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Why you need a bedtime routine
Life can be so hectic sometimes.
Especially as a stay at home mom, you can essentially feel like you’re always running around.
But if you’re running on empty because you don’t get enough good sleep, it becomes even harder to get it all done.
As a society, sleep is less important to us and regarded as more of a burden than a blissful and necessary part of life. There are a million reasons why this might be the case, but what really matters is that we just aren’t getting enough sleep, and that drive to never rest extends outside of the office and boardroom and into our homes.
Yep, that’s right. Even if you are a stay at home mom who has never worked outside of the home, you probably feel the pressure to always be working on something too.
But how can you make your home a welcoming and peaceful place when you feel chaotic and tired?
That’s why a bedtime routine is important.I know, it can feel infantalizing to put yourself on a schedule. As adults, we like to think we can take care of ourselves instinctively, but if we’re tired more often than not, then that’s clearly not true.
So what is to be done about this? What kind of bedtime schedule can make us better homemakers while also not taking up too much time or energy and stressing us out?
What is a bedtime routine
A bedtime routine is what you do before you hop into bed and fall asleep. You can have a healthy bedtime routine… or an unhealthy one. And if you haven’t taken the time to really examine your routine, chances are you’re doing some unhealthy things that lead to worse sleep.
There are some huge benefits to having a bedtime routine:
- You get more sleep, and it’s higher quality too!
- You wake up in a better mood
- It helps to be more productive throughout the day
- Your brain will be sharper
- Creativity is increased with better sleep
Do what works for you
First and foremost, you need to do what works for you. No one else can tell you exactly what bedtime ritual will work for you to get you into bed on time and ready for sleep. All we can do is give suggestions based on science and personal experience.
For instance, I know that the usual advice is to turn off all devices and read a physical book, but that doesn’t work for me. Sure, I turn on a blue light filter on my phone, but I like to unwind with a game on my phone before bed. Sometimes it’s solitaire, sometimes it’s a word search or something else, but often the last thing I see is my phone screen before I sleep.
But if you can’t trust yourself to put the phone down when it’s time to sleep, then you should rely on low tech options like physical books and paper word searches.
Experiment and find out what works for you!
End the day clean
What this means will depend on what you care about, but the basics are to brush your teeth, wash your face, and maybe tidy up the dishes or living room.
Do what you need to do to feel like you’re not leaving yourself and the house a mess. That’s all this step essentially boils down to.
If you know you’re going to be stressed out by the dishes in the sink, well, that stress is going to make sleeping a lot harder. So why let yourself be worked up all night when a few minutes of work will make your sleep that much better?
For me, I can’t sleep until I’ve picked up the living room. My son is a master at destroying the room with toys, and I know if I want to have a chance to vacuum before he destroys it all again, I’ll need to pick it up at night so I can vacuum first thing in the morning.
Make sure the bedroom is pitch black
Okay so this one is something you’ll probably do well before bed time. But if you know you want to sleep after the sun comes up, you need to get that room dark.
I mean REALLY dark.
Like, you think it might still be 3am when you wake up kind of dark.
This is something I learned from my son. Once we got his room pitch black, he started sleeping 15 hours a day… and still does most days, even at a year and a half.
And if you don’t have the money for proper blackout curtains, have no fear! We didn’t either, so we went to the Dollar Tree and bought some of those thick poster boards. We got the black ones and just taped them over the windows. It required some cutting and taping together to get them to the perfect size, but it looks fine from the outside and on the inside it does the job.
Step away from the screens
I know, I know. I said that I use my phone before bed.
But it is true that phones, TVs, and computers disturb our sleep. So as much as you can, you should step away from these devices and focus on other things. Taking up a non-digital hobby is a great idea to keep you busy before bed without relying on that blue light that will keep you up.
Some hobbies you could try include:
- Playing the guitar
- Wargame model painting
- Bullet journaling
- Reading the Bible
- Reading in general
Reflect on your day
Before bed is a great time to pull out a journal and reflect on what happened. Consider what you’re grateful for, what you wish you could have changed, and what made you happy.
All of these things are an important part of what make up you and your life. Taking the time to really focus and contemplate them helps to put your life into perspective.
You can also use that journal to plan out tomorrow’s schedule! Get a head start on planning. And remember, if you can get it down on paper, your brain doesn’t have to work hard to try and remember it. So if you know you’ll obsess over what needs to get done, this is a must-do step. Write it down so your brain can let it go.
Do some stretching
Yoga or stretching before bed activates the system in your body that triggers relaxation. Stretch your back, arms, shoulders, and especially your glutes before bed!
Here are some other tips to get better sleep:
Stop drinking caffeine as early in the day as possible. Even 6 hours after drinking a coffee, it can reduce your sleep by one hour. If you’re serious about getting some sleep, you need to stop consuming caffeine as early in the day as you can.
Drink as much water as you need. The amount of water you need varies, and is individual to you. You can find some good guidelines to calculate how much you need based on your body weight. The catch, though, is to not drink much before bed so that you’re not up in the night to pee!
Avoid alcohol. Yeah, alcohol can make you drowsy but it won’t get you good sleep. If you do have some alcohol, try to consume it at least 2 hours before bed.
Don’t overeat before bed. It’s a myth that eating before bed will make you fatter than eating at any other time, but eating before bed can disturb your sleep. Eating raises your body temperature, for instance, which will make it harder for you to sleep and will cause you to wake up in a puddle of sweat. It can also cause or worsen indigestion and heartburn.
Prepare for the next day. Get your clothes, makeup, and bathroom ready for what lies ahead. This is especially important for people that lay awake at night making to do lists for the next day!
Take time for yourself. Do some self care, whatever that means for you. Like I said before, I play a game on my phone before I go to sleep. You might watch your favorite TV show, or read a magazine. Do what works for you and helps you to feel relaxed.
Stick to your routine
This is the hardest part, and it’s where I fail every time.
If I let myself slip up even once, I know I’m screwed. And trust me, when I’m dead tired after chasing my toddler around all day, it seems so easy to just say, “I’ll do it tomorrow!”
But if you want to stay on track and really make this routine stick, you have to have discipline.
Have a plan
Decide what your night routine is going to be and write it down. This is a good time to start your bullet journal!
Make your plan as clear and simple as you can. The better you write this down, the better your chance of really following this plan.
Set up reminders
These can be sticky notes on the fridge or alarms on your phone.
Remember what I said about your brain obsessing over things it needs to remember? When you make your brain work to remember your entire bedtime routine, you create a new stress point that will only make falling asleep harder.
Take a few minutes to put up the reminders you need, and your brain will be able to relax… and you’ll be able to get some more sleep.
Over time, you won’t need these reminders, but as you start out they are definitely necessary.
You don’t need to do everything at once. Start with a bed time, and making sure your teeth are brushed and face washed. After a week, you can add the yoga or stretching. A week after that, cut out the screen time before bed.
Each step you take will help, and taking it more slowly will help you to really stick to it. It gives you the time to work out any kinks that might arise from any specific step, instead of a million issues that might pop up if you do everything at once.