Adults Need Bedtimes Too!

by | Jun 28, 2022 | gsr, Libido | 6 comments

Adult Bedtime Routine

Adults need bedtimes, too. Seriously.

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!

This week our new, revamped edition of my Boost Your Libido course launched, and I was looking at all the things that go into feeling a desire for sex. And for so many of us, some basic things disappear when we don’t go to bed at a decent hour, and we don’t go to bed together.

First, we get tired, and exhaustion is one of the biggest libido killers. Mental load certainly adds to exhaustion, but so does just plain sleep deprivation! For so many of us, talking and touching starts our libido going, but if we’re separate, that’s not going to happen.

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 either at 10:30 when the local TV news ended or at 11:15 after Johnny Carson’s monologue was over on The Tonight Show.

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.

But 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.

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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. (And also–if you tell him you don’t want him to do that, and he still does it, that’s a problem. If he has intercourse with you while you’re sleeping, that’s also sexual assault).

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.

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. Researchers say it’s best to have at least an hour of non-screen time before turning in. Read a book. Talk. Have a cup of tea. Relax together!

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:

Child’s Bedtime Routine

  • Snack
  • Bath
  • Story
  • Song
  • Prayers
  • Kiss good night

What if we could do the same thing for our marriages?

What if setting up an adult bedtime routine could help you both adjust to going to bed at the same time?

After all, one of you is likely more of a morning person and one of you is likely more of an evening person, but a lot of that is also what we’ve trained our bodies to do. And both of you likely do have to get up in the morning at a specific time.

So let’s say that you have to get up at 6:30, and you want at least 7 1/2 hours of sleep. That means getting to sleep at 11:00. So you want to be off of screens by 10:00. So what if you could set up a routine that you did together that helped you sleep better, but also helped you spend time together and transition to bedtime together. Just spending that time together, and touching, and talking, is likely to help with your libido too!

So what could a bedtime routine look like?

 

Adult Bedtime Routine

  • 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
  • Share your most defeated/most in the groove moments of the day to connect emotionally
  • Snuggle
  • Pray
  • Initiate Sex (!) (here’s some tips for husbands initiating sex too!)
  • Sleep

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.

Now, you don’t have to use the things that I’ve suggested. You may have other elements you’d add to a bedtime routine! That’s totally okay. But right now the only thing bringing some people to bed is that they fall asleep on the couch, and eventually wake up and move.

Not good.

I’ve written before to women whose husbands played video games all night about how to build more relationship time. Instead of focusing on telling him to play fewer video games, what about focusing on what you want to do instead? 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.

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 maybe we can reclaim the power of an adult bedtime!

Adult Bedtime Routine

Let me know: What time do you go to bed? Do you have a regular bedtime? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

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6 Comments

  1. Nessie

    For years we went to bed at the same time, but my husband refused to talk to/with me. He would interrupt me by grabbing my breasts or crotch, fall asleep while I was talking, or he would wake me up from my sound sleep by grabbing me. So unloving and unChristlike.

    I had extreme sleep exhaustion for years due to his actions, and am slowly retraining myself how to sleep through the night. Moving out of our bedroom a couple years ago was a life-saver for me.

    All that to say, it doesn’t always follow that going to bed at the same time will be helpful. I understand we are an anomaly. I keep our son with ASD on a consistent bedtime routine and it has been a huge help- makes sense adults would benefit as well!

    I wonder if planning a “cheat night” would help some people? I think some people feel too restricted or predictable if they plan to ALWAYS do the same thing every night- so maybe having a built in “Friday night we can stay up later” plan makes it easier to transition to this new routine?

    Reply
  2. Noel

    I get this, conceptually. Practically, my husband wants to go to bed (as in sleep) at 8:30, if my kids go to bed before 9, they will be up before 6. And most days the only time I have to be quiet by myself is after they go to bed. I only have 3 kids and they are good kids, but I am an introvert and sometimes I literally want to just listen to silence. Our compromise is that I go in and spend time with my husband before he goes to sleep, then I put the kids to bed, then I have a little time.

    Reply
  3. A2bbethany

    I feel like I’m similar to both Nessie and Noel’s comments, but still different. Most of the week, hubby leaves for work at bedtime and I have a newborn and toddler to put down. Then I need an hour of quiet before sleep! On the 2 nights that he’s home for the night, he puts toddler to bed as bonding time. And I can breathe a little bit on those nights…..but also our tiny window for intimacy of any kind.

    I’m trying to find a place to put teeth brushing back into a daily routine, but he’s always crying!(baby)
    We have a normal bedtime that works for the kids, but I would like more sleep in the morning. He wakes me up for the day at 6-630 when it was 7-730, and I really miss that hour.
    I’m one of those people who requires 8-9 hrs of sleep. And when I get it in the evening rather than later mornings, I really feel the difference.
    Currently bedtime is just an interesting time of praying they fall asleep! (My first one had a notorious period refusing sleep til midnight.)
    And I LOVE napping at least 30min, but now that’s erratic.

    Reply
    • A2bbethany

      *In the cheat night suggestion*

      Reply
  4. Angharad

    We don’t have a set bedtime due to how variable our days are. But we have a kind of routine where he showers first and then has some reading time, while I have reading time and then bath, so we both end up going to bed at pretty much the same time as each other even if the time varies from night to night.

    If one of us has to be up earlier than usual in the morning, we both try to get up earlier, so that we are in sync with each other. When we don’t, it’s so much harder to connect.

    We mostly sleep in the same bed unless one of us is poorly or very restless. But I have friends who always sleep in separate rooms due to them both snoring loudly. They have a routine of spending time together just before they go to sleep, and say the whole ‘my room or yours?’ conversation helps keep the romance alive for them! So sleeping separately doesn’t have to mean a lack of romance or time to connect.

    Reply
  5. Amy

    I get what you are saying, however when I was married going to bed at the same time was used as a weapon. I worked a full time job and then was expected to do all the housework when I got home (because he demanded that housework was the wife’s job…), so I had no time to myself. I also had no place in the house that was “mine.” On the rare occasion that I could go to bed before he did just to get some time for myself, I was accused of being a bad wife because we were supposed to go to bed at the same time. And, the going to bed at the same time message was typically tied to me giving him obligation sex.

    So, in the right circumstances, going to bed at the same time can be wonderful, however just like other good things, there’s a risk of it being used as a tool of abuse.

    Reply

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