Why is Sleep
for Babies and Children
by Sukkie Sandhu, M.Ed, Licensed Sleep Sense Consultant
I was pregnant with my first child, I envisioned my child
becoming accustomed to MY lifestyle. I fantasized about
having no disruption to my dinner parties, long afternoon
excursions and decedent coffee dates with my husband
and friends. My child would simply adjust to this way
of living, wouldn't he? He would easily become accustomed
to eating "on the fly," sleeping "on
the fly," essentially living "on the fly" (as long
as he was with me!) and everyone would be happy. Months
later, baby arrived and CRASH, BOOM, BANG... REALITY!
It didn't take me long
to realize the importance of consolidated sleep for my
child; meaning, not fragmented and uninterrupted. And
if he didn't get
it, he was a grumpy and irritable little bugger making
my dinner parties, long afternoon excursions and decedent
coffees a nightmare! When sleep deprivation sets in,
life in general becomes less rewarding for both parents
In fact, research shows that
children who don't get enough sleep can often present
as overactive or hyper, impulsive, emotionally liable
and moody. Their attention span and concentration is
compromised, making it difficult for them to retain information
and take in stimulus.
Children who are well rested
present as happy, alert, interested and ready to soak
up information. Additionally, as we sleep, growth hormones,
growth factors and immune regulators work together to
repair tissue, conserve energy and bolster our immune
system. For a baby, sleep provides the developing brain with much more nerve
stimulation than he or she would simply get from sensory stimulation.
After reviewing the research,
it was an easy decision for me to get my child the optimal
amount of sleep he required in order to function properly.
And, without saying, the days of sleeping "on the fly"
ended abruptly. Studies show that up to 30% of babies
have sleep problems and that 75% of parents would like
to change their babies' sleep habits.
Tips for Baby’s Sleep:
Choose an early bedtime. The
best time to put your baby or toddler to bed is sometime between 6 and 8 o'clock
in the evening. This ensures that your child will be able to get a solid 11-13
hours of sleep during the night. (And yes... that is how much sleep children
should be getting every night up to age 10).
Put your child to sleep in
the same place every night. Whether your child has a room of their own
or shares a room with parents or siblings, it's important
that you put your son or daughter to sleep in the same place every night
(and for naps during the day as much as possible). Putting your child to
bed in a familiar place lets them know they are safe and that they are in
a place where sleep is expected of them.
Create a predictable bedtime
routine. Consistency and predictability are really important to
babies and toddlers. When they know what to expect at
bedtime, it makes it much easier for them to make the
transition from waking to sleeping.
Put your baby to bed awake. If
you've been rocking, nursing or otherwise soothing your
baby to sleep, this is going to seem like a tough one... but it's actually
the most important step! It's only by letting your baby fall asleep
WITHOUT your help at bedtime that he or she can learn
the skills necessary to stay asleep through the night.
If your baby wakes during
the night, wait a few minutes before intervening.
Sometimes parents intervene too quickly, when in fact
a baby may be fussing because they are simply learning
how to go back to sleep on their own. They also may be
fussing as they switch into different sleep stages. Wait
and see. If the crying doesn't stop go in and offer reassurance.
If you are worried about your
child's sleep, feel free to contact me. I offer
individualized support as well as seminars on how to
get your child sleeping through the night.
Sukkie Sandhu, M.Ed,
Licensed Sleep Sense Consultant
by Beth Atkinson
Most of you may say, "I
sleep pretty well," but the vast majority are having
restless, sleepless nights. Chronic sleep disturbances
will affect your physical and mental health over time.
There are a myriad of reasons for sleep problems. To
name just to name a few: stress, illness, medications, hormones
What classifies as good sleep?
It is definitely different for each person, but let's
go with 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. So, now half
of you will say, well count me out because I toss and turn, I drink water
in the night or go to the bathroom. Quiet interruptions in your sleep are
not classified as giving you a bad night's sleep as long as you can get back
to sleep fairly quickly.
Is there an easy solution to
First, talk to your doctor. A simple blood test could
give you some answers.
Anyone out there who has experienced sleep issues knows
there is no cure-all. If there was, we would all be doing
it. I recently had the pleasure of doing a case
study for a patient who has sleep disturbances and we
came up with some really good coping methods. Perhaps
some of these will give you some insight.
Upon the start of the case study
we devised several adaptations to her day (listed below) and I also did several
relaxation massages with her over a number of weeks.
A Sample Sleep
We adjusted this schedule to
accommodate the patient's lifestyle. For example, wake and wind-down times
were adjusted by about a 30 minutes to an hour later, but the point was
to stay in a routine so we could identify some possible triggers.
awake time is 7:00 am to 7:00 pm
Wind-down time is 7:00 pm until 10:00 pm
Sleep 10:00 pm thru until 7:00 am (wake 6:30-7:00 am)
- Drink only one cup of coffee (or none) after 10:00 am.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes per day and try to achieve a sweat. No
strenuous exercise after 7:00 pm.
- Don't engage in
any stressful situations past 7:00 pm.
some time in the day breathing (10 minutes), each
time trying to not control you thoughts.
- Journal if
you have a really busy mind, right before bed – think of this as a
dumping off the stress into the journal and it's
out of your head.
- No TV or reading half an hour before bed, unless it is very relaxing
reading that would put you to sleep.
- Do not have big meals after 7:00 pm and no snacks
1 hour before bed.
- Hydrate well during the day, but stop drinking fluids a couple hours before
going to bed.
- No napping in the day! Night time will come
soon enough and you will make it through the day.
you wake up and find after a few minutes you are
struggling to get back to sleep, find a focal point
like a candle and get out of bed and do some relaxation
breathing and visualization. Don't lie in bed thinking,
"argh! I wish I could sleep, etc." It
is what it is and fighting it only makes it worse.
Accept it and think positively or practice some basic
meditation. Tomorrow will come and you probably will
be tired, but at least you had a nice moment while
you weren't sleeping instead of a cranky one.
After doing this for a while, the patient adapted some
of these things into her life and I think is more aware
of the triggers to a possible bad night's sleep. One
thing that the patient found particularly important was
to not nap during the day.
Writing down her daily activities
was also important for this patient. Important questions
that arose for her included: What time she ended up going
to bed, or having a snack? What was her state of mind?
What did she drink?
How much time was spent at the computer?
She would relate this to
the suggested schedule outlined above and then
record her sleep habits at night. She noticed that keeping
this diary helped her to recognize the effect her day
had on her sleep that night. Consequently this helped
her change some detrimental habits.
Sleep issues are usually chronic
and therefore take time to correct. Keep trying and journal
your results. When you look back at the results, I hope
you will see a steady improvement. Finally, here are
some points that I believe can contribute greatly to
alleviating sleep problems:
Being Present & Mindfulness: Most
of us function thinking about tomorrow. Try to take some
time for yourself and register what is going on right
now. It is amazing how little we know about this present
Boundaries: Demands on
us are high, but are we setting boundaries for ourselves?
We complain about having too much to do but why do we?
Who has said "yes" to
these demands? Are they really so important that we need
to lose sleep over them?
Multitasking: With the
dawn of the cell phone and "apps" we are expected to
be able to produce more results so much faster than before.
We also make ourselves available 24 hours a day, 7 days
a week. So when do we stop accepting projects, surfing
the web, Facebooking while making dinner, supporting
a friend in need, and watching the Oscars, while thinking
about getting a puppy all at the same time? That's a
tough one and really up to you, but I will tell you something
that we did and maybe you could try it too. My husband
turns off his "Crackberry" at
least twice a week in the evening. If anyone truly needs
him, they can phone him. My daughters and
I really appreciate it and have reconnected with him
so much more then when he was texting someone while giving
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