It’s something we say to our kids every single evening at bedtime, “I love you…but will you please just go to sleep…don’t fight it…you need good sleep for your body to recharge it’s batteries.” This statement often precedes the unending requests for water…or the getting up to go potty…or to tell us an important tidbit of the day they conveniently JUST remembered…nice try offspring.
I know I don’t need to say this, but it’s tiresome as a parent…and we’re already pretty worn out by their bedtime…let alone ours. We love our kids tremendously and enjoy their company…but at bedtime we want them to just go to sleep…for reals.
What I have to admit though is that I’m a total hypocrite on the matter. With my freedom as an adult to have no bedtime…my sleep habits have been terrible…for a long time now. I do similar things in an effort to fight sleep…not necessarily the pottying and water requests…but similar things. I haven’t asked the kids, but I’m assuming they think this totally looks like “Do as I say…not as I do.” We parents are hypocritical about a lot of things…but all is not lost.
I’ve been a night owl since the time my bedtime was increased as a kid. Even when with a bedtime of 8:00PM as a grade school kid I would stay up late under the blanket with a flashlight to play with my Star Wars action figures. During my middle school years it wasn’t very difficult for me to stay up late playing Nintendo on a Friday/Saturday night…ah…those were the days! Plus…back in the 80’s-90’s (here I go sounding like and old man)…I was a huge fan of youth group lock-ins…mostly because you got to goof off all night…at church…and eat pizza and drink cokes. In high school I would often times stay up listening to music (U2 fan here) or feverishly trying to finish my homework or school projects. During my junior and senior year of high school I worked part-time in the evenings…often the closing shift where I ended up getting home close to midnight…on school nights.
The college years is where it all went downhill for me. It didn’t help that all-nighters were a right of passage pursuing a degree in architecture. These late nights were often filled with building models, staring at drawings or computer monitors, blaring music, and partaking in binges of unhealthy food and drink. Ask someone who I was in studio with (a couple may even be reading this)…but I was known to drink a 6-pack of either tallboy Yoo-Hoo’s or IBC Creme Sodas to get me through the night…we’re talking pre-Starbucks era folks…true story. These habits of staying up late stuck with me…for no good reason at all…well into adulthood.
In today’s world, with the advent of Netflix and other types of on-demand media we can easily lay around and waste our evening hours binge watching episodes of ‘Friday Night Lights’ back-to-back-to-back…or perhaps well-intentioned documentaries…on food and healthy living…until well past midnight. We don’t watch a ton of ‘regular’ TV in our house…but I think these new forms of media can be even more addictive…plus…there are no commercials!
So during my initial consultation with the “natural doctor” one of the things we discussed was sleep habits. She asked if I slept well…I said no…or on rare occasion. She asked what time I typically went to bed…I said anywhere 12:00-1:00AM on average and waking up around 6:30-6:45AM. She asked what I did before going to bed…I said that I read on my tablet to catch up on all the craziness in this world (news)..or watched a show…essentially always looking at some sort of screen. She asked what did I do to wind down or deal with stress…I said nothing. She then said that there’s no wonder you’re having sleep problems…you’re essentially not letting your body cycle down properly, not giving your eyes a break, and you’re constantly stressed. All of these things plus a terrible diet are harbingers of poor sleep. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner.
She gave me some helpful tips that I wanted to pass on…I figure could benefit everyone who reads this (these might be obvious to a lot of folks out there). I’ve not successfully implemented this every evening…I’m working on breaking some habits…turns out breaking the food habits may be easier than the sleep habits…but I’m here to tell you they work. They’re listed below in the relative order I try to do them in.
- Turn off all devices around 9:30…including TV, computer, phone, tablet, etc…this is supposed to let your eyes relax and help you disconnect from the day.
- Drink a cup of hot tea…I use Sleepytime by Celestial Seasonings…there are others out there.
- Do a series of light yoga stretches along with deep breathing…imagine me doing yoga for a second…funny huh? I do a couple of stretches that help spinal alignment…it helps my coccyx pain.
- Optional (I do not currently do this)…turn on some tranquil music…I can’t stand trickling water though.
Now…just go to sleep…preferably in the ten o’clock hour.
If you’ve got any successful tips to add…comment below…I’d love to hear what folks do to wind down in the evening.