We all know the crucial role getting enough sleep plays in our overall health. Yet, so many people fail to get an adequate amount of sleep every night, or the quality of sleep they’re getting is of poor quality. Luckily, there are some steps we can take to improve our sleep, and one of those steps is creating a bedtime routine. If you’ve ever wondered how to create a bedtime routine for you or for your child, this is the article for you.
In addition to giving you ideas about specific activities you could incorporate into your bedtime routine, we included a section where we go over the reasons why having a bedtime routine is important. We also included some of our best tips in terms of what to avoid doing. At the end of our article, you will find an FAQ section where we answer some pressing questions related to creating a bedtime routine.
With that out of the way, let’s start by establishing what exactly constitutes a bedtime routine.
What Is a Bedtime Routine?
A bedtime routine refers to all the activities you do and habits you cultivate every night before you go to bed. The duration of your bedtime routine varies, depending on how many activities it includes and how much free time you have in the evenings – for some people it lasts 10 minutes, while for others it could last up to a couple of hours. Bedtime routines contain activities like stretching, journaling, or reading, to name a few. But why is doing these or other activities before going to bed important?
Why Is a Bedtime Routine Important for Adults?
Well, there are a few reasons why bedtime routines are important.
Firstly, bedtime routines can help you fall asleep faster. Our brains love routine and predictability, and if you condition your brain to think that a particular set of activities is followed by sleep, it’s more likely to comply.
Bedtime routines also help us switch from a busy, work mode to one that’s more relaxed and ready for sleep. Many of us work close to our bedtime, so having this window of activities can help put us in a more relaxed headspace, which helps us destress and unwind.
For some people, having a set bedtime routine can also help with anxious thoughts. Our minds are vulnerable to anxiety at night, so a lot of us spend our evenings overthinking and worrying about the future. Having some activities to look forward to and occupy your time with can help immensely in the way you manage anxious thoughts. They not only provide a distraction, but also help with anxiety in the long run, which is beneficial for one’s mental health.
Creating a Bedtime Routine
Now, let’s get to the gist of our article – how should you go about creating a bedtime routine? Here are some steps to help you in the process.
Have a Set Sleeping Schedule
Going to bed and waking up at the same time is a crucial step in creating a bedtime routine. As we mentioned earlier, our brains love predictability, and having a set sleeping schedule is a great way to help your brain prepare for bed. Not to mention, you’re also more likely to get enough quality sleep every night if you go to bed at the same time every night.
When you determine what time you want to go to bed, you can start thinking about the amount of time you want to carve out of your evening for your bedtime routine.
Create an Appropriate Environment for Sleeping
Before you start some of the activities in your bedtime routine, it’s important to create a bedroom environment that will help you fall asleep. This includes turning off your electronics and reducing any source of blue light that’s in your bedroom. Blue light is detrimental to our sleeping schedules because it tricks our brain into thinking that it’s daytime, causing us to produce more energy instead of calming us down and helping us unwind.
Another thing you’ll want to pay attention to is the temperature in your bedroom. The ideal temperature for sleeping is around 20 degrees Celsius. As much as you might be tempted to increase this number during the cold winter months, sleeping in a bedroom that’s too warm could result in poor sleep quality.
In addition to light and temperature, you might want to use your favourite aromatherapy diffuser or light your favourite scented candle. After you’re done prepping your room, you’re ready to move on to your activities. Here are some ideas.
One of the best habits you can learn to cultivate at night is reading. Reading for as little as 20 minutes per day is associated with lower stress levels. It’s an amazing habit to help you relax, all the while providing some mental stimulation before you go to bed.
Something to note regarding reading is that you shouldn’t opt for a horror or a thriller if you’re easily scared. Instead, choose more lighthearted reads that won’t make you feel too excited to avoid the risk of keeping you up.
Stretch or Do Yoga
Doing some light stretches before bed or a yoga workout is a great way to relax both your muscles and mind. With thousands of free videos on the internet, you’ll have no trouble finding a style you like. You could even theme your stretches and yoga workouts every night, or search for ones that are specifically designed to help you unwind at night.
The benefits of stretching and practising yoga are endless. They help increase your flexibility, improve your fitness levels, tone your body, improve your breathing, and contribute to good heart health.
Write It Down
There’s no better time than the evening to reflect on your day and write down your thoughts. Journaling is a wonderful habit to incorporate in your bedtime routine because it helps you process your emotions and avoid any anxious thoughts from lingering to the next day. You could search for some journal prompts if you prefer something more structured, or freestyle it and practice some stream-of-consciousness writing. Whatever you decide to go for, we’re sure that it’ll help you destress and unwind even further.
Take a Warm Bath
Prepare your body for bed by taking a relaxing, indulgent bath. Research has shown that hot showers and baths are a great addition to your bedtime routine because they help decrease your body temperature. Your body might initially heat up from the water, but the temperature will quickly go down afterwards. Add some bath salts or a bath oil for some extra pampering.
One thing to remember is that you should schedule your bath ideally at least one hour before you intend to go to bed in order for your body to have enough time to lower your body temperature.
Write Down Your To-Do List
One of the reasons many of us struggle to fall asleep is because we have a million thoughts racing about all the things we need to accomplish the next day. There’s one really easy way to quieten this voice in your head – plan the next day. Write down all the tasks you need to do the next day and list them according to priority. This will prevent you from worrying about everything that needs to be done and allow you to relax and enjoy the moment.
Have a Drink
Drinking a lot of fluids before going to bed isn’t recommended, since you’ll be more prone to waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, which will disrupt your sleep. However, having a glass of water or a cup of tea is recommended. If the weather allows for it, opt for a calming tea like chamomile or spearmint. Not only will it help you relax, but it can also make you fall asleep faster, which is always a plus.
Another amazing practice you could add to your bedtime routine is meditation. If the thought of sitting down and meditating seems too daunting for you, we recommend downloading a meditation app on your phone. A short guided meditation is a great way to get into the habit of meditating. Once you have the guided meditation down, maybe you could start practising meditating on your own by sitting still for a couple of minutes and focusing on your breath.
If you need a little more convincing, here are some of the benefits that meditation has been linked to. Daily meditation improves our memory, helps us relax and destress, it quietens the noise in our heads, helps us stay present, and helps disperse any tension we may have in our bodies.
What Not to Include in Your Bedtime Routine
We provided some ideas for activities you could include in your bedtime routine. To balance it out, here are some habits you’ll want to avoid.
Avoid Caffeine, Nicotine, and Alcohol Before Bed
Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol are stimulants that have been linked to a disrupted sleeping pattern and poor quality sleep. Caffeine disrupts our sleep by keeping us up, while alcohol might initially help us fall asleep, but it can make us wake up during the night.
Avoid Heavy Meals
Another thing you’ll want to avoid is having heavy, greasy meals right before bed. If you feel peckish at any point in the evening, opt for a light snack, like fresh fruit or oatmeal.
Don’t Work Out too Close to Bedtime
Unless you’re doing yoga or light stretches, you don’t want to work out right before you go to bed. Exercise often has an energizing effect on us, so working out too close to bedtime can cause us to stay up.
Cleaning Up Clutter
If your room is overly messy when you go to bed and you have clutter everywhere, chances are you would find it harder to relax. In addition, cleaning up clutter isn’t exactly known for being a great bedtime activity, so if you start noticing that your room is getting a bit too messy for your liking during the day, your best course of action is to clean it before starting your bedtime routine.
How to Create a Bedtime Routine for Your Child
Building a bedtime routine is equally important for kids as it is for adults. Children who have a set bedtime routine are more likely to fall asleep on time, have better sleep quality, and sleep for longer stretches of time. In addition, following a bedtime routine has been linked to better school performance. If you don’t know how to build a bedtime routine for your child, here are some of our tips.
Set a Time
When it comes to children and bedtime routines, the rule of thumb is – the shorter, the better. While adults can pack many different activities in their bedtime routines that could potentially take them hours, for kids, the ideal bedtime routine should last anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes.
If your child is not too keen on the idea of having a bedtime routine, maybe you could start by incorporating one or two short activities before bedtime that wouldn’t take more than 10 minutes and build it up from there. Have a talk with them and negotiate on time based on the activities they show interest in.
Optimise Their Sleeping Environment
Just like adults, children need their bedroom to promote long, quality sleep. Help them achieve this by dimming all the lights (if your child is afraid of the dark, you could always turn on a lamp until they fall asleep), setting the temperature, and turning off any noise.
Discourage Them From Using Screens
Children are also prone to the detrimental effects of blue light. One of the best bedtime habits you could help them cultivate is helping them stay off their phones and computers at least an hour before going to bed. Doing so will ensure that their sleep doesn’t get interrupted and that they go to bed when they need to.
Encourage Them to Read
You’re probably already aware of the benefits of reading for children, so incorporating around 20 minutes of reading would do wonders for your child. Make sure they choose a book they like and not one that’s assigned for school so that they’re more likely to want to read it. If you have the time to spare, maybe you could read together.
If you decide to read them bedtime stories, make sure they’re fun and lighthearted. Anything that contains horror elements or is overly graphic could make them stay up more than they should.
Encourage Dental Hygiene
Building long-lasting, healthy habits is crucial for children. One essential habit you should incorporate into your child’s bedtime routine is dental hygiene. If your child isn’t of age, help them brush their teeth or clean their gums. If your child is old enough to do it themselves, remind them to brush and floss regularly each night.
Remind Them to Go to the Bathroom
Similarly to our last point, if your child is of a certain age, you might want to remind them to go to the bathroom prior to going to bed. This is important for younger children, especially if they’ve ever shown a pattern of bedwetting.
What They Do During the Day Matters
Apart from introducing the abovementioned habits, another thing you could do that would help them cultivate a proper bedtime routine is paying attention to what they do during the day. Avoid giving them overly sugary foods or foods that contain caffeine in the late afternoon and evenings, since this could lead to them being unable to fall asleep. Encourage movement during the day to help them tire out in a good way.
How to Create a Bedtime Routine for Anxiety?
If you’re an anxious person, there are a couple of activities you could incorporate into your bedtime routine that could help you manage your anxious thoughts. Writing down your to-do list for the next day is amazing for helping you feel less overwhelmed. Additionally, journaling, meditating, and doing yoga has also been linked to lower anxiety levels, so think about incorporating them into your nighttime routine.
How to Create a Bedtime Routine for a Baby?
If you want to create a bedtime routine for your baby, here are some things you should pay attention to. Just like adults, incorporating a warm bath could help your baby fall asleep faster. Singing a lullaby or reading them a bedtime story are other activities you could add that would help them fall asleep faster. In addition, make sure you put them to sleep at the same time and optimise their sleep environment.
We hope you enjoyed our guide on how to create a bedtime routine.
Bedtime routines include all the activities you do before you go to bed. Typically, bedtime routines can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on how much free time you have at your disposal. Bedtime routines are important because they help you fall asleep faster, switch off from work mode, and manage anxious thoughts.
Some activities you could include in your bedtime routine are reading, doing light stretches or yoga, journaling and planning, taking a warm bath, and meditating. In addition, you’ll also want to make sure that your bedroom environment is appropriate for sleeping, so set the temperature, dim the lights, and turn off any noise. There are also some things you’ll want to avoid, like consuming stimulants before bed and eating heavy and greasy meals.
Bedtime routines are equally important for children, so we recommend encouraging them to have one. Encourage them to take care of their dental hygiene and read, as opposed to spending a lot of time on their screens which can disrupt their sleep.
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