Nighttime Habits of the Fittest People

Written by

There's a lot of talk in the fitness community about the perfect morning routine. Whether it's a meditation practice, a healthful breakfast or a quick HITT workout, a solid morning routine can successfully set the tone for the rest of the day.

However, as anyone with a stressful commute or a few kids can tell you, even the most well-planned mornings can turn hectic on a dime. That's why an evening routine is sometimes the most important predictor for the following day.

Take a tip or two from how fit people spend their evenings to plan out your perfect nighttime routine. 

They go to bed earlier than they think they should.

Have you heard of sleep onset latency? Put simply, it's the length of time it takes for you to actually fall asleep, and for most people, it's not immediate. That's why fit individuals make sure to go to bed earlier than think they should. 

For example, if you wake up at 6 a.m. and want to get a full eight hours of rest, you should aim to be in bed at 10 p.m., right? Not exactly. Most of us will not fall asleep the second our head hits the pillow; in fact, it may take 30 minutes or an hour for your brain to truly relax and the sensation of sleepiness to set in. Start paying attention to how long it takes you to fall asleep, and work backwards from eight hours to determine your actual best bedtime.

They follow their own body's signals for nighttime eating.

Many people have strong opinions about nighttime eating, and the logic typically goes that it's best to eat less at night since you will likely be more sedentary. However, your body burns calories all day long, including in sleep, and the total number of calories consumed throughout the day is the ultimate decider for your weight--regardless of when you ate them.

Fit people follow their own signals for when to eat. Maybe a late-night snack soothes their stomach, helps them sleep well and therefore, helps them wake up early for a great morning workout. Maybe a late dinner disrupts their sleep. The point is: Do what feels best for your body.

They have a plan for breakfast.

That being said, there is little disagreement about the importance of one particular meal--a healthy breakfast. This is why fitter people tend to prioritize breakfast and have a plan for it. Since mornings can be pretty hectic, it's easy to lose 10 or 15 minutes here and there due to unforeseen circumstances and then end up at a fast food drive-thru on the way to work.

Plan your breakfasts ahead of time to avoid this problem. Whether it's making a serving of overnight oats each evening or baking a batch of egg-white muffins on Sunday, there are plenty of make-ahead ideas out there that are simple and time-efficient. That way you can grab-and-go while still fueling your body with healthful food.

They set an intention for the next day.

The day's end presents a special opportunity to plan for what you'd like to see happen tomorrow. Fit people take advantage of this. Whether it's a formal journaling process, a simple conversation with a partner or just your own private musings in the shower, spend some time thinking about the day ahead. What is important for you tomorrow? Do you want to nail a work meeting, make sure to get in that evening run or spend more screen-free time relaxing? Even taking just five minutes to purposefully think about the next day can make a world of difference.

They review the day.

Just like planning for the next day, it's also important to review your current day before going to sleep. Fit people make time to reflect on how their day went, specifically in relation to their fitness and health goals. Did that lunchtime run feel surprisingly great? Maybe you should work in more of those. Did you end up hitting the vending machine at 3 p.m. for a bag of chips or a candy bar? You may need to pack lunches with a higher protein content.

This time is simply to take stock of the day--no guilt allowed--and use whatever insights you come up with to plan for a better tomorrow.