The cornerstone of sleep in in your bedtime routine. But you knew that! Yet it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and question what we’re doing at bedtime. Is it the best bedtime routine for us? One that nurtures sleep?
Did you know…
- Studies conclude that children maintain good sleep and health habits for a lifetime when they learn that a bedtime routine is important? And the easiest way for them to learn that is by enjoying bedtime starting from birth.
- Current research indicates a direct relationship between diabetes and obesity with late bedtimes? Not even hours slept, but going to bed late consistently.
- The first thing a sleep expert will recommend to get better sleep is a consistent bedtime routine? The experts will call it all it “sleep hygiene” but it’s the same thing. And good seep hygiene results in and consequentially better grades, health, and long-term happiness.
So to keep our health at its best, let’s keep our bedtime routines at their best too for better sleep.
Here’s what sleep and parenting experts say about what makes for a good bedtime routine.
Plan for sleep if you’re planning on sleeping. The Bedtime Blueprint is a helpful planner for sleep. It has all the advice from sleep experts in one place. Download it here. Every night, try to have your children go through their bedtime routine in the same order. Is it toothbrush time first and then pajamas? Keep it that way. This isn’t the time of day to switch it up by putting on the pajamas before brushing your teeth.
Dana Obleman, creator of the Sleep Sense program, makes an excellent point: Would you rather have a moody child or a somewhat boring bedtime routine? Families have all day to get creative!
Everyone gets more sleep when parents are confident about getting their own sleep in daily. In other words, parents’ sleep duration has a direct effect on their children’s sleep duration. For more details, go here.
On top of a quiet certainty when it comes to sleep, intentionally setting a wind-down time for the family contributes to an easier transition to sleep. Ease up on loud music, moving quickly, too much electronic stimulation. Think old-school to the point of old-fashioned.
Snuggle Up and Cuddle Up
Sleep experts concur that snuggling is important…in addition to being so delicious! Adults and children in their care feel warm and happy, setting the tone for a successful bedtime routine.
Massage or Gentle Touch
Maintain that quiet, calm, connection during your bedtime routine. This is not the best time to do a dramatic rendition of “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.” But do connect physically. Psychological research indicates physical connection gives children security and might prevent bad dreams.
Parents have been singing to their children since the beginning of time. It’s not a contest! Your child thinks your voice is the most beautiful one in the world and they don’t want to hear anything canned. Sharing a lullaby is a free, portable, addition to a family bedtime routine that makes memories. And, a gentle lullaby, a special song shared just at bedtime, cues sleep.
You don’t have to sing anything fancy. Humming, singing on the vowel “ooo”, or Twinkle Twinkle create a beatuiful bonding activity between you and your child.
You can’t have your best bedtime routine without a bedtime book! While a number of parenting experts recommend the child choose the book, I’ve found that to be kind of tricky. The book-of-choice might be very long or a little too energizing leaving the caregiver in a bind.
There can be a special “bedtime book” shelf in the family library with shorter, calmer books for children to choose from. Another alternative is to have an anthology on hand, or a special bedtime book with short poems, stories, and activities. Then you can limit the choice to 5 poems, for example, and allow the child to choose those.
I’ll never forget when I learned this technique! I was 8 years old and have been using and sharing it my entire life. We can empower our children to systematically tense and relax their muscles when they’re quite young. And they get a little bit of experiential anatomy at the same time. There are a number of resources on the Internet for progressive relaxation techniques for kids. Here’s just one of them from Inner Health Studio.
Gratitude is the magic that makes for happier kids, adults, and communities. Have a discussion about the events of the day with the attitude of gratitude. What an ideal way to connect at the end of the day and what a powerful happiness habit.
Habits can be hidden within habits. Set up bedtime boundaries so you, the caregiver, can enjoy your own wind-down time and bedtime routine. You need it as much as anyone else in the family! We often think we’re helping our kids when we read one more story or pop in and out of the bedroom for an extra hug or glass of water. And it’s not only for your own sanity, it’s helping your children learn to self soothe and be empowered to sleep.
Your bedtime routine can be the best part of your day. It helps everyone transition to sleep, brings families together, and keeps the “crankies” away. And when it’s intentional, parents get more free time in the evening.
The sleep and parenting experts interviewed in the FREE Get Your Sleep On Summit can help you design the bedtime routine that works for your family. Take back control of your evenings for more productive days…and happier kids. Go to this link to listen.