As a parent, you won’t be a stranger to lack of sleep. After your little one starts sleeping through the night, you have more chance of getting a better rest, but it can still be tough to get a satisfying night’s sleep. Fortunately, the secret to getting him or her to bed is the same one that’s going to help you to have a truly restful night: a routine. Phoebe Yu, founder of Ettitude,
The benefits of routine
The human body thrives on routine, especially where sleep is involved. It’s easy to tell when you’ve had a good night – you wake up full of energy, happy and feeling ready to enjoy the day. An effective routine is part of what’s called sleep hygiene, which makes sense when you consider that sleep promotes healing, aids memory and balances metabolism; there’s nothing more important for health and wellness. There is no one routine that will work for everyone (which is good because every family is different!) The key that you need to remember is consistency. Every parent’s watchword, it is essential not only for raising children but also to safeguard the amount and quality of sleep that you have.
The features of a routine
A sleep routine must contain, at least:
- A set time to go to bed
- A set time to wake up
The exact times of these will vary according to your schedule and your body’s needs. Some people are naturally early birds, and others are night owls; similarly, the amount of sleep that everyone needs is different. Although the suggested amount is 7-8 hours, some people have a genetic predisposition to require less, but probably not less than 6 hours. Find out what feels right for you, but bear in mind that a sleep routine takes at least a few days to establish.
Extra features: At night
A routine should include the ‘rituals’ you use to signal to yourself that it’s time to go to bed – they prepare you to mentally switch off and relax.
First of all, your bedroom, in general, and your bed, in particular, should be as clean and tidy as possible. Plants can be calming and they increase the amount of oxygen in their surroundings.
Never use your bed for anything other than sleep (or intercourse), so watching TV, eating and working are out of the question. It would create a link in your mind between your bed and doing those things, so you would unconsciously be preparing to be mentally stimulated, not winding down for sleep.
Some people find that doing the same activity before turning in can separate the rest of the day from their bedtime. Some ideas are:
- Diary writing
Avoid using anything with a screen – TV, laptop, tablet, e-reader, phone – for an hour or two before sleep. These electronic devices give off a blue light that tricks your body into thinking it’s daytime, upsetting your internal clock. If you must use them, there are apps available that shift the light into warmer tones that affect people less. And avoid coffee from about mid-afternoon onwards, depending on your sensitivity – the caffeine takes several hours to clear your system.
Once you’re ready for bed, check the temperature in your room, which should be on the cool side in order to get a restful sleep. Then get the room as close to pitch black as you can before you make yourself comfortable. Eye masks are a handy item to help you with this.
Extra features: In the morning
Your wake-up routine is also part of your sleep routine – you must actually get up on time for it to work. You might know already what kind of alarm suits you best, but there are many apps you can use to naturally help you wake up. One predicts where you are in your sleep cycle so you won’t be interrupted in the middle of a dream!
Once upright, the best activities to help you fully wake up are:
- a cool shower
- a healthy breakfast
- coffee (but it’s best to wait at least at hour after waking so you don’t disrupt your body’s natural ‘wake-up’ hormone)
If you’re not healthy, you won’t be as effective a parent as you could be. Sleep is an irreplaceable part of a healthy lifestyle, which is what you want to aim for to be a positive role model for your child. A routine provides the consistency you and your child need to achieve this, and to start your days rested and happy.
Phoebe Yu is CEO & Founder of Ettitude, Australian bamboo bedding startup. She also founded two international sourcing companies, and has 15+ years experience in supply chain management and merchandising.