Having a solid evening routine is so important to our overall wellness. Why? Well in the past I suffered from insomnia, so I know that what we do & eat in the evening really affects not only the quality & quantity of our sleep, but also how energetic, happy and productive we are the next day! I have crafted my evenings in a way that allows me to recharge, balance and fall asleep with ease.
These few simple steps send my body cues to chill out:
Set the atmosphere. I love diffusing doTerra essential oils in the evening. I find mixing lavender with spearmint very calming. To learn more about EOs, click here. Once my oils are on, I get out of my work clothes and put my super- soft, comfy clothes on.
Move! I usually start winding down at around 5:30 - 6 PM. At this time, I would normally go for a swim (if staying away from home) or do a gentle yoga workout. If I only have 5 or 10 minutes because of dinner plans, I simply put my favourite tune on and dance to it!
Ideally, finish eating by 7 PM every night. I train my body to go 12 to 14 hours without food as this practice supports long-term blood sugar balance. By finishing my dinner around 7 PM I am giving my digestive system a twelve-hour break and I don’t go to bed with an overfull tummy, which can be very uncomfortable.
Load up on carbs! In contrast to my low carb, high fat ketogenic type of breakfast, for dinner, I enjoy a plate filled with carbs usually in the form of sweet potatoes, yams, plantains or taro. Not only do carbohydrate-digesting enzymes increase at night, but also I’ve noticed on myself and my clients that eating more carbs in the evening, results in better sleep quality. For sweet potato recipes click here. If you’re on a low carb/ paleo or keto diet and you find yourself suffering from poor sleep, you might want to consider including carbs such as quinoa or sweet potatoes in your evening meals. By increasing your carbs in the evening, you will give yourself that “food coma” which will make you relax and send you to sleep (something you definitely don’t want to do, at breakfast!). Just remember don’t have dinner too late and always aim to finish eating at least two hours before bedtime.
Sip on something comforting and get organised. Around 30 min after my dinner, I have a cup of comforting chamomile tea and while sipping on it I check my email, social media and get organised for next day. Having a plan of what I want to accomplish, especially on my day off, gives me my WHYs for waking up in the morning and curbs the temptation to sleep in or waste time.
Ideally switch off from the outside world as soon as the sun sets. To me, this means no electronic stimulation past 8:30 PM until 7 AM. My phone is on aeroplane mode and my computer is switched off. I don’t watch TV, but if I did, I would limit TV time before bedtime too. If you must use your computer or feel like watching TV, then at least install dimming software on all your screens like f.lux.
No bright lights in the evening. Melatonin is the hormone that makes us feel sleepy and since blue-light suppresses the production of it, I turn off all the bright lights at about 7 PM and switch on my amber/red lights and Himalayan salt lamps. You can read about the amazing benefits of using these types of lights and where to purchase them here. If I’m on the metro or train after sunset I simply wear my blue-light blockers. I use a Japanese brand called JINS, these block 60% of blue-light and you can get them on Taobao.
Feed your soul. In the sacred last hour of my evening (9-10 PM), I do something just for me! The activities during this hour differ depending on how I feel. In the winter, I might take a hot shower or a warm bath with magnesium-rich Epson salts. After the shower, I would put my homemade moisturiser. This ritual might be followed by a gratitude diary, practicing a loving-kindness meditation or listening to a sleep story or inspiring podcast (with my phone still in aeroplane mode).
Do I always follow all these steps without any hiccups?
Do I always have an hour to myself before bed?
Of course not!
Sometimes life happens and I’m faced with long airport delays, getting to hotels way past my bedtime, tight deadlines, or other factors outside of my control. However, because I have trained my body for these cues as soon as I have, for example, a cup of chamomile tea or do some form of meditation practice, my brain recognises it and sends me off into a peaceful slumber.
What is your wind-down routine? Share it in the comment section, I’d love some more ideas.
As promised, here is the recipe for the picture I posted last Monday on Instagram ;-)
Avocado Coconut Bliss Balls
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 2 scoops raw reserve greens (optional)
- 2 cups desiccated coconut
- 6 tablespoons coconut butter
- 6 drops lime DoTerra EO
- salt to taste
- place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until well combined
- spoon out and roll into balls
- roll each ball in desiccated coconut or matcha powder for the extra greenish look ;-)
- refrigerate for at least for 30 minutes until cold and firm
You can definitely enjoy these Bliss Balls as a little pick-me-up without guilt! These bad boys are loaded with good fats, fiber, vitamins and antioxidants.
Don’t forget to check out my blog for more recipes. I promise there is no taste like cardboard nasties… just delicious food made from beneficial ingredients that help to improve your health instead of destroying it!
P.S. If you found today’s article useful, please share this blog post on your Facebook and WeChat moments or even by email with anyone you think might benefit from reading it. If you decide to make any of my recipes don't forget to tag me on Instagram @ThriveInShanghai. I'll see that you get bonus karma points for taking the few seconds to do so. Also, for those who are ready, I have limited spaces available for one-on-one work. I find that free information is a great start, but it's personalised support and accountability that really make the difference. Find out more here.