11 Healthy Daily Habits That Are More Effective To Do At Night Vs. In The Morning
By the end of the day, we are often tired and might not feel like going out of our way to engage in all that good old self-care. However, there are a number of healthy habits before bed that can have more benefits when done at night rather than done in the morning, so it's important that we don't neglect that essential evening time. Participating in healthy habits at night can not only help ensure that we get better sleep, but it can help start the following day off on a better note, so we also don't feel stressed or lethargic in the morning.
"Some habits are sedating: They calm the mind and relax the body," Pedram Shojai, Doctor of Oriental Medicine, tells Bustle. "They are better at night because they help us 'shut down the windows' and have a restful sleep. When done too early, they take a little fire out of our bellies and perhaps slow our performance at times when we need to be on."
Of course, any healthy habit is worth doing whenever you can fit it in, but if you want to maximize the benefits, you'll want to schedule some specific activities for the evening. Here are 11 healthy habits that are more effective to do at night.
1. Goal Setting
Whether you're coming up with a weekly career goal or even just trying to figure out your workout schedule or a meal plan, consider doing this before bed rather than in the morning. "Every day can bring with itself a new set of challenges," nutritionist Suzanne Fisher tells Bustle. "Nutrition plans may require daily adjustment, and during the morning rush is usually not the most realistic time to evaluate and set a plan." So take a little time when you're cozy and clearheaded to plan your day tomorrow.
2. Taking A Hot Shower
Some people swear by morning showers, but if you're going to take a steamy one, consider taking it at at night. "[Hot showers and baths] raise your body temperature," habit scientist and health coach Tamsin Astor tells Bustle. "When your body temperature drops from the heat, it triggers sleep." And, some research suggests it may also help you stay asleep.
3. Expressing Gratitude
Choosing to look at what you're grateful for is great to do at night because it can help you sleep better. "It changes the focus of your brain to positivity, which helps you sleep and dream well," says Astor. "Gratitude practices prime the brain to look for the good in the world." Before bed can also be the ideal time because it gives you the space to relax and reflect, which you may not find during other parts of your day.
4. Tidying Up
No one wants to wake up to dirty laundry or piles of dishes in the sink. "Save the more mundane and mindless tasks like tidying up for 15 minutes each night as the start of your nighttime routine," healthy lifestyle advisor Kristen Battistelli tells Bustle. "Set your washer/dryer and dishwasher to run while you sleep, wipe down the sinks and countertops, and organize the mail. It may not seem like a lot of time but you can get a lot done in 15 minutes, and if done consistently each night you will be a saner person in the morning."
After a long day, your brain is stuffed with new information and experiences that it needs to process while you rest. "Do your brain a favor and tidy it up by free-form journaling or doodling for at least 5 minutes before bed," says Battistelli. "I know the usual norm is to journal in the morning (which you can, too), but I get more out of it when handling it at night as a natural and logical ending to my day. You will calm your brain down and be able to fall asleep much faster without all those thoughts racing around."
6. Using Essential Oils
If you're into essential oils, make them a part of your nighttime routine. "Placing one drop of lavender essential oil on your pillow can do wonders for a better night's sleep," Dr. Jacqueline Schaffer tells Bustle. "Feel free to swap out the type of essential oil you use, but be sure to use one that is intended for rest (as opposed to a citrus-based oil used for alertness and energy). Even if you get those coveted 7-8 hours in a night, incorporating a small habit like this can aid overall sleep quality."
7. Deep Breathing
Controlled breathing is another nighttime habit that can help promote sleep. "Engage in breathing practices that manage anxiety, that regulate your blood pressure, and connect your mind and body so you are in a calm unified state — so you sleep well," says Astor.
Although there is no bad time of day for meditation, it's a highly-effective way to relax at night. "Taking the time to meditate can do wonders for reducing cortisol and increasing serotonin," says Schaffer. "Meditation at night, specifically, can help you decompress from the day and help control that mind-racing, million-thoughts-per-second feeling we often get as soon as our heads hit the pillow."
9. Creating A To-Do List
One of the biggest mistakes people make with to-do lists is they wait until morning to create them. A recent study out of Baylor University found that writing a list of tasks you need to accomplish the next day can help you get to sleep easier. "Many people lie down and have racing thoughts about what needs to happen the next day," certified sleep science coach Chris Brantner tells Bustle. "By putting pen to paper and laying out the next day's tasks, you can curb the anxiety and offload worry, thereby having an easier time dozing off."
10. Deep Facial Cleanse
Doing a deep cleanse of your skin at night not only helps remove all that dirt and oils, but it can help you unwind as well. "Take the time to clean out those pores, tone, and moisturize your skin," says Shojai. "Make it a mediation around self-care, love, and a closing ritual from a long day."
Many people like to read in the morning, but reading before bed can sometimes be a better choice. "Your brain retains more of the information you read before bed, which is a great tip for students trying to cram for tests," Dr. David Friedman tells Bustle. "Also, cut back on the tablets, smart phones and laptops and read an old fashioned book. These electrical devices produce light and EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) which have been shown to interfere with the pineal gland of the brain. This is a small endocrine gland that produces the hormone melatonin which plays a roll in regulating sleep and wake cycles."
Developing healthy habits is a great idea, no matter when you choose to do them, but if any of these ideas seem to work for you, you may want to try them at night to help with a more restful sleep, and productive morning.