If your home is anything like mine, bedtime has often been fraught with whining, tears, impatience, exasperation and many advice books to solve the riddle of getting my kid enough sleep.
From about 18 months old, my son stopped taking naps. On a good day, I’d be lucky if he quietly read long enough for me to get in some work or a shower. We heard, and tried, all the tricks—morning playground workout to tire him out by midday; big lunch, then dimmed lights soft music, gentle stories….tiptoing out like any noise could trip an alarm….ahhhhhhhhh, silence.
”Not sleeping, Mommy! NOT sleeping.”
Bedtime is only slightly better but hey, they DO eventually run out of battery. Lately, I’ve been revisiting the effort to create what experts call good sleep habits and it has forced me to improve my own.
More than 70 million Americans—and one in four children–suffer sleep disruption, according to national statistics.
Childlren with apnea, anxiety, autism or narcolepsy need special treatment and possibly medication, said Dr. Gary Feldman, medical director of Miller’s Pediatric Sleep Center Long Beach. Most young children can be helped with a simple shift to a stable sleep routine..
- Go to sleep at the same time each night.
- Keep the routine. A short bedtime ritual–bathroom, reading, soft music, lights out—is fine. The body likes routine despite the stalls. Resist the ‘one more thing” lines that drag on.
- Avoid intense activities at night and turn off screen time at least an hour prior to bed. More details including tips and sleep requirements per age are at: http://www.sleepforkids.org/html/sheet.html
Persistent Sleep Trouble
Some of us just have more anxiety or trouble with transitioning to bedtime. We found these insights effective from Long Beach hypnotherapist Marcia Grace, LCSW
- Low blood sugar can wake us up in a panic, and eight hours is a long time to go without food. A little fat stays in the system longer. Try 1/2 turkey hot dog before bed.
- Eliminate exposure to negatives at least 30 minutes before bed. We are most open to suggestion during those last 30 minutes of the day, so keep it positive (whenever possible).
- Put worries on paper. Ask, “Anything else?” Then, put the paper in a drawer, and close it. (Put it in a drawer in another room, if that works better.) Worries get worked on overnight. When we dream, we get rid of things we no longer need, that are no longer serving us. Sometimes we find out we didn’t even have anything to worry about. (Take out the old paper each day and throw it away.)
- Use story-telling, with these themes:
–Everything always seems to come so easily and it always seems to go so well.
–Everything works to the positive.
–The child used to have that problem but it’s not a problem anymore.
–Everything just keeps getting easier and easier for the child.
–Sometimes he might think things are going to be hard, but it turns out to be much easier than he thought it would be. He just keeps at it.
5. Use a manner of talking that sounds almost like you are talking to yourself–slowly and thoughtfully.