Is you child getting enough sleep to excel in school this year?

The start of the new school year is just around the corner.  Most of us have prepared by purchasing our kids new folders, pencils and backpacks, but have you thought about their sleep?  Did you know that their is a direct correlation between sleep and a child excelling academically and socially?  But how does one make sure their school aged child is getting the sleep they need?  Simply consistently follow my “Sleep Six” featured on the Boston Parent’s Paper website and rest assured that your child will be ready for all their school year throws at them! http://bostonparentspaper.com/article/back-to-school-is-your-child-getting-enough-zzs.html

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How Did I Get Here – My Journey As a Pediatric Sleep Consultant

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This is a picture of my oldest daughter and me just before we decided to take control of our family’s sleep and hire a Pediatric Sleep Consultant (don’t we look exhausted!). She was about 8 months old and we had held off from reaching out for help because we were convinced that a) sooner or later everything would click and she would become an exquisite sleeper and b) that a sleep expert would simply tell us to let her “cry it out” (and that wasn’t something we were wiling to do). We had read EVERYTHING and were actually doing many things right, but she was still taking 30 minute naps and consistently waking for about an hour or two every night around 2am. Finally, after one night spent in a hotel room attempting to sleep sitting up with her strapped to me in an ergo (because she wouldn’t sleep in her Baby Bjorn travel crib without waking up the entire hotel), we decided enough was enough and reached out for help. Within a week of our initial consult, our little one was miraculously sleeping 12-13 hours a night and taking great naps…..and no, our sleep consultant never told us to leave her to cry.

 

Apparel Buyer Turn Sleep Consultant?

A few months later, our consultant reached out to announce that she was founding a school to teach others the amazing skill set she had used to help us. And that was it. I was hooked. Working with her was truly a game changer. As a mom who was now consistently getting a good night sleep, I was a better parent, a better wife, a better friend…really, just a better me. If I could help other tired parents to get back the quality of life they deserved, I was all in! That was about three years ago and to date, I have helped about 400 families to take control of their sleep and become well rested. I love my job and find it extremely rewarding. Whether my clients have a 6 month old who is just learning healthy sleep habits for the first time or they have a 3 year old who is no longer interested in sleeping in his bed – giving others the gift of sleep is an amazing feeling.

 

The Big Bad Wolf? Mother Goose, is Way More Accurate 

The biggest challenge I find in my work is that many people think as I did: that I will simply tell them to let their child cry. Yet that could not be further from the truth. I work with families from all walks of life, with varying parenting beliefs and philosophies. I do not use a one-size fits all sleep plan with “insert new clients name here _____” ;). Instead I tailor every plan to each child’s sleep needs while adhering to their family’s values. Some parents are interested in using methods that promote attachment philosophies, while other parents are more in need of a more aggressive plan. And guess what, both methods will all work as long as the child is on the correct schedule and the parents remain absolutely consistent.

 

The Take-Away 

I was once that bleary eyed parent, the one who had read everything, tried everything, and was still an overtired wreck (along with my daughter). I was the mom who desperately wanted my daughter to sleep, but thought my parenting philosophies didn’t jive with “sleep training.” I just needed a little guidance, a few tweaks here and there, and someone to support me through the process. Today that is my goal: to guide tired parents towards to getting the sleep they need.

 

Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby (www.wellrestedbaby.com). She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com with any questions. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook too more great sleep tips!

toddler napping tribulationsMilestone Monday – this is my daughter and I a month or so before she turned three (she is already 6- boo). This is her nap story and it’s glorious ending. I thought it was worth sharing as I have been receiving far too many emails from parents of 2 year olds who think their child no longer needs a nap. Hint – they are wrong! Interested?  I wrote it about three years ago when I was one of those parents.  Enjoy!

WRB Sleep Tip – Toddler Napping Tribulations

I have an almost 3-year-old daughter. Since the arrival of her sister six months ago, her naps had been sporadic – happening about 4 times a week. On the days she did nap, it often took her up to an hour to settle before she took a measly one-hour nap.  At first it greatly stressed me out as I know she still needs the sleep, but then I began to relax a bit seeing that she was making up for the missed sleep on those no nap days with a super early (think 5:30) bedtime. I still offered the nap daily and left her in her bed for a full two hours – nap or not. She expects this and enjoys the alone time…choosing to talk to herself and sing when she chooses not to sleep. Many a parent may assume this to mean that the above scenario meant so no longer needed a nap, but it does not as a two year old child is very much still in need of a nap (please read this for more). Now, in toddler sleep 101 you learn that when this nap boycott happens the child has likely become overtired before they are put down for their nap. This often occurs as our toddlers’ age and we become more lax about nap times and the starting time slips later and later. The fix for this is to move naptime back up a bit for a week or so and like magic – voila the nap comes back. Even though I knew this fun fact, I couldn’t consistently implement it as she goes to school 3 days a week and doesn’t get home until about 12:45. So in my new role as mother of two, I neglected fixing this nap issue and it went on for several months. In April, she was off from school for the week and it dawned on me – this is the perfect chance to try to repair that nap! In the back of my mind, I was actually a bit doubtful that I was going to fix anything. I thought I had let it go on too long and this new bad habit was going to be the norm, but I moved her nap earlier every day that week from her usual 1pm to having her in her bed by 12:15pm. The first five days nothing much changed and she kept to her same antics, but low and behold on day six she went right to sleep and took her old two-hour nap. And then it happened on day seven too! Two months later it is still happening today. I did shift her nap back to 1pm on the days that she is in school and on the other days I try to get her down just a few minutes earlier around 12:30-12:45, but I can count on one hand the times that she has skipped her nap since the beginning of May.

 

The Tip Take-Away: Don’t be too quick to assume your child is all done napping…or like me become complacent with your child’s poor naps before trying to fix the problem. If you child is under age 4 and naps have become few and far between, take a solid 7 days and move up their nap to 12:15-12:30 and see if it that helps the nap to come back. Remember this doesn’t happen over night – you must stick with it for a week before deciding it is working or not. After all most 3 year olds still take a daily nap. According to Dr. Weissbluth, a nationally renowned pediatrician and child sleep expert, at age 3, 92% of children are still napping!

 

In honor of World Breast Feeding Week, I thought I would discuss two topics near and dear to me: Sleep & Breast Feeding.

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With my occupation, it is a no brainer that I love all things sleep. However, it may surprise you that breast feeding is also way up there in my priority list. Why these two passions? Making sure that my family is getting the sleep that we each need, ensures that we are all healthy, happy, patient (that one is for me ;)) and ready to face the challenges of each day. Breast feeding has personally given me more joy than I can express while creating an amazing bond with my daughters and giving them best nutrition possible. But can the two (sleep & breast feeding) co-exist or is does one need to suffer for the other to flourish? This is a common misconception and it is 100% not true. Sleep and adequate nutrition are two of our most important biological needs. Any pediatrician will tell you that a healthy baby will not allow himself to go hungry. As a certified child sleep consultant, it is my belief that many babies are in fact in need of a night feeding through 9 months of age. With this knowledge, I often schedule night feedings into many of my client’s schedules to ensure that the baby is getting in all of the feedings he needs. And guess what? Once a baby is going to sleep before becoming overtired and knows how to put himself to sleep without assistance, he often (drumroll) sleeps right through the night and through that scheduled feed. Why? Because once a baby has mastered the art of sleep, he will choose whichever need is biologically most important – eating or sleeping (click here for more). So fear not, your breast feeding relationship and your child’s nutritional needs do not need to be sacrificed by teaching healthy sleep skills. In fact, many mom’s report to me that their nursing relationship improves when their child is well rested!

But don’t just take my word for it:
Check out this great article by Lorna C. Aliperti, APRN, IBCLC.: Can Sleep Training and Lactation Consultants Coexist?

The Take-Away:
Breastfeeding should not be sacrificed in efforts to sleep train your baby nor does it need to be. Simply provide your baby with healthy sleep hygiene and a strong foundation for sleep and when he is ready to sleep through the night without night feedings, he will do so all on his own.

Copyright © Well Rested Baby, 2016


Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby. She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com to schedule a consultation. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and Twitter too for more great sleep tips.

Is Your Child off to Sleep-Away Camp this Summer?  Here are 5 Sleep Tips to Ensure They’re Well-Rested And Ready For Fun!

IMG_2625For many of us, sleep-away camp was a summer ritual – a rite of passage when we became old enough to go off on our own and create memories and friendships. And now your child is going off too! For many new campers, this summer will be their first time sleeping away from home without Mom or Dad for more than a night or two. Cabins, bunk beds, campfires, boating, swimming, pottery, talent shows…that is a lot of newness and excitement for your camper. Add in some strange noises, whispering cabin mates and an unfamiliar bed and drifting off to sleep may be difficult – even for the best of sleepers. It is easy to see how your child may leave for summer camp rested and full of sunshine, but may return an overtired mess. In between shopping for bug spray, labeling clothes and reviewing your packing list – add these 5 tips to your “to-do list” to ensure that your child can get the sleep in they need to enjoy their camp adventure and create their own rustic nostalgia.

 

Pack Their Perfect Bunk in Their Camp Trunk

Your summer camp will send you a packing list to ensure that your child has everything they need. But while you’re packing, remember to recreate the comforts of home, or at least the necessities. This is especially important for the younger and first-time campers. If your child has a special stuffed friend or blanket that they can’t sleep without – make sure it goes to camp too. Pack your child’s pillow along with any blankets that are comforting to them. I know most of us think ‘sleeping bag’ when it comes to camp, but it doesn’t have to be a bag if your child doesn’t sleep comfortably in it.   Most camps are ok with you bringing your own sheets and blankets to re-create a more comfy bed – especially for campers that are staying for extended periods of time. Is your child noise sensitive? In general, camps do not allow expensive electronics like iPhones, and iPads, but check to see if an old iPod can come along with a set of headphones. If that is an option, down load a white noise app or sound track that your child can listen to as they drift off to sleep. If the iPod is a no-go, remember that old Sleep Sheep from their infant days? Dust it off and check the batteries. It only plays for 45 minutes, but it may be the perfect bunkmate to fend off any distracting bedtime noises around camp. Sheep “too baby-ish”? Is a small clip on fan allowed? If so, it can do double duty to keep him cool and block out any troublesome noises.

 

Prepare for Child For What is to Come

If your child is one who thrives on routine (as many do), make sure that you talk through what camp will be like – including bedtime. Check out your camp’s website to see if they post a typical daily schedule or reach out to your camp to find out what your child can expect. Walk your camper through all of the details you find. Explain that while their camp bedtime routine may not include a book or some of their home bedtime rituals, it will be consistent from night-to-night and their counselors will be there to help get them ready for bed each night.

 

Be a Weatherman (or Women)

Know the average highs and lows for the location of your child’s camp (many weather websites have charts detailing yearly averages). Sure it’s summer and it is bound to be warm, but if your child’s camp is in the mountains or by the ocean – overnight lows may be cooler than you think.   Also check the extended forecast a few days before camp to be prepared for any impending heat waves. Then pack your child’s pajamas accordingly. Be sure to include extra socks and long sleeve cotton tees for layering.

 

Do Your Homework and Pick a Camp that Works for your Family

All overnight camps are fun and full of activities galore. With so many great camps to choose from, you should also take into consideration the one that works best with your child’s current schedule. If your 6 year old has gotten the overnight camp bug and you are on board, check that potential camps have a schedule that isn’t too far from his norm. If he is regularly fast asleep by 7pm each night – an 8pm camp bedtime should be ok. However, a 9pm bedtime may be too much for him, especially with all of the physical activity that he will be doing. Also think about your child’s daily schedule, does your child usually have downtime each afternoon to unwind a bit? If so, many camps have a scheduled quiet time – so check for that too.

 

Back To Reality

No matter how prepared your child is, and how well rested they go into sleep-away camp; they will inevitably come home exhausted. If your child was only away for a week or two, get them right back on their usual schedule upon arriving home and they should adjust in just a few days. If they were a month-long or summer-long camper, adjusting may be a bit more difficult. Rather than do it cold turkey, move bedtime back to their norm in stages – by 30 minutes every few days. No matter how long your child is at camp, be sure to schedule your camp dates so that there is enough time to catch up and be well rested before starting the new school year.

This article appeared in the Boston Parent’s Paper North East Camp Guide.  Click here for the digital version. FeaturedInButton

 

Copyright © Well Rested Baby, 2015


Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby (www.wellrestedbaby.com). She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Amy, her husband Jeff, their 4 year old Stella, their 2 year old Harley, and their two dogs Jackson and Cody live in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com with any questions. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and twitter for more great sleep tips!

 

IMG_4433The Daylight Savings Time change in just mere days away    arriving Sunday, March 13th. Yet, there is no need to fret as    the Spring component is much less problematic than it’s Fall counterpart. Yes we do lose one hour of sleep that initial night, but we gain one glorious extra hour of sunlight in its place. What about our kids? Will they be thrown off? Maybe for a day or too, but most will not be phased and it may even help make your child’s sleep better!

 

How Do I Help My Child to Adjust?
Easy breezy…Older kids will naturally adjust on their own with you simply moving all the elements of their day to the new time along with their sleep times. For example, make sure that their daily cues – breakfast, lunch, dinner, bath, are all moved to the new clock times and their body will quickly follow suit for naptimes and bedtime too.
Take it slow…Younger children or those on several naps a day, may do better with making the change to the new clock time over several days. For this set, it may be more difficult to move all of their sleeping an entire hour earlier than their norm – so for them we split the difference and only move them 30 minutes earlier than they are used to the first couple of days. On Sunday, simply move their entire entire routine forward on the new clock by 30 minutes (which is really 30 minutes earlier than their usual schedule). For example: if your child normally naps at 9am, naps again at 1pm, and goes to bed at 7pm – the first two days after the time change their schedule would look like this: nap at 9:30am, nap again at 1:30pm, and bed at 7:30pm. Then on day three or four post time change you would move your child’s routine back to their old schedule moving them 30 minutes earlier – naps at 9am and 1pm and bed at 7pm which completes the total one hour move to their schedule (which again, is really 60 minutes earlier than their pre-time change schedule). Remember that things like meals, snacks, and bath act as “cues” telling your child’s brain that sleep is coming next. Moving these cues along with sleep times will help them to adjust more quickly.

Accelerate Their Body Clock
Our body clocks are set by cues from sunlight and darkness. If we can adjust our child’s light exposure, they will have an easier time adjusting. In the morning, open all curtains upon waking. Get out for some sunshine and fresh air in the early part of the day. If your snow has yet to melt, an activity in a sun filled room will work just as well. Then in the evening, dim the lights an hour before bedtime and close the shades. Slow activities down to prepare your child for sleep. Ensure that your child’s room is conducive to sleep and equipped with black out curtains or blinds, as the sun will now be shining well past bedtime.

The Time Change Will Improve My Child’s Sleep?
As we turn our clocks forward, we tell our bodies to wake at an earlier time and to go to sleep at an earlier time. So if your child’s waking time is too early, the change will naturally push it later without you doing a thing! Score. And if your child’s bedtime had crept too late, simply stick with the same “clock time” starting on the 8th and this will help bring it back to where it needs to be.

Enjoy!
Again, this time change is generally much easier for our bodies to handle as we are doing everything on an earlier than we are used to and not pushing ourselves later as we do in the Fall. So don’t stress. Relax and enjoy your additional hour of sunshine!

Copyright © Well Rested Baby, 2016

Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby (www.wellrestedbaby.com). She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Amy, her husband Jeff, their 5 year old Stella, their 3 year old Harley, and their two dogs Jackson and Cody live in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com with any questions. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook too more great sleep tips!

Circadian What? The Science Behind The Timing of Your Baby’s Naps

Some kids seem to be natural sleepers, easily taking lengthy naps each day, while others need a bit more assistance to get in the daytime sleep that they need. However, all children can take good, restorative naps if given the opportunity. The key to helping babies achieve their best nap is having them nap at the correct time of day. When sleep occurs is more important than the duration of the nap.

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The Sciencey Stuff
We all have biological clocks called circadian rhythms, which are controlled by the rotation of the earth on its axis. These clocks create an internal timing mechanism for sleep based on dark (night)/light (day) cues. Sleeping in sync with these rhythms provides the best quality and most restorative sleep your body can achieve. It is also easiest to fall asleep and stay asleep at these times. Therefore it is important to be aware of your child’s circadian rhythms and schedule their naps accordingly, as this is the best way to ensure they get the sleep they need. A one-hour nap at the correct biological time is actually more restful than a two-hour nap outside of this window. The timing of these “sleep waves” changes as we age, but they are a constant for all children of the same age, varying only slightly from person to person.

Want to Relate?
An easy way for adults to relate to the power of these rhythms is to think about something like jet lag. While traveling outside of your time zone, most of us have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep, and even if you do manage to get your usual amount of sleep, you still wake not feeling as rested. That is what it is like for a baby who is not napping in sync with their circadian rhythms.

So When Do These “Magical Sleep Waves” Occur?

  • For babies four months and older who are taking two to three naps a day: the first nap should start between 8:30-9 a.m. The second nap should start between 12-1 p.m.
  • For toddlers who are taking one nap a day: this nap should start between 12:30-1 p.m.
  • Bedtime is also impacted by these rhythms. The best practice is to allow our children to fall asleep in sync with melatonin onset and in a rested state. This translates into a bedtime for babies and toddlers within the range of 5-8 p.m.

Remember that these are the times that you want your child to be asleep, so be sure to allot extra time for them to fall asleep. For example, if it takes your baby 15 minutes to fall asleep, you want to make sure that she is in her crib 15 minutes prior to the time you want her asleep.

Please note: Babies under four months do not yet have circadian rhythms, as they are just starting to develop at about that age. For these younger babies, be sure to watch the clock to keep their awake periods short, while also watching them for their sleepy signs. The key with these little ones is getting them to sleep before they become overtired.

This article appeared in Macaroni Stork – click here for original article

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Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby. She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com with any questions. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook and Twitter too for more great sleep tips!

New-Year’s-BabyWell Rested Sleep Tip: 4 Reasons to Resolve to Make Your Child’s Sleep a Priority in 2016

Eat better, exercise more, curse less – these are all great resolutions and ones that most of us have made in the past. But have you ever resolved to get more sleep? If not, that should be your goal for 2016. Sleep is a biological need that is as important as eating, but many of us do not make it a priority for our children and ourselves. Here are 4 concrete reasons why your New Years’ resolution should be improving your child’s sleep, which will in turn improve yours!

1. Babies and Toddlers Need Quality Sleep for Healthy Body and Brain Growth and Development
Gazing at your beautiful baby as he sleeps you wouldn’t guess that internally his body is anything but at rest. While your baby sleeps his reduced physical activity enables his brain to carry out vital jobs that cannot be as efficiently accomplished during wakefulness. Sleep gives his brain a chance to turn its attention to the important job of consolidating memory and learning. Making sure your child gets good, sound sleep ensures he or she will have a sound foundation for proper mind and body development. The American Academy of Pediatrics has linked babies’ insufficient sleep to everything from future obesity to behavior problems in kids. As Marc Weissbluth, MD, the author of “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child,” explains, children who don’t get enough consolidated REM sleep have shorter attention spans, so they don’t learn as well. These babies also release more of the stress hormone cortisol, setting them up for frequent night wakings and stunted naps. In short, sleep = brain power and nourishment for the body.

2. Children Who Get the Sleep they Need, Behave Better and are Generally More Enjoyable
This statement is true for children of all ages and is one that most of us have observed. A baby who has skipped a nap is usually quite fussy and unpleasant. And imagine the toddler who has not gotten in his needed sleep for the day – phew tantrums ensue, watch out! This is because when we don’t get the sleep we need, our body and brain are stressed and for a child it is easy to see how that can lead to poor behavior. While this relationship between lack of sleep and crankiness is generally accepted as true, there have recently been many studies on the topic that offer further proof. For example, this study from the University of Colorado Boulder measured the sleep patterns of toddlers aged two to three and found that for toddlers “missing even a single nap causes them to be less positive, more negative and have decreased cognitive engagement.” I think this quote from the study’s author Professor Monique LeBourgeois sums it all up: “Just like good nutrition, adequate sleep is a basic need that gives children the best chance of getting what is most important from the people and things they experience each day.” Another recent study published in the journal of Pediatrics (authored by Reut Gruber, director of the attention behavior and sleep lab at the Douglas Institute at McGill University, in Quebec) looked at children ages 7-11. One group of children went to bed earlier and got about 27 extra minutes of sleep a night while the other group stayed up later than their bedtime and lost about 54 minutes of sleep each night. “Students who were sleep-deprived not only seemed overly tired, but were more impulsive and irritable than their well-rested classmates. They were quick to cry, lose their tempers or get frustrated.” Yet another study, (this one from researchers in the United Kingdom) discusses the importance of regular bedtimes in ensuring our kids are emotionally at their best. “While all of us are crankier and less pleasant when we don’t get enough sleep, this has a particular importance for children, because experts believe that sleep is important for the development of parts of the brain that regulate behavior” explains Dr. Claire McCarthy. But the really exciting part of this study: this is reversible! Children who started having set bedtime routines caught up and behavioral issues improved.

3. Sleep = Brain Power
Did you know that the higher ones IQ is the more they sleep? Definitely an interesting fact, and one that points out the importance of sleep in intelligence and academic achievement. While the amount of sleep your child gets does not automatically predict their IQ, it is certainly important for them to preform at their best. Dr. Avi Sadeh of Tel Aviv University, conducted a study where at random a group of 4th-6th graders were instructed to sleep either more or less. The results were astonishing. “A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development,” Sadeh explains. This is like a 6th grader performing at a 4th graders level after just three nights of poor sleep! Further, studies have shown that lack of sleep cannot allow a child to concentrate in class and therefore they often miss out on new material. If this happens day after day a child can certainly fall behind. Sleep has even been correlated to academic success for the littlest of students. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts, found that naptime for preschoolers allows them to better process and remember the information they learn in school. One group of students napped after a memory game while the other group was kept awake following the game. The children who slept approximately 77 minutes were able to remember 75% of what they learned – a full 10% more than the children who did not nap. So it appears, sleep is critical to learning no matter your age.

4. YOU!
If the information above isn’t enough to convince you to make your child’s sleep a priority, then what about your well being! To be a healthy well functioning adult, you need to get plenty of consolidated sleep. Remember that plan to exercise more this year to improve your health? Well adults who are not getting enough sleep have a much harder time motivating themselves to stick with a regular exercise regimen. Recent studies have linked poor quality sleep in older adults to a faster decline in the size of the frontal, temporal and parietal areas of the brain – the areas of the brain that are used in decision making and learning. What’s scarier? Too little sleep can lead to and speed up dementia in adult men. Wow, a good night sleep is more important that one may think! If your child is sleeping well, then chances are you will be too!

The Tip Take-Away: Make sleep a top priority and you will likely have a happier, self-assured, less demanding, and more sociable child. In turn, you will likely get some more sleep yourself enabling you to be a healthier adult and a better parent. It’s a win, win for all!

Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby (www.wellrestedbaby.com). She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Amy, her husband Jeff, their 5 year old Stella, their 3 year old Harley, and their two dogs Jackson and Cody live in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com with any questions. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook too more great sleep tips!

 

Well Rested Sleep Tip: Give Your Child the Gift of Sleep

 

This holiday season, give your child (and your self!) the gift of sleep. Baby, toddler, preschooler, 3rd grader, highschooler, adult. No matter your age, sleep is one of our most important biological needs. As my favorite sleep guru Dr. Marc Weissbluth has said “Sleep is to the brain as food is to the body”. Our bodies regulate sleep in much the same way that they regulate eating, drinking, and breathing. This suggests that sleep serves a similar critical role in our health and well-being. There has been article after article proving that sleep is necessary for our proper biological function as it allows our brains to grow and repair. Think about how you feel when you have had a poor night sleep…you just can’t preform at your best. As Dr. Weissbluth explains further, children who don’t get enough consolidated REM sleep have shorter attention spans, so they don’t learn as well. These babies also release more of the stress hormone cortisol, setting them up for frequent night wakings and stunted naps.  Just as you strive to provide yourself and your family with nourishing healthful food, you should also make quality sleep a priority.

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Know How Much Sleep is Needed And Insist On it

The amount of sleep our bodies require changes as we age. Very young babies sleep a lot – 16-20 hours a day (which makes perfect sense as their main objective is growing their brain and body). Many parents are surprised that at 12-18 months, their kids still need about 14 hours of sleep per day. Toddlers and preschoolers require 12-13 hours of sleep per day and school age kids still need 10-12 hours. There is a whole lot of growing going on, and remember – sleep is required for brain growth and development. And if you can believe it, highschoolers still need 9 hours of sleep per night! Knowing how much sleep your child needs to be happy and healthy will allow you to insure they are getting that sleep. As we can not count on our kids to sleep in to make up their needed sleep (don’t we wish!!), we need to make sure bedtime is early enough to achieve their number. This goes for parents as well. To be healthy, well functioning adults we need quality sleep too!

 

Make Sure Bedrooms are Conducive to Good Sleep

Most of us know the ABC’s of a proper sleep environment for our babies and toddlers – a dark room (black out blinds and no sources of light) free from distractions (mobiles, toys, music), with white noise and a temperature between 65-70 degrees. Once our kids get older, we often forget about creating a bedroom that promotes good sleep hygiene, but it is just as important. No matter our age, our bedrooms should be very similar to the environment that you created in your nursery. This means that TV’s, smart phones, computers, and tablets should be turned off and left in the livingroom!

 

Routines Really Are Important      

Pre-sleep routines are a necessity whether you are 4 months or 40 years old. Routines help our bodies to unwind and train our body and brain that sleep is forthcoming. For young children, bedtimes should be a bit flexible based on the quality of naps each day (on a poor nap day bedtime should be earlier, and on a good nap day a bit later). For older children, teenagers and adults, bedtime should be at about the same time each day.

 

The Tip Take-Away: Sleep is critical to our health and development. As parents, we need to be guardians of our children’s sleep. Yes as soon as your child is old enough to challenge you, they will likely have times when they will fight you on sleep and try to push boundaries. Don’t let your children get away with poor sleep. You wouldn’t let them eat junk food, so don’t allow junk sleep.

Amy Lage is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She is founder of Well Rested Baby (www.wellrestedbaby.com). She offers a host of services including in person, phone, email and Skype/FaceTime consultations that can be tailored to meet any family’s needs and schedule. Amy, her husband Jeff, their 5 year old Stella, their 3 year old Harley, and their two dogs Jackson and Cody live in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. Please email her at amy@wellrestedbaby.com with any questions. Be sure to follow WRB on Facebook too more great sleep tips!

 

 

Keeping Your Little Llamas Rested During the Holidays
Heather Andersen, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant

Unknown“Time to buy and search and shop. Mama carries. Llama drops.”

“Llama Llama holidays. Hustle bustle. Cooking craze. Measure sugar. Roll the dough. Ten more batches left to go…”

 “Too much music, too much fluff! Too much everything for Llama…Llama Llama HOLIDRAMA!”

Do any of these excerpts from the well-loved book, “Llama Llama Holiday Drama”, sound familiar to you? With the holiday season upon us, our lives seems to go into over-drive, with every spare minute of our time filled and scheduled with holiday parties, shopping, wrapping, baking, card writing, more shopping, more wrapping, more baking…it never seems to end. While all of this is certainly very exciting, and it’s a favorite time of year for many of us, it’s also very easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of the holiday season and let your children’s sleep become less of a priority. Before you know it, your child is waking up in the middle of the night and/or surprising you with super early wake-up calls.

 

Nap on the go while we drive to the mall? Well, I guess we have to; the shopping needs to get done.

 

Oops, bedtime was late again; but we had a few errands to run after school and then we needed to bake cookies…how many nights this week has bedtime been late? I’ve lost track…

 

While some of this is part in parcel for the holiday season, before we know it, we end up with children (and adults) that can hardly enjoy the holiday season because we are all exhausted. Here are some sleep tips to get all of us through this wonderful, yet weary season:

 

  • Keep Your Child’s Room Conducive to Sleep

At Well Rested Baby, we recommend that your child’s room should always be as dark as possible in order to promote healthy sleep. Normally, this is an easy fix, with the use of room darkening shades & blinds and the covering of all LED lights. However, as soon as Thanksgiving is over, there can often be some festive new additions to your children’s rooms. Candles in the windows? Maybe a small, but lit, tree in their room? Some new holiday night-lights? Twinkle lights from the outside of the house shining through the windows (or perhaps even added twinkle lights IN their rooms)? While all of this is certainly beautiful, it can be a real and serious distraction for your children while they are trying to fall and stay asleep at night as well as naptimes. It’s fine to have these decorations in their rooms, but perhaps make it part of your bedtime routine to turn all the lights off (let’s now say good-night to the tree and the Santa night light for example), before your child is placed into bed. And if your outdoor decorations are shining brightly into your child’s room and the curtains do not take care of it, then simply turn those lights off at bedtime. Your house may not be as festive for the evening passers-by, but your children will be sleeping better. If your child has a hard time falling asleep and goes to bed too late as a result, it is more likely that they will awake during the night and/or rise very early in the morning. In addition, it may help to dim the lights in the common areas of the house as well as your children’s rooms in the hour before bedtime as being exposed to bright lights right before bedtime may suppress melatonin production. We want to do our best to protect our children’s sleep during the holiday season, just as we do throughout the year.

 

  • Make Sure Your Child Has a Consistent Place to Sleep

It’s very easy during the holiday season to have your children take more and more of their naps on the go (strollers and cars) as we simply have so much to do and can’t lose those nap time hours. While this may work in helping us to get more items checked off our never-ending holiday to-do list, if we make this a regular occurrence it can greatly affect our children’s sleep. Sleeping while moving is less restorative than stationary sleep as the constant motion keeps all of us from reaching our deepest stages of sleep. Think about how much more rested you feel when you sleep in your own bed as opposed to sleeping on a plane, train, bus, or car! The same holds true for our children and these naps on the go are simply not as quality in nature as sleep in their cribs, bassinets, or co-sleepers. While it may be impossible to stay home for all naps during the holidays, do your best to keep as many naps as possible at home. Arrange for childcare if you have to be gone during nap time, or if that is not an option for you, perhaps do a swap with your friends and family where you take turns watching each other’s children during awake times so that each of you can get some kid-free shopping time (and the kids get a playdate!) while not sacrificing the location and quality of the nap. Or take care of baking, card writing, wrapping and other “at-home chores” while the child is napping and then take them out while they are awake to complete the other errands.

 

On the days where you can’t find a way around a nap on the go, then try to time the errands with the children’s natural nap times, so that they are at least falling asleep at the biologically best times for them to catch their natural sleep rhythms. For example, if your 2-year-old naps from 1-3pm each day and you have to take the child out during naptime, then try to leave slightly earlier than 1 so that he/she has a chance to fall asleep on time. A nap at the wrong time biologically can be the equivalent of no nap as the sleep will not be as restorative. Lastly, keep in mind that although your child may have slept during their regularly scheduled nap time, that since a nap on the go is not as restorative as a stationary nap (and it was likely not as long of a nap), putting your child to sleep early that night for bedtime will help to make up for the lighter, less-quality sleep they had while in motion during the day.

 

 

  • Keep the Bedtime Routine Consistent and Soothing

The holidays are an exciting time for all of us, and especially for children. School routines may be different than usual with added concerts, school parties and special field trips. They may have extended family staying over for a number of days at their house. Dinner times and locations may vary with busy and full weekend activity schedules. While we don’t want to miss out on the joy of the holiday season, we do want to remember that children crave routine and if their schedules and routines are varying too much throughout the day, their sleep can suffer. Definitely maximize their awake times and enjoy this season. But in addition to keeping naps in their original location and times (as much as possible) and keeping bedtime normal (or earlier if needed), we also want to ensure we continue to make time for the bedtime routine our children are accustomed to having each night. It can be difficult for children to fall asleep if they are moved too quickly from a holiday activity to their bedrooms without enough time to wind down and decompress. Ideally, try to make sure to not skip the bath if that is what is normally included in the bedtime routine and try not to rush through the reading of bedtime stories, while still placing the child into bed on-time.

 

However, if find that you are simply running way too late to make it through the entire bedtime routine and still have an on-time bedtime, then do a shorter version of the routine (maybe one less book, one less song, or just washing face and brushing teeth instead of bath) so that you can still have a soothing routine, albeit shorter, and still have the child in bed on-time. An on-time bedtime with a shorter, yet still soothing, routine is better than having a child go to bed late as an overtired child will struggle falling and staying asleep. The key is to not rush through the routine, whether you have the time for the full routine or are shortening it for a night, as we want the routine to remain soothing and relaxing for the child.

 

Children are very in touch with our feelings and emotions and if we are anxious during the entire bedtime routine because our minds are already 10 steps ahead thinking about the multitude of tasks we still need to complete before we can put ourselves to bed, they can pick up on this and go to bed in an anxious state themselves (which of course can have negative consequences). Use your children’s soothing and consistent bedtime routine as a chance for yourself to also relax and use this time to reconnect with your child after a very busy day. Your child will enter sleep much more peacefully and you will move on to the next round of chores in a much better mindset!

 

  • Keep Bedtime Flexible

This is one of Well Rested Baby’s most important tips at all times of year, but it can be especially helpful at this time of year. Many of us make the mistake of keeping bedtime a set time on the clock for our children and do not modify bedtime based on the amount and quality of daytime sleep. As I mentioned above, during this time of year, it’s very common for naps to no longer take place in their normal stationary and relaxing locations, but instead on the go. Missing naps altogether can also happen more and more during this busy time. Sometimes this is unavoidable and the best way to react is to move bedtime earlier to make-up for any loss of daytime sleep (or simply to make-up for daytime sleep that did happen but was less quality in nature). For example, if your 2-year-old normally takes a nap from 1-3, but because the nap was in the car one day and it was only 1 hour, then you would want to make bedtime at least an hour earlier that day (1.5 hours early would even be better to also account for the sleep in motion). The early and flexible bedtime is the best way to ensure that our children stay well rested during this hectic holiday season and are given the opportunity to make-up any of that lost daytime sleep.

 

Happy Holidays from Well Rested Baby!

 

 

 

Heather is a Family Sleep Institute certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant. She recently joined the Well Rested Baby team, working with the founder of Well Rested Baby, Amy Lage. For any questions, please visit the Well Rested Baby website at www.wellrestedbaby.com or email Heather at heather@wellrestedbaby.com. Be sure to also like our Facebook page!