July 8, 2022
Regardless of the time of year, maintaining a consistent bedtime routine optimizes not only your mental health but physical health as well.
While the summer months extend our days and winter brings longer nights, a well-maintained sleep-wake cycle will ensure we’re receiving the full amount of rest no matter how long or short each day. Without it, we run the risk of developing a plethora of health conditions, from high cholesterol to diabetes or exacerbating mental health ailments to disrupting our immune system’s ability to do its job (read the connection between COVID-19 and sleep disorders). For many, especially people already impacted by a sleep disorder, establishing and maintaining a sleep routine can be challenging. Here’s how the experts recommend getting starting and making your routine a habit:
Sleep Routines for Adults
It can be challenging to build a healthy sleep routine in today’s fast-paced world. If you are relying on weekends to catch up on a lack of sleep (a phenomenon called social jetlag), you are doing your body more harm than good.
According to a 2021 study, experts found that social jetlag leads to poorer health, worse mood, and an increase in sleepiness and fatigue which can impact work performance. And yes, while there are often many factors contributing to late bedtimes and short nights, bedtime routines can benefit adults by helping calm the mind and body in preparation for a better night’s sleep.
A key component to establishing a successful sleep routine is to be consistent with sleep and wake times that allow the circadian rhythm to operate at its best. The circadian rhythm regulates sleep-wake cycles, eating habits, and other important bodily functions such as brain activity. By following the rules outlined in this blog, you can optimize your sleep-wake cycle.
Sleep Routines for Parents
Adequate sleep is inextricably linked to proper brain development, sustains the regulation of emotions, and the ability to focus. When children and pre-teens don’t get sufficient sleep, they’re likely to experience learning challenges and behavior problems, leading to an array of difficulties in school and the classroom.
In a study conducted among adolescents between 1991 and 2012, researchers found that the amount of sleep children receive has declined over the past twenty years. Other polls and studies have also demonstrated that teens, especially, are receiving much less than the recommended 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night, in large part due to their electronic habits and inability to log off at night.
The key to improving problematic sleep behaviors in children can be as easy as setting a nightly routine. According to this 2018 study, bedtime routines play an important role in the wellbeing of children. Parents who set optimal bedtime routines can improve their children’s memory, attention, cognition, and even their dental health–meanwhile, parents themselves benefit as well. Overall, the researchers conclude that parents who do set bedtime routines deploy a generally more positive parenting style than those who don’t.
The secret to getting your teens to want to get their full amount of sleep? Start a sleep routine early. According to the Sleep Foundation, these nightly activities help set your child up for a successful night’s rest:
- Brushing their teeth and using the toilet
- Hearing a lullaby or being told a story
- Debriefing on how their day went
- A nutritious snack
- Taking a bath
Additionally, it helps to avoid the following:
- Sleeping in on the weekends/when they’re on break from school
- Letting them run around and play before preparing for sleep
- Waiting until they’re already sleepy to get ready for bed
- Non-nutritious, sugary snacks and drinks before bed
- Hearing scary or unsettling stories before bed
- Screen time near bedtime/while in bed
Establishing a Routine
Regardless of age, everyone can benefit from setting a nighttime routine. Follow these tips to get your sleep schedule on track:
- Remove light and sound disturbances.
- Eliminate caffeine after midday and avoid alcohol too close to bed.
- If you can, set your home’s temperature to between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit
- Avoid highly stimulating activities right before bed such as work projects and screens—read or take a warm bath instead.
- Avoid naps if you have trouble sleeping. Naps in the evening hours may make it more difficult to sleep at night.
- Be consistent with your sleep schedule. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day to help regulate your body’s internal clock.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity can reduce stress and anxiety, and can help relieve the symptoms of sleep disorders. Intense exercise too close to sleep can hinder your ability to fall asleep, so try to give yourself enough time to relax between your workout and bedtime, or opt to stretch or meditate to relieve any extra tension in your body and relax your mind.
- If you have trouble sleeping because your mind is too cluttered with things you need to accomplish, write down a to-do list for the next day or journal your feelings. This can help relieve your mind of unwanted thoughts.
If you have tried everything and you still find that you have problems sleeping, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder, like obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia. Sleep Dallas specializes in treating sleep apnea and snoring with the use of oral appliances. Contact us online, or give us a call at (469) 240-6331, today to schedule a consultation!