Establishing a Bedtime Routine

Establishing a Bedtime Routine

I am such a creature of habit. I think it’s mostly because I usually end up sidetracked and thinking about other things while I’m trying to get ready in the mornings or when I’m getting ready for bed. It’s my habit each night to do three things – take out my contacts, wash my face, and brush my teeth (actually, make that four – I’m adding flossing!). There are some nights I am so tired, I have to count off how many I have done because that’s the only way I can remember if I’ve gotten through everything.

Sleep is such an important part of health, that starting with the routine that gets you into bed in a timely manner makes sense. Nearly everyone does best with 7-8 hours of sleep. Children and teenagers may need more, and some people can get by with less. (Whether they would do better with 7-8 hours of sleep bears experimentation.) I recommend that you start with the following: brush your teeth (and floss), remove your makeup (if you wear it) and wash your face (moisturize if you need to). Time yourself on how long that takes you for a few nights.

To figure out what time you need to go to bed, start with your waking time and subtract 8 hours. If 8 hours seems like too much to start with, look at how many hours you have been getting on average and add 15 or 30 minutes. (You’ll continue to add time to your total sleep time each week until you get to about 8 hours.) Once you have your bed time calculated, subtract how long it takes you to do your bedtime routine. That will give you a time to shoot for each night to start winding down for the evening.

If you’re finding that you’re not tired when it’s time for bed, there are a few things you can try. If you drink caffeine, try cutting back or stop drinking caffeinated drinks a little earlier in the day. You might also try turning the tv and/or computer off a little earlier in the evening and read instead. The blue light emitted by electronics can interfere with the melatonin, which causes drowsiness and lowers body temperature to prepare you for sleep. Avoid excitement or stimulation – if you choose to read instead of watch tv, it’s probably not the best night to get started on that bestselling murder mystery novel.

If you have other things you want to add to your routine, the easiest way to add something new is to piggy back it on to something you’re already doing. Case in point – I want to add flossing to my nightly routine. I’m going to experiment a bit on whether it’s better to add it before or after brushing my teeth. For me, it’s about where to put the new task so I don’t forget – but for sure it’s going to be attached to brushing my teeth. It wouldn’t make sense for me to tie it to anything else in my routine, but it depends on what you’re adding. If you were trying to add moisturizing your face, then you would want to tack that on after washing your face.

I’m always telling people to ‘be nice to your future self’. If it helps you to remember everything, when you start your bedtime routine set everything out you’ll need. In my case, I’d pull out the toothpaste (my toothbrush is stored on the counter), contact case and solutions, makeup remover, and facial cleanser. I put them away as I go, so there’s another clue as to what I have and haven’t done yet.

How much sleep do you usually get? (Is it a ‘season’ – e.g. new mom – or is that your usual amount?) What suggestions do you have that to help establish a new routine?


Sewist, knitter, reader, dancer. Wife. Lover of things vintage and retro.


  1. […] Establishing a Bedtime Routine October 8, 2014 […]

  2. I get 6-7 at night and a 2 hour nap. I get extremely irritable at 7 hours, tolerable at 8, and happy at 9 hours, so I and my family make sure I don’t get less!! I am, however, extremely flexible in my sleep. I can sleep anywhere, at any time, with only the slightest warning. After having kids it’s less true – I do best if my kids are actually asleep, I worry otherwise – but I can sleep in the car if they fall asleep in the car (oh, target parking lot. We love you.)

    • I usually wake up around 7 1/2 on my own if I’m well rested. But I’m like you – I can sleep almost anywhere. 🙂 when riding in the car especially!

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