The Nightly Routines of 19 Successful Women

Updated 10/11/19

We love reading about how women we admire manage to do it all. From the way they begin each year to how they start their days, we're always curious to see how successful women allocate their time. In our experience, we've found that most busy, hardworking people have daily and nightly routines to keep them on track with their big, bold goals, and it couldn't be a bad idea to follow in their footsteps.

One part of your routine that deserves special attention is your nightly ritual. It's what prepares you for the day ahead and helps you unwind from any chaos you endured throughout the day. However, using the last few hours of the day wisely is easier said than done. Who couldn't use a little motivation to set a nightly routine that doesn't involve scrolling through Instagram or rewatching TV shows until an ungodly hour in the a.m.?

So, in search of successful women's time management secrets, we have put together a collection of night routines from 19 outstanding leaders in a variety of fields. From actresses and entrepreneurs to CEOs of billion-dollar businesses, these women know a thing or two about how to maximize their time and minimize their stress. Take note—this is how you should spend your time tonight. 

Arianna Huffington, Editor in Chief, AOL Huffington Post Media Group

nightly routine of successful women
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It's no secret that Arianna Huffington is an advocate for sleep. After all, the media mogul wrote a whole book on the matter called, The Sleep Revolution. What started it all? In a 2010 TEDWomen talk, Huffington explained that she learned the importance of sleep the hard way, after fainting from exhaustion. "I hit my head on my desk. I broke my cheekbone. I had five stitches on my right eye. So I began the journey of rediscovering the value of sleep," she says.

In order to preserve the sanctity of her snooze, Huffington makes sure to keep her bedroom a screen-free zone. Before bed, her night routine involves leaving her electronics out of the bedroom and opting to read an actual book before dozing off into a restful slumber. Huffington encourages other women to do the same. She even goes so far as to call getting enough sleep a feminist issue. "We're going to sleep our way to the top," she says.

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Gal Gadot, Actress and Model

Gal Gadot nightly routine
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Who better to turn to for inspiration than Wonder Woman herself? When the frequently traveling actress was asked about how she combats jet lag, she told Vogue,"I drink tons of water because I get really dehydrated when I travel, and also freshly squeezed orange juice because the Vitamin C is really good for your body. I try to be outside in the daylight as much as I can to get my serotonin levels up. And I've got to tell you: I can go to sleep like this [snaps fingers]."

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Lauren Conrad, Designer and Entrepreneur

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We look to Lauren Conrad for advice about almost everything from fashion and home décor to cooking and entertaining. But the designer, blogger, and The Hills alum is also a valuable source of wisdom for women looking to get ahead in their career while maintaining a balanced life, which starts during your nightly routine. On her eponymous website, Conrad stresses the importance of making time for yourself, setting measurable goals, and keeping a to-do list by your bed.

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Mindy Kaling, Actress, Comedian, Writer

Mindy Kaling nightly rountine
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If our dog-eared copy of Kaling's book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is any indication, the successful actress, comedian, and writer is one of our go-to sources for career (and general life) advice. In her latest book, Why Not Me?, Kaling reveals part of her nightly skincare routine. "I bought this wand, the Tria Acne Clearing Blue Light, from my dermatologist's office," she writes. "His job is to 'eliminate acne-causing bacteria deep beneath the skin's surface,' and I have to hold him pressed against my face for twenty minutes every night." Excuse us while we add this device to our shopping cart.

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Gwyneth Paltrow, Actress and Founder of Goop

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Have you ever wondered how Gwyneth Paltrow stays so calm, cool, and collected despite the fact that she has a family, an acting career, a successful business, a best-selling cookbook, and countless other engagements? We certainly have. After some investigation, we discovered Paltrow relies on her bathing ritual during her night routine to relax at the end of a chaotic day. "I take an Epsom salt bath every night to wind down," she tells Elle. "I use a lot of organic essential oils on my pressure points." A pressure-point massage and a bath sound like the perfect antidote to a busy day.

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Oprah Winfrey, Actress, Producer, Philanthropist

Oprah Winfrey nightly routine
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Oprah Winfrey, the incomparable icon and star of A Wrinkle in Time, is the definition of success goals. Given that she always seems to be balancing several projects at once, we often wonder how she manages to stay so cool, calm, and collected in the face of all this stress. Turns out her relaxation secret is a surprisingly simple one (that we're adopting immediately). "In the evening, I have a bath before bed; it's a ritual," Winfrey told Harper's Bazaar. "I'm a bathing professional—I have different bubble baths, salts, beads, and oils."

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Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook

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Sheryl Sandberg's nightly routine starts by clocking out of the office at the same time every night. "I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 p.m. so [that] I'm home for dinner with my kids at 6 p.m.," Sandberg tells Makers. While it took Sandberg a while to stop feeling guilty for leaving the office when it was still light out, prioritizing dinnertime with her children is well worth staying up late on email. But once it's time for bed, she always makes sure to turn off her device so that she can have uninterrupted sleep.

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Lena Dunham, Writer and Actress

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Unsurprisingly, the unofficial voice of our generation, Lena Dunham, includes reading as part of her nightly routine. She tells Huffington Post that she always keeps a stack of books by her bed. They're "all in various states of having-been-read-ness," she says. Past books include Diane Keaton's autobiography Then Again and Mary Gaitskill's Bad Behavior

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Hannah Bronfman, Founder of HBFit, DJ, and Model

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"Any night that I don't have something to do, I'm cooking," Hannah Bronfman tells Bonberi. "I'm really lucky that I'm able to DJ corporate events because they keep it in the hours of 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. I'm lucky if I'm playing at cocktail hour, then I can come home and either make dinner or go out and be in bed by midnight. I try for midnight but lately I'm just up on Instagram." Yes, she's just as Instagram-crazed as us. 

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Jaime King, Actress and Model

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Actress, model, and mom Jaime King is no stranger to multitasking, but she admits that she designates her night routine to look after her health and beauty routine. After putting her children to bed, King tells Into the Gloss that she is strict about cleaning her skin. "Always wash your face before bed, even if you don't want to. Don't be lazy. I don't care what you've consumed that evening—just do it." We love how this mama sticks to her disciplined lifestyle even after hours. Now if only we could do the same.

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Vera Wang, Fashion Designer

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Fashion designer Vera Wang says the secret to avoiding burnout is simple: Decorate your room to aid in relaxation. "My bedroom is my sanctuary," Wang told Fortune. "It's like a refuge, and it's where I do a fair amount of designing—at least conceptually if not literally."

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Blake Lively, Actress

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Actress, mom, and passionate foodie Blake Lively munches on an unexpected food during her nightly routine: chocolate. "I can't start my day without a cup of hot milk chocolate or finish without crunching a few dark chocolate squares. It's good for my morale," Lively tells Marie Claire.

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Viola Davis, Actress and Producer

Viola Davis nightly routine
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How does a successful, Oscar-winning actress relax after a long day on set? Viola Davis spends "an hour and a half at least, sometimes a little bit more," soaking in the tub, she told BET. "I put in some Dr. Teal's Epsom Salt, and then I sit in there and I soak forever," she said. "I have my books and I soak."

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Ellen DeGeneres, Comedian and Talk Show Host

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Ellen DeGeneres practices transcendental meditation—which she once revealed gives her "this peaceful, peaceful feeling...and I can't say enough good things about it." This unique type of meditation is defined as "a technique for detaching oneself from anxiety and promoting harmony and self-realization by meditation, repetition of a mantra, and other yogic practices, promulgated by an international organization founded by the Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi." According to WebMD, it can reduce chronic pain, anxiety, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and the use of healthcare services. DeGeneres might be onto something.

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Jennifer Lopez, Singer, Actress, Dancer, and Producer

Jennifer Lopez nightly routine
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When asked about the best beauty tip she's picked up over the years, Jennifer Lopez told InStyle, "The number one tip is to always get enough sleep. I can't stress this enough," she told the magazine. "Beauty comes from within—you have to keep your mind, soul, body and spirit in sync," she added. "I am a firm believer in meditating and when you are happy and feel joy and love, you radiate beauty."

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Jennifer Aniston, Actress

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Like her pal Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Aniston also practices transcendental meditation in the morning and evening during her nightly routine. The movement's website quotes Aniston as saying the following: "I'd say a little over a year ago I started doing [transcendental meditation], and that's really changed everything. Starting your day off with that and ending with that is pretty powerful. Twenty minutes, you just notice the difference! When I get lazy and don't get it in, I can feel a difference in the day."

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Emma Roberts, Actress

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Emma Roberts' Instagram feed functions as our go-to reading list. When it comes to winding down during her nightly routine, the actress says she finds solace from curling up with a book or magazine. "I love reading," she told WebMD. "There is nothing better than having a good book that you can't put down."

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Whitney Tingle and Danielle Duboise, Founders of Sakara Life

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On a perfect day, Sakara Life founders Whitney Tingle and Danielle Duboise put time aside to pen their thoughts during their nightly routine. The duo practice journaling and conscious reflection before sipping Sakara Night Water and falling into a deep, restorative eight-hour sleep. 

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Kate White, Former Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan

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A rare breed, Kate White is one of those people who can function with less than five to six hours of sleep. Her night routine involves what the former EIC refers to as tending "the idea bar" until midnight or 1 a.m. "My craziest trick is that I regularly do my work standing up at a rolling butcher-block counter in my kitchen. If I were to work sitting down, I'd fall asleep," White tells Fast Company. "I know it sounds awful, but I think of it as if I'm tending bar in the evening—a bar of ideas. And I always keep the kitchen TV on so it doesn't seem too lonely. I drink several espressos at night, which really helps."

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This story was originally published on April 21, 2016, and has since been updated.

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