Once upon a time, going to bed entailed little more than a face-plant onto the mattress – especially after a night out with friends. Back in the day, there was no getting-ready-for-bed routine; if you were tired, you simply crawled between the sheets (or collapsed on top of them) and conked out.
Oh, how things have changed.
These days, most of us boomers can’t make the nightly trip to the Land of Nod until certain prerequisites have been met and rituals performed, including (but not limited to):
Getting ready to get ready for bed
This means not eating for at least two to three hours before bedtime (especially if you have acid reflux), and staying off electronic devices for at least an hour before (since the blue light can mess with your melatonin levels and disrupt sleep). You also should have gone without caffeine since your morning cup of Joe.
Taking bedtime medication
This can include swallowing a statin, certain blood pressure drugs, a baby aspirin, a sleep aid and any other meds or supplements you’re directed to take at bedtime.
P.M. beauty regimen
Washing one’s face – using an anti-aging cleanser, of course – is just the start. From there, the routine – and product line-up – includes eye makeup remover, toner, serum, retinoid cream, night-time facial moisturizer and night-time eye cream.
Some of us also feel compelled to periodically apply heavy-duty moisturizer to hands and feet, which can require wearing special gloves and booties to protect the sheets while the emollient is absorbed overnight.
Nighttime dental hygiene
The duties in this department include: floss and brush teeth, use a mouth rinse to prevent enamel erosion and/or mouth dryness, apply a special paste to reduce tooth sensitivity, and insert a dental guard to protect against teeth-grinding during sleep.
Preparing the home for bedtime
Certain tasks around the house must be completed before retiring for the night. These include:
- Check the perimeter to ensure that doors and windows are securely locked
- Turn off lights and appliances and make sure nightlights are turned on
- Clean the cats’ litter box
- Give cats their bedtime treat and enough food to satisfy nocturnal feeding urges (and reduce the chances they’ll start meowing in the middle of the night)
- Hide cat treats in the microwave so they won’t jump on the counter to get at them during the night
- If you have a dog, have them do their business outside as close to your bedtime as possible in the hope they’ll make it through the night without having to go out
- Check perimeter again (especially if you have a touch of OCD – right, honey?)
Creating a proper sleep environment
Because a good night’s sleep is often elusive at our age, careful preparation of our sleep environment to optimize the sleep experience is essential:
- In winter, refill and start the bedroom humidifier (to counteract the dryness from having the heat on which wreaks havoc with sinuses)
- Pull down the blackout shades
- Make sure flashlight is within arm’s reach
- Turn down the thermostat
- Turn on the ceiling fan to assuage hot flashes
- Turn down the coverlet/quilt/comforter to prevent overheating/night sweats
- Substitute wedge pillow for regular pillow (for those of us with acid reflux)
- Insert earplugs and/or turn on white noise machine
- Put on sleep mask
Oh, and don’t forget to empty your bladder before getting into bed; it probably won’t eliminate the need to get up and pee during the night, but it might reduce the number of bathroom trips.
Seriously? Given the nightly rigmarole so many of us boomers go through, it’s no wonder the sexperts recommend we get it on during the day (for nighttime ambience, just leave the blackout shades down). Besides, how sexy do you feel – or look – wearing a dental guard, booties, gloves, earplugs and a sleep mask anyway?
Getting it on at
night now means face cream, mouth guard
and earplugs. Hot stuff.
So, what about you? What steps are part of your bedtime ritual – and how has that ritual changed since you’ve gotten older?