Integrative Health Expert Stacie Stephenson, D.C.

7:30 p.m.: I try to note the time that the sun sets every day. Whether it’s earlier in the winter or later in summer, I do my best to get outside and have a look—even if it’s just for a few minutes. The red light is great for sending my brain the message that it’s time to stop working and start winding down. After sunrise, I try to keep all the house lights low.

8:00 p.m.: I’m already thinking about sleep, even if I’m still out and about. I can’t wait to start my sleep routine so on down days, I may already be in the bath at this time.

8:30 p.m.: If I’m lucky enough to be home, I start my bedtime routine in earnest now. I put away my phone, shut down the computer, put on some quiet music, and brew a cup of chamomile tea.

9:00 p.m.: This is when I really commit to relaxation. My favorite thing is when my husband and I can take an evening walk or sit and talk about our days together. We are each other’s best cheerleaders, and I always feel a little calmer when I can share what I’ve been doing and listen to what he’s been doing. Then we talk through any issues we’ve each had to deal with out there in the world. This time is a big priority for both of us.

9:30 p.m.: If I haven’t already, I run a hot bath and soak until I start to feel drowsy. I may throw some essential oils into the bath and light some candles if it’s been a really long day.

10:00 p.m.: After my bath, I’ll do my evening hygiene: washing my face, brushing my teeth, and using whatever beauty products I’m trying (I’m always interested in trying the latest thing!). Then I take my sleep supplements, which usually consist of magnesium, ashwagandha, and on occasion, melatonin if I’m feeling like I’ll need a little extra help.*

10:30 p.m.: I put on my favorite PJs and snuggle in around 10:00 or 10:30 on most nights if I can. If I’m really lucky, I’ll already be asleep by this time. If I have evening obligations, I may not get to bed until 11 or 12, but I feel a lot better when I’m in bed by 10. If I still need more calming, I’ll read a book or do some journaling, or I’ll meditate for about 20 minutes. Meditation is my best sleep medicine and though it takes some effort, I find that it pays off in refreshing and rejuvenating sleep.

5:00 a.m.: I’m often wide awake at this time, ready to take on another day. Sometimes I try to sleep in, but I’m almost always up by the sunrise. I try to catch a glimpse of that, too, to send my pineal gland (a main governor of the circadian rhythm) the message that it’s time to wake up.