June 23, 2015
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Getting regular, restful sleep is absolutely crucial for mental health, but according to the 2003 National Survey of Children’s Health, 15 million children and teens aren’t getting enough. Learn more about how important sleep is for your children, and how you can help them get more of it.

Sleep and your child's mental health

Sleep and Mental Health

North American adults, teens, and children are all at risk of sleep deprivation, and it’s a big problem, because sleep deprivation is a risk factor for mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. As well as this, people with existing mental illnesses tend to suffer from sleep problems. This means there’s what’s known as a “bidirectional link” between sleep and mental illness: people who have sleep problems are more at risk of developing certain mental illnesses, and people with mental illnesses are likely to have insomnia and other sleep disturbances.

According to studies that examine brain chemistry and brain activity, getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis is important for mental acuity and emotional stability. For example people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be emotionally volatile, and to have reduced cognitive function that can negatively affect their work or school performance. If the problem isn’t addressed, sleep deprivation can easily turn into a vicious cycle where lack of sleep causes minor emotional or cognitive problems that exacerbate sleeping difficulties.

What Does this Mean for Your Child?

While the link between sleep and mental health has been well established in adults, it was only recently, in May 2015, that scientists confirmed the existence of a similar link in children. The study, carried out at the Norway University of Science and Technology, found that when young children have serious sleep problems, they have a higher risk of developing psychiatric problems during childhood.

The study looked at the sleeping routines of children as young as four, and concluded that four year old children with serious sleeping problems had a higher risk of developing psychiatric issues by as early as six years old. The most common sleep disorder children are affected by is insomnia; in the Norwegian survey, around 16.6% of four year olds were affected.

The study also found that the reverse was true: young children with psychiatric symptoms had a higher likelihood of developing sleep disorders than children who didn’t have psychiatric symptoms. This is especially true of ADHD, which causes sleep problems in up to 50% of children with the disorder.

What to Do if Your Child has Sleeping Problems

This doesn’t mean, of course, that all children with sleep problems will develop psychiatric symptoms or mental illnesses. For most children, as well as most adults, sleeping problems are transient, lasting only a few weeks or a few months. For children especially, establishing healthy regular sleep routines is difficult, even for children who don’t have actual sleep disorders. However, there’s a lot you can do to help your child establish a healthy sleep routine, and teach them about the importance of sleep.

  • Establish a set bedtime and try not to deviate from it.
  • Make sure their bed is comfortable and isn’t too hot or too cold.
  • Avoid distractions in the hour before bed, for example, with a “no TV/computer” rule. Instead, opt for bedtime stories or soothing music.
  • Kids sleep better when they spend time playing outdoors, so encourage your children to take part in sports or other outdoor activities.

Transient sleep issues are absolutely normal, and there’s typically no reason to be worried if your child has difficulty with a new bedtime or a change in sleeping habits. But if their problems persist for more than a few months, or get worse over time, then seeking help is definitely a good idea.

Citations

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children’s Mental Health. Accessed June 9, 2015.

Child Development Institute. Child Psychology and Mental Health. Accessed June 9, 2015.

DA – Helping Children With Addiction. Helping an Addicted Child. Accessed June 9, 2015.

Eureka Alert Press Release. Children’s Sleep and Mental Health are Related. Silje Steinsbekk and Lars Wichstrøm (2015). Stability of Sleep Disorders From Preschool to First grade and Their Bidirectional Relationship With Psychiatric Symptoms. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: May 2015. Volume 36, Issue 4. pp 243-251.Accessed June 9, 2015.

Harvard Health Publications Newsletter (2009). Sleep and Mental Health. Accessed June 9, 2015.

Healthy Children. Sleep and Mental Health. Accessed June 9, 2015.

 

About the Author: Mel Rivers now works as an independent freelancer, before she did this she had a varied career in the health care sector. Prior to working in this sphere, she’d battled her own issues with addiction, and used her experiences to help deal with other people who were struggling, during the course of her day job. She works from home now, after becoming a mom to two girls.

June 9, 2015
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How Summer can ruin your family's sleep... and how to keep it on trackAh summer. We Canadians wait ALL year for this kind of weather (certainly when comparing it to this). But summer can wreak havoc on child sleep schedules and routines. Here’s some ways summer impacts sleep, and real strategies you can use to try to keep you child on track.

Light

Longer days, early mornings and late nights.  Sounds like a recipe for a great summer, but long term, that can cause trouble for sleep routines.  Pick up some of these or bring some black garbage bags (be prepared to double or even triple layer them) and painter’s tape if you’re travelling.  For those who are travelling to cottages this summer: The sun sets even later and rises earlier in the north and often cottages have bigger windows to enjoy the long days. Don’t let light delay bedtime or encourage an early morning riser.

Temperature

Apparently 20 degrees is ideal for sleep, which seems far too cool for me, especially with those scorching summer days. Generally about 1 degree cooler than temperature in your home during the day is fine. Adjust your child’s clothing and coverings accordingly.

Noise

Late night barbeques at the neighbours, older children biking the streets, even the birds chirping in the early mornings can impact sleep. Mitigate with white noise.  There’s are dedicated white noise machines on the market, but you may be able to repurpose something already within your home.  An oscillating fan (set up out of reach, especially for children in beds), a dehumidifier, even a radio tuned to static with the volume quite low will work.

Vacations

Travel is a great experience for your family and inevitably, sleep might be more difficult when you’re away from all the comforts of home. Bring what you can (within reason) to keep everyone comfortable.  As much as possible, try not to deviate too much from your regular sleep patterns. I certainly don’t want parents to feel they’re a slave to the sleep schedule while they’re trying to enjoy a vacation.

The biggest rule is to not undo all the good work you’ve been doing.  Some kids are pretty flexible but some aren’t. Trust your comfort zone but also your child and their ability to get back into their routines when you return home.

Have a great summer friends!

xoxo  Krista

 

 

June 4, 2015
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The Detrimental Effects that Prescription Medication Can Have on Childrens’ Sleep

Prescription Medications and your Child's Sleep


A recent story published in the Huffington Post highlighted the alarming rise in the number of children who are routinely prescribed medications such as antipsychotics for disorders such as ADHD, with as many as one of every three visits to child psychiatrists resulting in the receipt of a prescription for such medications. This is the case despite the fact that the FDA has found that drugs such as those approved for conditions such as schizophrenia, can be incorrectly or needlessly prescribed for conditions they were not originally intended for, including ADHD, autism, Asperger Syndrome, etc.

Another more recent study (published in the March, 2015 edition of the American Journal of Public Health) found that very young children (up to the age of four) who were registered with Medicaid in 36 states, are taking psychotropic drugs, despite a complete lack of efficacy and safety data to support their use in such young patients.

The Unnecessary Prescription of Medication

Some of the most common drugs prescribed to children are used to treat ADHD, depression/anxiety and psychosis/bipolar disorder. Black and Hispanic children were one half to one third as likely to be taking some type of psychotropic medication. Researchers concluded that while some of these children may indeed have brain injuries and other conditions which merit the use of this type of medication, “if these medications are being used solely for behavioural control, then it seems that need to better assess these children and see if they might be better served by the use of evidence-based behavioural interventions.”

Harmful Side-Effects of Some Prescription Medication, including Insomnia

There are many other issues surrounding prescription medications, which are a great source of worry for paediatricians and parents alike. One study carried out by scientists at Harvard University has found that four out of five children admitted into hospital are treated with medications which have not been previously tested on kids. It is known that children metabolize medications differently from adults, so that the opposite effect to that desired, may occur. Moreover, it can be all too easy for children to overdose on even seemingly innocuous medications, like cough medicine. Finally, many prescription drugs can interfere with the quality of sleep, leading to serious consequences in the long run (long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to everything from memory loss to an increase in the biomarkers that cause brain damage.

Prescription Medications and Sleep

Anti-depressants (such as Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil), also known as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin-Reuptake Inhibitors) are commonly prescribed to children and adults alike; indeed, they are now the first-line treatment for mild-to-moderately serious depression, seasonal affective disorder, bulimia and anxiety. Unfortunately, side-effects include both drowsiness and insomnia and agitation. Medications commonly prescribed for ADHD (which enhance alertness) can also make it more difficult for children to get a good night’s rest.

Many medications commonly used to treat heart conditions or asthma, can cause insomnia, night awakening and nightmares, while decongestants often cause wakefulness at night time. Meanwhile, some over-the-counter medicines (such as cough syrup, which contains alcohol) can hamper REM sleep and cause frequent night waking, and pain relievers made with caffeine can also interfere with sleep. Even herbal medications can have case overstimulation and insomnia; St John’s Wort, often taken for depression, is one such medication, so it is vital to build a greater awareness of the effects that any herbal remedy your child is taking, can have on their sleep patterns.

If your child has ADHD, depression or any other condition for which they have been prescribed a psychotropic medication, make sure to discuss alternative possibilities (such as behavioural therapy) with their doctor; the key is to find the most natural solution possible, through a combination of behavioural changes (changes to routine), the avoidance of stimulant foods such as caffeine and sugar, and natural relaxation techniques (yoga and mindfulness meditation work wonders when it comes to lowering stress levels and establishing the clarity of mind that can lead to a greater sense of sleepiness).

The dedicated team at Sleeperific will devise a personalized plan, if you are worried that your child will never get a good night’s sleep (or allow you to do the same). Through trusted, safe methods and a caring approach, they can help your whole family achieve a greater sense of calm, health and happiness.

Citations:

Medicaldaily.com, Sleep Deprivation: 7 Dangerous Effects Of Long-Term Sleeping Problems, accessed May, 2015.

Medscape.com, Psychotropic Meds Prescribed for Medicaid Preschoolers, accessed May, 2015.

Kwikmed, The Facts About Prescription Medication and Children, accessed May, 2015.

Everydayhealth.com, Is Your Medication Making You Lose Sleep?, accessed May, 2015.

Pharmacist.com, Psychotropic drug use among preschool children in the Medicaid program from 36 states, accessed May, 2015.

NYtimes.com, SSRIs, accessed May, 2015.

 

About the Author: Mel Rivers now works as an independent freelancer, before she did this she had a varied career in the health care sector. Prior to working in this sphere, she’d battled her own issues with addiction, and used her experiences to help deal with other people who were struggling, during the course of her day job. She works from home now, after becoming a mom to two girls.

April 5, 2015
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BabySleepExpert

1) Sleep matters: We clearly understand the benefits of healthy sleep, not only for your child but for parents too: improved health and wellness, better coordination and safety, increased capacity of memory and learning, as well as a happier mood and temperament.

2) Overwhelming information: From books, advice from well-meaning friends and family, to good old Google – there’s a lot of (mis)information out there. I’ll help you wade through it and offer the real evidence and experience based expertise and support.

3) Certified Sleep Consultant:  Unfortunately, the term sleep consultant is not protected, meaning anyone can use that title. There’s a lot of self described experts out there. My certification process involved over 80 hours of training, along with mentored practical training with families. I’m part of an association which mandates an accredited certification, standards of practice, along with continuing education.

4) Continuing Education:  I’m committed to ongoing professional development. In addition to keeping current with the latest research on pediatric sleep, I’ve participated in various symposiums and conferences with world renowned sleep researchers and physicians.

5) I’m a parent: I’ve been tired too (yes, this tired). I understand balancing different needs for different children at different stages. I appreciate where your children are developmentally and the enormity of the task of raising your tiny humans. You want the best for them and to be at your best for them.

6) The Bicycle Effect: Learning to sleep is like learning to ride a bicycle.  Just like riding a bike, once you’ve established the ability to sleep well, those skills are always there. You might be out of practice from time to time, but that learned ability does not disappear.  Teaching a child to sleep well is a gift that will last a lifetime.  An entire family gets the healthy sleep they need, but that child will learn they are capable.

7) Ongoing support:  I evaluate progress objectively, while providing support emotionally.  As an educator, I can offer information to help parents make the best decisions to reach their long term family sleep goals.

8) Self Regulation:  One of the first tasks for babies as they mature is to self regulate their eating and sleeping. Self-regulation is an important step in emotional and social development.  Difficulty in self-regulation can lead to challenges when children are faced with emotional, cognitive or social challenges.

9) Planning:  I can help you with your infant, but also help you strategize for when that infant turns into a toddler and eventually a preschooler, or when another sibling joins your home. When new circumstances arise, we can tackle them together.

10) Strong Families: Even within a family unit, each parent can have a different way they’d like to approach sleep. I’m the unbiased party who can work with your family objectively, while allowing parents to be supportive of one another. Everyone can be better and accomplish more with a good night’s sleep. One of the best ways to have a joyful, thriving, cohesive and loving family is to be a well rested family.

 

 KristaGuenther Krista is a mother of 3 (+1 dog who believes she’s people), a wife to a wonderful husband, and the owner and founder of Sleeperific.  Even though she’s been in the sleep consulting biz for 4 years, she still gets really excited when she’s hired by a sleepy family.
March 30, 2015
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We’re all becoming increasingly reliant on technology for communication, reading and entertainment.  But the screens that we use in everyday life (computer monitors, televisions, tablets, smartphones etc. …) have a particularly negative impact on sleep, especially when used in the evening (ie: when most of us are probably using them).

Using tech is a one-two punch of sleep sabotage.  Both the content and the devices (yes, the media and the message) themselves can be detrimental to sleep.

The Content

A stressful email from a colleague or boss. The latest news from a war torn country. One last game of Candy Crush Saga. We’re often building stimulation, stress and anxiety when we should be settling, creating calm and relaxing.

The Devices

Here’s what you need to know about light. Pay special attention to blue light. Blue light is present in the spectrum of natural light. It corresponds to the part of the spectrum between 430nm and 500nm.

LightSpectrum
While any light can inhibit melatonin secretion, blue light does it bigger and badder than it’s other rainbow friends. A study out of Harvard compared the effects of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light. The blue light suppressed melatonin for twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).[1] Blue light meant later and less restful sleep.

So what does composition of light does a screen typically contain?:


BlueLight_Screens
Yes, the majority of the light we get from our screen IS blue light. Today, 90% of flat screens are made with LEDs.  A high proportion of the light those very screens are emitting is blue.  And in the case of e-readers, tablets, smartphones and computer screens, you’ve probably got that screen within about 15 inches of your face. So, what does that mean for sleep?  Less melatonin (which means a less quality of sleep) and more difficulty falling asleep (which means less quantity of sleep).  Generally, if you’re lucky enough to fall asleep, you wake up feeling like you haven’t slept, or at least not well. The following diagram compares melatonin levels with a print book versus and E-reader.[2] You can see the melatonin levels are lower AND they clear away later; meaning it’s hard to fall asleep, sleep is not a high quality and it’s hard to wake up. BlueLight So what can we do?  How can we protect ourselves, and especially our older older children (teens) who are the most vulnerable?

How to protect your sleep

1) Do not use tech before bed. This is easier for the young kiddos (avoid television, tablet or computer time for a period of at least 2 hours before bedtime).  For the older children (teens) and adults, let’s be serious.  This probably isn’t possible.  A “do not do” approach isn’t sustainable for the majority of us.

2) Invert Black and White on your device Macs, iOS and some e-Readers have this function built in.  There are some apps which can be downloaded to do this in your selected web browser.  It’s not a perfect solution, but can help, simply by decreasing the quantity of light you’re staring at.

3) Blue light shields I’m not sure how well these work, but companies like BlueLight Shield and Ocushield offer screen protectors that claim to block or limit blue light from their devices.

4) Orange Glasses Not exactly fashionable, but blue light blocking glasses can be helpful. I ordered something similar from Amazon.  Stay tuned for my evaluation.BlueLightBlockingGlassesAnyone with a high amount of technology in their lives is susceptible. But you don’t have to lose sleep over it.  Be sensible, take some precautions and you can balance your screen time AND a healthy sleep.
1 J. J. Gooley, S. M. Rajaratnam, G. C. Brainard, R. E. Kronauer, C. A. Czeisler, S. W. Lockley, Spectral Responses of the Human Circadian System Depend on the Irradiance and Duration of Exposure to Light. Sci. Transl. Med. 2, 31ra33 (2010). (available here)

2 A.Chang, D. Aeschbach, J. F. Duffy, C. A. Czeisler, Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness. PNAS 2015 112 (4) 1232-1237; published ahead of print December 22, 2014, doi:10.1073/pnas.1418490112 (available here)

March 12, 2015
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GERD (GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease) is a chronic digestive disease. GERD occurs when stomach acid or sometimes, stomach content, flows back into the esophagus. This acid laden reflux irritates the lining of the esophagus and causes GERD.  It looks a lot like this:
GERD and Sleep

Whenever there is discomfort, that can be a significant barrier to sleep. If a family suspects their child is uncomfortable, or their GERD is not well managed, we work with that child’s physician to ensure they are comfortable before proceeding with any sleep training.

From a personal perspective, I can tell you it’s no fun to parent through GERD. From a professional perspective, I can tell you that these are the families most in need of support, sleep is clearly impacted, and in my anecdotal observations in working with families; GERD diagnosis seems to be increasing.

In the past week I’ve attended several continuing educations events, with one physician indicating that GERD is likely overdiagnosed[1] (notable pediatric gastroenterologist Warren Shapiro, MD), while the other indicated that it was underdiagnosed[2] (notable pediatric sleep expert, Judy Owens, MD). The jury is out and it’s difficult to know if the instances of GERD are increasing or if more of these cases are being caught and diagnosed.

Some symptoms of GERD include[1]:

• Recurrent vomiting

• Poor weight gain or even more extreme, a failure to thrive

• Irritability

• Poor sleep

• Bad breath

• Respiratory concerns including coughing, asthma, Apnea

• Recurrent pneumonia

• Esophagitis (inflammation that may damage tissues of the esophagus)

• Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) or feeding refusal

• Upper airway symptoms (ear infections, throat infections, vocal issues, tooth enamel/dental issues)

Severity of reflux in infants is often focused on weight gain, respiratory issues and pain. If a baby is gaining well, reflux is still a significant matter, but the baby who is not gaining well is obviously a more serious concern.  If your baby is exhibiting a combination of the symptoms above, please discuss the possibility of GERD with your child’s physician or pediatrician.

There are some easy things parents can do to mitigate some of these symptoms[1]:

• Ensure baby is not over eating (easier for bottle fed babies than breast fed… small volumes more frequently is more desirable than larger volume less frequently)

• Consider non-prone sleeping position (elevated mattress; only for non-rolling babies. ALWAYS place an infant on their back to sleep unless you have discussed GERD with your physician and an alternative position is medically indicated)

• Consider trial of hypoallergenic formula

• Consider thickened formula (medically supervised)

There are a number of different pharmacological approaches to treating GERD[1]:

1. Antacids – effectively neutralizing the acids.

2. Pro-kinetics – which can encourage the esophogael sphincter to close, and have the stomach empty more rapidly and frequently, so the acid can’t get to where it’s a problem.

3. Surface Agents – coating the lining of the esophagus so it’s protected.

If medication is unhelpful, or the severity indicates further treatment, surgical intervention is also an option.

I encourage families to consider chiropractic treatment as well. There doesn’t seem to be a body of scientific evidence that would indicate chiropractic manipulations would be helpful in preventing GERD. However, I can tell you in my professional experience and in an isolated case study, chiropractic manipulations have been helpful to improve symptoms of GERD.

The good news is that most babies will outgrow GERD as their digestive system matures.  Until then, there are treatment options worth exploring to help make your baby more comfortable. When GERD is well managed, we can then go about addressing better sleep.

[1] Warren Shapiro, MD, The Incidence , Pathophysiology and Treatment GERD During Infancy, Presentation

[2] Judith A. Owens, MD, The Assessment and Management of Common Behavioral Sleep Problems in Children, Presentation at The Hospital for Sick Children Pediatric Sleep Symposium 2015, Toronto.

For further information:

Mayo Clinic

National Sleep Fountation

February 25, 2015
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GroClock OktoWake
KidSleep Zazoo

Using Child Alarm Clocks – Advice from an Expert


Also known as behavioural clocks, these are helpful tools for communicating time to children who aren’t quite ready to tell time with conventional digital or analog clock. Most often, behavioural clocks function by using a light or image to communicate a time for sleep and a time for waking.

I use behavioural clocks most frequently for early morning wakings, but also for children who are having night wakings or even families experiencing bedtime battles. There are MANY behavioural clocks on the market, they’re all good (although none are great… if anyone is looking into designing one and would like some kick a$$ features from the thoughts of someone who lives and breathes pediatric sleep, please call me) and they will all be effective if parents can implement them correctly and consistently.  It’s less about which clock you use, and more about HOW you use it.

I’m not a product pusher. I think we can all make due with less. If you’re interested in re-purposing things you may already have around your home, consider an old radio alarm clock (set to a quiet, classical station or children’s CD) or those Christmas light timers to turn on a lamp or nightlight in your child’s room.  Just make sure they’re out of reach because I have yet to find a preschooler or toddler who won’t press buttons, flick switches or turn dials.

Whatever you decide to use, make sure to lay the groundwork.  These are some guidelines specifically for use of the GroClock.  It’s probably the behavioural clock I encounter and recommend the most often because it’s fairly inexpensive, simple and usually easily available from some good online vendors (what busy, tired parent has time to go out and shop?).

6 Simple Steps

1) Ensure your child is 3+ years OR you’re 100% convinced they would be able to understand a behavioural clock. Remember that children under the age of 3 tend to be very impulsive. If you’re questioning whether or not your child would be able to comprehend it and follow it’s message, don’t use it. What we do here is set children up for success… ensure they could be successful with this clock before you make the decision to introduce it.
2) Follow the instructions. Make sure you’re proficient in using the device before you show it to your munchkin.
3) Explain how your child is to use it. “Until the yellow light comes on, we need to stay quietly in bed and try to go back to sleep.”
4) Also explain that it’s very grown up and your child is not to touch it (even though you know they will). Use the “locking” mechanism as well. Kids love to press buttons. Make sure they aren’t going to reset it or change the time on you.
5) Turn off the backlight. It’s backlit and yes, I’m asking you to turn it completely off. At night, there’s a blue backlight with a star, at the wake up time, there’s a yellow backlight with a sun. You can dim the night time backlight, all the way to off. Use this clock with the backlight off!
We know blue light can have a melatonin inhibiting effect, which is counter productive to circadian rhythms. Our bodies (especially our children’s bodies) need to produce that melatonin to get the maximum benefits from a long, restful sleep. The yellow light will still turn on and sun will still come up when the night time backlight is off.
6) Celebrate your successes, but don’t dwell on failures.  “I am so happy that you were able to stay in your room until the sun came up. You must be so proud of yourself!”  If it didn’t work out, be kind, but firm in encouraging your child to follow their sleep manners and stay in bed quietly until their sun comes up.  If aren’t able to follow all their sleep manners, a simple “it was hard to stay in your room this morning, but we can try again tomorrow.”  Move along, there’s no need to discuss it further.

If you find you’ve followed all of the above and are STILL having trouble with your child going to sleep and stay asleep until morning, don’t hesitate to contact me.  Sleeplessness and early mornings do not have to be your normal.

First time buyers from Well.ca can use the code “sleeperific4″ for $10 off a purchase over $40.

The following clocks are available from Amazon.ca

February 19, 2015
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Why is my kid waking so early?!

This is easily one of parent’s biggest pain points about sleep. The early morning riser. The kid who is up at the crack of ridiculous and is eager to take on the day.  All you’re eager for at 5AM is to finish your dream sequence where you went to the grocery store and bathroom alone.

Why is my kid waking so darned early?

How to contend with early morning wakings

Let’s qualify early. Babies and children (up until adolescence) are predisposed to wake early. 5:30AM and 7AM are biologically normal and appropriate times of day for babies and children to wake. This means those little bodies could be perfectly well rested and ready to go. Generally speaking, kiddos who are up before 5:30AM are waking TOO early.

Why are early mornings so common?

There are aspect of sleep we, the parents, can easily control. We can give kids awesome environments, appropriate bedtime, great routines and generally set them up to be successful with their sleep. But we lose a bit of the control after that… when a child wakes is simply an aspect of sleep we don’t entirely get to decide.

If my baby wakes in the early morning, why can’t we all go back to sleep?

Going back to sleep after an early morning waking (anything after 4AM) is hard! We’re designed to sleep well at night because of our underlying circadian rhythms. But those start to lift as early as 4AM.  Meaning the biological drive to wake becomes stronger than the biological drive to sleep. Even with an early morning waking, the majority of sleep needs for the night are starting to be met. Perhaps you’re in a region where the sun starts sneaking up very early. All of those factors mean a big fat chance for you or your child to go back to sleep in the early mornings.

So why is my kiddo waking so early?

Some primary reasons for early morning wakings that I see:

Lack of sleep skills: The child is put to bed asleep or quite drowsy at nights and possibly for naps. They have never really practiced or strengthened their independent sleep skills. When that child wakes in the early morning, they don’t have the sleep skills to put themselves back to sleep.

Over tiredness: Too late bedtimes, disruptive night wakings or missed naps will cause early morning risings. What? Stay with me. Overtiredness actually is a cause for early risings. Kids who are overtired have a MORE difficult time going to sleep and staying asleep. When an overtired child wakes, it’s their overtiredness that makes it hard to for them to go back to sleep. Remember that this isn’t logical, this is biological.

Triggers: Sunlight, neighbours going off to work, coffee maker presets, alarm clocks, furnaces starting up – look for the triggers and do what you can to mitigate them by optimizing your child’s sleep environment.

Validation: Early morning feedings, screen time (television, tablets, computers), crawling into bed with Mama or Dad. These are just examples, but if you think there’s some incentive system which might be in place for you kiddo to be waking early, consider a change up to your morning routine.

It’s a habit: They’ve been doing this for a long time and are accustomed to an early start to their day. The longer these early risings are habits, the more difficult they are to change.

How to make the swing back to later mornings?

Understand if it’s a reasonable early (your child is waking well rested) or if your child is waking because of one of the reasons above. Consider a behavioural clock for older toddlers or preschoolers.  From there, continue to be kind and firm, while exercising plenty of patience and consistency. Extending mornings IS possible when you’ve addressed all the right factors.

December 31, 2014
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new year resolution

Be a more fabulous, well rested version of yourself!

I’ve never been much for new year’s resolutions. Since becoming a parent, I’ve become increasingly sentimental. Year end is when I take stock of the time passed, and reaffirm the hopefulness I have for myself and my family in the future.

At the top of my resolution list is better sleep, mostly for myself (and of course continued sleep for the rest of my family). As a mother of three (plus a dog who thinks she’s people), along with running my own small business, my sleep quantity and quality is often compromised. And I KNOW how important sleep is, but I still allow it to slide. I wanted to remind you (and myself!) that sleep is not a luxury enjoyed by the lazy, the inefficient or unproductive. Quite the opposite: sleep is an absolute necessity to bring out the best in you and your family.

Here’s 4 ways sleep make us better, which are good reasons you should be sleeping better too:

Sleep makes your healthier – There’s a growing body of scientific literature which  links heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, compromised immune function and obesity to poor quality and quantity of sleep through sleep deprivation studies.  Longer term studies (consistently going without adequate sleep for years, decades) are just starting to uncover how our lack of sleep can cause disease or cause disease to worsen.

Sleep makes you smarter – Sleep leads to more brain power in a couple different ways. Without sufficient sleep, it’s difficult to focus on the task at hand, which inhibits the ability to learn. Added to that, sleep plays an important role in consolidating memory, which we all need to learn new information and skills. And that’s just what’s been observed in grown-ups.  Those tiny, precious, developing minds in children, where brains are doubling! tripling! in size in a matter of years… sleep is a much more precious commodity.

Sleep makes you happier – I’m the first to admit being pleasant and patient is downright impossible really hard after a poor night.  I’m not alone in feeling grumpy, temperamental and listless after a lack of sleep. Compromised sleep is a risk factor for depression (and depression is a risk factor for compromised sleep… vicious cycle). This is a great video which ties together items 2 and 3 in this list.

Sleep makes you better at everything else – In order to make good on all those other resolutions, you need to sleep well first. Admit that your sleep has far reaching impacts.  Whatever you want plenty of, less of, or to excel at in 2015, sufficient sleep will help you meet your goals.

“The way to a more PRODUCTIVE,
more INSPIRED  and
more JOYFUL life is getting enough sleep.”

Arianna Huffington

From my family to yours, I wish you a productive, inspired, joyful and sleep-filled 2015.

xxoo Krista

Use the hashtag #sleeperific2015 to tell us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest YOUR personal sleep tips to help make 2015 a better rested one for you and your family.  I’ll retweet, repost and share my favourites!