Even Mommy Needs a Good Bedtime Routine


bedtime routines and healthy sleep

Let’s talk about the one thing that seems to illude us mamas the most, SLEEP.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and also Better Sleep Month, which means getting a good night’s sleep should be number one on our list of priorities as busy mamas to improve our overall mental and physical health.

And the way to help get a good night’s sleep … well … it’s probably not what you think.  

Every parenting book will tell you that it is essential to establish a set bedtime routine for your children to ease them into a peaceful slumber and to help ensure they get a good night’s sleep and wake rested, rejuvenated, and ready for a new day of childhood adventures. When my kiddos were little — they’re all grown now —  it was the standard: snack, bath, book, rock/soothing music, prayer time, good night hugs and kisses, and lights out. I am not crazy enough to say this went smoothly every night, but most nights, when we followed this after our routine was well established, it went fairly well.  

Even right here, PMC has recently published great articles for you to learn how to help your kiddos. Check those out right here:

Establish a Good Bedtime Routine in 5 Easy Steps

Spring Forward: Navigating the Time Change

Here’s the thing, though … our children are not the only ones who need a bedtime routine to promote healthy sleep cycles …WE, their busy mamas, desperately need one too. 

Sleep is essential…not to be sacrificed!

Sleep is essential to our overall wellness, yet it is often the first thing we are willing to sacrifice. Quality sleep impacts mental clarity and mental health; it increases your body’s ability to hydrate and absorb nutrients properly; it decreases the likelihood of getting sick; it improves metabolism, gut health, immune health, and on; and just all in all, it keeps us from being grumpy.

According to the National Institutes of Health, poor sleep can also increase the risk of anxiety, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Studies show that most people who establish a strong bedtime routine see vast improvements in all these areas and feel better and more capable of handling the trials and tribulations of adulting… especially parenting. But it’s not about getting enough sleep; it is about getting quality sleep. 

But why a “routine”?

But we’re the grownups, right? Certainly, we’ve outgrown the need for such “childish strategies” to help us sleep. I mean, our children’s bedtime routine is really for us parents, isn’t it, to help our darling babies drift off to a peaceful slumber so we can have a few moments of precious peace and some all-important alone time. Right? WRONG! The bedtime routine is just as essential for us grownups, if not more important. After all the millions of decisions, our adult brains make in a day, all the billions of electrical signals that fire through our many synapses, all the stresses, strains, and responsibilities we have navigated through, having a routine that is habitual signals the brain that it is time to rest, tap into your natural circadian rhythm, and release all those essential hormones that allow us to drift off into a deep and restorative sleep.

It’s quality over quantity.

Sleep quality is one of the most significant benefits of a well-maintained bedtime routine. When we follow a consistent routine every night, our bodies learn to associate these actions with sleep, which helps us fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, resulting in a more restful night’s sleep. A consistent sleep schedule can also help regulate your body’s natural circadian rhythm (internal clock), which controls your sleep-wake cycle. 

Why do you struggle when the alarm goes off, and you quickly reach to hit that snooze button? Because without a routine, our body does not have a regulated sleep-wake cycle, and it’s, frankly, confused and wants to default to what it knows it needs…sleep. What about when you wake in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep? Same thing; your body is confused and out of balance. It is that confusion that keeps you from sleeping. Humans are creatures of habit, and our brains naturally look for patterns. By establishing a bedtime routine, your brain will naturally relax and signal your body to release melatonin, helping you drift off and sleep soundly. 

Knock out stress.

A bedtime routine can also help to reduce stress levels. What mama doesn’t need that? Engaging in calming activities before bed, such as reading a book or taking a warm bath, can help relieve tension and anxiety often brought on by hectic days. When you establish a self-care routine, you create a sense of structure and predictability, which can help reduce those feelings of uncertainty and overwhelm. This, in turn, can help us fall asleep faster and wake up feeling refreshed in the morning.

Reducing stress levels can improve our overall health and reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, and depression. By taking time to engage in self-care activities before bed, we can get a good night’s sleep and improve our mental and emotional health. It can be hard enough being “on” all day as a busy mama.

Taking this time for yourself is not selfish. It is essential. 

Establishing a solid bedtime routine is a simple but effective way to improve your physical and mental health. By prioritizing your sleep and creating a sense of structure and predictability, you can reap the benefits of improved sleep quality, reduced stress and anxiety, increased productivity and focus, and better long-term health. As mamas, we are here for our children no matter their ages, and they deserve the best versions of us. Establishing a healthy bedtime routine can help you do just that.

Look for Part 2 of this series for helpful suggestions on ways to promote better sleep. 

For more information on building healthy sleep habits for yourself, check out these resources:

Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine: Get Sleep

HealthLine: Science Says Having a Regular Bedtime Is Healthy for Adults, Too

The Sleep Foundation: Bedtime Routines for Adults


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