33 people share how they wind down before going to sleep

By Aine Ryan|

Thanks to the glorious event that is sleep, we spend about a third of our life unconscious, with mother nature repairing our bodies and minds the best she can. This is something we all have in common.

But what about those quiet few hours before bed, when we try to unwind after a long day? It's different for everyone.

Whether it's doomscrolling on our phones while watching trash TV or lighting a scented candle before beginning a 10-step skincare regimen, we all tend to follow a routine before bedtime.

We've asked 33 people to share theirs.

Name: Amy
Bedtime: These days it varies from 7:30 to 9:30.
Wind-down routine: I'm currently in my third trimester of pregnancy so my wind-down routine is looking very different to what it used to be. If I'm absolutely exhausted the routine is simple: have dinner, go for a shower, cover every inch of myself in some form of body oil or butter – which is a non-negotiable these days – a basic skincare routine and then trying to get comfortable in bed with my pregnancy pillow and a stack of others. On other nights I'll usually go to bed and watch something on TV (hello Married At First Sight) then head off for a shower. Again, the non-negotiable turning myself into a glazed donut routine of body oil and butter in the hopes of preventing any stretch marks and taking the itch out of my stretching skin but when I can be bothered it's more of a proper skincare routine on my face. Then it's generally around this time when I go and make myself a snack, which these days is anything from popcorn to ice-cream or whatever sweet treats are in the house. After that I'll hop in bed and either scroll on my phone until my husband comes to bed, or we'll watch something together until we're basically falling asleep and turn the TV off.

Name: Em
Bedtime: I aim to be in bed by 10:30pm on weeknights, however I rarely achieve this more often tucking myself in between 11-12:00am.
Wind-down routine: I enjoy watching one episode of a TV show before having a shower and tending to my religious nighttime skincare routine. I then read ten pages of a book on the couch before toddling off to bed.

Name: Josh
Bedtime: On weekdays, I try and sleep by 11pm if I can help it. On weekends, I can sleep in as necessary, so no bedtime is required. The name of the game is buying myself time so I can function in the morning.
Wind-down routine: I find waking up in the morning a million times harder than going to sleep, so honestly I don't have much of a sleep "routine." If I'm out and about after work, my wind-down consists of almost nothing: I brush my teeth and I collapse. I love a nap, and I can basically sleep at the drop of a hat. If I have a more relaxed evening and I need to wind-down, I'll try and read but it could just as easily be TikTok. I start inexorably rotating onto one side while I'm reading, and if I end up fighting to keep my eyes open, it's time to sleep.

Name: Maddison
Bedtime: I'm usually in bed by 10pm on a weeknight, 11pm on the weekends. I wake up early even without alarms so I wanna be able to get a good nights sleep.
Wind-down routine: After brushing my teeth I usually hop into bed for some time on my phone. Generally I watch about 10 to 20 minutes of TikTok and then put my phone away to have a chat with my partner before we go to sleep. Usually we just talk about what we've got on tomorrow, a TV show we're watching or other chill topics – nothing serious. Having some time without our phones just chatting makes it a lot easier to fall asleep too, I've even nodded off in the middle of conversations with him.

Name: Nadia
Bedtime: Between 10.30pm and 11pm on weekdays and around 11.30pm to 12.30am on the weekends.
Wind-down routine: I have quite a strict bedtime routine. It starts off with brushing my teeth and then doing my skincare. After that I moisturise my décolletage area with my lavender scented cream and then my sleep lip mask. I use the lip mask throughout the day but I always wear it to bed too! I have a lavender spray I spritz on my pillow just to create a nice smell in the area. I always have a drink of cold water and then scroll TikTok for about 10 minutes. I then put on my relaxing music, pop on my silk sleep mask and off to sleep I go. On weekends it's relatively similar. However, instead of TikTok, I might watch a show or a movie instead.

Name: Laeeqa
Bedtime: Between 12.30am and 1am. I try to go to bed earlier but I always want to have 'me time' after working and putting my daughter to bed.
Wind-down routine: I have a shower, clean my teeth, do a leave-in conditioner and some sort of variation of my skin care before hopping in to bed to chuck on whatever show I'm bingeing at the moment. I usually ask my partner all the weird and wonderful questions like "would you still love me if I was a tree?" and spend some time on TikTok before shutting off to do it all again the next day!

Name: Samuel
Bedtime: I usually get into bed between 1am and 2am, expecting to actually try to fall asleep an hour or so after that. People usually freak out when I say this is my usual schedule, but I'm a total night owl so it works for me.
Wind-down routine: I basically do everything that any guide to getting better sleep tells you not to do... and I refuse to change my ways. The only thing I do right is brush my teeth before bed. When I get in bed I'll respond to all of the messages from friends that I didn't get to during the day, probably check my work emails (I'm toxic, I know), and do the day's Wordle. After that, I'll scroll my Reddit feed until my eyes start to hurt, at which point I know I'll be able to get to sleep soundly. I know we're told not to scroll on our smartphones before going to sleep, but I've curated my Reddit feed to only show wholesome, light content (I really like r/whatisthisthing, r/whatswrongwithyourdog, and r/oddlysatisfying), so I actually find that it helps to shut my brain down and relax before trying to sleep.

'Once it hits 8.30 I'm wiped.' (Getty)

Name: Stu
Bedtime: 8.30-9.30pm (I'm an early bird).
Wind-down routine: I'm a morning person so my routine would not look out of place at an aged care village. I wind down with my toddler – we have dinner around 6 and I get him in the bath around 7 and we play with bubbles and occasionally listen to music. He likes the James Bond theme music. After I get him dressed I pack my bag for work the next day – I leave the house at 4.50am so if it doesn't get packed then, it never gets packed. We put him down around 7.30pm to sleep but he ends up singing/chatting for up to an hour! Once it hits 8.30 I'm wiped. My wife and I will occasionally watch something on one of the streaming platforms, but she likes scary shows and I'm a massive wuss. I'd much rather be in an actual murder house than watch a murder house show. If I'm feeling really sore from exercise I'll roll out my feet and glutes using a golf ball. I don't have a skincare routine at all... is that necessary for humans? I jump into bed and read my Kindle, I'm on a real Cold War spy kick. Out by 9.30pm without fail. That poor Kindle falls off the bed every night.

Name: Bronte
Bedtime: I have to wake up for work at 5am, so I try for 9pm, but it almost always ends up being 11pm or later.
Wind-down routine: One thing I've started doing is putting my phone away around 30 minutes before I go to sleep, so my eyes can have a break from the light and my brain can wind down. If I'm really struggling to fall asleep, I put some (quiet) music on my speaker, but I try to make sure it's the same song so my brain doesn't get too excited with any new stimulation, and the repetitive melody lulls me into rest. I've also started using a silk pillowcase to try and clear my skin, and the silky surface actually is quite relaxing, it makes me feel like I'm in a spa. So that could be part of my wind-down routine, or it could be a placebo effect!

Name: Jo
Bedtime: Around 7.30pm.
Wind-down routine: I am a very light sleeper so love to go to bed early. Sometimes I am in bed by 7.30pm and read until I fall asleep, then spend about 10 hours waking every hour in a panicked sweat! I also have very strange dreams. But 10 hours of terrible sleep is better than nothing. My teenagers go to bed later than me but once they are asleep they are in a deep, deep sleep. I like to clean up a bit – the kitchen, laundry, take the rubbish out, tidy up – usually while listening to a podcast. Then it's lights out, reading until I feel sleepy, usually with one or two cats purring next to me.

'10 hours of terrible sleep is better than nothing.' (Getty)

Name: Kate
Bedtime: Between 10.30 and 11pm.
Wind-down routine: I am practically obsessed with the idea of a sleep routine but don't actually have one myself. I tend to make sure that by 10pm I'm somewhere between having a shower or collapsing into bed with a cup of tea, but every night is a lottery! I try to make sure I'm not using my phone after 10pm. As someone who struggles to turn their brain off and deals with a bit of insomnia every now and then, I usually write a list for the next day in a notebook or journal just before bed. Other times I'll read until I feel too sleepy to focus, slap some night cream on and voila.

Name: Kahla
Bedtime: Between 10 and 11pm.
Wind-down routine: I would love to say I have a calming, screen-free wind-down routine, but these days I find it looks like:

1. A round of Mario Kart with my partner, which does my heart rate absolutely no favours.
2. Teeth brushing/skincare.
3. Randomly remembering errands I meant to do earlier in the evening (eg watering plants) and deciding I absolutely have to sort them out right before bed, despite them rarely being that urgent.
4. A mad dash around the house in search of a sleep eye mask. Despite having about five, I somehow manage to leave them all over the place in my early-morning haze and never return them to their rightful home in my bedside table. (If I'm lucky, my partner will have quietly collected them and put one on my pillow ready to go, which is extremely cute.)
5. A quick TikTok scroll before lights out.

Name: Kristine
Bedtime: Between 10 and 11pm.
Wind-down routine: I feel like my bedtime routine would be a lot more zen if my husband didn't go to bed so much earlier than me most nights. As it is, now I usually use that time to catch up on my TV shows that he doesn't watch with me, and then have an annoying habit of scrolling through Instagram before getting ready for bed. We have two dogs that sleep inside and we don't have a doggy door, so last thing before bed I always have to take them outside to do their business. If I've got a good book on the go I do try and read for at least 15 minutes before bed, but it's not as regular as I want it to be!

Bedtime routine
'I check the news sites and do some Instagram scrolling before my eyelids close.' (Getty)

Name: Kerri
Bedtime: Depends if I've fallen asleep on the lounge beforehand. Usually around 10.30pm.
Wind-down routine: I go to bed and pretend I'm not going to use my device, while all the while, really intending to use both my iPhone and iPad. I check the news sites and do some Instagram scrolling before my eyelids close. I silently wish I'd remembered to put on some kind of face cream, before falling asleep to the sounds of husband and/or one dog snoring on my pillow (true story), while the other two sleep at my feet. Bliss!

Name: Freya
Bedtime: Between 11pm and midnight.
Wind-down routine: I like to shower before bed, do my teeth and my skincare routine. My partner and I do a thing called "Three Best Things" when we get into bed, where we reflect on the good from the day. In contrast to my partner who falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow, much to my rage, it takes me quite a while to fall asleep once I am in bed. I will usually put on a podcast (my fave for bedtime is Atlas Obscura) or listen to a Sleep Story on the Calm App.

Name: April
Bedtime: Between 10.45 and 11pm.
Wind-down routine: I'll have a shower and clean my teeth around 9pm so when I'm falling asleep on the couch watching Netflix I can crawl into bed. I usually try and do a three-step skin routine (vitamin C oil, night cream, bio oil) and if I'm struggling to fall asleep, I'll listen to some ASMR. Sometimes I'll read a few pages of a book on my bedside table or do the daily TikTok 10 quiz.

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'If my mind is still active, I'll do some deep breathing exercises.' (Getty)

Name: Heidi
Bedtime: Around 9 to 9.30pm. Lame? Sure, but I'm old.
Wind-down routine: Drag kids to bed and collapse on couch with the dogs. Think about having a bath or watching Netflix. Fantasise about watching an entire movie or reading a book. Scroll through phone mindlessly. Wonder why I didn't just have dogs instead of kids. Crawl to bed.

Name: Brandon
Bedtime: Between 10 and 10.30pm.
Wind-down routine: I asked my wife and she said, "You are literally on your phone until you decide for some reason you don't want to be on your phone and then you put it down. You don't even plug it in which is the most annoying thing. And it buzzes all night with messages and alerts and then you just fall asleep without any problem and it's infuriating."

Name: Sindy
Bedtime: 10.30pm. It used to be midnight, but now as a dog owner, I am tired all the time. Dog also insists on waking up at 6.30am every day, so I am (begrudgingly) now a morning person.
Wind-down routine: No phone 30 mins before bed, if I can help it. Diligently apply skincare routine, lather on creams and lie very still in bed, letting it all baste. Go over the day with my partner. Pat dog. If having trouble falling asleep, I read the book on my bedside table.

Name: Nick
Bedtime: Eight hours before I need to wake up (typically 11.30pm).
Wind-down routine: After brushing my teeth, I do 60 push-ups, a 60-second plank and a few stretches designed to improve my terrible posture. I'll read in bed for about half an hour before turning out the lights. Then for the next hour or so I'll lie in the dark, sitting up every five minutes to look something up on Wikipedia. It takes between 30 minutes and 90 minutes for me to fall asleep, even when I don't look at my phone at all.

READ MORE: Beat the 'heat hangover': Why you sleep awfully on humid nights

Bedtime routine
'Sometimes I'll read a few pages of a book on my bedside table.' (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Name: Aine
Bedtime: I try to physically be in bed by 9.30pm.
Wind-down routine: My boyfriend recently got a PlayStation 5 so I'll duck off to bed while he's playing that. I usually try and convince my dog to come with me, but she's a night owl too and usually stays by his feet until he packs up. Once I'm in bed, I doomscroll for a while, and then I'll listen to a true-crime podcast until I fall asleep, and my boyfriend (who is slightly disturbed by my listening habits) diligently pauses it when I do. Lately, though, I've discovered the brown noise playlist on Spotify. Brown noise is a bit like pink or white noise, except it's rougher and sounds like the hum of an airplane cabin when everyone is quietly snoozing. I've always slept well on planes. Maybe that's why.

Name: Jane
Bedtime: 9.30pm, unless I have something I'm super keen to watch on TV with my husband. I've never been one for staying up – I'm very much a morning person – and it's a running joke in my family that you can't call me after 8pm because I'll be asleep. My husband is more of an evening person, so it's not uncommon for me to head off to bed before him. But he's always thrilled if I can manage to stay up for a bit.
Wind-down routine: Clean the kitchen with hubby after dinner. Read with (or to) the kids and try not to doze off while I'm there in their cosy, sleepy, dimly-lit room listening to their breathing as they fall asleep. Wake up and catch a TV show with my husband (maybe), OR just wash my face, clean my teeth and hop into bed with a cup of bedtime tea and whatever book I'm trying to snatch time to read. I read every night until I'm too drowsy to stop my book falling on my face – sometimes that's 30 seconds, sometimes half an hour. I know I should have a better routine, but mostly I'm just so excited to get into bed that it doesn't take much for me to doze off.

Name: Joe
Bedtime: Between 10.30 and 11pm since COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, I used to be asleep by 9pm.
Wind-down routine: I always start with a shower, then I apply my various skin products, starting with neck, eyes, face and head (I'm bald). Then, I also do my body so I feel delicious and refreshed and ready to lay down. Usually, I'll light a candle and turn the fan on so the room is cool and well fragranced. After an episode or two and some unhealthy social media scrolling, I'll try and convince my partner, who is a night owl, to come to sleep. Depending on whether or not he concedes, we'll then watch an episode of Real Housewives together or lights off. If he's out, I try to read and then rest. I always have chilled water by my bed and earplugs.

Name: Jess
Bedtime: 11.30pm (but my aim is 10.30pm).
Wind-down routine: I usually shower before bed because I like to be squeaky clean. I do my skincare routine but do things between applying certain products so I can let them sink in. I fill my water bottle with hot water (I like to drink warm/hot water in the morning) and spritz my pillow with lavender spray (I don't know if it does anything, but it smells nice!). I try to read a book for about 30 minutes (just finished Diana Reid's Love & Virtue), but I usually get drawn back to my phone for a few final Instagram scrolls... Then right before bed I'll pop on my night cream and hand cream, and try to fall asleep to whatever sleep story my partner has turned on.

READ MORE: Why some people are 'too hot' to sleep with

Bedtime routine
'I do my skincare routine but do things between applying certain products so I can let them sink in.' (Getty)

Name: Rosalyn
Bedtime: Different work times means different bedtimes. If I'm up early it's about 10pm, if I start late, it's about 11.30pm.
Wind-down routine: Shower, brush teeth, facial cleanser and moisturise. I make sure the cats are settled and scroll through Facebook for about 40 minutes before lights are off. If my mind is still active, I'll do some deep breathing exercises to relax and drift off.

Name: Nicholai
Between 9.30 and 10pm.
Wind-down routine: Around the 8.30-9pm mark I make sure I've got lunches and my work stuff all ready to go. Then I'll wash my face and teeth before aimlessly scrolling on YouTube and getting through a couple of pages of whatever I'm reading. At around 9.30 or 10pm, I'll put on white noise then off to sleep. If I'm not sleeping by 12 then I'll take melatonin.

Name: Carina
Bedtime: Between 10 and 10.30pm.
Wind-down routine: I know I shouldn't, but I'm usually watching TV to wind down right before bed. But within the hour leading up to the moment I jump into bed, I start turning most of the lights off in the apartment so the TV is the only thing glowing. This usually (depending on what's on) leaves me falling asleep on the couch. It's not for everyone, but as someone who's pretty good at falling asleep, it works for me!

'I always fall asleep on the couch and wake up around 4 or 5am.' (Getty)

Name: Gerome
Bedtime: Between 12 and 1am.
Wind-down routine: I can ONLY sleep if I've showered. So I usually shower around 12am, followed by a quick skincare routine (I watch too much K-Drama so I'm all about it now), once I'm done with that I'll chuck on Netflix with my latest K-Drama show (Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha) and I'll probably be asleep by the second episode in. I always fall asleep on the couch and wake up around 4 or 5am and then move to the bed. I don't really use my phone from 8pm until 9am the next morning. I feel like the absence of any social media during that time makes the sleep so much more peaceful.

READ MORE: When to stop drinking caffeine to get a good night's sleep

Name: Julia
Bedtime: 8.30 to 9.30pm. 10pm at the very latest.
Wind-down routine: First, I will get my dog ready for bed which involves a quick brush and some kisses on the head. Then I will clean my teeth, get into bed and either read my book or listen to a podcast until I fall asleep. Always by myself because my fiancé doesn't go to bed until about 11.

Name: Emily
Bedtime: An ambitious 10pm but 11pm in reality.
Wind-down routine:
I will do my skincare routine after a shower and sometimes have a cup of tea before brushing my teeth. I'll then scroll TikTok or watch something on my laptop before going to sleep.

Bedtime routine
'I'll wash my face and teeth before aimlessly scrolling on YouTube and getting through a couple of pages of whatever I'm reading.' (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Name: Sarah
Bedtime: Usually between 9.30pm and 10pm depending on what time I start work the next day. Sometimes I struggle with insomnia and going to bed late makes me anxious.
Wind-down routine: Clean my teeth, pluck my eyebrows, put on my face creams and get it to bed while waiting for my partner to finish up his work (he's a writer and is not a morning person so often is still typing). We then watch whatever show we're on in bed on my iPad or his laptop (The Leftovers currently, just finished Sex Lives of College Girls). We then go through a whole soppy routine where he brings the cat from wherever he's wandering so I can kiss him goodnight before he goes to 'his room' (the laundry) as otherwise, he won't sleep the whole night without waking us up by jumping on us within 10 minutes of switching the light off. He likes my partner to put him to bed. After the show, I scroll through Instagram and read Apple News one last time (must stop).

Name: Matt
Bedtime: Between 10.30 and 11pm.
Wind-down routine: I usually chill out by watching some TV before having a shower and brushing my teeth. I'll hop into bed, and if I can't sleep or if my dog Pip is snoring loudly, I'll chuck on a boring podcast.

Name: Tim
Bedtime: Between 12.30 and 1am.
Wind-down routine: I am definitely one to keep delaying going to bed to extend the day as long as I can, even if I know I have to be up early the next day. There's a sense of not wanting to waste my free time despite knowing full well sleep is good for me. My partner goes to bed much earlier than I do so I like to use the last few hours of the day alone, catching up on things I've set aside to read or shows I'm watching to get my mind away from work. The only thing I do right before bed is brush my teeth. I try not to doomscroll in bed but how long I last depends on how tired I am. If I can't sleep I'll put on headphones and play some calmer music, that usually works.

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