Summer is coming to a close, boo! It is my favorite season: sunshine, warm weather, flowers, the beach….I could go on and on and it saddens me that it is almost over. But Fall just may be reason for your little one to celebrate! Labor Day not only signifies the unofficial end to summer, but also a return to a more scheduled and reliable life style. As babies, toddlers, and young kids thrive in this type of environment, Fall just may be your child’s new favorite season. Here are 5 reasons that Fall presents a great opportunity to refocus on your child’s sleep:

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1. A More Structured Day

For me summer presents more of a fly by the seat of your pants mentality. Beach, why not? Park, of course! Picnic lunch, what could be more lovely? Yet despite my efforts at sticking to a strict schedule, I am inevitably a few minutes late for nap or bedtime. Here’s how it often goes – “No matter what, we are leaving location X by 12pm, so the baby can be in her crib by 12:30”. Yet 12pm arrives and there is just one more run through the water or slide down the slide and somehow 12:30pm becomes 1pm and I am cursing myself for another nap that started a bit too late. Even for a young child who is not yet in school, Fall often presents a more structured and consistent day and, again, young children benefit greatly from being on a schedule. This is because it helps them understand what comes next. If every day your child eats lunch at 12pm and then goes down for their nap at 12:30, lunch serves as a cue that naptime is approaching. But if one day its lunch, then play, then car ride, then nap and the next day its nap, then lunch, then errands – nap time is likely more difficult because their little body doesn’t know what to expect next. So take Fall as an opportunity to get your little one on the schedule they have been longing for.

2. Less Temptation For Naps on the Go
Do you try to eek out every last bit of fun at a location or feel bad cutting big brother or sister off from their good time? If so, your baby may be taking a large percentage of naps on the go. Some babies are able to take ok naps on the go while others are too distracted to get in any quality shut eye. Even if your baby is able to fall asleep anywhere the quality of sleep they are getting is actually sub par. Sleep on the go is not as restorative as sleep in a stationary bed. This is because sleep in motion (that you get in a stroller or car) does not allow the body to enter a deep, restorative sleep. Dr. Marc Weissbluth likens motion-induced sleep to the type of sleep an adult might get while flying in an airplane. So with less going on, take this opportunity to commit to allowing your child to nap in their crib as often as possible.

3. Cooler Weather
We all sleep better in cooler air. The ideal temp for your bedroom is between 65-70 degrees. I shoot for 68. Thankfully air conditioning allows you to keep bedrooms at a good sleeping temperature during warmer months, but nothing is quite as good as the real thing! Think about that first night that you get to sleep with your windows open snuggled beneath a quilt. Somehow you just sleep a little better! For these nights make sure you dress your little one in the appropriate layers. And remember no blankets in your baby’s crib! A wearable blanket will ensure your little one stays warm without kicking off his blankets and while staying safe.

4. Earlier Sunsets
While babies and toddlers do not mind the sun being high in the sky at bedtime, many parents have a really hard time putting their baby to bed when it is still bright and sunny outside. I recommend black out curtains to ensure your child will easily fall asleep at the their ideal bedtime despite the sun shining. Even with a pitch-black room, I know those moms and dads who just can not do it. I think it’s a psychological thing. So now that fall is approaching and the sun will be going down sooner – take this opportunity to make sure you little one is getting a bedtime early enough for his age. How do you know if your bedtime is early enough? Your child should be fast asleep before he has the opportunity to become overtired.

5. Later Starts
Shorter days are not only beneficial to bedtime, but also wake-up times. Not only is it getting darker earlier in the evening it also stays dark a bit later into the morning. This is welcome news for parents as many kids do in fact wake with the sun. If you have done everything to ensure that your child’s early bird tendencies are not from poor sleep hygiene (a nap schedule which is out of sync with their circadian rhythms, a bedtime which is too late, not enough consolidated sleep, a room without black out curtains) then they may just be one of those children with the soul of a rooster. As the sun starts “sleeping in”, you may find that your child does too!

The Tip Take-Away:
Recently there have been a slew of studies showing that children who get more sleep are able to do better in school. Even if your child is not yet school aged, allow the start of the new season, to mean the start of getting back to a healthy sleep routine.

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 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!