Routines keep the rest of the family healthy, happy, and on schedule – from teenagers to toddlers.
But getting everyone to bed at the same time can be a real challenge, and most people aren’t born with an innate ability to sleep all night long.
Even when you’re in bed, it’s hard to block out the worries of the day and the to-do list for tomorrow.
Fortunately, developing a bedtime routine doesn’t have to be a difficult task, and it doesn’t have to take hours, either.
Follow these steps to create a bedtime routine for the whole family.
Importance of Creating a Bedtime Routine for the Whole Family
A good night’s sleep is important for people of all ages. But most adults don’t get enough of it, particularly due to stress.
Just in the US, there is an estimated economic loss of over $411 billion from insufficient sleep every year.
Adults who report more stress, do more multitasking, and are less satisfied with their work-life balance are more likely to get less than 6 hours of sleep. And too little sleep causes stress, leading to a vicious cycle.
Stress can also affect how well children sleep and how well they do during the day. Insufficient sleep and less-than-ideal sleep habits in children can cause them to lose focus, have trouble paying attention, have lower math scores, and engage in risky behaviors.
Parents can help their children develop healthy sleep habits by eliminating or reducing nighttime stressors.
But, as with any parenting topic, there is no single answer. Every child is different. Some kids are very dependent on their parents and will wake up if the parent lies down next to them. Other kids will only go to sleep if they are in a parent’s bed.
Ultimately, for every child, their parents need to find what works.
To find a routine that works for everyone, ask yourself these questions:
- When should we all go to bed?
- What activities need to happen before bedtime?
- What should we do when it’s time to sleep?
When you have a clear schedule down, follow these tips:
Avoid electronics before bed
While going through your Twitter feed or YouTube is enjoyable and can provide an escape from reality, it can keep you from falling asleep, resulting in you waking up earlier the next morning, feeling tired and grumpy.
Many of us are also guilty of watching Netflix. Not all the time, but all too often.
Though some of us are fine watching one episode at a time, something I’ve learned is that the more time you spend in front of a screen, the more tired you’ll feel. It’s called the “blue light” effect that TVs or any screen produces.
Researchers have found that most people’s sleep gets interrupted when they use electronic devices, such as phones and computers, right before bed.
Blue light can disrupt your circadian rhythm and sleep cycle. So, rather than spending more time in front of your TV, try reading instead.
Establish a calming bedtime ritual
To really get into the head of why a ritual is important, though, you need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
During the day, kids deal with stressors such as homework, friends, and bullying. Teens deal with acne, stress, and pressure from their elders. That’s a lot to deal with.
That’s why establishing a calming bedtime ritual is essential to the success of a solid night’s sleep for kids.
Bedtime rituals help everyone feel relaxed and comfortable about transitioning to sleep, make the bedtime routine less overwhelming and time-consuming, and help you fall asleep faster.
It’s never too early to start. Creating a bedtime ritual with your children and partner – one that feels comfortable – will not only encourage sleep but also with other aspects of life.
It can be difficult to get everyone into the bedtime routine, but it’s important for the whole family. Try these tips to help get everyone involved:
- Start with the youngest member of your family and work your way up.
- Set a regular bedtime, no matter what time it is. Having a set routine will help everyone stay on track.
- Make sure everyone knows what their role is in the bedtime routine- this will ensure that everyone knows what they need to do when it comes to getting ready for bed.
- Get siblings to talk about anything on their minds before bed. This will help them feel comfortable and relaxed before sleep takes over.
- Be sure everyone is in their own sleeping area with a nightlight on so they can be sure they’re in the right spot at night.
- Fit the bedtime routine to your child’s age– if that doesn’t work, try a little bit at a time.
- Make sure you’re getting enough sleep – this will help you know what is going on in your children’s world at night.
Establish a set bedtime
Establishing a set bedtime will improve your child’s sleep habits over time.
When children doze off at the same time each night, their bodies eventually adjust to the new routine, and they have an easier time falling asleep and sleeping in.
Having a healthy bedtime routine also removes some of the stress associated with bedtime, as it’s now expected at the same time every night.
A good bedtime routine might involve baths, brushing teeth, and stories.
Quite often, we refer to “winding down,” but how do we accomplish this?
While there really isn’t a perfect rule of thumb, a few things can definitely help.
- Trying to limit screen time before bed (television, cell phones, computers, etc.).
- Try to get outside for some fresh air
- Do deep breathing exercises
- Visualizing a relaxing scene
- If physical activity is too difficult, try taking a warm bath
- Ditch the caffeine
Although easier said than done, making an effort to unwind before bed can go a long way toward developing a bedtime routine for the whole family.
Schedule fun activities between bedtime and waking
There are lots of family activities to keep everyone entertained between bedtime and waking up.
Whether your little ones are already fast asleep or just starting to wind down for the night, these fun bedtime activities will help everyone create a bedtime routine for the whole family and make it a little more bearable before waking up.
- Sing a lullaby or a favorite song together
- Have everyone tell jokes or stories until they get tired
- Make hot chocolate for everyone
- Listen to stories together
- Play a game of charades, board games, or 20 questions with your children
- Take turns reading aloud from a book
- Make popcorn and sit down in front of the television to watch a family movie together as a family
- Write down childhood memories in a journal
As soon as everyone feels drowsy, it’s time for bed!
Make your room sleep-friendly
Creating a bedtime routine for the whole family means having a sleep-friendly atmosphere.
Just a few tweaks to your bedroom environment can make all the difference in ensuring restful sleep:
- Create a dark, quiet, and cool sleeping space free of electronics, bright light sources, and noisy neighbors.
- Invest in blackout shades, eye masks, and earplugs to help block out light.
- There’s a 78% chance you’ll go to bed sooner if your sheets smell good. Ensure your bed is comfortable enough and your sheets cool, soft, and breathable.
- Consider purchasing a good-quality mattress and pillow to ensure optimum comfort.
- Try a zero gravity sleep position. By setting your bed frame to the zero-gravity position, your legs and head will be at just the right angle to evenly distribute your weight. You can relax your muscles, increase circulation, relieve back pain, and sleep better.
Keep a consistent sleeping schedule
Family habits like sleep schedule play a big role in a child’s life, as it influences the overall development and health of the child. However, it may take some practice to establish an agreeable routine for the whole family.
Undoubtedly, an organized sleeping schedule is your best bet for sleeping through the night. Sleep allows our body to rejuvenate itself, and many don’t get enough.
Begin with a relaxing activity, like reading a bedtime story—end with an activity that signals bedtime, like turning off the lights and closing the curtains.
As children get older, you can include other steps like taking a warm bath or saying a prayer. After establishing a consistent routine, stick with it.
Have a reward system
Having a reward system works well to keep children focused. Though a young child can’t usually understand why sleep is important, parents must understand why it’s necessary.
A reward system should be consistent and encourage children to try harder.
Every time a child goes to their bed without being asked, offer a reward. For example, you could give your child a special treat or reward them with time playing with a favorite toy.
Be patient and flexible
Creating a bedtime routine for everyone can be tricky. But, it’s an important task because it sets the tone for bedtime.
Kids need to wind down, and parents need a break. A bedtime routine helps everyone get to sleep.
The routine itself can be simple, but kids need to know what to expect. This fosters a sense of security.
Let kids know that routine is important
Bedtime can be a struggle for kids, especially if they have too much on their plate.
While bedtime routine is important, it can sometimes be hard to establish. It helps if you have a few strategies to help you.
First, try to keep it consistent. Second, use activities that your kids like. Third, have them see you following the routine.
Creating a bedtime routine for the whole family can go a long way toward creating a healthy family culture.
Research shows that kids do better in school when they follow a set sleep schedule, and it helps improve their emotional stability.
Adults also need consistency. Studies show that adults who have regular bedtimes tend less to have back pain. They also sleep better and are more productive at work.
Sleep routines don’t have to take an eternity, but they do need to be routine. Even the little things like reading, doing a puzzle, playing a game, or listening to soothing music can help your children or yourself to settle down and fall asleep.