3 years ago · lizzie · 0 comments
Sleep Deprivation In Parenthood: What can you do if your child fights to go to sleep?
As a parent of two young girls and a professional therapist myself, I have been challenged both personally and professionally over the past 8 years with sleep deprivation. Both my girls are night owls and will do anything to stay awake. They love being part of the action at night and could just play well into the night. However, this would be fine if it had no impact on their mental, physical or emotional health. But of course it does.
The result is grumpiness, over emotional responses and complete over tiredness which becomes a sleep debt as the week progresses. So I know first hand how to deal with this issue! I have tried several methods, which at various stages have worked and then failed.
However, there are a few key elements to getting the night owl to lie down and get to sleep that really improve the situation.
Step 1: get to know your child’s temperament
Firstly, it’s important to get to know your child’s temperament. This is vital, because if your child has a temperament where a lot of soothing and feelings of security are required, trying to force this child to sleep on his own at the start of the night is going to prove very challenging. Both my girls have a slow to warm up temperament. This means they need soothing to go to sleep and lots of comfort so they are not afraid. Once they allow their bodies to relax and their heads hit the pillow, they go straight to bed.
Step 2: learn how your child is motivated
As children and then as adults, we have preferences for being encouraged to behave in particular ways. For instance, some children are motivated by receiving rewards, others by punishment (taking away something desired), whilst others are motivated by external or internal praise and a sense of achievement. If you want to guide your child to behave in a particular manner, it’s imperative that you observe which style of motivation seems to get the best response. If your child is motivated by praise, you may set up a reward chart system with a prize at the end for 5 nights in a row of good bedtime routine behaviour.
Step 3: Structure your dinner time
Ensure dinner is eaten 2 hours before bedtime. Eating too close to dinner can lead to feeling very uncomfortable in bed and make settling much harder. It can also cause ad dreams – leading to further waking during the night.
Step 4: Herbal remedies
Talk to a herbal professional such as Herbario in Chapel St in Melbourne about calming drops you can give your child to help with physical overexcitable behaviour before bedtime. These can really help to calm things down.
Step 5: Talk to your child about the process
Once it’s time for lights out, talk to your child about what’s happening next. Ensure there is no burning issues that need to be discussed once the lights go out. Then continue to remind your child if she wants to begin conversing again in an attempt to avoid going to sleep.
Other Methods To Ease Sleep Deprivation
There are several other methods you can employ, like sticking to a routine, having a warm bath before bedtime and telling stories before going to bed. Whilst we engage in all of these in my home, unfortunately they make the girls tired, but they still fight to stay awake. So, the steps above have been the answer to us moving from taking 2-3 hours to get the girls to sleep, to taking 20-30 minutes. The latter is much more enjoyable and much less exhausting for all of us.
Give these a go in your home if you’re struggling to get your child to sleep. It could make the world of difference to your lifestyle and level of sleep deprivation too.