Every night, as I’m cozied up in my blankets, starting to feel drowsy — face unwashed, teeth not brushed, hair a matted mess — my inner voice bullies me to get my ass up and get ready for bed.
“Sleeping in your makeup is terrible for your skin. Your skin needs to breathe!”
“Ew, you’re really going to sleep without brushing your teeth? Think about the poor soul that wakes up next to you every morning!”
“Why did you get in bed if you knew you still had to wash your face, ya filthy animal?”
Why are nightly routines so damn exhausting? I love getting ready for the day, but the prep work before I crawl into bed is a total pain in the ass — the one part of my day I wish I could fast forward through. It’s like running a race. During my morning routine, I’m energized and excited for the day ahead, but at night, I’m exhausted and just want to cross that finish line (you know — cozy up and go to sleep). There’s just one thing keeping me from getting there: that pesky evening routine.
I don’t know why exactly, but as as soon as my body touches down on my sweet, sweet duvet, personal hygiene becomes the most annoying thing on the planet. And you might be asking, Why wouldn’t you just get ready for bed before crawling in it? And the truth is, I don’t have a great answer to that! It’s mostly just the way I’ve structured my evenings. I typically get into bed to read at 8:30, but my brain doesn’t register this as “going to bed” — it’s just another nightly activity, like watching reruns of The Office. And by the time I’m actually ready to go to sleep, I realize I’m not actually ready for bed; there are several daunting chores I have yet to do.
Those chores are as follows:
First, I brush my teeth for two minutes. LOL, I am totally kidding. I brush my teeth for whatever amount of time I can tolerate as I miserably stare at myself in the mirror. If my teeth are lucky, I will consider flossing. I am not here to lie to you, I do not floss my teeth every night.
Then it’s time to take off my makeup. I quickly wipe off my eye paint with a cotton pad and some drugstore makeup remover. I don’t mind this part as much — maybe it’s because it’s the only segment of my nightly routine where I actually feel noticeably cleaner. There is something therapeutic about watching the black streaks disappear from my face. However, I can’t say the same about the following part.
Because, yes — then it’s time to wash my face. This is the step where I feel the most victimized. Here I am, just washing my face, doing the right thing...when a small droplet of water begins to run down my dry arms. Ugggggggh. Then — then! — it soaks into the hair band on my wrist. It’s the most offensive feeling in the entire world and I feel personally attacked by it. Sometimes I don’t even wash my forehead because I am too tired to prevent the soap from getting into my hairline.
Once that horror show is over, I apply moisturizer to my face and feel happy knowing I am one step closer to jumping in bed.
My last step is to brush out my hair, which always manages to be a traumatic event. You know what I am talking about — that very specific feeling of ripping your hair to shreds as you try to detangle it from the day’s oh-so-sexy wind-and-sweat combo. I silently apologize to my hair as I yank my brush through the ends, instead of carefully combing it with some detangling spray (something I don’t have the patience for, clearly).
By the time I am done, it’s been about 10 minutes, but it always feels 100 times longer than that. It’s all too much.
Unfortunately, I can’t just skip to the part where I’m cozied up in my bed. So, after coming to the realization that I very much hate getting ready for bed, I wondered if there was any way I could trick myself into enjoying the necessary evil that is my nightly process. So, over the past several weeks, I’ve been trying some new things in the hopes that I could learn to enjoy the process (at least to some extent). Here’s how it went.
1. I tried some new products. There’s always some element of excitement when trying new things, so I thought breaking old habits could add some spark into my routine.
I started with my toothpaste. I usually just buy whichever one is on sale. Recently, however, my coworker was talking about how much she loves Marvis toothpaste, so I figured this was the perfect time to try it. Plus, it’s not something you’d find at your local drugstore, so there was an unfamiliar element that intrigued me. Also, the fancy tube and unusual flavor supposedly makes brushing your teeth feel a little more special...and it did! I really enjoyed trying this out and will definitely be trying the other flavors they offer (like ginger)!
I also tested out some of the free sample face washes I’ve accumulated from Sephora in the past year. I never really do anything with all of those travel-sized products, so this seemed like a great opportunity to put them to use. I worked through my free sample of Fresh’s Soy Face Cleanser that I got on my birthday and….wow. It’s amazing. (But considering it costs $38 for a 5.1 oz. bottle, it should be.)
What I found: I mean, it’s toothpaste and face wash. I don’t really think there’s a way to love brushing teeth or washing your face, no matter what product you’re using. BUT, I did enjoy trying something new. I think it’s important to occasionally interrupt your routine and throw in something unexpected and fun.
Moving forward, I am going to swap out my products every three months so my routine stays fresh, and not so repetitive. So, instead of caving to that two-for-one toothpaste deal at my local CVS, I am going to look for fun and exciting options I haven’t tried before. (Wish me luck — I am only human and a good deal leaves me weak in the knees.)
2. I tried to ~set the mood~.
If you think about it, you’re basically pampering yourself when you wash your face and brush your teeth — you just don’t have someone else doing it for you, so it feels like a huge burden. This thought led me to the idea that lighting a candle and playing some music could make the entire process more soothing and relaxing...like a mini spa every night.
What I found: Ok, it was enjoyable for, like, one night. After that, it was just more steps I came to dread. And I would rather leave this world entirely than ruin the happiness I feel when lighting candles, so I ditched that idea pretty quickly.
3. I set alarms to remind me to get ready for bed.
When the topic of nightly routines came up at work, one of my coworkers suggested setting alarms to subtly nudge me that it’s time to get ready for bed. And that’s where the iPhone's bedtime feature comes into play. Thirty minutes before my typical bedtime, my phone notifies me to start getting ready for bed. This keeps me from crawling into bed, getting cozy, and then having to force myself to get up just to half-ass wash my face and brush my teeth.
I also set an alarm to tell me to remove my makeup at 9 p.m. each night. Getting off my ass to just do one thing is less daunting than getting up to do the whole routine, and it means that when I'm actually getting ready for bed at 10:45, I've already crossed something off my list.
What I found: The alarms were really helpful! Not only did they help me keep track of my evening, they reminded me to take some steps early on in the night so I had less to do later when I was sleepy. This could work for so many other things — like a reminder to pick out your clothes for the next day, or to turn off the TV and grab a book to read.
4. I tried to get in a better head space about the whole thing.
There may not be anything you can do to absolutely fall in love with a demanding nightly routine, but you can try to change how you feel about it. Switching up my products and setting alarms helped, but so did a good, old-fashioned positive attitude. When I’d catch myself feeling annoyed, I’d literally take a deep breath and think about the benefits of washing my face and brushing my teeth. I’d remind myself, Your skin will feel so soft! Your teeth will stay pearly white! You’ll feel so much better afterward. Sorry to be corny here, but a little positivity now and then doesn’t hurt. I had fostered such negative thoughts around the obstacle between me and my bed, that it almost felt impossible to enjoy. Taking a step back and realizing I was being annoyed for insignificant reasons helped me move forward…at least a little bit.
So, is it possible to learn to love something you absolutely hate?
The short answer is no. At least not when it comes to falling in love with evening routines. I would say that buying new products and setting some alarms improved my experience, but I don’t think there is a way I could ever be jazzed about a nightly laundry list of hygienic demands. I love sleeping but I think I'm always going to hate getting ready for bed.