How to Create a Restful Bedtime Routine
In our most recent post, we shared about how to improve your morning routine. Intimately connected to a morning routine, at the other end of the day, is a bedtime routine. There are many factors that can derail even the best thought out and well-intentioned morning routine. One of the biggest ones that comes to mind in my home is sleep. If my child goes to bed late or we are off schedule in general as a family, the morning is often impacted (and our routine usually needs adjustment). With back to school preparations in mind, now can be the time to also check in about your child’s bedtime routine.
Here are some strategies to consider:
Finding active options during the day can help bodies feel tired. Physical activity can help anyone feel more exhausted and also make it easier to fall to sleep. Are these options for movement outside? That’s even better. Research suggests that spending time outside can help improve your sleep.
Sticking to a similar after dinnertime (and potentially after school) schedule can help a child know what is going to happen next. This can assist their body getting ready for bedtime and sleep.
Shutting off electronics at least an hour before bedtime. This provides your child's body with enough time to wind down and for their brain to get ready for sleep. Do you also have a tough time falling to sleep? This can be a helpful shift to try. Sleepfoundation.org takes this recommendation one step further and encourages removing all electronic devices from your bedroom. If you or your child find the temptation to check your phone too great, this could be a really helpful option to consider.
Following a similar bedtime routine every night can help your child prepare for sleep. There are often necessary things that need to be completed every night (e.g., brushing teeth, combing hair, washing face, bath or shower. etc.). Including enjoyable and calming activities (e.g., reading a book, telling a story, talking about the day, telling jokes, meditation) can not only help your child’s body calm down, but also help them approach bedtime positively.
Avoiding comparison, even between siblings. Everyone, even within the same family, has different sleep needs and factors that may impact their sleep. Do your best to give each child when they may need at bedtime. Each person getting what they need, which is often referred to as equitability, often looks different person to person and that’s ok. Sometimes being equitable means that one child has special time set aside for reading books and singing songs with an adult, while another child gets a hug and a kiss before lights out.
Ensuring your child is gaining enough sleep is important. BabyCenter has helpful guidelines about how many hours of sleep children (and babies and adults) should aim for every night.
If you have concerns about your child’s sleep, bedtime routine, or other factors that may be impacting their ability to gain adequate sleep, please reach out to your child’s pediatrician!
Contact us with questions or to gain more information about your child through a psychoeducational evaluation.