Do you have a bedtime routine? Do your kids?
You both should! Here’s why.
Sleep does so much more than prevent us from feeling tired. When we sleep, we heal and repair our bodies. Get enough and you could experience an improvement in learning and memory (bonus for school!). Research also shows that getting enough sleep helps with feelings of anxiety and depression, and is associated with maintaining a healthy weight.
Check out these bedtime routine ideas and sleep solutions to help you get the best sleep your body needs!
Why Is a Bedtime Routine Important?
Sleep is an extremely important part of our overall well-being and health. If we don’t get enough, it may not be noticeable right away (although often it is), but the repercussions can add up.
Lack of a good night’s sleep can have immediate effects on our mood, motivation, focus, energy and strength the next day. This can affect our state at work, school, in our workouts and how we react at home. A lack of sleep over many nights can have long-term effects on our health, too. From high blood pressure and obesity to psychiatric problems, including depression and other mood disorders, research shows that the risks of sleep deprivation are severe.
Create a Bedtime Routine (That Works!)
Create a 5 minute (or more) routine that helps transition from day to night. This will prepare them for a good night’s sleep (and even better day tomorrow.
This routine should be separate from a typical “getting ready for bed” task like brushing your teeth or washing your face.
The routine can take any form you want, as long as it works for you. Think of physical habits (like stretching), mental habits (like journaling or reading), spiritual habits (like meditation or prayer).
Practice a Good Bedtime Routine to Sleep Sounder
Believe it or not, getting good sleep takes practice. And guess what? It all starts before you even close your eyes.
One of the best places to start practicing at getting good sleep is by creating your optimal sleep environment.
This includes both your physical space and mental state.
Follow these simple ABCs of Better Zzzzs to start sleeping better tonight.
Clear the clutter.
Turn your attention away from the endless to-dos, stressful sights and clutter of the day by clearing your space and mind. This practice can go a long way toward ensuring you are prepared to successfully get enough Zzzzs.
Research even shows that if notice that your bedroom is full of stuff when you head to bed, your brain thinks, “It’s time to ignore the clutter (or fix it),” which takes mental (or physical) effort. And working from home has only made matters worse as many people are working in their bedroom.
To restore order, get rid of the clutter. For example, get the unfolded laundry out of your bedroom, write down your to-dos so you can attend to them in the morning, straighten up your workspace at the end of the workday, etc. This practice tells your brain that your sleeping space is peaceful.
Turn it off.
If falling asleep is difficult for you or your child, consider setting a curfew on all your devices. The artificial “blue” light that is emitted by electronic screens can trigger our body to produce more daytime hormones (like cortisol) and disrupt our body’s natural preparation to sleep.
Instead, spend the last hour or two before bed reading a physical book or magazine (a real one with actual pages — not an e-book). This can also help you mentally wind down for the night, instead of getting fired up by your social media feed or disturbing news.
Keep it cool.
According to sleep.org, the temperature has to be just right for an ideal night’s sleep. In general, the suggested bedroom temperature should be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal sleep conditions.
A stuffy space can hike nasal congestion and hinder your ability to breathe easily while you sleep. Studies even show that those who keep their windows open overnight feel more alert the next morning. But if you suffer from seasonal allergies, it might help to invest in a room purifier alternatively.
Create a bedtime routine that involves diffusing essential oils 30 minutes before bed. Certain scents encourage drowsiness and can signal your brain that it’s time to start shutting off. Try a few drops of lavender, frankincense, cedarwood and bergamot.
Keep it consistent.
What time you get out of bed is an important factor for a good sleep routine. If you sleep in, past your usual time, it messes with our circadian rhythms. You’ll inevitably be less tired at night and have trouble falling asleep. No matter what time you go to bed, try to get up within an hour of your usual wake time.
Fun fact: Did you know that 7:30am is the latest wakeup time you need in order to maximize your physical activity during the day? According to the National Sleep Foundation, every hour you sleep in after that, research shows a significant drop in daily movement.
Science shows that exercise helps to increase the total amount of sleep we get, especially in that slow-wave restorative REM phase. During exercise, our core body temperature rises, which helps to decrease body temps at night. REM is associated with decreased core body temps, so you can see how exercise can help gear you up for a good night of sleep.
In fact, the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity did a new analysis of studies on sleep and exercise. They found that those who strength train actually fall asleep faster and wake up less frequently throughout the night. Too stressed to fall asleep? Stretching before bed also helps when stress is preventing you from falling asleep.
You move, you snooze.
Choose the foods that help you snooze.
What you eat and how you sleep are directly linked. Yup, research shows that your gut health impacts your sleep quality. Probiotics in foods like yogurt and fermented veggie, can improve sleep quality. Also, prebiotics (which our gut bugs need to thrive) in foods like onions and artichokes, also protects us from stress.
The less you stress, the sounder you’ll sleep.
And, it goes both ways. The sounder you sleep, the better and more diverse your gut microbiome is.
Your sleep quality can also impact your food choices the next day. Interestingly, a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who slept fewer than five and a half hours per night ate 385 more calories the next day. That’s another meal for many people – equivalent to guzzling two and a half cans of soda, a few Twinkies or a couple slices of pizza.
Another interesting note in the study: the sleep-deprived individuals chose different kinds of foods the next day compared to the well-rested subjects. The sleep deprived folks skimped on clean foods like protein and instead ate empty calorie foods like soda, candy, and pizza!
Why does this happen? Fatigue often leads people to seek out foods that offer quick bursts of energy or increased alertness: sugar and junk.
Get the right amount of sleep, your body will thank you for it.
Create Your Own Bedtime Routine
Take time for yourself and create your own bedtime routine. Consider that the time preparing for sleep is just as important as the time spent warming up for your workout. It puts you in the right mental and physical state to do the best job possible at what’s happening next: sleep.
Do you have a child or family member who struggles with sleep? Talk to your them about their ideas, and make a change together. The more involved they are in the process, the more likely they’ll stick to it and establish some healthy sleep habits.