When the magic hour rolls around — 11 p.m., midnight, 1 a.m., or whatever time you fall asleep each night — what do you and your partner do? What's the best nighttime routine to have with your partner? Do you take showers and brush your teeth separately, but then get into bed together? Are you on completely different work schedules, necessitating you and your partner to adopt completely different night plans? Whatever the case may be, it's certainly true that having some sort of semblance of routine to your night with your partner absolutely cannot hurt. And if you find a routine that really works for you both, you just might find that you and your boo go to sleep and wake up happier as a result.
I spoke with 13 relationship experts about their favorite way to end the day, and they had some great tips. While some really went all-out (massages! candles! positive hypnosis!), others kept it super simple and just pointed out that getting into bed together and taking a few minutes to snuggle and talk is more than good enough. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to find some kind of routine that you and your partner can do each night together if possible — it'll add a lot to your relationship and ensure that you connect each day, even if the rest of it is totally insane. Here are 13 suggestions from experts about the best nighttime routines you can find.
1. Go To Bed Together
"The best nighttime routine is to unplug devices, go to bed at the same time, and take a little bit of time together to process the day or anything on your mind before going to bed," life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. "It's a great way to put the day to rest and to enter into a new one together." Once your phones are safely put away and you're both in bed, you can take the time to check in and relax together — even if you just tell silly stories from your day, it's totally worth it.
2. Spend 30 Minutes Together Before Bed
"Put your electronics away — turn them off, leave them in another room or in a drawer at least 30 minutes before going to bed," therapist Teresa Solomita tells Bustle. "This includes the television."
Like Rogers, Solomita suggests that the two of you hang together for a while before sleep. "Just be with each other, talk to each other, look at each other, listen to each other," she says. "No need to do anything." Being together each day is enough.
3. Light A Candle And Discuss The Day
"I feel that honoring the night ritual is important — and if you don't have one, then developing one" is key, zen psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva tells Bustle. "It is a time of connection, a time to shake the day's stress off, to support each other and to allow oneself to get into a frame of mind conducive to a gentle sleep." If you don't already have a nighttime thing going, now's the time to start.
"Brushing teeth, a quick night shower," and the other quotidian night activities can be done separately, but once you're ready for bed, there are plenty of things you can try. "[Try] getting into a made bed, maybe lighting a candle or a quick spray of a natural aromatherapy of lavender or bergamot, having a window open if weather permits, and [lighting] only a night light," she suggests. "Discuss the day, honor the fact that they had a tough day if they did, or honor how they help make your life easier."
No matter what, talk. "I'm not someone who thinks that all problems are over in one discussion, but if there is a disagreement, even a critical one, still honor that this person is with you and trying to make it work, and still have a bit of a cuddle and open compassion," she says. "It's good to enhance oxytocin for both of you, which helps with intimacy," she says.
4. Have Sex
"Having sex before bed is a great way to have a good sleep and create the kind of connection with your partner that long-term, committed relationships thrive on," New York–based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. "Whether or not you’re in the mood, try to just do it." You'll likely be glad you did.
"Rarely does a committed couple regret doing it, and often, they regret not doing it," she says. "Warm milk? Eh. Sex before bed? For sure." If you want to institute this on a nightly basis, your sex life will certainly be taken care of.
5. Have A Quickie
"Making love on a regular nighttime basis goes a long way to make sure the two of you have your needs met," relationship coach and psychic medium Cindi Sansone-Braff, author of Why Good People Can't Leave Bad Relationships , tells Bustle, agreeing with Masini. "It doesn't have to be a marathon session all the time — a quickie will suffice some days — but the closeness, the affection, the bonding, the pleasurable release, is what really helps solidify a love affair." If you are tired, a quickie will work just fine for this nighttime routine.
6. Stick To Each Other's Schedules
"Many partners really feel that this is a time that is important to be together and close the day out," psychologist Nicole Martinez, who is the author of eight books, including The Reality of Relationships , tells Bustle. "It makes them feel emotionally and intimately disconnected... if they are going to bed at different times, sleeping in separate rooms, or just having very different nighttime routines." Regardless of specifics, be sure to stick to each other's schedules as closely as possible to ensure that this doesn't happen.
"While this works well for some couples," Martinez says of following separate schedules, "it can really draw a wedge between others." Whatever you do, if it's humanly possible, do your night stuff side by side. "I have had countless couples and individuals speak with me that they think the breakdown of their evening routine was the start of a lack of intimacy in their relationship," she says.
7. Have Dinner Together
"Spend an hour of undivided attention on a nice sit-down dinner without the television and mobile devices," author and relationship expert Alexis Nicole White tells Bustle. This way, you are "allowing yourselves time to genuinely connect." If you can sit down at a table together without phones every night of the week, you're way ahead of most couples, who can find themselves too busy for such a routine.
8. Find A Ritual
"A routine is repeated and coordinated, but it doesn’t have meaning," relationship coach and therapist Anita Chlipala tells Bustle. "A couple can have a nighttime ritual; a ritual is repeated and coordinated, but it also has emotional meaning." Instead of a routine every night, try incorporating a ritual. "Anything counts, as long as the focus is on the relationship and both partners know it’s a time for connection," she says.
She does have a few suggestions, though. "Whether it’s a nightly chat about goals and getting support, mutual massages or relaxing in each other’s company, couples can make their time together more significant by increasing their daily or weekly rituals." If you know you'll be participating in such things, you can plan ahead and look forward to it all day.
9. Discuss Your Past, Present And Future
"A lot depends on your work schedules, and whether you have children," Tina B. Tessina, aka Dr. Romance, psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working it out Together, tells Bustle. "If you can manage to spend a little time together, talking about your day, plans for the future, great times you’ve had together, you’ll become very close." Get in there and talk about your past, present and future on a regular basis, and "don’t forget to listen," she says. Together, you'll build a life this way.
10. Say 'I Love You'
"A vital nighttime routine is to say 'I love you' no matter what," Boston-based clinical psychologist Bobbi Wegner tells Bustle. Whatever is going on, whether you're in the same room (or same area code) or not, take the two seconds each night to tell each other that you love each other. No. Matter. What.
11. Basically Blow Each Other's Minds
"A great nighttime routine would involve taking turns on a 10-minute massage with amazing music in the background," Marina Sbrochi, IPPY award-winning author of Stop Looking for a Husband: Find the Love of Your Life tells Bustle. "[and] telling each other two things we are grateful for, making love and falling asleep to positive hypnosis." Well, damn. That literally sounds like a dream I once had. Give it a spin!
12. Exchange Gratitude
"Gratitude helps to dispel negativity," Dawn Maslar, aka “the Love Biologist,” tells Bustle. "Often people think science and spirituality are mutually exclusive, but they're not: Studies have found that prayer helps to decrease anxiety, depression and, of course, negativity." So she and her partner pray together before they go to bed every night. Prayer can be totally nondenominational, but if it isn't your cup of tea, you could try meditating with your partner or telling each other things you are grateful for before bed.
13. Keep It Fresh
"The best nighttime routine to have with your partner is whichever one works for you," dating expert Noah Van Hochman tells Bustle. "So much of this depends on what type of personality each of you have." Whatever you do, though, be sure you don't feel bored by it. "The problem lies in that something done repetitively or routinely often becomes mundane or boring," he says. "This can then lead to conflict or frustration, which often is taken out on one or both of those involved in the relationship."
Whatever routine or ritual you pick — from exchanging massages and "I-love-you"s to listening to positive hypnosis and falling asleep together with the window open, be sure that if it starts to feel stale, switch it up. "Routines are good as a plan or starter kit, so to speak, but throw some unanticipated or WTF moments in to that routine on occasion to keep it fresh and interesting," he says. If boredom creeps in, change it up by having a dance party before bed or taking a walk around the block or whatever you feel like doing.
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