Why Bedtime Matters

Why Bedtime Matters
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The discovery that bedtime matters hit home when I was well into adulthood. And once I made that discovery, it solved a lot of problems.

There have been periods in my life when I just couldn’t get to sleep. As an adult, I’ve had hard-core insomnia. Those nights when you keep looking at the clock. The hours tick by. You realize wake up time is only a few clock digits away and you’ve spent more time worrying about getting enough sleep than sleeping.

Then there were my babysitting years. Despite the fact I was a good cook, the dinner would be prepared or parents would leave behind money for takeout. They left the appropriate checklist and contact numbers. They suggested games and TV shows. But when it came to bedtime, I was given a lights-out time, and told to make sure they brushed their teeth, washed up, and went to the toilet. Any special book? Nothing special, just have the children pick one out.

Big mistake.

It’s good to give kids a sense of control and empowerment. However, like everything else in life, timing is important. Let the kids pick out a book when mom and dad – the regular “tucker-inners” are in charge. Do not switch up the bedtime routine when there’s a babysitter.

I had kids choose books that were the length of War and Peace. Or at least it felt like it! Then there were the many times siblings fought over the book choice. Tantrum time. Then there were nights when they chose a book with monkeys jumping on the bed or a wild rumpus and of course they’d act it out. And because this part of the bedtime routine wasn’t written down, had no expectations, I’d hear outrageous stuff like “Mom always gives us second dessert right after the story.”

Bedtime routines matter. They cue our bodies and brains to transition to sleep.

Here’s the thing: Everyone has a bedtime routine. We can’t avoid it. We can’t multitask it like having a sandwich in the car while you’re driving from work to school to after-school activities.

Everyone has a bedtime routine but not all bedtime routines work for wellbeing and sleep. If you sit with children in their room until they fall asleep, that’s their bedtime routine. And how sustainable is that for you? If you let your kids have screen time right up to toothbrush time, that’s part of their bedtime routine.

The truth is no special book or prayer or essential oil can undo that exposure to blue light or the screen time habit.

If you’re at your wit’s end by the time the kids are in bed, feel that you can only handle pouring yourself a glass of wine, sit down for some binge-watching or Facebook scrolling, then realize you’ve got to get to sleep …or else! Decide to wear your morning workout clothes to save time the when the alarm goes off and flip the lights out to save a few more seconds, that’s your bedtime routine.

That bedtime routine will probably not get you enough sleep.

Bedtime routines matter. I know this from personal experience. I’ve heard it from the doctors I visited looking for cure for my nighttime restlessness. I’ve read about it in research books and heard it from parents who successfully get children of different ages in bed and asleep until morning. Like the real estate “location, location, location” slogan, when it comes to bedtime and sleep it’s “routines, routines, routines”.

Your bedtime routine will be the first thing a sleep expert evaluates when you go to one for help. They’ll most likely call it “sleep hygiene”.

Here’s what the doctors told me in my search for the solution to my insomnia: Every day, get up at the same time, eat meals at the same time, move, and get a peaceful, calm bedtime routine in place. Try that out for a few months and if it doesn’t work, let’s talk.

I implemented their advice and never had to go back. Turns out – they were right. They knew their stuff. That’s why they have the MD after their names. Sure, there are nights when I’m off track – even medical sleep experts have occasional sleepless nights. When that happens, I get back on track using the information in the Bedtime Blueprint. You can get it here . It has all the advice from sleep experts in one place.

"There are two simple, cost-effective ways to get regular sleep. The first is exposure to natural sunlight within two hours of awakening. The second is to establish a consistent, calming, bedtime routine. Studies indicate repeatedly that children who live in a family environment where sleep is prioritized through wholesome bedtime routines grow up healthier, happier, and more successful. Dr. Robert Rosenberg, Answers for Sleep

We all have evenings when we’re rushed, harried, and overwhelmed. In fact, those evenings are probably more normal than not. The yelling, the bad attitudes, the texts from your kids telling you that you forgot the right lunch, the right shoes, the permission slip for the trip which is RIGHT NOW.

It’s because of those dose, bedtime matters. When it bedtime comes around – which it always does – it is the opportunity, the 10-20 minutes when you can make up for all the stuff you think you did “wrong” that day. Connect, let it go, and welcome sleep. Embrace the family connection

Because given our super busy lives these days, bedtime is the new dinner time.

Your family’s bedtime routine matters psychologically, emotionally, and even spiritually. Bedtime routines are a moment of grace at the end of the day.

Isn’t that something to look forward to every single night? Isn’t that a habit you want for yourself and for your family?

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