When I became a mom, one of the first things I began thinking about when I returned home from the hospital with a newborn was how I could create a bedtime routine so my baby (and kids later on) could sleep most of the night, grow healthy, and be happier.
Over time, I forgot that I too needed my own routine to feel physically and emotionally better throughout the day. I spent years sleep-deprived, napping when I could, and feeling sluggish.
If you’re wondering why grownups need a bedtime routine and why it’s not as simple as just “getting to bed” I’m here to share what you need to know to establish a bedtime routine starting today.
Creating a bedtime routine can help boost your immune system, prevent weight gain, increase productivity, help you fall asleep and stay asleep, reduce stress levels, and so much more.
Don’t get me wrong. There are many nights my bedtime routine doesn’t go as planned, but the important part is that while not perfect, there is one in place.
You might be a lot like me; working, try to make healthy eating choices, live an active lifestyle by incorporating exercise into your day, juggle children, and managing a household.
With a plate full like that, it can be difficult to obtain the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night -I’ve actually noticed that when I’m more active I need closer to 9 hours of sleep! And because of this, prioritizing sleep has become non-negotiable for me.
I am the engine that runs the ship of my life, and I do my best to keep my engine in good shape by having systems (routines) in place – including resting when I need it.
What You Need for a Healthy Bedtime Routine
While there are some things that are helpful when creating a healthy bedtime routine, it’s important we take a look at the day as a whole.
Most people fill their daily schedule with their commitments (work, kids, life), and then sleep gets the leftover time (sometimes as little as 5h a night).
What I like to do is block out the hours I’m going to dedicate to sleep and then fill in my day.
once you have an idea of how you’re spending your time, you can focus on the items necessary to improve your sleep like comfy pjs, a good pillow, and relaxing your mind.
The hour before your bedtime is where all these things come into play. Whether it’s taking a bath, picking up a book, or simply snuggling with the kids, it’s important that cell phones are put down and your mind is able to start to de-stress.
How to De-Stress in the Evenings
As someone that owns a business with employees, clients, deadlines, and financial commitments; I know firsthand how hard it is to shut my brain off and de-stress in the evenings.
I’ve learned that part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle means striving for balance in all areas -including sleep.
I prefer to exercise in the morning because after work I’m both mentally and physically spent and all I want to do is hang out with the family and relax by cooking a new recipe or watching a movie.
Recently, the last hour of the evening, between 8pm and 9pm, everyone in the house showers, unplugs from social media, and lays low in their room or on the sofa.
I’ve allocated this last hour for everyone to do something they enjoy doing that will give our bodies and mind a rest. I’ve personally incorporated taking a 20 to 30-minute bath during that hour where I close the bathroom door and it’s quiet time where nobody talks to mom or asks mom for anything.
Does a Consistent Bedtime Matter?
An important part of maintaining a healthy bedtime routine means going to bed and waking up at roughly the same times each day. Our bodies like consistency, and sticking to a plan will help improve how much sleep you get and the quality of the rest that you are getting.
On weekends, I push back that bedtime by an hour, two tops, to accommodate for movie-night or dinners later. This means that I’m also waking up an hour or two later in the mornings.
How to Fall Asleep Faster
Over the years, I’ve found a couple of fail-proof ways to help myself fall asleep faster which I’ve written in detail in this post on How to Sleep Better.
A big takeaway for me has been to find a way to stop “thinking” and start relaxing if I want to fall asleep faster. The quicker you can shut your mind off the faster you’ll fall asleep.
Eating and Drinking Before Bedtime
When my kids were little, I’d cut out snacks and drinks a few hours before bed –mostly to make sure they didn’t pee on the bed.
But did you know that cutting out food and drinks a few hours before bed can also help improve the quality of your sleep?
Now, that doesn’t mean you need to cut out dinner. This means cut out late-night snacking -especially those that contain sugar- and caffeine!
I will say that if you find yourself eating dinner very early and wake up starving in the middle of the night, it’s important to reevaluate how you’re fueling your day and perhaps have a warm decaffeinated tea before bed.
How to Sleep Better At Night Naturally
If you want to sleep better at night naturally, outside of taking baths and creating a relaxation routine, there are some natural supplements you can take to help with sleep -outside of taking melatonin gummies.
There is much talk of supplements that can help your body get into a bedtime routine. I’m a big fan of incorporating a few natural ones in my evening to help calm my mind and my body.
Sleepy Time Tea
My favorite thing to do is hold a warm cup of tea when I’m feeling antsy, hearing my mind race, and just an overall panic of “I need to get to bed soon!”. Here’s my nighttime tea.
There’s a lot of research that GABA helps relax the nervous system, which is responsible for relaxing the mind as well. I’ve recently begun supplementing with GABA an hour before bedtime and it’s helped me tremendously relax my mind when I finally lay down.
CBD Oil & Gummies
This is a controversial one since not all tinctures are the same. I have two I recommend. If you want drops (most common) taking CBD oil nightly has helped calm my mind and body and improve sleep.
If you only want to take something once in a while, gummies with a powerful combination of CBN and melatonin can be a great option to relax the mind and help stay asleep.