The Power of Sleep: Part II

Yesterday, I shared with you a chart showing how much sleep your little ones SHOULD be getting.  Are yours getting enough?

Often, behavior problems can be attributed to too little sleep.  Here are some tips on getting your little ones some good, long zzzzz’s:

-Dial it back slowly: If your kids currently go to bed at 10, don’t lose hope….you can re-train their brains to go to bed at 8.  Just do it slowly.  Dial back bedtime by 15 minutes each night. 

-Have a solid bedtime routine: Read about sleep routines for babies (also here) and kids on The Calm Mom.com.   Set a simple routine, and stick to it religiously, EVERY NIGHT. 

-Allow each family member to have their own place to sleep, all night: We all have our own views on sleep and I am crystal clear on mine.  I believe that each family member deserves to have their own place to sleep, all night long.  When babies and kids sleep with their parents, they are denied the opportunity to learn to fall asleep on their own — a skill we all need every night for the rest of our lives.  I often work with kids who are 10 or 11 or 12 and still sleep with parents (and by that age, no one is happy about it).  Trust me, it is way easier to teach a child to sleep independently at 6 months old than at 12 years old!  Furthermore, when kids come into parents’ rooms during the night, parents are denied the opportunity to get a good night sleep which they need to be calm during the day and do well at their jobs.  It can take some work to get kids to sleep independently, but it is worth it in terms of sleep quality for every member of the family. 

-Watch caffeine intake: In little kids?  YES!  Some small kids drink soda, iced tea, hot chocolate and even sips of parents’ coffee drinks.  All of these affect sleep and should be avoided. 

Do you have a sleep challenge you would like me to address?  Leave your comments here!

2 Responses to “The Power of Sleep: Part II”

  1. Sarah says:

    I have three boys ages 7, 4 & 4. I am a single Mom and unfortunately because finances are so tight, we live in a two bedroom apartment and the boys sleep in the same room. I have a heck of a time getting them to take me seriously at bedtime. The second I turn the light off and shut the door, they are up playing with toys, getting into things, talking and laughing. They usually take about 2 hours a night to finally fall asleep after getting up out of bed several times for the bathroom or to ask me a question, or water and so on. How do I break this pattern, what am I doing wrong? I’m sure they are exausted because I AM! They then also wake up before I do in the morning and I can’t seem to get that to stop either.

    • calmmom says:

      HI, This is a super question…not an easy one to solve, but here are a couple of thoughts. First, I might dial bedtime the bedtime routine back a bit. Do jammies, teeth, and then give them 20 minutes to be totally goofy with the door closed and you not in there. Then, some quiet reading and then lights out. You would be recognizing that they WANT this goofy time together (and it must be very tempting for three active boys!), but you would be incorporating it into the bedtime routine so that they don’t miss out on valuable sleep. Once you have lights out, I would give them each one “get out of bed free” card per night. This card would entitle them to a bathroom visit, a question to you, water or whatever. They would really have to think about how to use it because they only have one! And, here’s the neat part. Set up a point chart and if they DON’T use their card on a given night, they get a point in the morning. Once they accumulate a certain number of points (5 is a good place to start), they can select a reward. Even for people who are not financially strapped, I always recommend rewards that are not monetary like choosing what the family has for dinner one night, selecting the movie you will all watch on a Saturday night, etc. Finally, with the morning, put their light on a timer set to go off at “wake up time”. If they wake up and the light is not yet on, they must lay quietly in bed or grab a book to read/look at quietly. If the light is on, they can get out of bed and do noisier things. Hope this all helps. Keep me posted!!!

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