A Smart-Home Bedtime Routine for Your Child
As a parent, your child’s bedtime might not be something you have thought about using your smart-home for, but for us, it has become another outside-the-box added benefit of going smart. The push for better sleep seems to be growing as shown through features such as Apple’s “Night Shift Mode” and Fitbit’s “Sleep Tracking.” Even Philips Hue has gotten into the game with their “White Ambiance” bulbs that can be tuned to glow warm at bedtime and fade slowly, and in the morning, fade-in to a more powerful cool white light, much like natural sunlight, allowing for a more relaxing, natural sleep routine. The National Sleep Foundation says:
“When you’re ready to begin the day, exposing your body to the sun will not only help alert the brain and set you in motion, it will also help you sleep later on. Have blinds or curtains that can cocoon you in darkness by night, but that you can easily pull back to bathe the room in sunlight when you wake. Before you start the day, spend some time in the light, and remember to give your body doses of sun throughout the day when possible.” Read this tip and more at sleep foundation.org.
One thing we sometimes fail to think about is how important a sleep routine is for our children. Things happen that constantly interrupt our child’s sleep routine, and these are sometimes unavoidable. These things include events that push past our designated bedtime, like going out to eat at a busy restaurant, visiting family or friends, sport events, etc. Let’s be honest, though. After a long day, we may just want to relax a minute before we put our little munchkins down for the evening. Perhaps you are enjoying watching your child kick a ball or build with blocks. Sometimes, to be honest, I am just dreading the bedtime tussle. Whatever the case, sleep routine for our children is vital to their development. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 11-14 hours of sleep for Toddlers (1-2 years) and even more for infants and newborns.
Many publications suggest that bedtime rituals can help your child form great sleep habits. Taking a bath, brushing teeth, reading a book, and singing a song in the same order and at the same time every night is an example of a sleep ritual. These rituals can become habit forming in no time, and your child will begin to understand what they mean and take comfort in bedtime.
So how can we incorporate our smart-home into our children’s sleep rituals? Other than the obvious adjustments to lighting and sound, a simple way to start is set an indicator light signaling that it’s bedtime. In my house, I have installed some Philips Hue light-strips behind our wall mounted television and inside the ceiling in our child’s playroom tent. With the use of the great application IFTTT and our Philips Hue Light Strips, I have created a schedule that will at 7:15 pm change the lights to red indicating that we have fifteen minutes until we need to begin our bedtime routine, and then after the fifteen minute time elapses, the same lights begin to blink on and off indicating that it is now time to go upstairs to start bed time. This does two things for us, it gives our child a little warning that it is time to clean up toys and put things away (a great first bedtime ritual), and it alleviates the abrupt bed- time fight, and consequently it takes our role as the mean parent completely out of it. When the light tells us to, …it’s bed time. If your child is anything like our little boy, he or she might actually simply inform you that it is bed time. In a way, it has turned into a fun game for our child, and he has begun to anticipate when the bedtime lights will begin to flash.
Sometimes shedding a little light can help remind us of what is important in life, the health and well being of our children. For step-by-step directions on how to set up this recipe in IFTTT (a free app you can download in the app store), click here. Here’s to becoming a “Smart Parent.”