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6 women on their nighttime self care routines

By Alex Laughlin

Self care takes form in little acts you perform throughout the day. That doesn’t stop when it’s time for you to wind down your day.

There’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning and not being able to drag yourself out of bed because you’ve had a terrible night of sleep. Not only does an evening routine set you up for an easier morning, but getting more sleep could also help you be happier and healthier in general.

We asked members of the Pay Up community what they do every night to get themselves ready for bed — and for the next day of work. Here’s what they had to say.

Let’s get sleepy.

“I go through my mundane routine in painstaking detail in my head (based on step 5 from this). For example: I woke up, got out of bed, put on house shoes, went to the bathroom, put toothpaste on my brush, etc. I get so bored I fall asleep.” — Sruti Cheedalla

“I do the same thing as Sruti, but instead I try to plan tomorrow’s outfit in my head — it’s enjoyable but incredibly low stakes, so I usually drift off in a few minutes. And it keeps my mind from wandering to things that would keep me up.” — Lane Harbin

“My routine is more cat care than self-care, haha! About an hour before bed I brew some Sleepytime Extra (Valerian FTW), usually drink it while watching a nature/music show on Netflix or rewatching Steven Universe (which is my anti-anxiety/antidepression lifehack), then refill the downstairs and upstairs cat water bowls, feed my older cat, microwave the SnuggleSafe heat pad for older cat, brush teeth, say goodnight to sweetie, and meditate while lying on my back for 10–15 minutes. Usually that has me pretty sleepy… sometimes my brainweasels refuse to accept the meditation though — high estrogen seems to make it harder for me to wind down.” — Rachel Alex

You work long days — we know.

“When I’m actually following my routine — which I’m very bad at, but working on — I get off the computer, shower, put on my cozy robe and slippers, read for ~20 minutes (usually with a mug of tea and sometimes a snack of some kind), set up my coffee to brew in the AM, take pills, brush my teeth, etc., and get into bed. Might read a little more, might just go to sleep, or if I can’t settle, I have this game that always makes me sleepy. It’s called Rebuild, and it’s about surviving a zombie apocalypse, which is normally not my thing at all. It’s a building game, not a fighting game — scout squares, scavenge, kill zombies (which is assigning people with soldiering skills to the square, not anything active), reclaim, move on. You need to keep enough food and housing for the people in your settlement, but it’s basically really repetitive and doesn’t require a lot of thought. Knocks me right out.” — Cathy Mullican

“Like Cathy I’m working on my routine. Ideal routine involves turning off screens, doing all my pre-bed prep (brush teeth, waterpik, wash face), then curling up with a book for 20–30 mins. I’ve found that the pre-bed prep stuff wakes me right back up and makes it harder to fall asleep, which is why I am trying to do it at least a half hour before bed. If I’m still antsy, I do some breathing exercises to get restful. 4–7–8 is my jam. — Angélique Weger


“I used to have the thinking/anxiety problem that prevented me from sleeping, but the cat in my new place has learned that when I turn off the overhead and turn on my lamp it’s time to come in and get cuddled. It really helps me chill out for bed, and he gets pets; It’s a win-win.” — Avery

“I’ve found the self-hypnosis/relaxation stuff that I found while doing the float spa (salt water, sensory-reduction chambers) thing is equally helpful in getting to sleep, since it forces my brain to shut off. (It’s basically just doing a sort of slow countdown with a repetitive mantra thing between every couple of numbers; if you’ve ever seen ‘Office Space’…it’s that)” — Shauna

How do you prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep? Let us know in the comments!

Pay Up is a private, Slack-based community dedicated to fostering conversations about the gender wage gap. It was formerly managed by the Washington Post.