How to Build a Mindful Nighttime Routine

a soft cozy linen bed with a nightlight to evoke a calm atmosphere in preparation for sleepWhile I have many skills, falling asleep has never been one of them. I tell myself - I’m a night owl! There’s so much to do in a day! Sleep is for the dead! And while I’ve tried to count sheep, my restless mind has a tendency to chase them around in circles instead.

Over the past year, however, I’ve realized how a lack of sleep can negatively affect other areas of life such as productivity, stress, and overall health - both physical and mental. In order to change my mindset around sleep, I decided to build a mindful nighttime routine that felt luxurious, relaxing, and personalized. Like any other skill, getting good sleep takes practice and effective strategizing. Here are some of my favorites:

a woman lies in bed with her phone. she is using apps to help her set up a mindful evening routine for better sleep

Minimize screen time, but let technology help you.

While it’s tempting to end your day by scrolling through Instagram or binging a couple of episodes of your favorite show, the blue light emitted by TVs and smartphones can suppress the production of melatonin, our sleep hormone. To signal that it’s time to wind down, I use apps designed to improve sleep by establishing a consistent bedtime alarm - the Sleep Timer feature on iPhone and Sleep Cycle are two of my favorites. As a former night owl, there’s nothing like turning off the world and waking up to the sound of birds chirping.

De-stress with aromatherapy and bath rituals.

My favorite way to combat stress is by incorporating small indulgences into my nightly routine, like aromatherapy and a luxurious bath or going all out with my skincare routine. Adding some essential oils like lavender and eucalyptus to your diffuser (or even your bath water!) can help lower your heart rate, temperature and blood pressure - which actually mimics your body’s natural stages of falling asleep!

a woman reads a book while soaking in a bath tub with essential oils as part of a mindful nighttime routine for better sleep

Listen to calming music.

I have different playlists for every mood and activity, and bedtime is no different! Lo-fi beats help me feel at ease, but you can find dozens of playlists with jazz, classical, and other relaxing music to help your brain switch off.

Set yourself up for success tomorrow.

To reduce stress and create a relaxing environment, I take a few minutes to tidy up my space and lay out necessities for the next day. Now is not the time to deep clean your room - we’re just making life a little easier for our future self!

yogi tea for a nighttime mindful evening routinePhoto by Drew Taylor

Brew a cup of tea.

No matter the season, taking a few minutes to mindfully brew a cup of non-caffeinated herbal tea before bed always helps me feel grounded and cozy. I love organic tea blends from Numi Tea and Yogi - the chamomile in Yogi’s Honey Lavender tea promotes natural relaxation and the affirmations on their tea bags make me smile.

Shift your mindset with affirmations and gratitude.

If you’ve had a stressful day, reciting affirmations can help you to release negativity and set a positive intention for sleep. I like to pair affirmations with a gratitude practice - for example, saying “I did my very best today” and reflecting on three positive moments from the day. You can say affirmations out loud, in your mind, or write them down. I keep a journal by my bed to jot down these affirmations and sometimes even record my dreams!

slow north meditation for building a mindful evening routine

Quiet your mind with meditation.

Meditation is a transformative ritual that helps release stress, encourage mindfulness, build resilience, and cultivate inner peace. If you’re just beginning your practice, guided meditations on YouTube and apps like Headspace and Calm are great resources. I also love using a weighted eye mask during meditation to block out ambient light and truly turn inward. After spending my evening mindfully winding down, meditation makes it easy to drift off into the sweet slumber I’ve always dreamed of.

slow north contributing guest writer gina kotos
Gina Kotos
Gina is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. She writes about intentional living and sustainability in beauty, wellness, and food. She has a degree in public health and environmental biology from the University of California, Berkeley and is based in San Francisco, CA.