How I've Made the Best of My Time

I'll admit: it's been a crazy few months for me. 

Not only have I been keeping my own sleep business running, but since January I have done a boatload of work trips, managed (and still managing) a large project for Doman International, while being a staff coach for many, many families.  I also started business coaching, joined a hurling team, and am still the primary cook/cleaner at the Doman Apartment.

It can get, and did get hectic.

April came to a fever pitch and I felt worn out and completely unmotivated.  I felt completely overwhelmed and didn't have time for the things that I needed to get done or the things that I really wanted to do.

After a very helpful sleep consultant conference (woo!) and a few days off (really off!), I came home with a fresh outlook and have started implementing some changes that I felt could be helpful to you out there.

1) I set a non-negotiable "shut down everything" time: Before April, I found myself answering emails, doing promotional things for my business, Facebook stalking, etc. etc. at 10:30pm at night and then sitting down and trying to plan my next day and feeling really stressed that the dishes hadn't gotten done, and more.  So, I implemented a strict no emails/work after 8pm, all electronics off at 9:30pm time.  For this to work, this was something that my husband had to do as well.  And, it's been great!  Our only exceptions to this rule are: 1) if there's an important Philadelphia sporting match, or 2) it's Sunday Night Football.  This was something that we could both agree on.  But, even during this time - no emails, no phones, no work.  That's our time to enjoy.

2) 9:30pm - I have a nighttime routine: At this time, when all the electronics are shut off, I sit down and create my schedule for the next day.  I look at my priorities, see what needs to happen, and get it on paper.  I tidy up real quick, make sure the dishes are done, and then start my bedtime routine.  I instantly put out my clothes for the next morning, and then I'm in bed by 10pm.  I follow the same routine every single night, as best as possible.

3) 6:30am - I start my morning routine: this was surprisingly difficult to maintain at first, I'll admit.  And the reason for this is because my morning routine is made for me to be most productive.  However, this meant no checking emails, keep my phone off, no checking Facebook.  I made a clear rule for myself - these things are for later in the day.  My mornings now are my time to work out, work on business outreach, and special projects, and for writing (like I'm doing right now, haha!).  P.S. - do the math here and see how much sleep I'm getting.  Another important thing for relieving stress. 

4) I delegate! My time is precious and cannot be wasted: I think it's safe to say that most women have the feeling that they can do everything and they have to do everything.  I'll admit - I'm a bit of a perfectionist and like things done a certain way.  But, I really had to ask myself if I wanted to keep spending my time doing ALL 3 meals, doing ALL the laundry, doing ALL the dishes, and other household chores.  Wasn't that time that I could be focusing on more important things? So, I started to delegate.  And, helping around the house as been something that my dear and darling husband has been asking to do for a while.  But, I didn't let him.  I convinced myself I could do everything.  But I couldn't.  And I got stressed and resentful.  So, I delegated household chores and meals.  And it's made a big difference.  That's another 2+ hours of my day to do much more productive things.  As a couple, we're happier because we're more of a team than ever.  And, I've taken the same approach with my other work as well.  I ask myself - is this something that I have to handle? Or, is it something that can be delegated to the right person?  Just to stop and think about this has been a life saver.

5) I set certain days for certain projects, and I don't get it all done in one sitting: One thing that made me feel really stressed was looking at a project and thinking that I had to get it all done in one go.  And, that would make me avoid the things that I had to do.  The end goal was so far off.  But, one big change that I made was choosing days of the week where priority would be more on sleep, or other work.  On those day, I pick parts of projects to do and take comfort in the fact that I am getting these little chunks done.  And you know what? Since starting this, I revamped the way I write emails to clients, updated my website, automated workflows for my co-workers, and got things rolling on a new sleep program that I've been wanting to do for a while.  You don't HAVE to do the whole she-bang in one go.  Taking little steps and achieving small goals towards the end result is motivating and takes a huge burden off your back.

This all boils down to this one statement: Having clear boundaries kept me out of resentment

I realized in myself that I started to wear my stress and lack of time as a badge of honor and was starting to used it as an excuse to not get done the things that had been on my list for so long.  When I finally looked at myself and got clear about my boundaries, I realized I had a lot more time than I thought.  For the longest time I worked every single day, without rest.  And, that's because I had convinced myself that I couldn't take a day off.  But, when I finally got clear about my time boundaries I realized that I could afford it, and that the time I was "spending" on work wasn't really as productive as I thought it was. 

And this has been really helpful.  Sometimes, you have to step away from what you're doing so that you can approach it again with new eyes.  

It's not a quantity thing, but QUALITY - the things that you are doing, are you doing them with the best quality you can?  And, are you making sure that YOUR time is of the best quality too?

I hope that these tips and my own personal findings can be helpful to you, and I hope that these lifestyle changes that I have implemented can help you to find balance.

7 Tips to Help Your Little One with Separation Anxiety

For parents, it's easy to have an overwhelming sense of guilt very quickly about anything. 

And, in the world where information is at your fingertips in a matter of seconds it's also very easy to start second guessing your instincts and feeling inadequate.  This is exactly how parents feel about their baby's sleep before sleep training.  I see this a lot in my line of work.

A large contributor to that is separation anxiety - that time in a child's life where they are inconsolable unless mom is there.  And, that's when parents start to second guess themselves - "My kid is screaming the house down because I'm not right there with him - what am I doing wrong?  Why is the neighbor's kid so content if her mom's going out shopping?  What am I doing wrong?!"

First of all, comparing yourself to other parents, or comparing your kid to other kids is a waste of time and energy.  It's the wrong kind of mindset and can start to become limiting.  You are totally rocking it right now!  Who cares about what Sarah wrote in that parents group about how her kid loves vegetables?  Especially with social media, things may not always seem as perfect as they look.

Secondly - separation anxiety is COMPLETELY normal.  

This feeling of anxiety when mommy is not there is actually a sign that your baby's understanding is maturing.  They are starting to grasp the idea that things continue to exist and be, even if they are not right there in front of you.  And as your baby starts to understand that, there are going to be times they're asking themselves "Okay, so mom's leaving now...she's out of the room...it's been a few minutes...Hey wait a second - the old girl might not be coming back!"

Cue: panic, tears, hysterics.

It's a time of learning.  If they lose it each and every time you leave the room, just keep in mind that: 1) Your baby's understanding a lot more, 2) This is totally normal, 3) The reason they're getting so upset is because your baby feels secure and attached to you.  Great work!  On the flip side, I think most parents would be even more concerned if their child seemed like they couldn't care less if parents were leaving.  Wouldn't you agree?

But, practically - this stinks.

Every time you leave your little one at daycare, with nana, with the sitter, etc. it becomes a really big ordeal and this can cause a lot of stress for parents.  So, what do you do?

1. Face it head on

Giving your baby the chance to learn this lesson about being apart and coming together again is very important, so don't avoid it.  Do you want your baby to be completely attached to your hip, every second of the day, every day until their 6 years old? Of course not.  Teach them that being upset is okay sometimes, and always reassure them that you are going to come back when you do.  

2. Assign an area where your baby is on their own, safely

Choose an area of the house where your little one can play and explore their environment safely, without needing you to be there.  If parents are constantly hovering and watching like a hawk, baby may have picked up that it's not safe for them to be by themselves.  So, start by picking one area where baby can be on their own a bit more.  Baby will start to associate that place with "me time".

3. Baby steps

When you're first leaving your baby with someone else besides you or your partner, start by making a brief outing (up to 1 hour).  Going out for several hours at a time is too steep a gradient initially.  That can happen a little further down the line.

Also, start by leaving them with someone that they know and spent some time with.  This will be much easier if they're hanging out with grand mom, an aunt or uncle, or family friend that they have seen before and know.

4. Make the transition gentle

Once the person whose watching your child arrives, hang out for a little while so that your baby feels comfortable around the "new person".  If mommy looks happy and is comfortable with this person, baby's going to feel a lot better about it.

5. Do not do the "Irish goodbye"

I admit - at big parties I am partial to the old "Irish goodbye" - quickly sneak away without bidding farewell.  Why it's Irish - I don't know.

For adults, this is okay.  But, don't attempt to distract your child and quickly sneak away.  That's no fair.  Take this opportunity to teach your child that you are leaving, but you are going to come back.  Be clear with this message.  This is much more reassuring than mommy performing a disappearing act.

6. Follow the same routine each time you leave

Having a predictable routine allows your child to know what is coming next.  There's no surprises.  So, before you leave the house give your child a set number of hugs/kisses, have a phrase that you say each time, and be clear with when you're coming back home. 

7. Speak to your child at a level they will understand

Chances are, your little one is not yet at a level where they understand clock time.  You can't say to your child - "I'll be back at 8:30", or "See you in an hour and a half".  Give your child a time that they understand.  Tell your child you'll be back at nap time, or when it's time for dinner, or you'll be back to put them to bed.  Your little one has a much better understanding of when that is during the day.

So, these are some very simple ways that you can start easing your child's anxiety when you are leaving for a time.  If you follow these, it DOES NOT mean that your child won't get upset.  But, if you follow these guidelines consistently it will definitely start to ease their stress until they've fully grasped the concept that you are coming back.  Be consistent, sympathetic, and calm and these tips will take you a long way.

Preparing Your Home for Parenthood: Tips for Disabled People

I love featuring other writers here and this blog post comes from Anne at disabledparents.org.  Being a parent with a disability, she has lots of great resources on getting ready for parenthood.

Every expectant parent must make sure their child will come into a home that’s safe and happy, a nurturing space where feeding, bathing, diapering, and nursing can be done in comfort and with convenience. For disabled parents, being fully prepared for parenthood is absolutely essential because there’s more to prepare for than with parents who don’t have disabilities. Sometimes significant home modifications are needed. Sometimes disabled parents have to use innovation and get a little creative to be effective parents. Fortunately, by following a few guidelines, you can be as well prepared as any parent can hope to be.

Upgrades

Perhaps your biggest challenge will be to make sure you have adequate accessibility when and where you need it. That starts with your home’s exterior. If you or your spouse uses a wheelchair or other mobility assistance device, getting in and out of your home with ease may require the installation of an access ramp. For the sake of maximum accessibility, it’s advisable to keep your bedroom and the nursery on the first floor, but if you need to move between floors, it may be necessary to install a chair lift. The average cost to have a lift installed ranges from $3,000 to $5,000. 

Safety precautions are also important, and providing a safe environment may require a number of safety enhancements. Grab rails need to be installed in the bathroom along the toilet and in the bathtub or shower. No-slip safety pads should be placed in the bathtub and in front of the sink in case you need to use it to pull yourself upright. If you or your partner are vision impaired, apply textured tape or tape with Braille to avoid making mistakes with your child’s food preparation. Flooring should be easy to move across, with carpeting that’s not too thick, and any floor rugs must be secured to the floor to prevent slippage. Remember, if you experience difficulty paying for any upgrades or enhancements, there are sources of federal, state and community funding available to you.

 

Equipment

As disabled parents, you’ll probably need to find, or have made, some specialized equipment that improves your accessibility. Many parents jury rig their wheelchairs so they can attach a baby stroller, often with velcro straps. Frequent diaper changes make easy crib access one of the most important equipment needs. A side-access crib allows you to reach directly in and change a diaper quickly without having to reach up and over into the crib. Disabled mothers also need to nurse their child with minimal effort. A breastfeeding sling allows you to cradle a baby in a padded shoulder strap and use both arms while nursing, a highly valued feature among quadriplegics.

Bathing can be an especially tricky maneuver for disabled parents, especially if you’re trying to use the kitchen sink to bathe a newborn, which many parents do. Instead, try using a Fisher Price toy tub placed on a waist-high table with a hose extension from your sink to make this important task easier. Interacting with your child is simplified with the boppy baby chair, lightweight carrier that can be placed right in your lap. There’s also a two-sided nursing pillow that allows you to  position your child comfortably at breast level as he lives on a soft, yet stable surface.

Getting a child in and out of a vehicle can also be very challenging for disabled parents, which is what makes the swivel base baby car seat so handy. The seat can be swiveled from the forward to side-facing position, minimizing the possibility of a drop as you manipulate the straps and buckles.

Learning to care for a baby is always a stressful experience. You have to discover what works and what doesn’t, often through trial and error. Using the right equipment can do a lot to take the stress out of it for you. That’s why it’s so important to get an early start finding equipment and making modifications for parenthood.

Image courtesy of  Pexels.com.

Why Sleep Regressions Aren't a Bad Thing

Nothing strikes fear in the heart of parents more than a sleep regression.

No, I'm kidding, but it's no fun to deal with for sure.  Baby wakes up more, spends longer stretches awake (read: up to several hours), and often it keeps parents up more than they really want to be.  They often happen around the same ages - 4 months, 9 months, 12 months - or, they can happen because of teething, growth spurts, etc.

Now, as tough as they can be to deal with, it's a very good sign that your baby's brain is making very important changes!  

I always have found it very interesting that the typical "sleep regression" ages also seem to coincide with certain milestone gains.  4th month regression? Your baby is starting to see details, rolling and creeping.  9th month regression? Your baby is babbling their heads off and crawling all over the place!  12 month regression? This is when babies are starting to take their first steps and say their first words.  Pretty incredible, right?  And of course their sleep is going to be thrown off - their brain is making sure that all these new skills are permanent.  It won't rest until these new milestones are perfected!

There are also pretty significant changes when it comes to sleep needs as well.  The biggest one is at 4 months - this is a time that the brain is maturing and more steps are added to your baby's sleep cycle.  Up until this point, babies only have 2 stages of sleep - stage 3 (deep sleep) and REM (rapid eye movement, not so deep) sleep, and spend equal amounts of time in both.  By 4 months, 3 new stages of sleep develop and a baby's brain needs time to adjust to these changes. 

The problem is that for most babies, they have been used to going to sleep while feeding, getting rocked, etc.  When different stages of sleep are added to the mix, it becomes significantly harder to get them to settle for the night.  Let's take a fairly typical scenario - Mom is settling baby and rocking them before laying them in the crib.  Baby starts to nod off and mom decides to carefully put baby in the crib.  Baby is aware that the situation is changing and naturally, they don't want mom to leave! So as mom lowers baby down, they start to cry and wake up.  They don't want that rocking to end!  Effectively, the reset button has been pushed and mom has to start the whole process over again.  Best case scenario, baby stays asleep, but don't be surprised if baby wakes again after an hour - They went down with mom, and now they're all by themselves.  That can be a pretty startling thing to a baby!  When baby's sleep starts off significantly lighter than it did before, it becomes a lot harder to get them to settle

So, regardless of when a "regression" happens, what can you do about it to make the adjustment as easy as possible?

1) Make the room pitch dark.  This alone can make a huge difference in extending sleep because there's no outside influence waking your baby up.  Not sure if your baby's room is dark enough?  If you can still see your hand extended in front of you even after putting up black out blinds and such, it's still not dark enough.  Try taping dark paper or using window covers to keep it pitch black.

2) Keep feeds closer to the time your baby has woken up from sleep, not before they go down.  This allows baby to get the full benefit of the feed, and avoids a feeding to sleep association.  

3) Establish a really consistent bedtime routine.  By following the same activities leading up to sleep, your baby can start to predict that it's coming and it makes it a lot easier for them to settle.  Some activities include a bath, reading a story, singing a song, and more.

4) Avoid putting your baby to sleep overtired.  Know how long your baby can tolerate being awake and put them to sleep ahead of getting irritated and cranky.  Here's a quick guide: 

what's my baby's wake window.png

These recommendations can help a baby of any age with getting through any sleep "regression."  But, anything that parents can do to encourage their babies to go to sleep independently will help to avoid big disruptions down the line.

So, embrace the regression!  Know that your baby is making big changes in their development and take a sigh of relief.  It will take a little time to work through, but things will settle soon enough.

If you're still struggling to get your baby sleeping on their own, or you're still feeling the throes of a "sleep regression", don't hesitate to reach out or schedule a free, 15 minute call with me to learn how I can help!

Springing Forward - Your Survival Guide

Tis the season for longer evenings and warmer days, but this can be a tough transition initially for some kids.  That one hour can make a big difference! So, here are some quick tips to help you get your little on the new schedule as easily as possible:

1) First and foremost, keep Sunday morning free and don't even think about changing your clocks Saturday night.  Wait until morning, and while having your morning coffee go ahead and move your clocks forward an hour.  This starts things off on the right foot for parents.

2) Using your little one's average bedtime, start to transition it forward.  For example, if your child's bedtime is normally 7:00pm move bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night until you reach the normal time. So on Sunday night, put your little one down at 7:45pm, the second night 7:30pm, and so on. In four nights you should be back to 7:00pm.  If you feel your child's bed time is not so consistent or predictable, then I recommend going straight to bedtime at 7:00pm as if changing time zones.  Again, give your child a few days to adjust to this new time.

3) For naps during the day, the first few days you will put your baby down 1/2 hour later than now.  Once their bedtime is back to their usual time, then put naps back at the regular clock time.

Remember, consistency is key! And, to make sure things go real well, double check that your little one's room is nice and dark, quiet, and not too warm.  The proper sleep environment can make a world of difference in eliminating early mornings and short naps.

If you have questions leading up to Sunday's clock change, don't hesitate to reach out!  Feel free to email me, or schedule a free 15 minute call to ask me more!

Clean Sleep needs Clean Bedding

Did you know that 1/3 of your pillow's weight could contain dust mites and their droppings.  And that in just within 6 weeks, a pillow can be colonized by these little critters?

Gross.

Frequently changing your pillow and comforters (especially those made of down), and mattress is the best thing you can do not only for sleep, but your health overall.  Nearly 10% of the population have dust mite allergies, and a simple bedding change can make a huge difference.  When my husband was waking frequently in the morning with a terrible cough, changing our pillows made an almost instant difference.  Having clean bedding can also reduce likelihood of acne breakouts and other respiratory illnesses. 

Your pillow has a life span of anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.  I recommend doing a deep wash of your family's pillows and comforters every 3 months to extend your beddings' life.  When you first buy your new bedding, write the month and year of purchase on the tags so you remember when to change them out next.  And remember, mites feed on more humid and hot weather.  So, during these months you might need to do this more.  Trust me - your lungs and body will thank you :)

With your mattress, it's just as susceptible to dust mite, dead skin cell, etc. build up.  You can extend the time you use your mattress by purchasing hypoallergenic covers to go between your mattress and sheets.  But, look at replacing your mattress every 5-8 years not only for your back and support for optimal cleanliness as well.  Remember, you do spend about 1/3 of your life on it.  So, treat yourself!

Sources:

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/04/12/mites-flame-retardant-chemicals-in-pillows.aspx

https://www.dreams.co.uk/sleep-matters-club/often-change-mattress/

Facing the Challenges of Being a Single Dad

This week's blog post comes from Daniel at dadsolo.com.  Daniel is a single father and has created dadsolo.com to give resources, experience, tips and more for single dads and parents.  Please be sure to check out his site! 

When you think of a single parent, you typically think of a young single woman working two jobs while struggling to raise two or three children. But single fathers in the world experience challenges as well. Today, single fatherhood is becoming increasingly common. Whether through divorce, the death of a spouse or having children without being married, many men are becoming single parents. They just don’t get as much attention as single moms. If you’re a single dad, here are some tips to help you overcome any challenges that life throws your way:

Find a Support Network

Single parents often feel alone. After all, they’re solely responsible for a mind-boggling array of tasks. As the only parent in the home, single parents must do all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry and a host of other chores. But that’s not all. Single parents take care of the kids when they’re sick, help with homework, shuttle the kids to soccer practice, and attend parent-teacher conferences.

When you’re a single dad, you may feel isolated even more than a single mom. You may be the only dad at the PTA meeting or sitting in the lobby of the ballet school. When you take your kids to the park, you may share a bench with mothers watching their own children play.

For this reason, single dads should reach out to other single fathers in the community. Connecting with other fathers going it alone can help you feel less isolated. Dads in your area may be able to provide you with advice or encouragement when you doubt your abilities to parent your children without a partner.

Just because you’re a single parent doesn’t mean you shouldn’t accept help with typical responsibilities. Family members and close friends can help with babysitting, chauffeuring kids to afterschool activities, and staying with children when they are too sick to go to school.

 

Realize You’re Not Perfect

Everyone makes mistakes--including single fathers. Realizing that you’re not perfect will help you have a sense of humor when things don’t go exactly as planned. If you aren’t a gourmet cook, that’s okay. As long as you’re cooking healthy meals, it doesn’t matter if they consist of simple ingredients. And if you’re not great at doing your five-year-old daughter’s hair, keep practicing. Watch online video hair tutorials. Ask a close friend or family member to give you tips on styling your little one’s hair. Kids don’t expect you to be the perfect parent. They just need to be aware of your love for them.

 

Get the Kids to Help

Teach your children how to help out around the house so that you aren’t so overwhelmed by the chores of daily life. This shows your children the importance of working together and demonstrating responsibility. And when they learn to pitch in with the housework, they develop empathy for you and appreciate all of the work you do for the family.

 

Taking Care of Yourself

As the primary caregiver, you’re always in danger of forgetting to take care of yourself. Daily anxieties of work and taking care of your children can take a toll on your mental health. But as mental health specialists point out, “It’s important to learn small ways to face that stress head-on and reduce it no matter where you are, because having effective coping mechanisms handy will allow you to get through even the most challenging times. You can use your new skills to immediately start feeling better, and to prevent the emergence of chronic mental health problems.”

Being a single father can bring you various challenges. As the only parent in the home, you are responsible for it all. It’s a delicate balance of career and childcare that isn’t easy to achieve. If you are a single father, it’s important to reach out to others for assistance. Connecting with other single dads in the community as well as receiving support from family and friends will help you juggle a myriad of responsibilities while still maintaining a positive outlook.

Photo via Pixabay

Physical Activity – The Key to a Good Night’s Sleep

Humans have several different body rhythms working simultaneously.  For sleep, we have a circadian rhythm where our energy dips down and goes up throughout the day.  We also have something called a homeostatic rhythm – what we do to burn energy and create the need for sleep.  If these two rhythms are working together, sleep comes much more easily. 

For toddlers and older children, there are lots of great activities that can help create the need for our body to sleep.  This includes hiking, running, biking, swimming, playing games in the back yard, a trip to the playground, and more.  In the US, there is a campaign called “Play 60” to get kids exercising for up to 60 minutes daily for their overall health – but I recommend at least this amount for sleep, too.  The best time of day to get this activity is in the morning.  We’re all coming off a (hopefully) good night’s rest and exercise in the morning gets the day started off right.  Be careful not to do too much activity close to bedtime as you run the risk of getting your toddler a little too revved up before bed, making it a bit more difficult to settle for the night.

And, what about babies? 

I am a firm believer that “tummy time” or floor time is crucial for babies.  It’s important to help achieve not only mobility milestones, but it helps to achieve milestones in areas of vision, hearing, talking, and more.  That’s because with more tummy time, the brain starts to make the connections to do higher level activities!

Give your baby the opportunity to explore the environment – if they can crawl on their bellies, do lots of it.  If they can creep on their hands and knees, again, do lots of it.  If you have a very young baby, just having the opportunity to be on the stomach begins to open the door to those higher levels of function.

With young babies, I encourage an EAT/PLAY/SLEEP schedule.  The first few months of life, babies sleep a lot and have short stretches of sleep at night.  Having this EAT/PLAY/SLEEP schedule creates predictability and makes it easier for their brains and bodies to learn the difference between day and night. 

What better way to play then be on your tummy?  Again, this helps to burn energy and create the need to sleep.  It’s also very good for babies who have digestive issues as well.  For babies who are still a bit irregular, it helps to get things moving, if you know what I mean.

If your baby has trouble staying on their tummy, or doesn’t enjoy tummy time, start with really short sessions throughout the day.  This allows them to become more accustomed to this position and it allows for success from the very beginning.  Even if it means it’s only a few seconds at first, celebrate when your baby has been on their tummy!  If they see mommy or daddy is happy with what they’re doing, they’ll keep doing more of it.  Gradually, the time can increase as your baby gets accustomed to the floor and as they start to figure out how to use their arms and legs.

Even a few minutes a day may be all a baby needs to get on a good sleep rhythm.  Remember, we have to work around a feed and nap schedule as well so if this isn’t reached every day that is totally fine.

So, get moving to get sleeping!  If your little one struggles to sleep well through the night look at what they are doing during the day and see what fun activities you can incorporate in your day for a better night’s rest.

Technology and Sleep - Why Sleepwalking Happens

Each day, I get daily updates on all the things coming out with regards to sleep science.  This week, one article stood out in particular about sleepwalking and night terrors.  Here's what I found really surprising: Nearly 20% of children are considered regular sleep walkers, and 5% of kids have re-occurring night terrors.  

That's a whole lot of kids!

What didn't surprise me was the cause of these issues, and that is modern technology creating sleep deprivation.  Blue light that is emitted from smart devices and screens greatly reduces the production of melatonin in the brain.  Did you know that the average household now has at least 7 internet connected devices?  I couldn't believe that until I counted the number I had in my one bedroom apartment -- the grand total was 8.  7 of which had blue-light emitting screens.

That means that kids have much easier access to these devices throughout the day.  For adults, most of us are working jobs where we are in front of our phones or computers all. day. long.  The time really accumulates! If you or your child is using one of these devices leading up to bedtime, the brain's thinking it's daytime.  Not time to sleep!  I personally find that if I've had a particularly technology-heavy day at work, I definitely have a much harder time winding down at the end of the day.

Our bodies will react in a variety of ways under stress.  Sleep deprivation is a type of stress and that causes sleepwalking, night terrors, etc.  I have also seen these happen when other "stressful" things are happening in a child's life -- moving houses, a new sibling, starting daycare or school.  But, if good sleep habits are in place, these are just temporary.  Chronic sleep deprivation itself puts other stresses on the body -- heart problems, weight issues, diabetes, or worse memory loss and even Alzheimer's in adults.

So, live by my mantra: give sleep priority!

Turn off the computer

Switch off the cell phone

Put the tablet away

And focus on your's and your family's sleep hygiene and get a better night's rest.

Does your child sleep walk or have frequent night terrors? Does you child suffer from chronic sleep deprivation? Contact me to learn how I can help!

How to End Early Morning Wake-ups

Early morning wake-ups: a tiring and frustrating situation for many parents! Even when things seem to be going great -- baby is going down on their own, they have the right bed time, naps are going well -- those morning are STILL early!  What to do?  This is an incredibly common thing that happens, even during sleep training, and there are some key tips to extend mornings:

1) Make sure the room is dark

Although we are getting into the season of shorter days, it's really important that there is NO LIGHT coming in from the windows, hallways, etc.  Our bodies are incredibly sensitive to light, and if you're baby is struggling to sleep longer in the morning chances are that the room isn't dark. How dark is dark?  If you can see your hand in front of you, it's not dark enough.  Your baby's brain needs to make that association that dark means sleep, and light means wake.  Remember, even the smallest change in light can provoke a wake-up.

2) Look at your baby's feed schedule

Many babies who wake too early do so because they are still getting night feeds when they really shouldn't be.  If your baby is of a healthy weight and over 6 months, there's no need for it anymore.  So, it might be a matter of pulling the feeds.  If not, your baby won't know the difference between a feed at 4:30am, or 2:00am and it can become a vicious cycle.  And, if your baby has a feeding/sleeping association, it will affect night time consoldation of sleep.  The more fragmented sleep is, the more likely your baby is going to wake too early. And, that feed could be too stimulating, making it harder for your little one to drift off again.

3) Look what's happening FIRST THING in the morning

When parents first voice their concerns about their child waking to early, I first ask, "What happens as soon as your baby wakes up?"

If your baby has something immediate to look forward to, they might be waking early for this.  What baby wouldn't look forward to some instant "mommy and me" time with that first feed? This is important for toddlers as well -- if the first thing that happens is that Dad takes them downstairs and plays games or turns on the TV, your toddler could be waking early to get that reward sooner.

With the first feed of the day, try to delay it at least for 10 minutes, ideally longer.   Change your baby's diaper, take them out of the room, etc.  For toddlers, be very clear that morning does not start until 7am at the earliest.  If they've been good and waited, bring them out of the room and try and start with a quiet, kind of boring morning.  

4) Check the morning nap time

If your baby is waking too early, a lot of parents get stuck because then the first nap of the day gets too early and the whole schedule starts to get out of whack.  The body clock will start to get out of sync, and we don't want that.

What's happening is that now early nap is an extension of night sleep.  If you woke at 4:00am, stayed up for a while, and then went back to sleep for a few hours, it would still be nighttime -- not a nap.  

What that means, however, is that you have to try and keep your baby up until the usual time for their nap, regardless of when they got up.  As you get into the thick of it, give plenty of snacks to boost energy, take your baby outside for fresh air, and keep them up until that first nap time.

5) DO NOT push back bedtime or skip naps

This will end up making more problems.  By pushing back bedtime, skipping naps, your throwing your baby's circadian rhythm off even further.  The thing to remember is that the more sleep your baby gets, the better quality.  Creating overtiredness will not fix the 5:00am rise time.  It'll probably make it earlier.  Stick to an early bed time and respect nap time -- it's sacred!

If you are struggling to get your baby's rise time later, contact me to learn more or schedule a free 15 minute call with me to get some answers!