Stay away from cheap, generic sleep aids.

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What's your sleep routine like? Does it help to create a restful night of sleep for you? If not, makes the necessary changes TONIGHT!

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Daniel Powers is a health and fitness enthusiast with a background in the supplement industry. Outside of work, Daniel enjoys Crossfit, reading large books, and drinking coffee.