Expert tips for perfecting your whole household’s bedtime routines

For both children and adults alike, an evening schedule is key to overall health and wellbeing

It’s no secret that a good night’s sleep can make a huge difference to your well-being. Whether you’re six years old or 60 years old, a bad night’s sleep can impact everything from your memory and mood to your concentration levels and even your diet, making you more likely to turn to sugary snacks for energy.

What’s more, consecutive nights of poor sleep can jeopardise your long-term health, increasing your risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and type II diabetes.

So creating the optimum bedtime routine is vital for people of all ages, to encourage a healthier night’s sleep. Thankfully, a few key changes can make all the difference when it comes to optimising the evening routines for everyone in your household.

Experts settle on six bedtime tips for children

Getting little ones to settle down for the night is the bane of many parents’ daily routines. However, earlier this year 59 UK experts – including psychologists, public health specialists, sleep researchers, education and health experts, and even dentists – grouped together for a Medical Research Council-funded study. The aim was to settle on six best practice tips for getting children into a healthy bedtime routine every night.

The group concluded that a healthy child’s bedtime routine must include:

  • Brushing teeth before bed
  • Time consistency for going to bed
  • Book reading before bed
  • Avoiding food and drinks before bed
  • Avoiding the use of electronic devices before bed
  • Calming activities with the child before bed, such as a bath or shower, or talking

Dr George Kitsaras, who led the study, discussed the importance of a solid bedtime routine for children, saying: “Bedtime routines are important family activities and have important implications on children’s wellbeing, development and health […] All activities around bedtime matter for children’s development and wellbeing.”

What about adult bedtime routines?

Many of the activities which are suggested for children’s bedtime routines are also applicable to adults, particularly the matter of time consistency. Deciding on a set time to go to bed and wake up every day, and sticking to it, supports your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and effectively trains your brain to naturally feel tired when it’s bedtime.

Avoiding food and drink just before bed and limiting your use of electronics are also important for supporting your body’s natural relaxation in the run up to sleep, as blue light screens can inhibit the release of sleep hormones like melatonin.

As adults, we tend to hold more stress than our little ones, so finding ways to unwind both mentally and physically can help to promote better sleep.

Stretching, yoga, meditation and simply breathing have all been associated with better sleep, promoting muscle relaxation and helping you let go of physical and mental tension. One 2013 study found that a daily yoga routine could significantly improve sleep quality.

Another way to tackle high-stress levels is to put your concerns down on paper. This may mean keeping a journal to make sense of your feelings, or simply writing a to-do list for the next day so you know exactly where you stand.

A healthy bedtime routine looks different for everyone, but by taking these tips on board you can improve sleep quality for everyone in your household.

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