12 successful women share their feel-good bedtime routines

The soothing bedtime routines that women from all walks of life use to dial down, for a lasting sense of calm and happiness. 

One of the problems with success is that we tend to ascribe it to some magic formula; a mystical lemon juice that certain people manage to sprinkle liberally, while others miss out.

But the reality is more prosaic. When it comes down to it, doing well in business is the result of a series of small, incremental steps in the right direction.

Routines, then, are the compass of career success. And with the UK workforce now more stressed than ever before (not least in this, a year of coronavirus), evening rituals offer a golden chance to dial down and take stock amid a whirlwind of demands. 

Below, 12 entrepreneurs and business high-fliers reveal the bedtime routines they use to relax. From vinyl sessions to stretching and escapist reading, here’s how to set the tone for the day ahead:  

Toast and a box set

At bedtime I’m supposed to read… but I quite often get into bed with my dogs and kids, a cup of herbal tea, some toast (Heart of Nature is my fave) and watch The Big Bang Theory or a box set of some sort. My idea of heaven! 

Rosemary Ferguson, nutritionist and co-founder of healthy fast food service F!LTH

Tidying and vinyl

Tidying my desk, and making a plan for what I need to do the next day means I feel organised and prepared for work, which is a huge load off my mind and helps me switch off. 

Then I feel I can relax properly, usually with a record (I find the tactility of playing vinyl very comforting), a glass of red wine and some sofa time with a purring cat.

Once I’m ready for bed, I take up a mug of sleepy-tea and read a positive book for about 20 minutes, which sends me to sleep.

Joanna Fallon, graphic designer and founder of The Cotswold Chalkboard

Escapist reading

Photo: Lauren Maccabee

I’m a night owl, so the evenings are my favourite part of the day. I like to stay up late to stretch out my evenings as much as possible, and my hands-down favourite way to spend my pre-bedtime time is reading. 

As I spend a lot of time reading factual documents during the day, I usually stick with fictional escapist books for the evening. Anything from Terry Pratchett to Mikhail Bulgakov, as long as it takes my mind completely off work topics and allows my brain to relax and drift off to a restful sleep with happy dreams.

Amali de Alwis, MBE, former CEO at Code First: Girls and now managing director of Microsoft for Startups

Mid-night writing

It’s not uncommon for me to wake in the night, and often, I start thinking and processing stuff that will keep me awake. So I keep a pen and paper by the bed to write down whatever questions are coming up, and allow them to be there without judgement. 

I tell myself I can tend to them in the morning if I really need to. Without fail, when I wake up, they are not a big as my mind made them in the middle of the night. And I fall back to sleep so much quicker with this technique.

Emily Hodge, life coach at Coaching Emily 

Snacks and Netflix

My usual bedside routine to relax is to have a glass of water and a few nibbles either ginger nut biscuits, rich tea biscuits or grapes by my bedside table. I say my prayers and then either read a book or catch up on my favourite shows on Netflix until I fall asleep.

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, lawyer, political and women’s rights activist, and founder of the publication Women in Leadership 

Yoga and noting

I am on the road a lot, so having a simple bedtime routine is really important. I usually prepare hot water with doTerra lemon drops half an hour before bed, along with a hot water bottle. Then I take a moment in the child’s pose or butterfly pose in my bed to ‘close down’ my energy field. 

Around this time, all the things I want to remember to do tomorrow pop up in my head, so I write everything down to give my mind permission to rest.

Rosanna Kalliabetsos, fertility specialist and yoga school owner

No phone zone

Working for yourself does mean there aren’t typical working hours and there’s always the temptation to just keep working. Over the years I’ve definitely become stricter with myself and try to leave my phone in a different room in the evenings. 

I try to always read before bed – even if it’s just a few pages. Going back to using a traditional alarm clock rather than the alarm on my phone has also been a game-changer for me. 

Margie Nomura, chef, food writer and creator of Desert Island Dishes podcast

All in the bed linen

I drink a herbal tea in the evening to helps me relax and calm my stomach from dinner. My iPhone screen turns from the harsh blue to a yellow tone after 9pm, as it is supposed to help with sleep!

Our bedroom is kept super-dark with blackout curtains, and there’s always a window open as I get a much better sleep when it’s cooler. I’ve invested in a really good mattress and Egyptian cotton bedsheets; the softness makes for perfect sleep. Also, I sleep on a satin pillow case (even take the pillowcase with me whenever I travel), as it’s really good for skin and hair.

Diane Hill, mural painter and interior decorator 

Lavender galore and a hot water bottle 

Image: Stu Jotham

After my last class of the day, I’ll have a shower and get into my PJs to chill in front of the fire and watch TV for an hour or so. Then, I’ll head up to bed and use lavender spray to scent the room for a peaceful night’s sleep. 

I also use a foam roller on parts of my body that are aching from the day, finishing with some deep breaths and a hot water bottle to soothe away any strains. 

Helen Rogers, personal trainer at Be Fit

Clothes prep and power down

I set myself up for the day ahead by laying out all my work clothes the night before. That way, there’s no stress in deciding what to wear in the morning. I also put my phone onto flight mode before I nod off, so I can sleep uninterrupted. 

Wai Tsang, Emerging Markets Front Office Technology at Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Flower essences

My experience as a gardener means I’ve always been fascinated by how plants and humans interact, and flower essences can be a great source of energy and healing. 

On those days when I know I need to wind down after a particularly busy time, or the thoughts just won’t stop coming, I take a few drops of a calming essence before bed, to promote release and relaxation. 

Saskia Marjoram, founder of Saskia’s Flower Essences

Fuck It Bucket meditation

In order to wind down in the evening, I use what I refer to as “Fuck It Bucket” meditation. I visualise a bucket coming down from the aethers in which I put all my worries, anxieties and shortcomings. I then send it down for recycling. 

If there is something I can’t find a solution to, I will write it out on a piece of paper and set the intention to resolve it in the morning. I also read a chapter from a motivational book (my current one is Millionaire Masterplan by Roger Hamilton). 

Antonina Andreeva, spiritual business coach

Main image: Getty

This piece was originally published in December 2018

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