Parents of young children typically set up a consistent bedtime routines for their children to help them wind down for a good night of sleep. And we can all agree that sleep is vital to overall wellbeing and productivity! A bedtime routine also has the added benefit of predictable moments for parents to have their own time. So if a bedtime routine helps you feel good and gives you a sense of more free time, why is it so hard for so many of us to implement and stick with a bedtime routine as adults?
What Gets in The Way?
Sometimes medical conditions are a factor – please see note below. Is it lack of time because you have so much to do? Is your mind racing with thoughts about what happened in your day or about the future? If so, you’re not alone! And I get it. These thoughts bring up difficult emotions, like worry, fear, resentment, and guilt. And these emotions can prevent you from giving yourself the time you need to wind down for bed and affect sleep.
Awareness is The First Step
Establishing a Bedtime Routine
Your bedtime routine is whatever works for you. My ideal routine involves no computer by 8pm (ideally 7pm) and by 9:30 lighting candles while doing yin or restorative yoga before getting into bed to read. But sometimes I worry that in order to be the parent I want to be, I need the evening to be on the computer to tie up loose ends related to the kids, like finances or scheduling logistics. Or I worry I’m irresponsible if the house is in disarray and stay up putting things in order. If so, I’ll cut corners in my routine, get to bed late, and my sleep suffers. Feels terrible the next day.
Think about what you want your bedtime to look like. It can be fully mapped out. Or it can be more loose with one scheduling point such as a specific time you’ll get in bed or write in a gratitude journal and otherwise focused on sleep hygiene like getting the room temperature right and putting fresh sheets on the bed.
When Emotions Get in The Way
Once you decide on a routine, try it out. Inevitably, you’ll find yourself on occasion resisting it. If so, notice what you’re thinking and feeling – without judgment. Can you step back and simply observe? Be with your emotions and ask yourself, what am I making this all mean? Is what’s going on something I can let go of? Is there another way to look at the situation? Am I tying my self-worth to something I can’t control? Notice what comes up.
Sleep On It
Can things can be addressed tomorrow or another time? There’s something to be said for “sleeping on it!” A clear head and the perspective of time can help clarify and make you better equipped to handle whatever is going on. Trust yourself that all will work out the way it’s meant to work out. Most things are definitely not more important than sleep nor are they often as urgent as we convince ourselves they are.
Knowing you have bedtime and sleep time carved out for yourself can make you more efficient in the daytime. As many of us know, if you need to get something done, give it to a busy person because they know how to be efficient and effective. Using the “work” hours of the day for tasks and work can give you a sense of accomplishment with quiet time and a refreshing night of sleep as rewards.
Sleep matters. You matter.
Make Bedtime Special
It’s less important to find the “perfect” bedtime routine and more important to follow it. Make bedtime special for yourself, like a welcome ritual, as you tuck yourself in.
Note: for some, medical conditions like sleep apnea, mental health issues, and hormone changes can get in the way of sleep. I encourage you to reach out to your health care professionals to attend to any concerns you are having. It matters!