I tiptoed past my kids’ bedrooms and managed to get down the stairs making barely any noise.
I clutched a journal and my laptop to my chest, silently sliding onto the couch—too afraid to even get a mug out of a kitchen cabinet for fear of waking the kids.
I needed this time. Half an hour to myself in the soft light of dawn. A few minutes to think and breathe in the silence, before a full day of work and family.
But inevitably, before I had even the chance to write a single sentence in my journal, I heard a tiny person squawking from her crib. And then another tiny person flushing the toilet.
They were awake. And my time to myself was gone.
Is a Strong Morning Routine the Secret to Success?
For years, I felt like I’d been hit over the head with the power of a morning routine. It seems like allllll of the big names in business and entrepreneurship swear that their morning routine is the secret to both their professional success and personal fulfillment.
So every time I read another article or heard another influencer rave about their morning routine, I’d give it yet another try.
And every single time, I’d give up within a few days.
My reason for giving up has been that no matter how early I wake up or how silently I walk through the house, my kids always catch onto me. (It’s like they have a sixth sense that alerts them the moment I wake up.)
Even now that they’re older—now that the crib has long since been disassembled—they somehow still KNOW when I’m awake. But instead of a baby squawking from bed, now it’s the heavy footsteps of a preteen boy that come find me every morning.
Especially during my early years of parenthood, I found it more frustrating to HOPE for time to myself and then be disappointed than to just…keep sleeping and get up when they did. 🤷♀️
What Does It Say About You If You Can’t Maintain Your Morning Routine?
Have you ever felt like a failure because you can’t just get a morning routine to stick?
Maybe like me, you have visions of writing your daily affirmation and doing some light stretching or yoga.
And maybe also like me, you’ve struggled to stay consistent.
A Pocket of Time to Use Instead
This time when I was failing at my morning routine also happened to be one of the times in my life when I felt the most depleted.
I was exhausted from raising little kids, working a job I didn’t like, and supporting a traveling spouse. I felt like I had nothing left to give.
That was when I suddenly thought, If mornings aren’t working, maybe nights can.
Morning, after all, isn’t the only time when you can fill your soul and set your intentions. As I thought about it, I realized I was hugely underutilizing the last minutes of my day: my bedtime routine.
Every night, I was zoning out with Netflix or scrolling mindlessly on my phone, when what I REALLY wanted was to inhale the smell of a new book or take a hot bath. I wanted to reflect about my day and visualize the next one.
So I gave the last thirty minutes of my day a total makeover, and I’ve never looked back.
3 Reasons a Bedtime Routine May Work Better for You
1. Your schedule, internal clock, or season of life
If you’re up all night with a baby, it’s going to be hard to gather yourself enough to practice a thoughtful morning routine.
If you work swing shifts (or any kind of untraditional hours), there may not be a natural place to PUT a morning routine.
And if you’ve always been a night owl and can’t even wrap your mind around this practice, you’re not broken—you’re just you.
As an aside, did you know you might be genetically predisposed to favor nights over mornings? Anthropologists call it sentinel theory: the theory that humans evolved to be more alert at different times of day so that the group was never completely vulnerable to outside threats. Fascinating, right? We do have influence over our internal clocks, but being a natural night owl isn’t a character flaw. It’s something you can work WITH.
2. Your frame of mind
Your frame of mind at bedtime is very different from your frame of mind when you wake up.
At bedtime, you might feel less rushed and less distracted by the upcoming tasks of the day. Plus, bedtime is naturally a reflective time; you can use those precious minutes to reflect on the day you had, evaluate anything that went off track, practice gratitude, and appreciate yourself for all your efforts. AND you can visualize the upcoming day and make a gentle plan for how to tackle it.
3. The quality of your sleep
Do you have a hard time turning your mind off at night? I know for many women (myself included), the moment they hit the pillow is the moment their brain goes into overdrive, replaying past exchanges and worrying about everything under the sun.
One of the best things you can do for your quality of sleep is to go to bed on a positive note.
Have you ever gotten into an argument right before bed—or read an email that suddenly gets you all fired up—and then found yourself completely incapable of drifting off to sleep? I think we all know this feeling. Anger or anxiety ramp the brain up, which explains why it’s so hard to fall asleep on a negative note—and why it’s so incredibly powerful to create a positive note to end your day on.
In addition to that, a lot of us are using screens until the moment we turn out the lights, and the flood of information our devices present to us ALSO ramps up the brain (not to mention, blue light).
But you can choose to set screens aside for your bedtime routine—allowing you to fall asleep that much faster.
Back to a question I asked early in the show: What does it say about you if you can’t keep up your morning routine?
In my opinion, absolutely nothing.
PS. If you’d like to make a small change that’ll have a ripple effect on your entire life, try my newly-revamped challenge called Unwind. (Don’t you love just the sound of that word? Unwind. #happysigh)
In seven days, you’ll create a customized plan that sends you off to dreamland like a baby, and you’ll experience the power of a screen-free, soul-filling bedtime routine. You can find the challenge right here.
Your nights (and days!) are about to get SO much better.
More from Episode 34 of “Life On Purpose with Erica Layne”
Here’s what else you can hear in the latest episode of the podcast!
- Off Ramp: A segment where I point out something I see women doing that I’d love for you to quit! In this episode I encourage you to quit smoothing, fixing, and manipulating so that everything works out.
- Decluttering Tip: A quick and easy tip to lighten your mental clutter.
Listen to the full podcast episode in your favorite podcast app or in the audio player below!
Show produced by Callie Wright