If you have little ones, then you have been (or maybe still are!) plagued by this question: HOW ON EARTH DO I GET THEM TO SLEEP?!!! HELP!!!
When we had our first baby, I couldn’t have ever imagined the effect that sleep deprivation would have on me…night after night after night. I felt like I was in a perpetual twilight zone. Let me also add that I require 8-9 hours of sleep each night in my normal life to feel “ok”- so it was a REAL shock to me when we added a baby to our lives.
I decided quickly that I couldn’t live like this for 1-3 or more years! And guess what? You shouldn’t have to either. Babies and children can be trained to sleep, which is so important for both littles AND adults. The entire household benefits when children sleep well. Here’s a few reasons why:
1) Well rested children learn better. Their minds can fully focus on tasks at hand- whatever their stage of development. Think of the times you’ve tried to focus on learning a new skill while being tired. You didn’t get nearly as much out of it, did you?
2) Well rested children behave better. They are less fussy, less irritable, and generally more pleasant to be around. (Hmmm…sounds like some adults I know too, myself included!)
3) Sleep is the most important non nutrient for both adults AND children. Children in particular, who are growing exponentially, release large amounts of growth hormones when they are sleeping. Some studies have shown links between growth spurts and sleep amounts. In addition, our bodies hormonal systems are tired to the rising and setting of the sun- and ideally we are SLEEPING during those hours! When we sleep, all our major organs detox, and our hormonal systems function properly. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your hormones will be out of whack, no mystery about it.
4) Persistent sleep problems have been linked to hyperactivity in children, behavioral problems as adolescents (teenagers need 10+ hrs of sleep a night to be well rested!) as well as maternal depression.
5) Adults who miss out on sleep habitually have impaired thinking, similar to when you are drunk. For example, did you know that when you stay awake for 17+ hours at a time, you have the impairment of someone who is drunk? One week of sleeping 5 hours a night only will do the same thing to you. A Harvard study referred to this state as being “sleep drunk.”
Let me just say that whenever there is a newborn in my house, I know exactly what being sleep drunk feels like! 😉
Now that we’ve looked at some compelling reasons to make sure both babies and adults are getting adequate sleep, let me give you a few easy resources to help your journey.
And let me add…these resources WORK! Our kids (6, 4 and 2) sleep 12 hours at night and our 4 & 2 year old nap 2 hours a day. Our 6 year old does rest time during that time and reads books, builds Legos, etc. In the evenings, my husband and I are able to get to bed on time, read books, talk, or do various personal projects. Our 6 year old is now so used to sleeping that he asks to go to bed when tired, and complains when we get him down “late.” Lol! Our entire household functions better when everyone in the house is sleeping.
Ok…so on to five easy tools that will greatly help your sleeping journey with little ones! The first two are resources so you can make your own sleep plan for your family, and the final three are products that really help babies sleep better- naturally!
#1 Resource For Tired Parents: The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Sleep Problems (By Teaching You To Ask the Right Questions) by Tracy Hogg.
You can get the book on Amazon right here. Let me just say that when you are tired and sleep deprived, I know the last thing you want to do is read a book. But seriously- you need a plan, and that’s something I can’t give in one short article. You need troubleshooting sections, FAQ’s, and real life examples.
You just need to take the time to read the book if you ever want to sleep again! 🙂 Hogg’s principles rotate around one basic cycle: feed, activity time, sleep. This works for newborns, toddlers, on up- the time frames just get longer. She operates on what she calls a flexible routine. Personally, I find our family thrives with having some sort of framework to work from- that doesn’t mean days don’t ever get wacky, but at least we have a North Star to fall back on.
Let me also add: she gives detailed plans and guides for how to get started- seriously, she’s done all the hard work for you. However, if you don’t stick with it, the best plan won’t ever work. Many tired parents try a new plan for several days, then when it gets “tough” give up permanently. You don’t have to do anything in life perfectly, but if you do refuse to quit, you’ll finally get to your desired results- SLEEP for the whole family!
#2 Resource For Tired Parents: Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth
You can find this book on Amazon right here. This book will give you an amazing overview for what happens to our bodies and children’s bodies when we are sleeping. It will REALLY help you to see why making sure that everyone in your home gets a good night rest is very important. I mean, even when you get kids out of the newborn or toddler stage, they still need to get good sleep!
I hear of so many teenagers who go to bed at 10 pm- midnight and then get up at 6 or 7 for school the next day. This is crazy! Behavioral difficulties, risky behavior, poor learning, and obesity are all linked to sleep deprivation in teenagers. So getting a vision for healthy sleep for a lifetime (for babies, little ones, teenagers, and adults) is really valuable.
Remember: all our hormonal systems are tied to the rising and setting of the sun, and we need sleep at the proper time to make our bodies as healthy as possible. Sleep researchers believe that every hour of sleep before midnight is equivalent to two hours of sleep before midnight, so the timing is critical.
I like Tracy Hogg’s step by step plans better than Dr. Weissbluth’s, but I would still highly recommend you read his book. It will change your life!
In the next article, I’ll discuss three top products that help babies sleep better naturally- and none of them involve car rides, vibrating dryers, or magic 😉
Talk to you soon!
Have an awesome day,