31Aug

6 Back to School Sleep Tips

 

sleeping girl

Summer- where did you go?  In spite of, or maybe because of, Covid, our summer seemed over before it even started. Now we find ourselves trying to adjust to this new normal as we send our kids back to school or daycare, even if only virtually.   If your family is anything like mine your routines have veered off track over the past 5 months- still not sure what day it is over here.   Children, however, crave routine and structure.  It makes them feel safe and secure, which in our world right now is everything.  No matter your school or childcare situation getting back to healthy sleep habits can help children cope with the daily changes and stressors they are facing.  Here are 6 tips to get back on track:

  • Know how much sleep your child needs according to their age. Here is a link to a good chart.

 

  • Tighten up your schedule- over the summer bedtimes and wake times are a bit looser, now is the time to get back to those early bedtimes and consistent wake times. Weekends are no exception; consistency makes all the difference here.  If you have a child who is still napping it is helpful to get them down at the same time each day.

 

 

  • Get back to your bedtime routine- even in our house the tried and true bedtime routine is often a bit more lax in the summer. All you need is a predictable, soothing 15-minute routine to help your child get to sleep more easily- include things like reading, dimming the lights, a quiet song, and white noise.  It is more important than ever to turn those screens off one hour before bedtime to get a quality night’s sleep.

 

  • Check in on your child’s sleep environment- his or her room should be cool, dark, cozy and free from stimulating toys or clutter. The days are still long and the sun comes up early so be sure you have adequately darkened the room to allow for earlier bedtimes. Additionally, if possible, separate work space from sleep space.  Ideally, the bedroom is for sleep only.

 

 

  • Create a set of sleep manners (aka rules) for your family and review them often- these are general guidelines to remind everyone of healthy sleep hygiene. Include things like – everyone sleeps in their own space, everyone is quiet in their beds, everyone goes to bed on time and wakes up on time.

 

  • Practice what you preach! Be a good role model for the kids. As parents, our job is demanding and non-stop; our bodies and brains are working overtime caring for our children, make sure you are getting the sleep you need to be your healthiest. Our little people need us to be at our best and quality sleep is essential to our well-being.

 

Best wishes for a healthy 2020-2021 school year!!!!

04May

Sleep in the time of Coronavirus

coronavirus

If you or your child are experiencing sleep problems as of late you are not alone.  The uncertainty, stress and chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting us all in so many ways, many of which we may not even be aware.  As parents, our comforting schedules and routines have been replaced by efforts to simply survive with our sanity (somewhat) intact.

I am hearing from families across the nation who are experiencing sleep disruptions in children of all ages, as well as in the parents themselves.  Sleep, however, is more important than ever as we try to bolster our bodies immune systems and combat the daily drain of functioning in this new world. While interrupted sleep is a normal side effect of this intensely stressful situation, there are some things you can do to help you family sleep better.

*Get back to basics.  Take some time to check in with your routine, schedule, and environment and do your best to get back on track.  We know that children thrive on structure and while it may be tempting to relax your healthy sleep habits, it can have a negative effect on your child’s sleep.  Your bedtime routine can be the most comforting part of your child’s day.  Take the time focus on a routine that allows you to soothe and connect with your child.  Being truly present for those few minutes before bedtime can make all the difference in children of every age.

*Control what you can and let go of the rest.  Aim for bedtime, wake time and nap time to be the same each day.  So much about our days have changed whether you are working from home, home schooling or caring for your new baby without your support network; focusing on the small, doable things can really help.  A consistent schedule ensures our bodies get the rest we need to stay well physically and emotionally.

*Check your own anxiety and stress levels.  Whether we realize it or not, our anxiety and stress is easily transferred to our little ones.  Do your best to keep your stress levels in check- watch less news, practice self-care, try to shift your perspective to embrace the chaos a bit. If you are feeling out of control seek extra support via online chats with friends, family or a therapist.

*Be patient.  Everyone reacts differently to stress.  The increased meltdowns, clinginess, difficulty falling asleep, and waking with nightmares all point to the fact that our children are dealing with some big emotions.  As for parents, our frustration tolerance maybe lower as we are asked to wear more hats and take on more tasks all while keeping our cool.  Give your child and yourself a break and acknowledge that we are in unchartered territory – there is no normal right now and that is ok.  Allow your child and yourself the space to not be ok.

 

With everything going on in the world, sleep is more important than ever.  Making sleep a priority for everyone in your family can help you weather the storm and stay healthy.   Stay safe everyone!

01Mar

Daylight Saving Time Begins March 8th

dls 20

Hurry up Spring!

We can only hope that the beginning of Daylight Saving Time next Sunday, March 8th at 2am will bring us that much closer to saying good bye to cold, grey days.  If you are a parent you may be worried that the beginning of Daylight Savings will wreak havoc on your child’s sleep. Chances are it will come and go without much disruption.  In case you need a little reassurance here are some tips to help you through the transition:

*Know your child- if your child adapts easily to change and is not sensitive to fluctuations in her sleep consider yourself lucky, do nothing and simply hope spring arrives a little early (PLEASE!).   If you are a parent of a child who has a little more difficulty with such changes plan ahead and dig deep for a little extra patience next week knowing most kiddos get back on track quickly with this time change.

*For those children who need assistance adapting you may consider giving your family a head start by switching your household to the new time on Saturday instead of Sunday.  This gives you an extra buffer before the school and work week starts.

*Stay with your routine and tighten it up if necessary in the week before the time change.  This is a great time to check in with your family’s sleep hygiene to ensure you haven’t gotten so off track that sleep is suffering.  Now is not the time for changes to your schedule or transitions, hold off until after your child has adjusted to the new time.

*Stick to your child’s normal sleep times for both naps and bedtime according to the clock as if nothing has changed.  If your child is a more sensitive sleeper you may need to put her down up to 30 minutes early (according to the new clock time) on Sunday.

*Get outside in the morning to get some fresh air and sunlight, getting plenty of bright daylight will help your child’s body adapt to the change more quickly.

*Take this opportunity to check in on your child’s sleep environment.  Before we know it it will start to get lighter earlier and stay light out longer;  you may want to consider room darkening shades and white noise now to prevent any disruption in your little one’s sleep down the road.

*Good news for early risers!  This may be the push you needed to get that little one sleeping later in the morning.  3 cheers for spring!  Be sure you shift their entire schedule forward to ensure the change sticks- this means meals, activities and sleep.  For those kiddos who have a tendency to want to sleep in consider waking them at their normal time to help them stay on schedule the rest of the day rather than letting them sleep in.

Good luck and sweet dreams…

07Oct

You Know You are a Parent When Daylight Savings Time is Scarier than Halloween

shutterstock_325277609-2

 

On Sunday, November 3rd at 2 a.m. we will turn our clocks back once again as Daylight Savings Time (DST) comes to an end.  If you are like so many parents of young children out there the anticipation of the time change brings with it more fear than your favorite scary movie.   So many of us are unsure how to handle the change and worry that it will wreak havoc on our little one’s sleep schedules.  While Daylight Savings is inevitable there are some things you can do to minimize the impact on your family and leave the fright to Halloween night:

 

  • Know your child(ren). If you have a child with an easy going temperament who adapts easily to change you can simply do nothing.  On Sunday you will go about your normal routine according to the clock and not change a thing.  You can expect a very mild disruption in routine for these children consisting of an early wake time for a day or two if any at all.  If you have a child who is more sensitive to changes in schedule or routine you may want to take action to avoid any major issues.
  • For those of you in the second camp, plan to shift your child’s schedule back the week leading up to the change. Beginning on Monday, October 28th shift everything in your day back by 15 minutes- wake time, breakfast, snack, nap times, bedtimes etc.  On that Wednesday, shift it another 15 minutes and on Friday another 15 minutes.  Finally, when you wake on Sunday follow the clock and stick to your routine.  This gradual approach will help you ease into your new schedule and hopefully make any disruptions short lived.
  • Sleep is largely governed by our circadian rhythms and the production of melatonin which is strongly influenced by light and darkness. Because of this you may find it helpful to keep your home darker longer in the morning to help counteract that early waking that often comes as a result of DST and retrain the brain to the new wake time.  In turn, it also helps to keep your home lighter later in the evening to help stave off sleep-inducing melatonin for that extra hour even though it is dark outside.  Finally, getting outdoors in the sunlight during the day and late afternoon will help the brain regulate its melatonin production and adapt accordingly to the new time.
  • Use DST as a reminder to consider your child’s sleep environment- it should be dark, cool, quiet and free of distractions. I recommend the use of room darkening shades and white noise especially for those little ones still learning healthy sleep habits.
  • Be consistent and be patient! Try to stick with your routine and new schedule closely in the week or 2 following DST and your little one should fall right back in line.  This is also a great time to evaluate your sleep hygiene as a family and make sure you are all getting the sleep you need.

 

 

Happy Fall and sweet dreams…

07Aug

Bye Bye Summer- Hello New School Year

IMG_3872

What a summer we had! The last few months were spent with friends and family, adventuring, traveling and enjoying the longer, sunny days. While I am a lover of structure, I really look forward to summer’s leisurely pace and laid back feel.  We stay up late, sleep in and let go of our scheduled lives, if only for a while.  Alas, the end is near- one week in my house to be exact.   If your family is like mine and your routines have veered off track over the summer with the seemingly endless opportunities for fun and family time, don’t worry.  Making memories sometimes trumps bedtimes and schedules- in a good way.  However, it is time to look ahead and prepare our children for the upcoming school year.  Whether your child attends pre-school a few hours a day or you have older children heading off to a full day of elementary, middle or high school, being well rested will help ease the transition.  Here are some tips to help your family get school ready:

  • Start early- begin by easing your child back into his or her normal routine at least a week before school starts so their bodies have time to adjust and alleviate any sleep debt accumulated over the summer months.
  • Know how much sleep your child needs according to their age. Here is a link to a good chart:

https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/sleep/conditioninfo/Pages/homuch.aspx

  • Tighten up your schedule- over the summer bedtimes and wake times are a bit looser, now is the time to get back to those early bedtimes and consistent wake times. Weekends are no exception; consistency makes all the difference here.  If you have a child who is still napping it is helpful to get them down at the same time each day.
  • Get back to your bedtime routine- even in our house our tried and true bedtime routine is often a bit more lax in the summer. All you need is a predictable, soothing 15-minute routine to help your child get to sleep more easily- include things like reading, dimming the lights, a quiet song, and white noise.  It is important to turn those screens off one hour before bedtime to get a quality night’s sleep. Getting back to the structure of your routine helps little ones feel confident and secure making any new situations on the horizon easier to handle.
  • Check in on your child’s sleep environment- his or her room should be cool, dark, cozy and free from stimulating toys or clutter. The days are still long and the sun comes up early so be sure you have adequately darkened the room to allow for earlier bedtimes.
  • Create a set of sleep manners (aka rules) for your family and review them often- these are general guidelines to remind everyone of healthy sleep hygiene. Include things like – everyone sleeps in their own space, everyone is quiet in their beds, everyone goes to bed on time and wakes up on time.
  • Practice what you preach! Be a good role model for the kids. As parents, our job is demanding and non-stop; our bodies and brains are working overtime caring for our children, make sure you are getting the sleep you need to be your healthiest. Our little people need us to be at our best and quality sleep is essential to our well-being.

Best wishes for a healthy and happy 2019-2020 school year!!!!

04Mar

Spring Forward on March 10th

spring forwardI don’t know about you but Spring cannot come soon enough this year! While it does not necessarily mean warmer days are on the horizon, Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, March 10th at 2 a.m, bringing us that much closer to saying good bye to snow days for a while.  If you are a parent you may be worried that the beginning of Daylight Savings will wreak havoc on your child’s sleep. Chances are it will come and go without much disruption.  In case you need a little reassurance here are some tips to help you through the transition:

*Know your child- if your child adapts easily to change and is not sensitive to fluctuations in her sleep consider yourself lucky, do nothing and simply hope spring arrives a little early (PLEASE!).   If you are a parent of a child who has a little more difficulty with such changes plan ahead and dig deep for a little extra patience next week knowing most kiddos get back on track quickly with this time change.

*For those children who need assistance adapting you may consider giving your family a head start by switching your household to the new time on Saturday instead of Sunday.  This gives you an extra buffer before the school and work week starts.

*Stay with your routine and tighten it up if necessary in the week before the time change.  This is a great time to check in with your family’s sleep hygiene to ensure you haven’t gotten so off track that sleep is suffering.  Now is not the time for changes to your schedule or transitions, hold off until after your child has adjusted to the new time.

*Stick to your child’s normal sleep times for both naps and bedtime according to the clock as if nothing has changed.  If your child is a more sensitive sleeper you may need to put her down up to 30 minutes early (according to the new clock time) on Sunday.

*Get outside in the morning to get some fresh air and sunlight, getting plenty of bright daylight will help your child’s body adapt to the change more quickly.

*Take this opportunity to check in on your child’s sleep environment.  Before we know it it will start to get lighter earlier and stay light out longer;  you may want to consider room darkening shades and white noise now to prevent any disruption in your little one’s sleep down the road.

*Good news for early risers!  This may be the push you needed to get that little one sleeping later in the morning.  3 cheers for spring!  Be sure you shift their entire schedule forward to ensure the change sticks- this means meals, activities and sleep.  For those kiddos who have a tendency to want to sleep in consider waking them at their normal time to help them stay on schedule the rest of the day rather than letting them sleep in.

Good luck and sweet dreams…

03Feb

Safe Sleep and your Baby

Parents of young children are faced with a seemingly endless list of safety and health related concerns to consider from feedings to car seats to vaccines to cribs.  The amount of information out there can be overwhelming, confusing and conflicting.  Safe sleep is no exception.  Without a safe sleep environment even the most well-meaning parents are missing the mark on healthy sleep.  The folks at Smart Parent Advice have nicely summed up the challenge that so many of us face as parents regarding safe sleep in this article.

We agree with Smart Parent Advice that the importance of a safe sleep environment cannot be overstated. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Safe to Sleep Program aims to help parents and caregivers weed through all the information and misinformation by providing a clear and consistent message about safe sleep.
According to the NICHD, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, is the number 1 cause of death in babies ages 1 month to 1 year. Thanks to the very successful Back to Sleep campaign created in 1996 to reduce to number of these deaths we now put our babies to sleep on their backs and have consequently reduced the incidence of SIDS. However, while SIDS deaths are down considerably in the United States we still see far too many deaths.  Researchers do not know exactly what causes SIDS, however, we do know that certain, easy, precautions can help reduce these numbers even further.  In hopes of reducing the number of sleep related deaths, the NICHD launched the Safe to Sleep campaign. The campaign does not replace Back to Sleep, but instead builds upon its crucial message by continuing to educate parents and caregivers about the importance of putting babies to sleep on their backs for EVERY sleep. In addition, Safe to Sleep has added two more important guidelines to focus on reducing the number of other sleep related deaths.
First, babies should be placed on a firm, safety approved, sleep surface with a tight fitting sheet. These surfaces can include cribs, bassinets or portable play yards as long as they are currently safety approved specifically for sleep (visit cpsc.gov for updated safety information). Further, while it may be tempting, babies should never be placed on a couch, bed or other soft surface, or in a car seat, swing, carrier or other device to sleep. The campaign recommends that babies sleep in a separate but nearby sleep area, such as in a bassinet in the parents’ room, for up to 1 year whenever possible.

Second, the sleeping area should be completely free of all bumpers, loose bedding, blankets, pillows, toys and other objects. In short, the crib should be completely empty until 12 months of age.

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The Safe to Sleep campaign goes on to outline other ways you can reduce your risk:
*get prenatal care

*breastfeed baby if possible

*offer a pacifier not attached to a strap at sleep times

*do not smoke around baby

*do not allow baby to get overheated during sleep- room should be cool at around 68 degrees

*follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations on vaccines avoid products that claim to aid in reduction of SIDS or other sleep related deaths

*do not rely on home heart or breathing monitors unless prescribed by your healthcare provider

*provide baby with lots of supervised tummy time during wakeful periods


Ensuring your child has a safe sleeping environment from the start will allow you to focus on building healthy sleep habits.

For more information on the Safe to Sleep campaign and safe sleeping guidelines please visit http://www.nichd.nih.gov/sids/ and talk with your healthcare provider.

12Dec

My Top 5 Baby and Child Sleep Tips

child girl sleeping

Parents ask me all the time what my secret is for getting kids to sleep.  The truth is there are no secrets or magic tricks; like anything else, it comes down to a little bit of knowledge and a lot of hard work.  For most babies and children sleep does not come naturally; it is our job as parents to teach them healthy sleep habits.  Here are my top 5 tips for helping your child learn to sleep.

  1. Safety first. If you do nothing else, be sure your baby’s sleep space is safe.  Visit https://safetosleep.nichd.nih.gov/ for more information.
  2. Make sleep a priority. Sounds simple but our busy lives have pushed sleep to the back burner and our health may suffer because of it.  It is time to shift our perspective and prioritize our families’ well-being.
  3. Aim for an early bedtime. Yes, earlier than you think.  No, it does not necessarily mean they will wake earlier, in fact, often the opposite is true. And no, it is not forever. Before you know it, they will be staying up later than you, but while they are little, they need their sleep. Plus, an overtired, cranky baby is no fun
  4. Allow your baby/child to fall asleep independently. This goes for babies over 5-6 months and older children.  If we do the work of going to sleep for them, they will never learn to do if for themselves.  Practice makes perfect here, do not expect little ones to master this overnight- keep trying.
  5. Be consistent. Sending a consistent message about healthy sleep can make all the difference.  Be sure to set clear expectations around schedule and routine and then follow through for the best chance at success.

Finally, remember there is no perfect sleeper. There will always be bumps in the sleep road but a well-rested child recovers more quickly and is able to handle life’s curve balls more easily.

Sweet dreams!

 

29Oct

The End of Daylight Saving Time Doesn’t Have to be Scary

 

halloween

Save the scares for Halloween and plan ahead this year…

On Sunday, November 4th at 2 a.m. we will turn our clocks back once again as Daylight Saving Time (DST) comes to an end.  If you are like so many parents of young children out there the anticipation of the time change brings with it fear and confusion.   So many of us are unsure how to handle the change and worry that it will wreak havoc on our little one’s sleep schedules.  While DST is inevitable there are some things you can do to minimize the impact on your family:

 

  • Know your child(ren). If you have a child with an easy going temperament who adapts easily to change you can simply do nothing.  On Sunday you will go about your normal routine according to the clock and not change a thing.  You can expect a very mild disruption in routine for these children consisting of an early wake time for a day or two if any at all.  If you have a child who is more sensitive to changes in schedule or routine you may want to take action to avoid any major issues.
  • For those of you in the second camp, plan to shift your child’s schedule back the week leading up to the change. Beginning on Monday, October 29th shift everything in your day back by 15 minutes- wake time, breakfast, snack, nap times, bedtimes etc.  On that Wednesday, shift it another 15 minutes and on Friday another 15 minutes.  Finally, when you wake on Sunday follow the clock and stick to your routine.  This gradual approach will help you ease into your new schedule and hopefully make any disruptions short lived.
  • Sleep is largely governed by our circadian rhythms and the production of melatonin which is strongly influenced by light and darkness. Because of this you may find it helpful to keep your home darker longer in the morning to help counteract that early waking that often comes as a result of DST and retrain the brain to the new wake time.  In turn, it also helps to keep your home lighter later in the evening to help stave off sleep inducing melatonin for that extra hour even though it is dark outside.  Finally, getting outdoors in the sunlight during the day and late afternoon will help the brain regulate its melatonin production and adapt accordingly to the new time.
  • Use DST as a reminder to consider your child’s sleep environment- it should be dark, cool, quiet and free of distractions. I recommend the use of room darkening shades and white noise especially for those little ones still learning healthy sleep habits.
  • Be consistent and be patient! Try to stick with your routine and new schedule closely in the week or 2 following DST and your little one should fall right back in line.  This is also a great time to evaluate your sleep hygiene as a family and make sure you are all getting the sleep you need.

 

 

Happy Fall and sweet dreams…

07Aug

Back to School Sleep Tips for a Well-Rested Family

vacation

 

Oh summer- where did you go?! Summer in our house has flown by and soon the long, leisurely summer days will be replaced by the structure of the upcoming school year.   If your family is anything like mine your routines have veered off track over the summer with the seemingly endless opportunities for fun and family time.  Making memories becomes more important than bedtimes and schedules- a much needed break.  However, it is time to look ahead and prepare our children for the upcoming school year.  Whether your child attends pre-school a few hours a day or you have older children heading off to a full day of elementary, middle or high school, being well rested will help ease the transition.  Here are some tips to help your family get school ready:

  • Start early- begin by easing your child back into his or her normal routine at least a week before school starts so their bodies have time to adjust and alleviate any sleep debt accumulated over the summer months.
  • Know how much sleep your child needs according to their age. Here is a link to a good chart:

https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/sleep/conditioninfo/Pages/homuch.aspx

  • Tighten up your schedule- over the summer bedtimes and wake times are a bit looser, now is the time to get back to those early bedtimes and consistent wake times. Weekends are no exception; consistency makes all the difference here.  If you have a child who is still napping it is helpful to get them down at the same time each day.
  • Get back to your bedtime routine- even in our house our tried and true bedtime routine is often a bit more lax in the summer. All you need is a predictable, soothing 15-minute routine to help your child get to sleep more easily- include things like reading, dimming the lights, a quiet song, and white noise.  It is important to turn those screens off one hour before bedtime to get a quality night’s sleep. Getting back to the structure of your routine helps little ones feel confident and secure making any new situations on the horizon easier to handle.
  • Check in on your child’s sleep environment- his or her room should be cool, dark, cozy and free from stimulating toys or clutter. The days are still long and the sun comes up early so be sure you have adequately darkened the room to allow for earlier bedtimes.
  • Create a set of sleep manners (aka rules) for your family and review them often- these are general guidelines to remind everyone of healthy sleep hygiene. Include things like – everyone sleeps in their own space, everyone is quiet in their beds, everyone goes to bed on time and wakes up on time.
  • Practice what you preach! Be a good role model for the kids. As parents, our job is demanding and non-stop; our bodies and brains are working overtime caring for our children, make sure you are getting the sleep you need to be your healthiest. Our little people need us to be at our best and quality sleep is essential to our well-being.

 

Best wishes for a healthy and happy 2018-2019 school year!!!!