Score health goals with good night-time routine

Pack lunch in advance. Batch-cook for the week so that you need not fret over what to eat.
Pack lunch in advance. Batch-cook for the week so that you need not fret over what to eat.PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

Many people struggle to reach their health and wellness goals. They cling to diet and exercise fads but overlook the importance of planning and creating consistent habits.

A lack of planning can have a snowball effect: You start your morning tired from a poor night's sleep, then skip exercise and miss breakfast while rushing out of the house. Sugar and caffeine cravings may be elevated due to fatigue from poor sleep.

The day feels hectic because it started off stressed and rushed. It is a vicious circle.

That is why an ideal night-time routine makes it more likely that your first step in the morning will lead to a successful day.

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The goal of a night-time routine is to set the tone to wind down to get a peaceful rest. This routine starts as soon as dinner is ending.

NUTRITION AND FOOD

How we plan our meals is essential for a successful day. Ideally, you want to eat in a way that allows your body to be ready for a good night's sleep. Here are some tips:

•Don't drink caffeine after 2pm or so, especially if caffeine makes you feel jittery.

•Set a time to stop drinking alcohol in the evening and drink plenty of water. While alcohol can make you sleepy, it will usually cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.

•If you crave sweets in the evening, find a tea that tastes sweet but has no added sugar or calories. Teas such as chamomile have calming effects.

•Avoid spicy or very heavy foods in the evening to prevent heartburn or digestive issues.

•Pack lunch in advance. Ideally, batch-cook for the week in advance.

SLEEP

Getting enough sleep is essential. Sleep affects mood, metabolism and energy levels. Try these:

•Play classical, jazz or other soothing music as you wind down.

•Dim the lights at home to set yourself up for a restful night.

•Make sure your room is dark, cool, uncluttered and free of technology - no TV, tablet, clock or anything else that creates a blue or bright light.

MOVEMENT

Exercise is usually the first thing one skips when time is short.

Sometimes, it is just a matter of having your workout clothes ready. Also, a quick workout or stretching session is better than doing nothing at all.

When we are rushing all day and sitting at the office, our muscles get tight and our posture becomes weak. Consider a five- to 10-minute routine to stretch the body.

For example, place a foam roller on the floor and roll your back up and down to open up the chest. You can also stand against the wall to work on your posture, or try a deep squat to open up the hips.

If you want to exercise in the morning, set out your clothes near the bed.

And if you want to exercise in the evening, pack your bag in advance so that you are ready to go.

MINDFULNESS

Paying attention increases mindfulness, which is an essential part of stress management. Incorporating breathing exercises or meditation into your night-time routine leads to a better night's sleep.

•Find an app for meditation or breathing exercises.

•Set the alarm for one minute, sit comfortably and breathe. Pay attention as you inhale and exhale. Increase the time as you improve.

THE WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2017, with the headline 'Score health goals with good night-time routine'. Print Edition | Subscribe