SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Health has been on the minds of many since the pandemic started, but one aspect that oftentimes gets overlooked is sleep.
Getting to bed is an activity that seems like it should be easy to do. And even though adequate sleep is crucial, for many bedtime isn’t always easy.
“It affects your physical ability, it affects your mental ability, affects everything that you do throughout the day, that sleep awake cycle,” Susan Illg said.
Family life specialist Susan Illg says a good bedtime routine can make all the difference when it comes to actually falling asleep.
“You’re going to have your routine as a parent, you’re going to have your routine as a child. And so you’re going to help model that routine for your child. You’re going to help them understand the value of getting this routine because sleep is very, very important,” Illg said.
Heather Krause and her husband follow a strict routine with their 3-year-old son. They’ve been doing it since he was born.
“I would rock him in the rocking chair and feed him a bottle or breastfeed him. And my husband would sit on the floor and read to us,” Krause said.
To this day, she says reading books before bed is still a part of her son’s bedtime routine, along with bath time and dimmed lights.
Experts also recommend shutting off screen time about 45 minutes to an hour before bedtime.
Illg says routines provide predictability, leading to more calmness when it’s time for sleep.
“What you don’t want is you don’t want to have an overly tired child because you think, Oh, they’re going to be so tired that their head is just going to hit the pillow and they’re going to be asleep. That’s not what happens,” Illg said.
In fact, she says an overly tired child or adult can actually have a tougher time falling asleep.
“We would try, like, we let him stay up a little later. I’ll sleep longer in the morning and that never worked. He would always wake up earlier than he usually did. And so we really learned that like, if he goes to bed on time, he’ll stay asleep throughout the night, he’ll sleep longer in the morning,” Krause said.
But when life happens and routines get interrupted, don’t be too hard on yourself.
“Don’t beat yourself up as a parent, just say, okay, you know what, we’re going to do the best we can for tonight. And then tomorrow we’re going to try and do, do better,” Illg said.
Illg says parents can also experiment with different bedtimes for their child, watching for natural cues as to which bedtime works best for them.