There's plenty of talk about optimizing your morning routine, but your evening routine is just as important. They're both the bookends of a successful and balanced life. If either is out of whack, you're in trouble. Of course, it's easy to let the evening slip away from you. Psychologist Roy Baumeister introduced the concept of "decision fatigue," in which we all have a limited amount of willpower we can expend each day and our mental energy is depleted by every decision we have to make, big or small. But carving out a routine and sticking to it, alleviates the need to decide when and how you should unwind at the end of the day. Here, an easy-to-customize outline to get you started.
At the end of a long day, it's easy to simply crash in front of the TV or curl up with some handheld device. But—and we know you've heard this before—the light from electronics seriously screws with your body's ability to produce melatonin, the hormone that helps you wind down. And when that light is broadcasting a work-related email? Even worse. So try turning off your electronics and maybe even turning down your lamps one hour before bed. That subtle darkness acts as nature's sleeping pill, cueing your body to crank out that precious melatonin, says Dr. Steve Orma, a San Francisco-based psychologist specializing in anxiety and insomnia. The reduced light ahead of your bedtime signals a nice change and helps you relax so you can successfully doze off.
Nutritionists recommend finishing dinner no later than three hours before you go to sleep. That way, you give your stomach time to digest. But if you find that you're getting hungry later on, feel free to snack. "Going to bed hungry can keep you awake, so grab a small snack that's part protein, part complex carbs with no added sugar, caffeine, or anything spicy, which can block sleep," says Lisa Medalie, PsyD, a behavioral sleep medicine specialist at the University of Chicago. Smart options: an apple or banana, a few pieces of jerky or a handful or two of nuts.
Get Ready for Bed
Now it's time to tackle the grooming end of your nightly routine. Floss and brush your teeth. Wash your face and maybe apply a zit cream, serum or eye cream and address any other grooming issues like plucking an errant hair or clipping your nails. This isn't a great deal of activity, but still if you do this a little ahead of your bedtime, you give yourself some time to come down before closing your eyes and trying to sleep.
Reset for the Next Day
Take 10 to 15 minutes at the end of your day to reset and prepare for tomorrow. Just like you tidy up your workspace before leaving work (right?), clean up your home—put the dishes in the sink or dishwasher, straighten up your coffee table and put away any loose ends. Then review what you've got to do tomorrow, and make any necessary plans. It's also a nice time to reflect on the day you just had, meditate or write in your journal.
Volume 9 // 2017
When we started our 31 Days series, way back in 2009, it was an idea that began out of the natural tendency to see the new year as a restart of sorts. Each day, we put up a short tip or trick to help readers get a fresh start to the new year and step up their game. Then we did it again the next year and it's grown every year since, proving to be one of Valet.'s most popular series ever. This year, nearly a decade in, we've shifted the focus just a touch—narrowing in on skills and attributes we believe make you a better man. Little things that have a big, lasting impact on your life and the lives of those around you. Everyday this month, we'll introduce a topic or idea aimed at helping you look your best, feel great and be the civilized 21st century gentleman we all strive to be. Best of luck in 2017 and thanks for reading.