Hands up if this sounds familiar!!
Your fussy baby finally falls asleep for her afternoon nap and you sit down for a much needed moment to yourself only to hear
a car with a broken muffler roaring down the street. Just like that, Sleeping Beauty is wide awake and mad; NOT a good combination.
Or maybe you live in the country and you’re awoken at dawn by a wailing infant who has adorable (but ridiculously loud)
birds chirping outside her window. Environmental noises are a fact of life that you can’t do much about! But there IS something you can do about your baby’s ability to sleep through the noise.
In my experience, white noise machines can be a lifesaver when it comes to helping babies
fall asleep and stay asleep.
Why and which one do I recommend?
Discover effective strategies to ensure your kids maintain healthy sleep habits during a move, and learn how to help them during this transitional period.
Moving to a new home in Alberta can be an exciting yet stressful time for families, especially when kids are involved. Amidst the chaos of packing, unpacking, and adjusting to a new environment, it's crucial not to overlook the significance of maintaining healthy sleep habits during the move. Sleep is pivotal in children's growth, development, and overall well-being. This article will explore practical ways to support your kids in getting the restful sleep they need while navigating the transition.
Establish a Familiar Sleep Environment and a Calming Bedtime Atmosphere
When moving to a new place, children can feel disoriented and uneasy due to the change in surroundings. To mitigate this, create a sleep environment that mirrors their previous setup. Set up their bed, blankets, and favorite stuffed animals in a similar arrangement. Familiarity in their sleeping space can provide a sense of comfort and security, promoting better sleep during the move.
Set the stage for a peaceful sleep environment. Consider using soft lighting, soothing colors, and calming scents in their bedroom. Creating a serene atmosphere can aid relaxation and help them unwind before bedtime.
A Consistent Bedtime Routine as You Adjust to the New Time Zone
Routines offer predictability, which is especially crucial when everything else feels uncertain. Stick to their usual bedtime routine as closely as possible. Whether reading a story, dimming the lights, or practicing relaxation techniques, these activities signal to their bodies that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Consistency in routine can help mitigate the disruptions caused by the move.
If the move involves crossing different time zones, gradual adjustment can help prevent jet lag and ensure smoother sleep transitions. Gradually shift their bedtime and wake-up time in the days leading up to the move so the change isn't abrupt and disruptive.
Prioritize Physical Activity
Engaging in physical activities during the day can help expend excess energy, making it easier for kids to fall asleep at night. Allocate time for outdoor play or indoor games that encourage movement. Physical exertion contributes to a healthier sleep cycle and reduces any stress or anxiety associated with the move.
By incorporating active play into their daily routine, you can promote a more balanced emotional state, allowing them to approach bedtime with a calmer and more relaxed mindset. Additionally, physical exertion can enhance the quality of their sleep by promoting deeper restorative sleep cycles. This means that even amid the changes and uncertainties of moving, their bodies have the opportunity to recover and recharge through the night, supporting their overall health during this transitional period.
Children may have questions or concerns about the move that could affect their sleep. Encourage open communication and create an environment where they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts. Addressing their worries and providing reassurance can alleviate any bedtime anxiety they might be experiencing.
Involving them in the moving process, such as allowing them to pack a special box of their belongings or choose the color of their new room, can give them a sense of control and involvement. This empowerment can boost their confidence and reduce feelings of uncertainty, contributing positively to their overall sleep quality. If you have hired movers for your long distance move in Alberta, Canada, long distance movers can make it easy on the kids too. They can suggest safe ways for kids to get involved, which can help calm their anxieties. Remember, their emotional well-being and sleep patterns are closely intertwined, making it crucial to tend to their feelings during this significant life transition.
Unpack Comfort Items First
During the moving process, certain items may take longer to unpack than others. However, they prioritize unpacking comfort items like their favorite pajamas, blankets, and bedtime books. Having these items readily available can offer a sense of normalcy and help them feel more at ease in their new surroundings.
Remember that small gestures can make a big difference. Before their first night in the new home, consider engaging in a soothing bedtime routine together. Reading a beloved storybook, sharing a quiet conversation, or practicing deep breathing exercises can help them relax and ease into sleep. These moments of connection can be reassuring during a time when everything else seems uncertain.
Limit Screen Time Before Bed
Screens emit blue light that can interfere with the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep. Especially during the move, when sleep might already be disrupted, limiting screen time in the hour leading up to bedtime is essential. Encourage quieter activities like reading or drawing instead.
Be Patient and Understanding
It's normal for sleep disruptions to occur during a move. Children might take some time to acclimate to the new environment and routines. Patience and understanding are key during this period of adjustment. Recognize that occasional sleep challenges are part of the process and focus on consistently reinforcing those healthy sleep habits during the move.
Each child is unique, and their reactions to the move can vary. Some may adapt quickly, while others might require more time to feel comfortable in their new surroundings. As a parent, being attuned to your child's emotions and behaviors can guide you in providing the necessary support. Remember that maintaining healthy sleep habits during the move is not just about the immediate adjustment period but about setting the stage for their ongoing well-being. By approaching sleep disruptions with a proactive and patient attitude, you can help your children build resilience and adaptability, skills that will serve them well beyond the move. So, as you navigate this transition, remember that while challenges may arise, your dedication to their sleep routine is a valuable investment in their overall health and happiness.
Seek Routine Amidst Change
Change can be unsettling for children, but establishing a routine can provide a sense of stability. Even amidst the move, incorporating elements of their regular routine can help anchor them and promote better sleep. These familiar practices can make a significant difference, whether it's a special pre-sleep ritual or a favorite lullaby.
Help Kids Maintain Healthy Sleep Habits During the Move
Moving to a new home with kids requires careful consideration of their sleep needs. While the transition can be demanding, prioritizing healthy sleep habits during the move is essential for their well-being. By creating a consistent sleep environment, maintaining routines, and fostering open communication, you can help your children navigate the move while ensuring they continue to get the restful sleep they need. Remember, patience and understanding go a long way in making this transitional period smoother for the entire family.
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Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar…
Your baby wakes up in the morning after a solid night’s sleep. You feed her, change her, play with her for a little bit, take her for a little walk outside, then rock her to sleep and put her gently into her crib for her morning nap.
And then, 30 minutes later, she wakes up fussy and irritable and, despite your pleading, bargaining, and offers of riches, refuses to go back to sleep.
So, after half an hour of trying to put her back down, you finally give in, hoping she’ll be that much more tired when her afternoon nap rolls around, only to have the exact same scenario play out again, and baby is a cranky ball of unhappiness for the rest of the day.
Sleep, like food, is one of those elements where baby has the final say on whether or not they’re going to cooperate, so there’s no sense trying to force the issue. If they’re not sleeping, just leaving them in their room usually won’t fix things.
So, here’s what’s going on, and how to fix it.
Is your little one waking up in the middle of the night?
No, no, not like that. I mean, like really waking up. Waking up and staying up. For, like… hours.
If you’re the parent of a baby who’s dealing with segmented sleep, you know exactly what I’m talking about. This isn’t the middle of the night. “Go in and comfort baby for ten minutes until he gets back to sleep” wake up. This is a full-blown 3:00 a.m. dance party.
It’s got a few names. Segmented sleep, bifurcated sleep, split nights, and it describes a situation where your little one sleeps for a long stretch, then wakes up happy and energetic in the middle of the night and stays that way for an hour or more.
Slit Nights aren’t a new or unnatural phenomenon. Back before the widespread use of the electric light bulb, people would regularly sleep for a few hours, wake up for another hour or two, then go back to sleep.
They’d use the time to read, smoke, pray, and have sex (not necessarily all at once), and then after an hour or two, they’d get back into bed and sleep until morning. (Apparently, it was also a typical time for visiting one’s neighbours. Not to hate on the old days, but if my neighbours came over unannounced at three in the morning, oooohhh, things would get biblical.)
Nowadays, however, the vast majority of us go to sleep at night and, hopefully, close our eyes and sleep straight through until morning.
But let me guess… your baby didn’t get the memo?
Split nights are actually a pretty common issue. Baby goes down at 7:30 at night, wakes up at 3:00 in the morning, parties her ass off for an hour and a half, then goes back to sleep, apparently careless about the groggy, miserable day she’s set her parents up for.
So let’s take a quick look at why this happens, and then we’ll learn how to solve the problem.
Why Do Split Nights Happen?
There are two major drivers when it comes to sleep. First, there’s our circadian rhythm, which is our natural tendency to fall asleep when it’s dark and wake up when it’s light. Then there’s our homeostatic sleep drive, commonly known as sleep pressure, which builds up over the time we’re awake.
So ideally, over the course of the day, sleep pressure builds up, then at bedtime, when the pressure hits the sweet spot, baby puts her head down and goes to sleep. Then, as that sleep pressure begins to subside, circadian rhythm takes over, and baby stays asleep until morning.
In the case of a split night, we could be looking at one of two reasons why they’re waking up.
● Baby’s not getting to bed early enough, OR…
● Baby’s going to bed too early.
Now before you pitch your phone out the window at that seemingly paradoxical explanation, check this out.
How to Fix Split Nights?
If baby’s getting to bed too late, if too much sleep pressure has built up, the brain has this instinctive response that says, “Hey, you’re tired, but you’re not sleeping. I’m guessing that’s because there’s a carnivorous apex predator around, so we’d better get ready to make a break for it,” and then starts upping the cortisol levels.
The brain means well, but it’s a little behind the times on our need for lion alerts.
So this can make it tough for baby to get to sleep at bedtime since that cortisol’s got them a little bit jacked. It can also cause a full wake-up at the end of a sleep cycle, which commonly happens around 2 or 3 in the morning. Ugh.
If this is the case, you’re one of the lucky ones. Treat this like any other nighttime wake-up, reassure baby that it’s still bedtime, comfort her and let her get back to sleep on her own, and consider moving bedtime up a bit over the course of a few nights.
But then there’s the alternate scenario. What if baby gets to bed too early?
In a situation where baby’s getting lots of quality daytime sleep and going to bed early, it’s possible that there’s not enough sleep pressure built up to keep baby sleeping until their circadian rhythm takes over and helps them sleep through the rest of the night, so up they get.
And now that there isn’t as much sleep pressure, and their circadian rhythm doesn’t have the horsepower to get them to sleep on their own, suddenly they’re up and active for an hour (or three!) while that pressure builds back up.
Now, I’m all about early bedtimes. Too little sleep is a much bigger problem than too much. But suppose your baby’s experiencing this kind of split-night sleep. In that case, it’s worth looking at their schedule and doing a little fine-tuning to ensure that you’re hitting the optimum sleep pressure right at the same time that baby’s going to bed for the night.
I know plenty of situations can arise where you’ll want to get baby to bed a little early. For example, if she had a day of lousy naps and is clearly tired half an hour before bedtime, it’s the right move to get her to bed ahead of schedule.
But try to avoid putting baby to bed early, more than one or two nights in a row. We want to prevent over-tiredness, but we also don’t want them in the crib at night for more time than they’re actually capable of sleeping.
So if baby’s had a tough day and didn’t nap well, it’s fine to get her to bed a little early since that sleep pressure is likely already built up, but try to get her back onto the regular schedule starting the next morning, including her wake-up time.
I know that this can all start to sound like an immaculately choreographed ballet. In some ways, it can be pretty complicated. Still, the more you understand the nuances and know where to make those minor adjustments, the better your baby will sleep. The less they’ll run into these regressions, setbacks, and interruptions.
One final thing to consider if you’re getting ready to tackle this situation. This is not likely to be an overnight fix. Once baby has gotten into this habit, getting them out of it can take some time.
Like any attachment or dependency, overcoming it is an incremental process, and it’s likely to meet with some pushback, so if and when things get tough, remember your goal.
You’re giving your little one the skills they need to sleep soundly through the night, and that contributes to their well-being in so many different ways. So stay consistent, be patient, and before too long, you and your baby will both be enjoying full nights of deep, restful sleep.
Erin Neri - Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and Owner of To The Moon and Back Sleep Consulting since 2016.
Daylight savings starts each spring season and this year is shows up on Sunday, March 12, 2023.
When it's time to “spring forward” the clocks it can be a dreaded time for parents of young children because with this, comes an adjustment that does not happen immediately.
This is because children tend to be more structured in their bedtime and wake up around the same time each morning and that is why people usually
can see a greater effect on children when the time changes.
However, there are some things you can do to help make the transition to the new
time go a little smoother.
My recommendation is to leave your clock alone Saturday night. Wake up Sunday morning, have breakfast, then go around your house and change your clocks. Psychologically, it will feel much better for everyone if you wait until Sunday morning to change the time.
My best advice for children to help them with the change is to split the difference with the old time and the new time.
How does that work?
It's time to “fall back” the clocks!!
This can be a dreaded time for parents of young children because with this,
comes an adjustment that does not happen immediately.
This is because children tend to be more structured in their bedtime and wake up around the same time each morning and that is why people usually can see a greater effect on children when the time changes.
However there are some things you can do to help make the transition
to the new time go a little smoother.
My recommendation is to leave your clocks alone Saturday night.
Wake up Sunday morning, have breakfast, then go around your house and change your clocks. Psychologically, it will feel much better for everyone if you wait until Sunday morning to change the time.
My best advice for children to help them with the change is to split the difference
with the old time and the new time.
How does that work?
As a pediatric sleep consultant, there are a few questions I’ve grown accustomed to hearing. People are understandably curious about whether or not their child is going to cry, and if so, for how long. They want to know how long it’s going to take before baby starts sleeping through the night, and when they’ll be able to do the same.
And even though they never come right out and say it in so many words, they want to know if there’s some kind of magical solution that will solve the problem instantaneously without any effort, crying, or protest.
With the holidays quickly approaching, parents who have recently gotten their babies, of any age, sleeping on a schedule are often worried that their little ones' sleep will regress over the Holidays.
I can assure you that those fears could not be more real.
Many families struggle with severe sleep deprivation for a very long time due to the "blessing" of having a child (or two like I was) that lacks healthy independent sleep strategies.
So, finally getting your whole family into a routine that works. Finally moving from being severely sleep deprived into a family that is becoming well rested. Trust me everyone inside that little family unit wants to protect their new found sleep including the little one who is finally able to sleep.
When little ones finally FEEL what it feels like to have the sleep that is needed for healthy growth and development they don't want their schedule messed with either.
Between the travel, excitement, and constant attention of family and friends, holidays are the easiest way to throw all of your hard work out with the wrapping paper.
But fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way! With some strategic planning and an iron will, you can keep that carefully orchestrated routine running right on schedule.
There are two major impediments to maintaining your kiddos routine over the holidays. One is travel, and the other is family and friends, so I want to tackle both of those topics individually.
First, we will cover the travel portion...
A whole year, really? How did your wee newborn, curled up on your chest, turn into a babbling, active toddler? Somehow, those long days became a short year. Happy birthday, baby! As you move into toddlerhood from 12 to 18 months, get ready for some roller coasters when it comes to food and sleep, including new schedules and routines. The non-stop eating tends to slow down, and toddlers typically only gain a few pounds between the ages of one and two. Continue to offer a variety of healthy foods for meals and snacks, but don’t get too concerned if they’re not that hungry.
To The Moon and Back Sleep Consulting
Providing families the tools & support they need to get their little ones sleeping through the night and napping like champs! Everyone has more fun when they are well rested!
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