Adults need bedtimes, too. Seriously.
It’s Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! Right now, as I told you earlier this week, I’m in Vancouver, with my dad in a hospital as we spend his last days on earth together. So since I don’t have time to write a post, I thought I’d rerun this important one–about why we need to start implementing our own bedtimes!
I have talked to thousands of couples over the last few years at marriage conferences and at events, and I keep hearing stories about how “we never talk”, or “we never do anything together”, or even, “our sex life is almost non-existent.” And when I start probing and asking questions, I often find a very similar story:
We don’t go to bed at the same time.
I would venture to say that in most homes today, after dinner is over various family members separate to their own screens–either the computer, or the TV, or the video game system. She may be on her iPad, and he’s playing video games. And eventually somebody gets tired and heads to bed, but the other person doesn’t join them for several hours.
And we wonder why we feel disconnected!
I remember reading the Little House on the Prairie series of books with my kids, and one thing that always struck me was how early everyone got up. Pa was up before the sun to get the farm ready for the day. But the reason he was able to get up that early without an alarm was that he went to bed with the sun, too. Anthropologists estimate that most people, 150 years ago, got about 9 1/2 hours of sleep a night. Turning in at 8:30 or 9 was quite normal.
With the advent of electricity we started staying up later, because we could still be productive even after the sun went down. But I remember as a child that most people still went to bed at 11. When I was in high school most of my friends certainly did, and the reason was simple: all the good TV shows ended at 11. We only had a few channels, after all, and news started to come on at 10. By 11 it was all news, or else boring old movies. So there was nothing really to keep you awake.
But just as electricity pushed bedtimes back, now computers have virtually eliminated them altogether.
Because of the internet and video games you can do the exact same thing at 1:30 in the morning as you can do at 8 in the evening. And it sucks us in.
And people, it has to stop.
How are you going to keep a marriage alive if you scatter at night? How can you nurture your marriage if you never have down time just to talk? Keith and I spend a lot of time just chatting at night in bed–or even getting ready for bed. It’s an important bedtime ritual, to spend the last few moments of the day holding each other. And I’m not just talking about sex, either. Sure, it’s going to be harder to connect sexually if you’re not in bed at the same time. But it’s harder to connect AT ALL, too.
I get told by many women, “I go to bed at 11, and he follows around 1 or 2. And then he wakes me up because he wants sex.” That’s really difficult.
It used to be that EVERYONE had a bedtime–children did, but their parents did, too. If you needed 8 1/2 hours of sleep, and you had to get up at 6:30, then you went to bed at 10. It was quite simple, and quite civilized.
Let’s get back to adult bedtimes!
I know it’s not possible for everyone when shift work is involved, and I’m not talking about you here. I know that’s a difficult lifestyle, and my husband and I have lived it our whole married life, too.
Or perhaps your problem is snoring–your husband snores, so you have to get to sleep first. Or maybe you sleep in different rooms because of it. If so, I’ve heard that these mouth guards really can help reduce the problem (because those strips they sell at the drug store don’t work)–and as a wife of someone who snores at times, I know how important that is! So do try it, because you don’t want to be separated at night.
But many people ARE home together at night and snoring isn’t involved and they STILL don’t go to bed together.
And let me tell you–people do not sleep well when they turn in right after being on the computer.
When parents are having a hard time getting children to go to sleep at night, what do experts suggest? Setting up a routine so that the child knows what’s coming and has that transition time between daytime and nighttime, so they are able to wind down. Maybe the routine looks like this:
- Kiss good night
On this blog we talk a ton about ways to improve marriage, from finding his love language to spicing up your sex life to learning to accept him. But I think probably one of the most fundamental things that we could do is just to go back to basics and to establish a bedtime routine for you and your husband!
Maybe it looks like this:
- Snack (or cup of tea together)
- Bath or shower together
- Read a chapter of a book or an article together out loud, or a Psalm
- Make love to your husband?!?
Different things lead up to sleep. That’s what makes it a routine–one thing follows another which follows another, which makes you ready for bed.
Right now the only thing bringing some people to bed is that they fall asleep on the couch, and eventually wake up and move.
Recently I wrote to women whose husbands played video games all night about how to build more relationship time. But one thing I said was that it’s very hard to just tell him, “I want you to stop playing by a certain time”, because that doesn’t seem reasonable when he’s having fun. If, instead, you said something like this: “how much sleep do you think we should get a night?”, and then say, “what’s a reasonable bedtime?” Then work backwards from there. Say, “I’d love to share a cup of herbal tea with you before we turn in every night,” or “I’d love to have a bath to unwind with you every night.” Then you’re giving him something you’d like to DO. And it’s far healthier to establish good sleeping habits when there’s a routine.
In fact, if you really want to pique his attention, try suggesting doing the 31 Days to Great Sex with him! Most men would love to have a more active sex life, and if you could commit to spending that time before bed every night for 31 days doing the reading and the exercise, you may find that you can start a new routine of climbing into bed together that will last far beyond the 31 days.
So talk to your husband about this! And if you’re on Facebook right now when you’re reading this and it’s after midnight, stop it. Get off. Get to bed. You need your sleep. He needs his sleep. You need your together time. Get a bedtime routine. Our ancestors did it, and they were far more productive and well rested and well rounded than we are!
Let me know: What time do you go to bed? Do you have a regular bedtime? Let’s talk in the comments!