Thursday, June 14, 2012

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

So, because I was so frustrated yesterday, I jumped on Amazon and bought the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." In the Kindle Edition so that I could read it right away without even needing to go to the store or wait for it to be shipped to my house. P.S. Love digital books!

I had heard of this book before and I hadn't bought it because we never had big problems with getting our babies to sleep. But, I was pushed to the point where I needed help, so I bought the book and started reading it last night.

And, it was if the book was explaining Nicole and her tantrums to a T! The book talked about over-exhausted children and how they would try to nap in the afternoon and get super grumpy and start throwing tantrums at bedtime. All because... she isn't getting enough sleep.

Now, lets back track a bit. A couple months ago, Nicole stopped going to sleep when we would put her to bed at night and be up for hours! Not falling asleep until 10pm. So, we naively decided that we would prevent her from napping during the day so that she would fall asleep earlier and sleep longer at night. Bad parents!

This book explains the difference between day sleep and night sleep. And how day sleep and night sleep are not created equal. Cutting a nap during the day does not mean that the child will sleep better at night or longer, in fact, it has the opposite effect. The child become over-exhausted, and actually has a harder time falling asleep at night and is more emotional and prone to behavior problems. Sleep deprivation like this over an extended period of time (like two months) can cause erratic behavior and be harmful to the child's ability to learn. The book says, a nap lost does not equal more sleep later, just sleep lost forever!

Bad parents. We thought we were being all logical and smart... but we were not, we were being stupid by depriving her of her nap even when she said she was tired.

So, we are giving her back her nap! And, the book helped us calculate when her optimal nap should be. Most children 3-4 years of age still take a 1.5 hour nap in the middle of the day and actually excel in learning and social situations if they are napping. Also, napping promotes better sleep at night because the child isn't driven to exhaustion and can fall asleep more easily.

I am not yet done with the book, I just read the part on naps, so we will change things with Nicole and with us when it comes to her sleep and hope that this makes for a happier child.

The book also explains that a child who is breaking down and "crashing" for bedtime will not sleep as well as a child who is put to bed at the first sign of drowsiness. Most children Nicole's age are asleep by 8pm. That is usually when we start putting her to bed and it is obviously too late because she has already started her tantrums by that time. So, we will also be instituting an earlier bedtime. I will our nighttime routine at 7pm, so they are in bed by 7:30pm. The book says that even just a 30 minute adjustment in bedtime can make all the difference in a better and calmer sleep without waking in the middle of the night.

So, I will try these things, I will hope that it helps my sweet Nicole because that i who she really is. She is a sweet little girl with a very high voice and I know that something else is causing these tantrums in her. She is tired all the time!

I'll keep recording how her progress goes on the blog so that maybe it can also help any one else who is dealing with bedtime terrors!


Jasmine said...

That was another thought that popped into my head after I left that novel of a comment on your last post, but I didn't want to bother you more. :) I wondered if maybe she was just over-exhausted and if putting her to bed before she was showing signs of being too tired would help.

Anywho, it sounds like a great book, and I hope your changes help a lot!

Marie said...

I'm glad you got that book and that it helps you understand Nicole's behavior. I hope it helps! I read that book when Damon was a baby and I think it helped a lot with how well he sleeps now.

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