It sounds like a little kid thing, but having a bedtime routine is so important when it comes to quality of sleep. I studied a lot of Arianna Huffington’s work into sleep hygiene. She dove into the world of rest and recovery, in terms of sleep, after being hospitalized for exhaustion. Huffington was upfront that not everyone can afford to be hospitalized with exhaustion. Her work revolves around how to not become that fatigued in the first place.
I see so many people who come to me because they want to loose weight. While there are so many benefits to working out, weight loss is more of a side effect of your healthy lifestyle than a result of your exercise routine. Water consumption, your nutrition and food portions, daily intentional movement, and how you handle stress are all important to weight loss. The fifth piece to that is sleep, and quality is so much more important than quantity.
When you watch the home make over shows, they often talk about the master bedroom becoming an oasis. Your bed should be for sleeping. Stop working in bed, quit bringing food into the bed, I’m going to go as far as saying remove the television from your bedroom. Our bodies crave routine and structure. Going into your bedroom to ready yourself for sleep only will teach your brain that it is time to slow down. Eventually, it can even be a trigger to produce more melatonin and less cortisol.
My bedtime routine is flexible, but I have a few things that I always do. The other items depend on time, and how tired I feel. Jack will sometimes say that his brain isn’t tired yet. Those are the nights that we need to make the time to take some extra steps. I really enjoy having bedtime tea when we have extra time, and the kids sometimes use the Calm brand sleep drink mix.
I try to head upstairs by 8 PM, but that is not always an option. No matter when I get upstairs, it is time to put on pajamas, brush my teeth, and wash my face. The kids do the same. I don’t care what you sleep in, it works best for your brain if it is not the clothes you just wore all day. There are some great yoga poses, even full class videos, to help ready your body for sleep. A super simple one to do is feet up the wall. I was better with this when the kids were younger. I’d supervise their teeth brushing, while being in feet up the wall pose in the hallway. Keeping the kids in my sight line prevented fights over the sink and toothpaste, and it even encouraged them to lay next to me when done with their teeth.
My kids love to read, as well as cuddle. We bring books into my bed, or sit on the futon by the bookcase in the basement. We all read our own books, silently, which is a huge improvement the last 2 years. Kids learning to read meant lots of mom telling them the word, them reading whole pages out loud, and me rereading the same couple sentences in my book over and over again.
I like diffusing oils, and often use the DoTerra brand. Lavender is commonly used as a soothing smell, and DoTerra makes a blend of oils called Serenity that includes lavender. The kids each have a diffuser in their room, and will ask for me to refill it when it is empty. It is one of those things that even if it is in “our head”, it is another signal to our brains to begin resting for sleep.
We end our bedtime routine with a meditation. Sometimes it is a bedtime story, or deep sleep sounds, while other times we do a bedtime visualization. We most often use the app Insight Timer, however, there are so many choices. Calm and buddhify and cosmic kids yoga all have apps which searchable kids bedtime meditations. YouTube and Spotify even have playlists for sleep.
Somethings that are not great for readying your body for sleep include eating. When we eat too close to going to sleep, it is hard because our digestive system is kicking into work mode. Blue light interferes with sleep, as it signals to our brain the sun is still up. This causes our bodies to continue producing higher levels of cortisol and lower amounts of melatonin. Your phone, tablet, and television all give off blue light. If you must be on an electronic device, you can buy orange tinted glasses, or change the setting on your device to nighttime.
What have you incorporated into a bedtime routine for yourself? What have you noticed changed when you create a bedtime routine?