Five Ideas for Creating a Bedtime Routine
Being a parent is hard work. Of course, it’s a wonderful job and one that I wouldn’t trade for the world…but it can be downright exhausting, too!
The nightly feeds to the arguments over getting them to eat the right foods. The tantrums. The tears. The pure tragedy of being a teenager and all that goes with it.
It’s a wonder that we parents manage to stay upright, considering how much energy we put into our little ones’ happiness. And yet, when it does finally reach the blessed hour for us to get our snooze on, sleep often eludes us.
Sometimes we’re too hyped up after a full day of activities to relax. More often than not, it’s worries and anxieties about our kids that keep us awake. Even the smallest thing, like what to pack in their lunchboxes the next day, can suddenly pop into our minds and delay our express train to Sleepsville. Permanently.
So how can we unwind and ensure a better night’s sleep? Well, try these 5 tips for starters…
1. Eat a light dinner
While many of us love nothing more than a big, hearty meal in the evening, it actually could be a key factor in preventing you getting to sleep. Because large meals – especially fattier ones – give your digestive system a lot of work to do. And with all that work going on inside it’s much harder for your body to relax when you bring it to bed. So try having a lighter meal or, if you do plan on a big feast, make sure it’s at least 3 hours before bedtime. If you get peckish in the meantime, sleep-promoting foods like bananas or whole-grain toast provide a quick fix.
While we’re on the subject of sleep aids, caffeine is definitely not one. So avoid caffeinated drinks after 4pm if you can, and stick to herbal teas instead.
2. Start shutting down early
Staying up late binge-watching Netflix ain’t gonna help your sleep woes. First of all, because the shows themselves probably overstimulate your mind…ever tried sleeping after a horror movie? Doesn’t make for the sweetest of dreams, does it?! Secondly, the blue light that these devices emit – laptops, TVs and phones – can increase your alertness and disrupt your sleep patterns.
Of course, watching a little TV before bed is something we all do. But try shutting it off earlier and maybe reading a book in the half hour or hour before you go to bed. Better yet, why not try a ‘no device after dinner’ policy once or twice a week? You’ll suddenly find yourself with plenty of time for more relaxing activities – like the rest of the ones on this list!
3. Set aside some ‘you time’
Dedicate your newfound hour away from the TV to your well-being. This does not mean doing anything for others…baking a cake, making lists, ironing clothes and so on. This is your time so spend it doing something relaxing for you. Have a bath using your favorite essential oils. Do a restorative yoga class. Practice a meditation exercise, especially one like the body scan. Make yourself a chamomile tea and enjoy it under dimmed lights, somewhere quiet, in your favorite cosy chair.
All of these things are designed to help your body and mind relax. Once that happens, a sounder sleep will follow.
4. Dress for the occasion
It’s hard to wind down for the evening if you’re still in your uncomfortable office clothes. Or if you still have your toddler’s dinner splattered all over your front. As part of your bedtime routine, make sure to look the part.
Once you’ve had your dinner – and your bath, if you’re having one – put on your pjs, a dressing gown and comfy slippers. Your mind will start cottoning on to the fact that the day’s over and it’s time to start shutting down for the night.
5. Go to bed earlier
This can be a hard one for many of us; especially the parents out there. Because when we finally get the kids to bed, well, that’s our time. And we want to stay up late and enjoy it, for crying out loud!
But if you’ve got a busy day ahead, a late night will do nothing for your energy or productivity levels. Because poor sleep can make you irritable, drowsy and incapable of making decisions. Whereas a good-quality sleep makes you smarter, kinder and basically better at everything you do. I know which person I wanna be!
My advice? Break the cycle of the late nights and caffeine-fuelled mornings. Discover ways in which you can get a better night’s sleep, head to bed by 10pm and rise earlier feeling refreshed, rested and ready for the day.
Like any routine, it can be hard to get into at first. But once it sticks, you’ve found the habits of a healthier, happier lifetime.