Evening routines have become tricky with teenagers in the home. As fatigue sets in and I crave my bedroom space, they seem to move in the opposite direction, refueled after dinner and ready to settle into their most social hours. Yes, hours. Mark and I have laughed at how many times our boys have plopped onto our bed with a big question just before 10 pm as our eyes flutter to keep awake. We find ourselves setting new, unexpected boundaries in this stage of parenting, including no critical conversations after 9 pm or all personal devices (including our own) tucked away in a basket at 9 pm. Of course, these boundaries are not always popular and can be challenging even for me, but protecting evening routines are crucial for healthy sleep habits and worth the effort.
Truthfully, as our family grows older, it seems more difficult to prioritize sleep in our home. As it turns out, we’re not alone. A quick internet search on sleep deprivation among adults, teens, or children will turn up pages of results with dismal statistics. How is it––when so much research shows the importance of sleep in connection with mental, emotional, and physical well-being––that we came to think of sleep as a dispensable luxury?
To help our children and teens establish healthy evening routines and sleep habits and maintain them ourselves, we do practice a few simple habits. We limit screentime and late-night important conversations that might be better heard during the day. We enjoy time unplugged together, like weekly game nights or time around the firepit, and have always encouraged a reading hour before bed to wind down our bodies and minds. We dim the lights, a practice that can be most challenging in the winter months when the dark arrives earlier and the gloom feels endless.
We also recently swapped all of the bedroom lightbulbs and reading lamps with Soraa Healthy LED bulbs. After learning more about the negative impact blue light can have on sleep rhythms and personal health, we were so excited to discover the only energy-efficient bulb with zero blue light! It blocks the light waves that inhibit melatonin production (the hormone that signals our brain to ease into sleep), the type of light that deters our bodies from sleep. I wish these bulbs had been around in my early years of mothering! Maybe it would have curbed all those last minute asks for water or for one more bedtime story. Wink.
With the increase in screens and artificial light in households, more research is cropping up on the ways blue light might be connected to sleep deprivation. In one particular study, research showed that “the blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).” As any sleepy parent or teen can attest, 90 minutes of more or less sleep can make such a difference! Yet these results are not just for teens. Another collection of studies found that 60% of women sleep less than the recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep a night, meaning most of the women in our lives (including ourselves) exist in a constant state of sleep deprivation. I realize there are pockets of time where sleep deprivation feels inevitable, but how many of us lose that needed sleep as a result of our screens and blue light in our homes?
Sleeping rhythms naturally change after puberty––I get it. I also know that before long each of my teens will be living in their own spaces, creating their own boundaries and lifestyles. For now, establishing healthy boundaries for our screens and filtering the light in our home with Soraa Healthy bulbs feels like a step in the right direction to protect our need for sleep.
This post is sponsored by Soraa Home, a business our family supports and loves. Images taken by myself or Hannah Walls for Cloistered Away. All thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that help keep this space afloat.