a peek inside the fishbowl

30 Nov, 2016

Why is it so hard to go to bed at bedtime?

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

So, as you can see, I’m still thinking a lot about habits. In this post I listed a few of the healthy habits I have on the go right now. Some are new, some are old, but the one thing they have in common is that they seem to be working for me. Stressors aside, I have been feeling pretty good lately. I’ve also lost five niggling pounds over the past few weeks, so that may have something to do with it as well i.e. the fact that my pants aren’t squeezing the life out of me is making me happier/less grumpy overall.

Of the whole list, I think my going to bed at bedtime habit (a new habit!) has made one of the biggest, most positive changes in my life. It’s kind of a no brainer. I can’t even believe I’m writing this, actually, because we all KNOW we need more sleep. We all KNOW we need to get ourselves to bed at a decent hour. We KNOW that if we are tired we are crabby, and eat more. And if we’re tired we don’t do things like take the dog for a long walk, make it to yoga class, or tick things off our to-do lists.

Why is it so easy to tell our kids to go to bed, but so hard for us to do it?

Part of my epiphany goes back to that Gretchen Rubin book about habits I’ve been reading. Early in the book, she talks about owls and larks. (That is, people who like to stay up late v. people who function better in the morning.) Well, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m actually more a lark than a night owl. Although I certainly don’t lo-o-o-ve getting up from my warm bed in the morning, for some reason I am motivated to get stuff done at this time: I jump on the treadmill, use my Litebook, and get some writing done. (Also, coffee.)

So, back to bedtimes. Since I don’t exactly leap out of bed every  morning, I thought maybe, MAYBE it might be a tiny tiny bit easier if I went to bed on time.

Here’s something else. This might sound weird, but I found it easier to tell myself to go to bed at 10 every night than to simply tell myself I need more sleep. With an actual time as a bedtime, I’m able to eliminate a lot of internal arguments I used to have with myself. With a 10 p.m. bedtime, I can say, without question, IT IS BEDTIME. It’s my new rule.

Last night Emma and I went to the gym. I showered when I got back (it was around 8:30 p.m.), brushed my teeth, and changed straight into my pajamas. At 10 I went to bed with my book (WHAT A LUXURY) and read until I was tired. It was lights out by 10:45 or so.

Since I’ve been going to bed at 10, I’ve actually felt well-rested. (!)

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to figure this out. Do you have a bedtime? Are you an owl or a lark?

7 Responses to "Why is it so hard to go to bed at bedtime?"

1 | G

November 30th, 2016 at 8:27 pm


This is SO HARD! I need so much sleep (at least 8.25 hours to feel great) and need to get up early (5:30am) so going to bed for 9pm is such a struggle. I actually set a “Go to bed” alarm on my phone, which is tough to follow (there are so many books to read! shows to watch! blogs to read! dishes to clean! things to iron! etc. etc. etc.) I feel so much better the weeks I force myself to go to bed early and I KNOW I am a better person when I get all my hours, but it is so difficult to fight myself on it. 9pm is such a pathetic bedtime! :(

2 | Jacquelyn

December 1st, 2016 at 8:56 am


When my kids were much younger, I got into the habit of putting on my pj’s when they did. Then, having that step already done removed some of my resistance to stop what I was doing (TV or reading) and put myself to bed on time.

3 | KristaR

December 1st, 2016 at 9:01 am


Definitely a lark. I don’t leave for work until just after 9am and I get up early, work out for an hour and often have time for a quick grocery run, and or do some dinner prep before I leave the house. That being said, I am quite DONE by 9pm and am usually in bed by then.

4 | Claudette

December 1st, 2016 at 9:27 am


I have such a hard time staying UP at night (I love my early mornings more) that this is not a thing for me. Quite the opposite: the one night I do stay up is to watch the Walking Dead which ends at 10 and then of course I can’t sleep because….well you can imagine. The rest of the week I am in bed by 9ish, with or without a book, and have no trouble falling asleep by 10ish.

But I do know one thing, after 4 and a half years of my second child NOT sleeping through the night…I will never compromise not getting enough sleep, ever again. (Those years are still a nightmare to think about, lol). Everything looks better with a well rested mind and body, right? :)

5 | andrea tomkins

December 1st, 2016 at 10:24 am


I used to fight bedtime, or extend it because of something we were watching on Netflix. But after more than a few groggy mornings I realized (doh) that Netflix wasn’t going anywhere! I need to keep reminding myself that I need to take better care of myself. Because if I am out of whack, everyone around me is out of whack too. :)

6 | Misty Pratt

December 1st, 2016 at 2:14 pm


Just started reading Better Than Before. Having a hard time figuring out which type of person I am when it comes to habits…but it’s an interesting book, and I look forward to getting some tips! I am definitely a lark, but have trouble putting myself to bed when I get obsessed with a Netflix show :) It’s much easier when I’m in reading mode, because I tend to read in bed and get sleepy.

7 | Anne

December 5th, 2016 at 2:47 pm


Very timely post Andrea! I have been thinking about this too; I tell my daughter to go to bed in order to be rested the next day, and yet I stay up way too late. Maybe it’s because I feel like I have so little time to myself…I love those quiet hours after dark when the world is asleep. I always have. Thank goodness for coffee.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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