Bedtime Rituals by
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Prompted By Sleepy Time

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As a child, I remember being told, “go to bed.” This meant brush your teeth and use the bathroom. Whether or not my parents read to me is a lost memory. If I had trouble falling asleep, the remedy was a glass of warm milk.

The first actual bedtime rituals I remember were for my children. Once they were ready, my husband and I read to them every night, even when they were old enough to read themselves. This was precious time for me, and hopefully for them. As teens, they often went to bed much later than we did, but our youngest did have some issues falling asleep and needed music or television to ease her into sleep.

Now, going to bed is a production for me. Pills to take, special face wash followed by nighttime skin cream. Tooth brushing and flossing, waterpik, and mouth rinse. Hearing aids removed and cleaned. Volteren gel for the bone spur on my toe. Hand cream. Night guard for my teeth. I’ve probably forgotten something, as I usually do. It feels like it takes forever for us to get into bed. Then, it takes a book or boring television show (Finding Your Roots is perfect) to actually fall asleep. I guess this is the equivalent of the bedtime stories I read to my kids.

I miss the days of quickly washing my face, brushing my teeth, and falling into bed. Oh well … sweet dreams until I wake up three hours later and drift in and out of sleep for the rest of the night.

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: funny, moving, well written


  1. Marian says:

    LOL, Laurie, as you will see when you read my story. We are on the same page with pills, night guards, and the like. You are right, it does take forever to get prepared for bed. I still long for the old days when it was simpler.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    I’m with you, Laurie. I have many of the same rituals as you at bedtime (I think I take more pills and use more face creams). There is something about aging that makes us more vulnerable to less sleep I fear, but at least we try!

  3. Susan Bennet says:

    I’m heartened by the shared bedtime rituals of ‘Specters like you, Laurie. (I wish you better sleep.) Overnight I went from being a one-pill woman to a taker of three. How did this happen? I feel insulted, but by whom is not clear.

  4. Suzy says:

    I’m with you about not remembering any bedtime rituals in my childhood, but vividly remembering them with my kids. I loved the books I used to read to them, and still keep many of them because they are too dear to part with.

    Sorry that your bedtime ritual now is so time-consuming. Mine got much shorter when I stopped wearing contacts, because that was the most lengthy part of my ritual. Now it’s just flossing and brushing.

  5. John Shutkin says:

    Of course, I am not surprised that you read to your kids at bedtime; exactly what I would expect from a lifetime early childhood educator such as you, Laurie.

    And condolences on your own current pre-bed activities. Sadly, most of these are not mere “rituals” at our age; they’re pretty much necessities. But at least better than the alternative, right?

  6. Khati Hendry says:

    They say having a bedtime ritual is helpful for regular sleep—but who came up with the ones we now go through? Those childhood bedtime stories sound like a nice alternative now.

  7. Dave Ventre says:

    So far I am mercifully free of necessary pre-flight preparations before retiring. My wife, however, needs a few, mainly due to her disc problems.

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