Many kids really, really hate bedtime. They hate it so much, in fact, that they will go to almost any length to put it off.
Maybe you were one of those children. You asked for another drink or another story or another song. Perhaps you were in the habit of suddenly remembering a whole slew of things you just had to tell your parents before they tucked you in. You might have lingered in the bathroom or begged for just a few more minutes of watching television or playing video games or reading. Maybe you even had a few spots where you could lay low and hope that your folks would not remember it was time for you to go to bed.
As a general rule, however, parents tend to successfully overcome all of these tactics. In fact, if they got you into a regular routine, you may have found yourself moving steadily toward bed even when you thought you were not tired. A routine, after all, can be a powerful thing with its own momentum.
Now you are an adult. And let’s face it: You might still hate bedtime.
That could be the case for any number of reasons. Maybe you have insomnia and dread going to bed to toss and turn. Maybe you feel like you are just too busy to have a regular bedtime. You might even be engaging in something called “revenge bedtime procrastination.”
But if you are in recovery from a substance use disorder, getting enough restful sleep is a key way to support your ongoing sobriety. So it can be to your benefit to do what your parents might have done for you all those years ago: Establish a bedtime routine that will move you steadily toward sleep.
First Things First: Pick a Bedtime (and a Waking Time, too)
The foundation of any useful bedtime routine is…well…a bedtime. Ideally, you would also set a waking time so that you have a regular schedule that includes at least seven hours of sleep each night.
Having a set sleep schedule—one you follow even on weekends—can help your body and brain get into the habit of relaxing so that you can get the rest you need and wake up refreshed to start the new day.
This can be one of the most challenging parts of establishing an effective sleep routine because it is tempting to, for example, watch one more episode late at night or sleep in on the weekends. But getting into the rhythm of a regular sleep schedule is good for your physical and mental health—and your sobriety.
Additional Aspects of a Good Sleep Routine
While your sleep routine will be unique to you, there are some aspects of a good approach to getting the rest you need that are fairly universal.
For example, it is a good idea to make smart choices about what you eat and drink as your day progresses. As just one example, it is smart to limit the amount of caffeine you consume in the afternoon and evening. Too much caffeine makes it hard to sleep—and that can get you stuck in the wrong kind of routine as you use the stimulant to stay alert but it consistently disrupts your efforts to get enough rest.
Other aspects of a sleep routine that generally apply to everyone include limiting screen time in the hours just before your bedtime, keeping your sleep space uncluttered, cool, and dark, and ensuring that you don’t work or watch television in bed.
The more personal parts of your bedtime routine might include a relaxing bath or some light stretching. You might write in a journal or listen to some relaxing music. You could enjoy some herbal tea and a good book. The key is to give your brain and your body a regular pathway toward sleep.
You Might Have to Work at it—Just Like Your Parents Did
Establishing a good sleep routine is not necessarily easy, but the effort is worthwhile. Think back to the work your folks did to establish some regular, predictable patterns in the runup to your bedtime. Those routines helped you calm down and get the rest you needed. That approach can work for you as an adult as well. It might require a little patience to get the routine down pat and to stick with it, but you can train your brain and body to get with the program—and doing so firms up the foundation of your ongoing recovery.
When It Comes to Helping You Get Sober, We Are Always Alert
At Wooded Glen Recovery Center in Indiana, we are always ready to get to work helping you overcome a substance use disorder. We offer personalized care, treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders, and ongoing support once your recovery journey is underway. You can rest assured that we have the expertise, experience, and empathy necessary to help you reclaim your life from drugs or alcohol.