The Power Of Bedtime
For the first four months of my son’s life, we let him sleep whenever he felt like it. It didn’t matter whether it was noon after lunch or 3am, if he was up, he was up, and if he was going to sleep, then there was absolutely nothing we could do stop him. This was developmentally appropriate for a newborn.
After four months, we’ve become much more cognizant of his naps. We don’t want him to get too much but we also don’t want him to get too little. But the biggest reason is that he now has a bedtime.
Around 7pm, we begin to wind down. We eat a little bit, we bathe, we read books, we listen to music, we play gently and then eventually he gets put in his crib and he’s off for the night, sailing through dreamland until 7 or 8am usually.
We broke his habit of falling asleep whenever he wanted to by creating this bedtime routine. It seemed hard to believe that a baby would buy any of this, but the signals make him realize that he’s going to be asleep soon and so his mind starts to prepare. It’s almost like clock work at this point.
The funny thing is, there are some who never had a bedtime. And I find, anecdotally, that it is those people who have the hardest time falling asleep, or at least having a consistent bedtime.
Which bring us to an interesting point. We were supposed to have bedtimes as kids. When did we stop?
For me, it was high school and college. Since teenagers appear to be wired for night work anyway, I got into the habit. There were, of course, college nights spend staying up way too late writing a paper that was due the following day. Somewhere in there, I lost bedtime.
But I rediscovered it again recently. Sometimes when you’re in the 30’s, your mind just suddenly starts talking to you and telling you that it’s time to go to bed on time, or eat healthy salads every day. And it’s been telling you that since your mid-20’s but now you’re finally tuning and ready to obey.
And one day you start going to bed early around 10:30, so that you can wake up early because you have a job or kids or something, and then it becomes routine. So you eat dinner at 8:30pm. You take a shower and read. You play guitar. And, with all these singnals, your body starts to shut down perfectly, just like my son’s does at 8pm. Like clock work. No fighting insomnia, no bleary eyed Netflix binges… just wonderful, refreshing sleep.
Knowing what I know now about bedtime, like seeing the clouds from both sides… I’ll never go back.