What's new --- thought  about sleep !

Let's talk about SLEEP -- or The lack thereof

Many time during an office visit I witness parent's frustration about their baby's or child’s problems sleeping. I become aware that a new mom one of the hardest things to deal with is a lack of sleep. When we get the rest we need because we have learned how to get our baby sleeping, we are much better able to cope with such things as infant fussiness or colic.

There are many websites which offer "counseling" and guidance for parents on how to help improve their baby's or child's sleep. Let's make sure that you know the basics about SLEEP.

One of those websites lists some useful facts:


Baby Sleep Facts

  • Babies need a dark, cool and quiet sleep environment. Melatonin (the sleep hormone) is only prouced when the individual is in a dark room. 

  • The quality and time of their naps are more critical than the length of their naps.

  • The more babies sleep, the more they want to sleep.  Sleep begets sleep.

  • Restorative sleep does not take place when a baby is in motion.

  • A morning nap is mentally restorative, while an afternoon nap is physically restorative.

  • Babies from the age of 4 months need to sleep when their biological or circadian rhythms dictate.

  • Babies need consistency concerning the time of their naps and the soothing routine associated with their naps.


Another source suggests:

Tips for Improving Your Child's Sleep

  • Establish a regular time for bed each night and do not vary from it. Similarly, the rising time should not differ from weekday to weekend by more than one to one and a half hours.

  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine, such as giving your child a warm bath or reading a story.

  • Do not give children any food or drinks with caffeine less than six hours before bedtime.

  • Make sure the temperature in the bedroom is comfortable and that the bedroom is dark.

  • Make sure the noise level in the house is low.

  • Avoid giving children large meals close to bedtime.

  • Make after-dinner playtime a relaxing time as too much activity close to bedtime can keep children awake.

  • There should be no television, radio, or music playing while the child is going to sleep. TV and video games should be turned off at least one hour before bedtime.

  • Infants and children should be put to bed when they appear tired but still awake (rather than falling asleep in their parent's arms, or in another room). Parents should avoid getting into bed with a child to get them to sleep.

Another source:

Children's sleep is essential to their growth, development, and emotional well-being (as well as to a parent's psychological well-being).  Below are eight tips to help to improve your child's sleep.


1) Have a bedtime routine.

A bedtime routine helps your child to transition from the day's activities to sleep. Have the same bedtime routine every night, whether it involves a bath, teeth brushing, and reading a story, or singing a song while sitting with Mom or Dad.

2) Have a set bedtime and wake-up time (even on weekends).

A child's internal clock helps them to get sleepy and feel awake at specific times during the day.  If you allow your child to sleep in on the weekends, that will make it more difficult for your child to wake up at the regular time during the school week.  Similarly, if you allow your child to stay up late at night on weekends, he/she will have a harder time falling asleep at the regular bedtime on school nights.

3) Make your child's room a relaxing and comforting place.

Often parents will send a child to their room or bed as a punishment.  If this occurs, a child will begin to think of going to bed as a bad thing that happens if he/she misbehaves. Instead, you want the child to think of bed as being a relaxing and comforting place that the child goes to when the child is tired. Put your child in time out or take away a privilege as a punishment but do not send your child to bed early. If you need to put your child in a timeout, don't use the child's room as a time-out location.

4) Don't do anything energizing close to the bedtime.

This includes watching a stimulating movie or reading an exciting book. You want the child to relax, not get energized right before bed.

5) Teach your child how to self-soothe and fall asleep independently.

There is nothing that I enjoy more than cuddling my kid in a snug bed.  But if your goal is to have your child sleep in his/her bed, then you need to help your child learn how to fall asleep without you being present. If you are always present when your child falls asleep at night, your child will begin to depend on your presence to help him/her to fall asleep. Instead, put your child to bed when he/she is sleepy but has not yet fallen asleep and leave your child's room before he/she falls asleep. This allows your child to associate sleepiness with his/her bed and also allows your child to learn to self-soothe.

6) If your child has a hard time falling asleep without you (and you want your child to be able to sleep           in his/her bed), send your child to sleep with something that smells like you.

You could sleep with one of your child's stuffed animals for a few nights or put a t-shirt that you wore on one of your child's stuffed animals. Then have your child sleep with the stuffed animal.  This way your child will smell you when your child needs comfort. Eventually, your child will begin to associate comfort with the stuffed animal (even if it doesn't have your smell on it).

7) Make sure that your child is getting enough sleep.

Many times parents are unclear about just how many hours of sleep a child needs. Parents know that kids need more sleep than most adults, but are unaware of just how many hours a child needs.  The National Sleep Foundation has a great chart that explains the sleep needs of kids of various ages: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

8) Avoid giving your child caffeine close to bedtime.

This may seem obvious, but caffeine close to bedtime will make it more difficult for your child to fall asleep.