Sleep Training Interesting Facts
by Joanna Piekarski, M.Ed
Bedtime is often the most challenging parts of your evening routine. Here are some interesting facts about sleep training and sleep!
• Sleep deprived children can be misdiagnosed with ADHD
• All kids will wake up through the night at times. They just need some guidance to get them back to sleep.
• For children under the age of 8, bed time should be between 6:30 and 8:30 – early bed time prevents children from being overtired.
• www.sleepforkids.org is a cute little resource with information on sleep and some games. It’s directed for kids ages 8-12 who are having trouble sleeping and emphasizes the importance of sleep
• Bed time routines should be 20-45 minutes long. Kids start becoming overtired if the routine is longer. Overtired children has a harder time settling and staying asleep.
• FEEDING is an important part of a bed time routine. Where the feed is placed in the routine has an effect on sleep. The earlier it is placed in the routine, the better. (For example: Feeding –>bath–>book–>bed time in this order is a more effective routine as opposed to bath–>book–>feeding–>bed time. Put an activity like a book in between feedings so the child does not become dependent on the feeding to fall asleep.
• Snacks that are good before bed (increase melatonin production) include: cherries, fats like low-sugar greek yogurt, avocado, nuts and nut butters.
• Sleep props are objects, actions, persons, places, or things that a child requires to go to sleep. Some sleep props are detrimental to a sleep like the TV in the background, feeding until they pass out, pacifiers, rocking until they pass out (they become dependent on being rocked to sleep as opposed to falling asleep in their own crib or bed).
• White noise is a good sleep prop (for example, turning a fan on)
• “Loveys” are a good sleep prop – These are stuffies or blankets that children associate with sleep. Make sure that “loveys” do not make noise and that they are an appropriate size and weight for the child
• When a child wakes up, waiting one minute to see if they will go back to sleep on their own is a good idea (unless the child sounds like they are in distress)
• Melatonin is the hormone that helps you fall asleep
• Melatonin production begins as soon as the night routine starts (as long as this is consistent)
• Lights that affect melatonin production include blue and yellow light – phones, IPADs, television. Check for lights around the room. Sometimes a TV, computer monitior, or humidifier will have tiny lights that indicate whether the item is on or off. Use a bandaid to tape over the lights.
• If a child needs a night light to fall asleep, red light night lights are the most effective and do not interrupt melatonin production
• There are many sleep training methods. No method is universal. It depends on the child and caregiver. Try gentle methods first. The Ferber method can be effective as well (timed check-ins – where you let your child cry for one minute and then you come in and reassure them, then increase the interval to 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and increase by 2 minutes, etc.)
Want to know more about sleep training? Check out our Resource Page.