Why Are We So Tired?
Today’s families are faced with increased responsibility, causing parents and children alike to be busy all day and often late into the evening. Their days can be just as long as our adult day due to extracurricular activities and yet they require more rest. Many children are waking up around 6:00 a.m. and going to bed after 11:00 p.m. That means they get just seven or fewer hours of sleep. This is worrisome because older children require at least 8.25 hours of sleep on average and younger children require even more .
As adult parents juggling work, home responsibilities, and parenting, we find ourselves running from place to place well into the evening, often missing dinners for sports games. The whole family may be getting home late, tired, hungry and emotional. Yet what do we tend to do when we get home? Most of us grab something with a glowing screen and disengage from the real world as we enter into the social or other media realms. So many of us find ourselves scrolling on social media, when we need be winding down and connecting to our own experience, as well as our families.
Our children are watching us set the example, whether we are exhibiting healthy or unhealthy behaviors. They will continue to reach for the devices, if we normalize it. Being up late with bright screens also messes with the human brain rhythm, causing our brains to be wakeful, when we need them to do precisely the opposite. Our children are cumulatively exhausted, which can lead to attentional issues, difficulty in school, behavioral challenges and a teetering emotional wellbeing. In addition, we experience a sense of urgency, irritability, poor concentration and myriad other emotions that may be exacerbated by living in the digital era. If we can’t feel more peaceful and restful, how will we pass the torch to our kids?
A Mindful, Intentional Relationship with Bedtime
What if we can be slightly more mindful in the evening? What if making small, sustainable changes to the way we interact with our devices, our environment and our bodies, can prepare us to rest properly? What if we decide to commit to living, not just in a state of doing, or sleeping, but in a third state of restfulness. What if we diminish the drive of being constantly connected on our devices and instead make regular, deep connections with ourselves that feel gratifying and nurturing? My latest book My Yoga Workbook: Mindful Bedtime Habits is my answer to these questions. It includes yoga sequences, beautiful yoga cards with yoga pose coloring sheets, breathwork, art, short stories, ad libs, mindfulness tips, pro social activities and space for journal entries to help children and families establish their own #LifeLongHealthyHabits.
Armed with a bedtime ritual and mindful use of electronics, we can and will thrive. We can lead the next generation by modeling self care, passing on mindful habits and being present. Truly being there in the moment. Let’s get some rest. Let’s get connected.
1. Ritualize bedtime
If we made bedtime feel more special, we would all look forward to it more. Do you remember dreading bedtime when you were a child? The sense of missing out on something exciting caused me to beg my parents to stay up later. One more glass of water. One more story! Please! What if we can ease that feeling for ourselves and our families by making bedtime a beautiful ritual? The ritual needs a clear start, middle and end. That way when we are done, we can feel ready to let go of the day and give into rest, dreaming and recharging. The next three tips will explain my approach to ritualizing bedtime.
2. Put devices in another room
To begin the ritual, put all devices away. In my family, they go in the kitchen. When we can’t look at our notifications, emails or social feeds, we can connect to ourselves, our family and our environment. We can make the decision to leave the device in the other room, so the room we do enhabit nourishes us. Goodbye glowing screens, hello peaceful dreams.
3. Transform the space for rest
Dim the lights, turn on the electric candles, cue the diffuser, roll out the yoga mats, put on the quiet sounds that are soothing and create a womb-like space. The womb is a warm, contained place for growth and nurturing that feels safe. Can you create a peaceful space in your child’s room, your living room or any tiny nook of your home? When you and your family take part in setting up this part of the ritual, it will cue your minds to think of rest, connection and peace. Even if you have to fight them to try it out with repetition, you and your children will long for it! Even if you don’t have kids, build yourself a cozy space for peace.
4. Practice a short, relaxing yoga sequence
Using the sequence in My Yoga Workbook: Mindful Bedtime Habits, familiarize yourselves with the 5 poses. Then practice each one for 10-20 breaths. Mentally repeat the mantra from each pose, as you move and breathe with your children. If they need more input, use the short story to put the poses together, offer them the coloring mandalas or other activities to do. When you all feel complete, track your efforts. Check off what you did in the Daily Practice Journals at the end of the book to pause in acknowledgment for your hard work. Each person can carry their book to their bedside to close the ritual. Make sure to take a moment for gratitude.