Updated: Sep 4, 2020
When it comes to evening energy and nighttime routines we either help our children, and ourselves, or we impede the process.
The sun is setting. She has done her job for us today. On the horizon Luna rises. A gentle transition between night and day is happening: calm, rhythmic, and beautiful.
It's very hard for young children, and most adults, to just turn the lights off and fall right to sleep. Most of us need a natural winding down, much like the slow setting of the sun. By mirroring the quieting down of the earth and harmonizing with the stillness of the night we maximize our sleep potential.
It is so easy to see a newborn baby’s sleep cues. They will yawn, rub their eyes, look to nurse, when they get overextended they will cry and might even be hard to console.
We know what our bigger kids are like when they haven't had enough sleep. It's easy to see on them. They become agitated, their emotions are on high alert, they can't make ‘simple’ decisions easily, they might be extremely lethargic or spinning out of control. Guess what, we adults are the same way, except for some reason it's harder for us to see within ourselves. We adults have become proficient at ignoring the sleep signals that our body sends us. Our busy lives and high demand tech world have us in a constant ON mode that not only disrupts our sleep cycles, but can also lead us right into an unhealthy overdrive.
Protecting our sleep is important. And luckily, we have the power to protect our health and sleep needs through sleep cueing, simple signals that we send our body and mind that it is time for rest.
These simple tips will support your body's natural circadian clock, cortisol curve, and sleep needs. There is a slight difference (with some overlap) in cueing sleep and protecting sleep, but here I will address some specific ways we can signal to our mind, hormones, and spirit to start gearing down for sleep.
All the steps will work for children and adults.
My #1 Sleep Tip is to match your evening energy and nighttime routine to what you are trying to create, SLEEPINESS, about an hour before bedtime.
2. Dim the overhead lights and try as much as you can to spend that last hour before bed in as little light as possible. You can use lamps, candles, or even open the curtains to get ready for bed by moon light.
3. Turn off all media (computers, tablets, and phones) to eliminate as much blue light exposure as possible. The exposure to light, and especially the blue light variety, can impede the release of melatonin.
4. Keep activities and voices calm. Music is fine to play, but it is best if it is calming. In the early evening the rambunctious dancing, playing chase, or tackle sort of event with our kids is beneficial for everyone. This big outward play is a wonderful way to expel built-up energy and stresses that occur during the day. It allows the body to relieve the pressure valve and relax into sleep. * Be careful though, this kind of quality time often gets pushed right up against bedtime, making going to sleep 'on time' nearly impossible as the body and mind are revved up and on alert. Learn more about creating a Sacred Bedtime Bubble.
5. Allow yourself and your kids the time to quietly read, meditate, or do some light stretching. I like to read before bed and find it best to read something that soothes me spiritually. Textbooks are not good for me as they ramp up my mind. Also, Outlander turns up the notch for me. ;-) Exercise is one of those protective factors in a good nights sleep, but not if it's close to bed time for most people. However, a gentle light stretch can be a great cue as it often relieves stress and allows for the space to let your mind calm down from the day’s events. Choose what works for you and your family.
6. Protect your sleep space. Keep the bedrooms in your house free of TV. Ideally, the kid’s rooms are not the playrooms too. If so, then have them try hard to keep it clean and organized. The goal is that when you step into your bedroom at night your body is synced up with restful feelings.
7. Keep a wake up and bedtime routine, even on the weekends. This goes a LONG way to supporting your natural cortisol and melatonin curves. When your hormones are harmonized with your daily circadian clock it helps cue sleep because your body will be expecting sleep each night about the same time.
~ Need more sleep and still want to be a responsive parent? Read more here.
Unwind into better sleep ~ Gentle sleep solutions for baby and parents
To a Confident, Sexy, Love filled life! Kimberly Lindsay, BA, CPCC, ORSCC, IBCLC
Mental Fitness Coach for Spiritual & Creative Moms:
Who are ready to ditch their saboteurs so they can show up
as the partner, parent, and person they want to be - getting back to self and back to roots.