Bad sleeping habits? Create a family bedtime routine

Credit to Author: Cheryl Song| Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2019 13:59:08 +0000

Sleep is vital to our wellbeing.  Quality and quantity of sleep is more important than most realize, as it can affect one’s physical and mental health.  In mild cases, sleeping problems might lead to inability to concentrate, irritability, obesity; in severe cases, sleep deprivation can even result in death.

There are no hard and fast rules for ideal sleeping habits.  It’s something personal, and is affected by one’s family culture and values, age, individual biological clock,  daily responsibilities and schedules.

However, if you constantly struggle with bedtime routines, such as children refusing to go bed and wake up on scheduled time, or lack of sleep affecting children’s academic performance and mood, then we need to examine our family’s bedtime routine.  By having a plan, families can have reduced stress and better sleep habits.

Bedtime routines for the whole family

Here are a few sleeping tips:

  • Implement a consistent bedtime routine. Even on weekends or holidays, try to keep same sleep schedule. It can aid in falling asleep faster and better quality of sleep.
  • Allow sufficient time to spend quality time to wind down and relax with your children prior to bed. Take the opportunity to connect with children through nightly bedtime story, massaging, singing, prayers, meditation or gratitude journaling.
  • Avoid over-stimulating the mind and body close to bedtime, such as exercising, or rough and tumble play prior to bedtime. Avoid reading or watching the news or anything negative or scary.
  • Switch off the television and all electronics at least one hour before bedtime. If possible, keep television and all electronic devices out of the bedroom.
  • A light snack is OK but avoid going to bed too full or too hungry. Avoid foods or drinks that are high in sugar and caffeine.
  • Create an ideal sleeping environment that is cool, quiet and dark.
  • Ensure there are no excessive beddings or stuffed animals on the bed. Select materials that are hypo-allergic and breathable, and wash them regularly.
  • Regularly clean, rotate your mattress and replace your mattress every 10 years or less, depending on usage.
  • Address children’s concerns, such as nighttime fear or separation anxiety by listening to their concerns, reassuring and comforting them. Sometimes, installing a nightlight might be helpful.
  • Know about the benefits and things to watch for when co-sleeping or bed sharing with children or pets. For some, co-sleeping can improve sleeping, yet for others, bed sharing can disrupt sleep if the person or pet move around throughout the night.

It is important to know what is best for your family.  Carefully analyze and design a bedtime plan that fits your family, keeping in mind safety, cultural and ages of family members, individual circadian rhythm and internal biological clock.

The key to good sleeping routine is to be consistent, model good sleeping habits for children and work as a team so everyone can develop the healthy sleeping routine.

READ MORE: Trouble sleeping? Here are 11 sleep strategies

If sleeping struggles remain, do seek help from professional, checking for any underlying psychological or medical conditions, such as separation anxiety, sleep apnea or other sleep disorder.