The Three R’s of Good Sleep
This guest post is by Deb Herbman of Nigh’ Nigh’ Sleepy Head
Your child is a growing, thinking responsive human being and just like you will have nights that they cannot relax to sleep. For children with ADHD this can be compounded by stimulant medications that make falling and staying asleep even harder.
‘Pediatrics’ has recently publishes research that confirms poor sleep makes ADHD problems worse. The study led by Katherine M. Kidwell found the more doses of medication taken per
day the poorer sleep outcome.
So what can be done to assist children to fall asleep quicker and have deeper sleep?
Not surprisingly, the advice given to insomniac adults is equally true for children. Set a routine, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Routine is essential for your child as it establishes comforting predictability and a sense of safety. Choose a bedtime and stick to it. Research has shown a direct link between inconsistent bedtime and serious behavioral and emotional issues.
Your child’s bedtime ritual end-to-end should take no more than 20 minutes – for toddlers and younger. For older children gauge their mood…seriously overtired and stressed means your
routine should be short and sweet.
If you are still pushing to get through your routine at the yawning and struggling to keep awake stage, you may be at the point of no return with overtiredness inducing a hyperactive state or
that all too familiar ‘bouncing off the walls.’
Although essential, routine alone is often not enough…
Gentle attentive parenting is about that connection and responsiveness between child and parent. It promotes bonding and provides your child with emotional security hard-wiring your
child’s brain to have the capacity to develop self-control and to self settle.
Don’t be afraid to spend a little time re-connecting and satisfying your child’s emotional needs. Some sleep techniques advise avoiding eye-contact and close touch, but as part of your bedtime routine don’t be afraid to be fully focused on your child. Cuddle, pat, sing, hum, rock – whatever you feel helps them feel safe, secure and loved.
Even school age children seek this type of interaction, and although you might refrain from letting them sleep with you, time spent with them will fill their emotional cup, just as it does for younger children.
All importantly avoiding stimulating activities particularly associated with screens, and keeping lighting dim will aid the release of melatonin – the essential sleep hormone.
Without achieving a state of relaxation your child can’t fall asleep. Many parents struggle with helping their child relax, spending hours trying, ending in frustration and even anger on their
part. Creating a regular pattern of routine and re-connection based around keeping the mood positive and light, essentially eliciting feel good hormones, will make the process of sleep settling easier.
Anxiety can be a transferred emotion, and your anxiety can trigger their stress hormones and activate fight or flight responses counter productive to relaxation and sleep. Transitioning to a state of deep relaxation with gentle song, and soft meditative music can be a powerful resource and often not considered past the newborn stage when anecdotally lullaby music has settled many a babe to sleep.
But it’s power should not be underestimated. Choice of music is very important and anything too upbeat, sudden loud crescendos or changeable beats should be avoided. Music should elicit feelings of calmness.
Regularity and continuity using the three R’s – Routine, Re-connection, Relaxation should have even the most difficult sleepers catching some well earnt Z’zzzz to wake refreshed and ready to start a new day.
Deb Herdman RN was a mum of two grown-up children and addressed her empty-nest syndrome by having another baby, after a gap of 21 years. Approaching parenthood in a more relaxed and mature way, and juggling her return to work as a night duty neonatal nurse, she was shocked to struggle with a baby that was problem sleeper. Sleep deprived and spending hours to settle her by then, toddler to sleep, she composed a unique sleep lullaby.
After continued successful settling and a year in the making, Nigh’ Nigh’ Sleepy Head is now a successful sleep settling lullaby music CD of lyrics and instrumental that helps parents as their children are nurtured to sleep. With added complementary sleep products that toddlers love, it is easy to put fun back into the bedtime routine and get your baby to sleep. Her health professional background has enabled her to research just how and why this unique arrangement is turning bedtime struggle to sleep time bliss. Now adding composer, entrepreneur, blogger and parent advisor and influencer to her CV, Deb is humbled knowing that families are happier and healthier from improved sleep habits.
You can listen to her lullaby at www.nighnigh.com.au