With young kids, we establish a bedtime routine very early on. In our home after all the baths are done the kids get one low-level activity before a bedtime book and off to sleep. After lots of hugs and kisses, a couple of cups of water and more hugs and kisses of course. We stick to our routine like it is law and if we deviate from it our kids will let us know.
Do you have a bedtime routine for yourself? I often wonder where that routine ended for me and where I just went to bed whenever, however.
Should you establish a Bedtime Routine?
When it comes to the morning most of us have a routine we follow. We get up when the alarm clock goes off. We get ready for the day the same way each day. We have the same thing for breakfast. It is routine. It is a habit. And we continue to do it because we think it is the only way. But, if you want to sleep better, want to be more productive throughout the day, want to be just as energetic midday as you were in the morning, you must change your habit and establish a bedtime routine that can produce drastic improvements in your quality of sleep.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I eat before I go to bed?
- Do I watch TV right before going to bed?
- Do I fall asleep watching TV?
- Do I check my smartphone right before going to bed?
I have honestly done every one of these! If you too answered yes to any of the questions above, know that you can improve your routine with a few simple changes.
Establish a Regular Bedtime
In my post How Many Hours Of Sleep Do You Need, I discussed that the average adult needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. And since most adults know what they will be doing the next day and where they will be going, it is easy to know what time they need to wake up the next day. This will allow you to select the best time to establish as your bedtime.
Understand that establishing a regular bedtime may mean cutting some things out of your schedule. If you normally watch a TV show or there is a movie you want to watch that will keep you up past your bedtime, consider recording it so you can enjoy it later in the week. Spending evenings with friends can still happen, just come home a bit earlier than usual.
Wind Down Gradually
Now that you have an established bedtime, schedule time to unwind before going to sleep. You wouldn’t take your child from an exciting and stimulating activity straight to bed. You would help them wind down in preparation for bed.
There are a ton of ways to relax and unwind; the important thing is to make time to do it before going to sleep. You may need 10 minutes or 30 minutes. Once you start the process and establish it as a routine you will know how much time you need.
To unwind, choose an activity that slows you down. A few ideas to get you started include read a magazine, practice meditation exercises, talk with your partner about the day, and listen to music.
Limit Your Use of Technology
This is huge for me. I used to surround myself with my laptop, cellphone, and the TV just before bed. This was a huge distraction from the unwind time I should have been having.
The goal is to limit or ban electronic devices from your bedroom. They not only cause disruptions during your sleep, but also they keep you alert when notifications are turned on.
Turn off your smartphone during your time to unwind. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, invest in an alarm clock, or use another device that is not connected to the internet. If you must use your smartphone, some have a notification and alert settings that allow you to turn off during sleep hours. Do that. Turn them off.
Simply not checking your phone before you go to sleep is a great start. It is incredible how long I can sit on Instagram before bed. Next thing I know its super late and I am wide awake.
I am a huge advocate for developing a morning routine. I have come to realize that is not possible for me to carry out a morning routine unless I set boundaries at night. Thus creating a bedtime routine. Not only does this help your morning routine but it sets you up for a successful evening of restful sleep.