Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
14
Be Flexible
February 15, 2021

Found in age groups

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

5th Edition: 
A Step-by-Step Program for a Good Night's Sleep

Buy now

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

5th Edition: 
Chapter 1 (only 16 pages!) outlines everything you need to know about your child's sleep.

Buy now

Introduction

A Healthy Child Needs a Healthy Brain, A Healthy Brain Needs Healthy Sleep

Sleep is serious business. If you have not already done so, please read Blog Posts 1 through 5 that describe how sleep is important and beneficial, from the point of view of the United States of America Department of the Army. A major point, emphasized by the Army, is that more sleep produces more benefits for Soldiers. Also, more sleep produces more benefits for children. Even small amounts of extra sleep help (Blog Post 6). At every age!

Another point made by the army is: “A factor that determines the extent to which alertness and performance are impacted by sleep loss is individual differences in sensitivity and resistance to the effects of sleep loss. No one can maintain alertness and performance indefinitely without sleep, but some individuals are more impacted by sleep loss than others. Individual differences are determined by both genetics and sleep history or habitual sleep.”

The Army is clear about who is in charge: “Planning for sleep is a leader [Parent] competency.” And “Effective leaders [Parents] consider sleep an item of logistical resupply like water, food, fuel, and ammunition.” And “Think of sleep as an item of as an item of logistical resupply, like beans, bullets, and plan accordingly.”

Blog 14Be Flexible

“PLAN ACCORDINGLY”

Parents would like to have a plan that guarantees healthy sleep for their child, like a tested recipe guarantees a sweet cupcake. Unfortunately, there is no one example of sleep advice that fits all families. The principles discussed in child sleep Blog Posts 1 through 13 have to be adapted to specific individual, cultural, and family circumstances, or what the Army calls “mission constraints.”  There are three areas that will impact the sleep plan that you will design to fit your specific needs:

  • Genetic individuality of your child.
  • Cultural differences.
  • Family differences.

GENETIC INDIVIDUALITY OF YOUR CHILD

  • Trait Differences.

Twin studies show that there are genetically based individual differences among children at any given age regarding naps, bedtimes, and sleep duration.

  • Differential Susceptibility (Intra-Individual).

Between individuals, there are genetic differences regarding how they react to specific environmental events. An environmental event might be a short sleep duration or a parenting factor. Here are two examples:

  • Differential sensitivity (Inter-Individual)
  1. When a serotonin transporter gene variant is present, children between 6 and 36 months of age, with short sleep durations, developed negative emotionality (discomfort, fear, frustration, sadness, and shyness), but not if the gene variant is absent.
  2. When a dopamine gene variant is present, children at 10 months, with insensitive mothers (based on scoring videotapes of mother-baby interactions) displayed more externalizing behaviors at 39 months, but not if the gene variant is absent.

Within an individual, there are task-dependent genetic differences in how an individual responds to insufficient sleep. Sleep loss in a particular individual might primarily and negatively impact cognitive processes (alertness, vigilance, and sustained attention) or executive functioning (for example, speed of cognitive processing) or subjective responses (mood and daytime sleepiness). Resilience in one domain to sleep loss does not necessarily carry over to another. So how your child behaves, performs, and feels when short on sleep is highly individualized.

CULTURAL DIFFERENCES

Comparing children from predominately Caucasian, Asian, and Middle East countries, Professor Jodi Mindell showed a trend towards later bedtimes, more frequent and longer night wakings, shorter nighttime and daytime sleep durations, and more sleep problems in Middle East countries. The average values between these regions were statistically significant. Asian countries had late bedtimes perhaps attributed to placing a high value on academic accomplishment with studying late at night and more room sharing perhaps attributed to high population density in cities making only small apartments affordable to young couples. Separate reports describe Spain, Italy, and South America as having late bedtimes and shorter sleep durations perhaps attributed to placing a high value on having children participate in the family evening life, including a late dinner. In some cultures, Grandparents or nannies are highly involved in child-care including naps and they often sleep with the baby at night in a separate room. Affordability of nannies and government paid maternity leave varies greatly among different countries.

FAMILY DIFFERENCES

Challenges within a family might make it difficult for a child to learn to sleep well or obtain healthy sleep. Here is a partial list of family challenges:

  • Family conflict or marital strife, poverty, lack of social support.
  • Parental presence in the bedroom until the child falls asleep, smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy, depression or anxiety symptoms.
  • Maternal eveningness preference (“owl”), insomnia, habitual thinking that if I do not respond promptly at night my baby will feel abandoned or all sounds made by my baby at night indicate distress.
  • Paternal habitual thinking negative thoughts about himself, the world, and the future.
  • Babies born premature, with colic, or developmental delays.
  • Bed sharing in a culture that generally disapproves.

MAKE A PLAN

Your plan to help your child get healthy sleep needs to comport with your child’s individuality, your values, your family circumstances, and perhaps your culture. Some advice such as leaving the room after you put your baby down to sleep may be acceptable and possible for some families but neither acceptable nor possible for other families. Considering the differences described above:

Because all mothers and fathers are innately different, please don’t judge other parents’ parenting.

Because all children are innately different, please don’t compare your child’s sleep to other children.

Add comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related blogs

These blogs are related or mentioned in this blog.
1
Blog 1
  | November 13, 2020
 | No Comments

Benefits of Healthy Sleep

Sleep is the critical requirement for brain health and function. Sleep readiness is the ability to recognize and implement sleep principles and behaviors to support optimal brain function. In turn, sleep readiness underpins a Soldier’s ability to accomplish the mission, and continue to fight and win.
Read full post
2
Blog 2
  | November 21, 2020
 | No Comments

Benefits of Healthy Sleep

Cognitive ability and readiness vary as a direct function of the amount of sleep obtained. The more sleep Soldiers [Children] get, the greater their mental acuity, with faster response times, fewer errors, and fewer lapses in attention.
Read full post
3
Blog 3
  | November 30, 2020
 | No Comments

Benefits of Healthy Sleep

Like the rest of the body (for example, muscles, skin, and liver), the brain has physiological needs for food, water, and oxygen-basic needs that must be met not only to ensure proper brain functioning, but to sustain life itself. However, unlike the rest of the body, the brain has one additional physiological need: sleep.
Read full post
4
Blog 4
  | December 7, 2020
 | No Comments

Benefits of Healthy Sleep

Good sleep is essential for optimal performance and readiness [Personal best]. Factors to consider when optimizing sleep duration and continuity include: the sleep environment, a pre-sleep routine, and a sleep schedule that conforms as closely as possible to the brain’s natural circadian rhythm of alertness.
Read full post
5
Blog 5
  | December 14, 2020
 | No Comments

Benefits of Healthy Sleep

While good leadership [Parenting] is essential for a wide range of unit [Family] outcomes, leadership behaviors that target sleep can improve the sleep habits of unit members [Children] and the unit’s overall sleep culture.
Read full post
6
Blog 6
  | December 21, 2020
 | No Comments

Sleep Duration

When children, like Soldiers, get more sleep, even if it is only a few minutes each night, there are many benefits. It may take some time to see the benefits, but sometimes, the extra sleep produces benefits immediately, even overnight.
Read full post
7
Blog 7
  | December 28, 2020
 | 69 Comments

Early Bedtimes

An early bedtime may prevent sleep problems from developing in the first place. A slightly earlier bedtime alone might completely or partially solve a sleep problem.
Read full post
8
Blog 8
  | January 4, 2021
 | 8 Comments

Circadian Rhythms

An early bedtime may prevent sleep problems from developing in the first place. Even just a slightly earlier bedtime alone might completely or partially solve a sleep problem. An early bedtime might be especially beneficial because it is more aligned with the brain’s natural circadian rhythm.
Read full post
9
Blog 9
  | January 11, 2021
 | No Comments

Drowsy Signs

The brains in babies and young children produce drowsy periods followed by sleep during the day and in the evening. Watch for drowsy signs before your child falls asleep. Drowsy signs are your signals to start soothing your child to sleep for a nap or for the night. Begin to soothe your baby to sleep as soon as your baby starts to become drowsy.
Read full post
10
Blog 10
  | January 18, 2021
 | No Comments

Pre-sleep Routines

Parents should experiment to see what soothing method works best and then try to be somewhat consistent so that your child learns to associate certain behaviors with falling asleep. But it is not necessary that Mom and Dad have the same soothing style. The goal of soothing is to create a calm and peaceful state compatible with transitioning to a sleep state.
Read full post

Stay updated with new blog posts

Get access to free lullabies when signing up!
Get notified when new blogs are posted
Loading
Notify me
About Marc
The first month
The second month
Months 3-4
Months 4-12
magnifiercrossarrow-left linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram