October 5, 2015
Night Feedings - When to stop feeding through the night

We all know that babies arrive with itty bitty tummies. Round the clock feedings are a regular part of parenting in those first weeks and months.  Just a reminder as to how tiny those tummies really are:

Stomach Size - Infancy and Beyond

But infants turn into older babies who are more capable of eating well all day and less at night. When do night feedings become unnecessary? When is it more of a habit than a necessity for survival?

Talk to Your Doctor

First and foremost, I always recommend collaborating with your medical doctor. They have been monitoring your child’s growth and development and will be able to offer insight into your particular child’s unique needs.

Your physician will likely evaluate the following along with you:

  • Is baby healthy, growing well and hitting developmental milestones appropriately?
  • If you’ve started solids, is baby accepting those well?
  • Current age and weight
  • Duration of night (when is bedtime, when is wake time)

Some information you can consider to contribute to the decision-making:

Is my baby:

  • eating well? (full, quality feeding as opposed to just snacking)
  • going back to sleep well? (settles back to sleep well as opposed to ready to party)
  • only waking to eat? (or waking many other times)

If the answer is no to any of the above, ask yourself if the night feeding limiting your child’s ability to sleep?  If the night feeding isn’t working, is it necessary to keep it?


There comes a point where you can prioritize sleep at night and prioritize eating during the day. These are important strides in self-regulation. Self-regulation refers to several complex processes that allow children to appropriately respond to their environment.[1] There are many experts in child development that suggest self-regulation in eating and sleeping patterns are some of the first to emerge in children.[2] Skipping these important first steps in self-regulation can impact a child’s ability to self-regulate in thoughts, emotions and behaviours in later life.

There isn’t any one-size fits all approach to take. I don’t think there’s a cut off that “every baby” need to be fed through the night until they’re 12 lbs, 4 months or 1 year old.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for further posts on how to eliminate night feedings and why night weaning isn’t working at your house.



[1] Bronson, M.B. 2000. Self-Regulation in Early Childhood: Nature and Nurture.   New York: Guilford

[2] Owens, Judith. “The Assessment and Management of Common Behavioral Sleep Problems in Children.” The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON. 6 March 2015. Keynote Address.

About the author:

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 feels excited and honoured when she’s hired by a sleepy family.
September 30, 2015
Contending with Bedtime Fears - Monsters Under The Bed

I’m regularly asked about how to contend with children’s fears, especially this time of year when Halloween decorations, creepy costumes and scary stories are making their way into your child’s daily experience.

“I’m afraid of the monsters under my bed” is the most common complaint I hear from families with preschoolers and beyond.  Monsters, or other fears, can cause delays at bedtime, but more often lead to night wakings and difficulty falling back asleep.

Well intending parents might use a “monster spray,” “no monsters allowed” signage or even do a magic spell to exterminate the monsters.  Think twice about using that approach.  When we validate monsters, we acknowledge they exist. But our kids deserve honesty, especially from their parents. Validate the fear, but not the existence of fictitious creatures.

Avoid teasing or using language like “big boys aren’t afraid” or “only babies get scared.” Feelings are always legitimate, especially feelings of fear. Older toddlers and preschoolers are developing vibrant and vivid imaginations.  Acknowledge their fears by using language like “I can see you are scared.”

Additional strategies for contending with monsters under the bed include:

  • As part of the bedtime routine, look through closets and under beds together.  Make the experience a fun one with a flashlight your child can use.
  • If there’s anything like a bed skirt, remove it.  At least for now.  Having a visual of the space will give them more confidence.
  • For a child that is showing fears of not just their bed, but their room, make sure to spend some positive time together in their room, playing.  Bring a special toy or activity you can do together.  Keep the experience positive.
  • Night lights can help, but can build shadows too. Bright night lights can limit melatonin production which can make sleep more restless and minds more anxious. Sometimes a dim light in a hallway outside their rooms, with a door ajar, is a “less scary” bet.
  • Tell your child you will check on them when they’re asleep. It’s a reminder that you’re always close and checking on them, even when they don’t think you are.
  • Eliminate screen time (including television, tablets and game devices) especially it’s late in the day.  3 year olds are highly imaginative. Even benign programming can have their imaginations running away.
  • Cut out any books that might be “scary”. You’re probably not doing a lot of “scary” anyway, but I have lots of families put away “Where the Wild Things Are” and similar books when contending with fears of monsters.
  • If they’re having bad dreams that they can articulate (this is often for kids who are more 4+ and have a better understanding of the concept of dreams), talk about the dream and how they can “re-imagine” their dream to have a positive outcome.
  • Discuss it matter of factly (away from bedtime) and see if you can get to the source.

One last suggestion: Feelings of nervousness and anxiety are normal feelings for children to encounter. Aim to have your reaction be calm and reassuring. Use of the word ‘scared’ often elicits a strong reaction from parents.  Don’t give fears more power by reacting strongly, or encourage regular use of the word “scared” to gain benefits that delay bedtime.



About the author:

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.
September 20, 2015
Identifying, navigating and preventing night terrors

Night terrors are not bad dreams. You might not even know that what you’re seeing from your child is a night terror the first time it occurs.

Typically occurring in children between 3 and 12 years of age, an estimated 1 to 6 percent of children experience terrors[1].

Some characteristics of night terrors include:

  • Timing: Early after onset of night sleep or in early morning when coming out of a deep sleep (Night terrors occur in non-REM stages of sleep)
  • Yelling, screaming, shouting
  • Thrashing, kicking, pushing away you or objects that aren’t there
  • Child appears anxious, fearful or panicked
  • Sweating, increased heart rate
  • May appear awake but will not be responsive
  • Most significantly: child has no memory of the event (if your child recalls the event, it was not a night terror)

Risk factors

  • Overtiredness and fatigue
  • Variable sleep schedule
  • Significant changes or stressors in a child’s life (beginning childcare, new school, change in family arrangements, new sleep environment, etc
  • Illness or fever
  • Family history of partial-arousal parasomnia ie: sleep walking

How to manage?

If your child has a terror, don’t disrupt them. Ultimately, going sleep will end the terror. Speaking to or touching your child unnecessarily will prolong the terror. Stay with your child, keep him or her safe, guide back to bed as necessary, but try to keep intervention which might disrupt sleep, to a minimum. If your child is getting up and walking around during their terror, consider a gate at their door or the top of stairs, and ensuring exterior doors are not easily opened.


The majority of night terrors are caused by overtiredness. That means if we can get the child MORE sleep, we can often prevent the terror from occurring. The easiest way to achieve more sleep is with an earlier bedtime, as little as 15 minutes can do the trick.  Be diligent about following regularity in your child’s schedule until the terrors have stopped.

If terrors occur with regularity at a particular time of day, you can gently rouse your child (just enough so they might sigh and roll over and go back to sleep) in the 30 minutes prior to the regular terror. The goal of this strategy is to disrupt the sleep cycles just enough to prevent the terror.

If terrors persist, and recur at least 3x per week, talk to your child’s doctor. There could be contributing factors to the night terrors, like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.


[1] Rosenberg, Robert S. Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day. New York: Demos Health, 2014. Print.


About the author:

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.
September 14, 2015

Season’s change is upon us. Kids are back to school, leaves are becoming more colourful and the air has a chill in it that we haven’t felt for months. There’s been some brisk nights this week, and I’ve had a number of clients describe their little munchkins as chilly in the wee morning hours. If you’ve underdressed and awoke to feeling chilly, you know how uncomfortable that can be.

On the flip side, I encourage parents to keep their bedrooms cool at night. As anyone who’s flipped their pillow over for the cool side knows, sleep is more likely when you’re not hot. Studies show the ideal room temperature for sleep is around 60-67 degrees Farenheit or 15.5 – 19 degrees Celcius, and layer up with clothing and coverings from there. For safety reasons, it is very important that you not overheat your sleeping baby as it increases the risk of SIDS. It has also been shown that using a fan can decrease the risk of SIDS by over 70%.

Keeping children too cool can disrupt sleep, and obviously too warm can do the same.

How do I dress my child at bedtime?

How to dress baby for a great night sleep

A tog is a warmth rating.  Think of each tog as a thin layer of cotton. If you use fleece sleepers or have a warmer sleep sack, you’ll likely want to leave a layer (or two) out.  Use caution if you need a hat on your baby as well for her sleep.  It likely makes more sense to keep your home slightly warmer.

As always, trust your judgement and assess your child’s comfort.  There’s variability in the warmth of the layers, and with your child’s own internal thermostat.  Fingers which are cool to the touch might be ok, especially in young babies who aren’t terribly good at regulating their temperature.  Cold hands or feet are likely to disrupt sleep.


National Sleep Foundation


About the author:

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.



September 8, 2015
Car Seat Naps - What to do and how to avoid them

Studies show that 98% of car naps happen within 500 metres of arriving at your destination.*

(*Made up fact from a non-existent study.  Unless the study was observed by me, from my mini-van, as we’re turning onto our street.)

That same study* indicates 10 minutes of snoozing in the car will replace a 2 hour nap in the crib.

The accidental nap.  The unintentional snooze on-the-go.  Whoops-sleep.  Whatever you decide to call it, each car (or stroller) nap presents you with a few options:

  1. Continue driving  The earthy (and busy) part of me says forget it. You’re probably a parent who needs to hustle, just like the rest of us.  I need my kids nap times for clean up, meal prep, checking in with clients, etc
  It’s worth noting that not all sleep is created equal.  Motion filled sleep in a car or stroller is not nearly as restful as quiet, dark, non-moving crib sleep.  Think of the last time you fell asleep in a moving vehicle and how well rested you felt when you awoke?!
  2. Park it  Assuming there’s not extreme weather in the winter or summer which would make this inappropriate, you might try parking your vehicle and trying to sustain the nap.  This it isn’t going to work if you have other awake children who need your attention, and it still isn’t going to allow you do much else but wait for your sleeping beauty to awaken (see number 1).
  3. Transfer to their crib  This almost never works, the except with the soundest of sleepers.
  4. Nap Drill  Gently waking the child, any trying for a crib nap again later.

“But what’s a nap drill?”

If the snooze in the stroller or car seat has been under 20 minutes, gently wake your child.  Have lunch or snack if the timing is appropriate, and then play for at least 30 minutes, trusting you’re still within an hour of when your child would usually begin their nap.  Then move along to their room to go through your usual sleep routine.  We’re trying to build back that “sleep pressure” or fatigue by staying awake for that half hour.

If the nap has been longer than 20 minutes, you may find this little car snooze is a replacement for the nap they were supposed to have in their crib.  Very likely a nap drill will fail.  Simply move up the next nap or ensure bedtime is earlier.

Avoiding Car or Stroller Sleep

No matter how you look at it, this scenario is challenging to manage. Avoid car naps if possible by:

  1. Timing – Avoid trips around nap times, especially within the 30 minutes before nap time.
  2. Engagement – Chat with your baby or child, sing songs, turn up the radio and sing along or make like a tour guide and point out the scenery. Give a small toy or a book  as you’re buckling them in.  A small, minimally messy snack is a great option too.
  3. Automatic Windows – They let in fresh air and wind, but the mysterious opening and closing windows are interesting enough to stay awake.
  4. One more stop – If you notice someone nodding off, do a safe, quick pull over, or see if you can add one more brief errand or stop to your outing.  Getting in and out of the car seat might be just enough to encourage more wakeful time.
  5. Evaluate – Are car, stroller or carrier naps occurring every time you head out for a trip?  A child who is fairly well rested and getting an adequate amount of sleep doesn’t nod off in the car or stroller very easily. If your child is prone to unintentional naps-on-the-go, evaluate ways to get more quality sleep into your child’s schedule.
June 23, 2015

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.


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 WichstrĂžm (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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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


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

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. Not only are we losing sleep time to those, but we’re stressing ourselves out when we’re supposed to be relaxing and letting go.  Anxiety leads to more cortisol production which further delays sleep, which can lead to more anxiety.  It’s a vicious cycle.

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.

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)