S1:E10 | How do I make an evening routine? How the wind down journal can help you stay consistent

podcast season 1 wind down wind down time
How do I make an evening routine podcast

Do you want to know how to successfully implement an improved wind down time? Or maybe you have tried to do this before and it fizzled out very quickly?

Implementing new habits can take some thinking about … that’s exactly what we will do in this episode. 




Hi and welcome back to The Sleep Seekers Podcast, I’m your host, Emma Ashford. 

This is the time of year when a lot of people have good intentions around improving their sleep, but it can be a challenge to stay consistent and actually create long lasting change that allows you to see the benefit. 

So, continuing in the theme of wind down time here on the podcast, we are going to be talking about how you can go about making an evening routine and how you can use my wind down journal to stay consistent and ultimately sleep better. 

Creating my wind down journal was a bit of a labour of love. I used to constantly get thoughts and ideas about it when working with people around their wind down time and improving their sleep. It took a long time for me to get those thoughts and ideas out of my head and onto paper … and then made into a real thing that you can hold. An actual journal! 

I’m so proud of it because I developed it over such a long time whilst working knee deep in sleep (as it were). 

If you want to improve your sleep, the place to start is always with your wind down time. The time before you go to bed is so important because it is the runway into your sleep and it dictates the state of your mind and body when you move from the waking state into sleep. 

There are various science backed skills and strategies that, when put in place consistently, have a considerable positive impact on your sleep. There is evidence within the scientific research, but it is also evidence that I have seen in real lives, in real time over and over again working with clients. I also see it again and again in my own life - I have to sleep too!

But, the problem is that we humans are often a bit rubbish at the consistently part! We are often good at putting a new positive habit in place for a night or two but often it doesn’t go much further than this.

This is why I designed the wind down journal - it puts everything you need into one place and makes it easy to implement. You can’t forget anything when it’s all laid out in a simple format on a page in front of you. It’s so easy, it takes away a lot of your resistance and takes away a lot of excuses. It just helps you to get the job done so you can enjoy the benefits. 

The journal is split into three sections which obviously help you to use the journal and implement these new habits, but they are also a good way to think about establishing your wind down time in general so I will share them with you. 


The first is design. You have to design the wind down time that works for you. And bear in mind that everyone is different - what works for me may not work for you and vice versa. This requires you to become an expert on you - what relaxes you? What helps you to wind down? What helps your sleep, what doesn’t? What would you like to do in the hour before bed? The first section of the wind down journal contains exercises to help you to establish this. A big part of the design process is about starting to notice and developing an awareness of yourself in relation to sleep so that you can then create wind down time that does what it needs to. That relaxes you, rather than distracts you (more on this in a separate episode). That covers all the important components (more on this in a separate episode too).  

You have to know what works for you and what you want to put into place to help to improve your sleep. A bit like you can have a loose goal of exercising more but then you need to decide what this means - a running plan, fitness classes, walking more etc. You can have the goal to improve your wind down time but you then have to establish what this means so you then have something to implement.


The second section is plan. This is where you plan to put your design into action. We all know that life will take over very easily if we don’t plan for what we want to happen.  Now within this we have the weekly page and the daily page. 

The weekly page is for you to sit down once a week, for 10 minutes or so and look at your week and it’s implications for your sleep. This is about identifying anything that could cause a problem for your sleep or your wind down time and looking to see if there is anything that can be changed to minimise the disruption. Obviously this will be more complicated for some people than others. Once you know what’s happening, you can look at what you can put in place to support your sleep as much as possible. This could be strengthening your wind down activities on the nights you are working late, preparing a meal ahead of time or moving a commitment for example. 

Once these plans are in place for success in your week, you have a daily page to use - obviously one per day. It provides an anchor to keep you on track and make sure you are implementing some of the most important elements to support your sleep. So each day you use your daily page to support you to put all your plans into action, have your wind down boundary in place and set up your night for success. Then there are sections for you to put the science backed strategies into effect - so you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything, its all there for you on one simple page. There is a section for your daily brain dump which is really important for closing the open loops in your brain and giving you a nice clean and clear brain for going into sleep - so important for less night time waking, less time awake in the night, deeper sleep etc etc. There is a section for noting down your gratitudes each evening which is scientifically proved to improve sleep but also provides some lovely thoughts to go to sleep on, creating more relaxation, better sleep and probably better dreams too! 

The other really important section on the daily page in the part that encourages you to be your own sleep tracker - by which I mean you can note down how much sleep you had and rate the quality of your sleep and of course make any notes that might feel relevant. This lets you build up a picture of your sleep, and notice what positively and negatively affects it. 

The daily page is where the positive habit is built - every day, just for a few moments prioritising and improving your sleep. 


Whether you choose to use the wind down journal or not, this planning phase is the most important, because you need to be implementing new positive habits if you want to see a positive change in your sleep. Life will continue to take over if you don’t carefully focus on your implementation of your new, more healthy wind down time. 


And the third and final element is to review. It is important to review so that you can notice patterns, see what’s working and what’s not and to make adjustments as needed.

In the journal I encourage returning to the daily page every morning to record the quantity and quality of your sleep so you can start to notice patterns on what positively or negatively affected your sleep.

We also use a weekly review and a habit tracker to help you stay consistent with new habits you are trying to build.

Again, this section is asking for 10 minutes of your time at the end of the week (I recommend getting yourself a nice drink and sitting somewhere nice - maybe under a blanket in winter and in the garden or park in the summer) to review how the week has been, what your sleep has been like, what has been good and what you need to change. 

The habit tracker means you can keep a track of how many nights you put positive habits into place - they really work because they show your progress in a visual way and the human brain does not like to see a break in the ticks! It keeps you consistent because you want to see a nice neat row of ticks!

And finally, we have the sleep tracker pages which you can fill in each day - it will literally take 30 seconds - or at the end of the week. This simply allows you to build a picture of you sleep over the course of a month. Again this helps with consistency, allows you to notice any patterns that need addressing and helps you to see the health of your sleep. 


So there you have it. To create the most effective wind down time for you, there are 3 phases - design, plan and review. Each of these phases offers something important that you don’t want to miss because they help you improve and maximise your wind down time in order to effectively prepare your mind and body for good sleep. 


The journal is a great tool if you are serious about improving this part of your day for maximum quality and quantity of sleep as well as to improve your general wellbeing. You can use it on its own, or you can use it alongside the in depth course I created to help you build the best wind down time for you. 

But whether you use the journal or not, these are the sections you need to be thinking of if you have the intention of improving your sleep and know that the time before bed is hugely influential in this. 


I hope this episode has been helpful for you. If you would like to buy your own wind down journal, I will leave the links in the show notes or you can simply go to sleepseeker.academy and visit the shop which you will find in the navigation bar. 

Stay tuned for the following episodes in this season as we will go deeper into what you could be considering including as part of your wind down time and what to avoid.