My night-time routine: Annie Ridout, editor of The Early Hour

The time you go to bed, whether you hit the booze or drink water and your last waking thought will all have an impact how you feel first thing in the morning. The editor, Annie Ridout, is trying to perfect her night-time routine. With young kids, it’s a work-in-progress…

I’ve always loved mornings and trying out new routines in a bid to create the ideal start to my day. That might mean a different type of exercise, changing up my breakfast or experimenting with wake-up times. But it took until I had children to work out that in order to feel tiptop in the morning, I’d need to look at my night-time routine.

With two children: a three-year-old and a nine-month-old, I was beginning to feel exhausted all the time. My daughter, the older one, sleeps really well and has for a long time, but the baby wakes up in the hour of 5 every day. I’ve Googled the shit out of it, and tried various things, but it seems there is no solution except the passing of time.

So, with my day beginning reliably at some point before 6am – he wakes, has a feed in bed with me and then we’re up for the day – I decided to work on perfecting my night-time routine. Because getting up and immediately gulping down three instant coffees was starting to feel a touch unhealthy.

The first thing I had to change was the time I was going to bed. If I’m being woken reliably at 5/5.30am, and I need eight hours sleep, bed-time was going to have to move from 10/11pm to 9pm. At first, I was totally against this. It would mean an end to nights out. But then, I’m not having many of them right now anyway, as I’m too tired.

The new routine involved eating with the kids – as I always do – at 5.30pm, bathing with them at 6pm, putting them to bed by 7pm, then a couple of hours to myself before lights out. Most evenings, I end up working on my laptop. Occasionally, I’ll need a break and so my husband and I will watch a film or a TV drama.

I decided that as I was forgoing nights out for the time being, I’d stop drinking booze mid-week. Being sober meant that I could go to bed even earlier and read a novel. READ A NOVEL. I hadn’t done this since my holiday in the summer, when I read about three chapters. I’m now reading The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman, and it’s amazing.

We had already banned screens from the bedroom and invested in an alarm clock (not that I need one to wake me in the morning), so I wasn’t going to be checking emails before bed. Or Instagram. Or how to get my baby to sleep later in the morning. No screens upstairs is a revelation; it has changed my life. I dream differently, I don’t fall asleep or wake up feeling anxious.

Once I got into the swing of an 8.30pm bed-time, read for half an hour, asleep by 9pm, I started thinking about skincare. A friend reminded me that I should be doing a bit more than washing my face with Dove soap each night and whacking on some Nivea Soft. So I found a Liz Earle foaming cleanser, bought a Garnier toner and started caring for my face at night. My skin improved within a few days.

The early nights have made the mornings so much easier to handle. The only thing I’m still finding hard is that it’s pitch-black when we head down to the kitchen. If it were light, I could maybe head out for a quick run to wake me up and give me an energy boost, but as it isn’t – I’m downing those three instant coffees instead, then running when the day lights up.

I have a few evenings out planned with friends, which means scrapping the routine. Maybe I’ll have one weekday night a week off so that I can still have a life. But the difference drinking alcohol and a later night make to both sleep and how I feel in the morning means it just isn’t worth doing too often. Not at this stage.

So there you have it: my current night-time routine. It has stolen my social life but bestowed me with more energy, positivity and focus in the day time. And right now, while the kids are very young, that’s what I need most. Bearable days. Not wild nights out (give it a month and I’ll probably be back on the Tuesday night pub trips).

What does your night-time routine look like (if you have one at all)?

All images from Designspiration