Creating nighttime rituals can be an important part of getting a good night’s sleep. But designing sleep hygiene that works isn’t always easy. You’ll have to take some time to get to know yourself, your own patterns and natural habits, before you can find a routine that will work for you and your family.
Nighttime Rituals for Infants and Young Children
Infants don’t have sleep schedules as much as sleep chaos. Their patterns are disorganized over the first few months (or even years) of life, as they sleep and wake in short bursts. A regular sleep routine can help infants’ bodies prepare for sleep, signaling a developing circadian rhythm that bedtime is coming.
As babies grow into toddlers, a nighttime routine at the same time every day helps children’s bodies prepare for sleep. A regular nighttime ritual can minimize fussing and disappointment at bedtime and encourage sound sleep, so both parents and toddlers know what to expect.
Nighttime Rituals for Teens
As kids age, nighttime rituals become no less important. Research has indicated teens’ biological clocks tend to keep them up late and encourage them to sleep in each morning—something that’s impossible for most school-age tweens and teens. Compounding school, extra-curricular, and social obligations can further “crunch” the time your teen has to sleep, resulting in kids (and whole families) that are even grouchier and more stressed.
A regular nighttime ritual can help teens wind down and cue the body to produce the biochemical “triggers” that induce sleepiness. Teaching them about to improve sleep hygiene and get to bed at a reasonable hour is one of the best things you can do to help your teen (and yourself) weather these trying years.
Nighttime Rituals for Adults
Keeping a regular bedtime routine can help adults sleep well, improving productivity and helping adults manage both physical and emotional health. No matter how good you are at your job, taking care of your family, or balancing a busy schedule, if you’re not getting adequate sleep you won’t be able to keep it up for long.
In my upcoming blogs on nighttime rituals, I’ll go into more details about important components of sleep rituals for every age. During this “New Year’s resolution” season, consider “beefing up” your own bedtime routine and talking to your entire household about doing the same. You’ll be amazed at how much better you and your loved ones feel, think, and act with a working, healthy sleep routine on your side.