Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
140
The Most Common Sleep Mistake
July 17, 2023

Found in age groups

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

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Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

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Introduction

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

If you have not already done so, please read Blog Posts 1 through 5 that describe how sleep is important and beneficial. I will post specific information for parents and children based on my book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” Please do not be put off by my book’s length. This is a reference book. Read only the topic of interest to you.

Blog 140The Most Common Sleep Mistake

  1. Because of inexperience, new parents mistake fatigue signs for drowsy signs and have a bedtime for their child that is too late. Blog Post 9.
  1. Because of increased fatigue in the parents and the distraction of an older child in the early evening, experienced parents fail to notice early drowsy signs for their baby and have a bedtime for their baby that is too late.
  1. A bedtime that is only slightly too late may not be a big deal until:
  • A – 3 naps go to 2 naps around 6-9 months of age, or
  • B – 2 naps go to 1 nap around 1 year of age, or
  • C – 1 nap goes to 0 naps around 3-5 years of age.

As naps disappear, less day sleep occurs, and then, this might cause your child to begin to acquire a sleep debt that messes up night sleep. The previously customary bedtime was only slightly too late, but now with less day sleep, the previously slightly too late bedtime is way too late because there is less day sleep to partially compensate for a slightly too late bedtime.  Your child now develops a higher state of neurological arousal because of less daytime sleep and starts to have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep at night and early in the morning.

  1. During an illness, vacation, or unavoidable sleep disruption, your child acquires a sleep debt.  When your child has recovered from his illness or you have returned home from your vacation or things have settled down, the failure to temporarily move the bedtime earlier for 1-2 nights (a ‘reset’, Blog Post 26) to pay back the newly acquired sleep debt causes your child to continue to not sleep well.  This is because the persistent sleep debt produces neurological hyperarousal around the old, customary bedtime.
  1. It’s summertime and the days are longer, and the weather is nicer.  You allow the bedtime to become later to enjoy more outdoor activities and socializing with friends and family.

In all 5 situations, ‘Cumulative Sleepiness’ (Blog Posts 8486) means that the adverse effects from a bedtime that is too late will worsen over time.  Thus, a bedtime that is only slightly too late might initially seem to be not creating any problems, but later, “all of a sudden” your child hits a wall from an ever-increasing sleep debt. Now, bedtime battles, and/or night wakings, and/or nap deterioration, and/or extremely early wake-up times occur.  If the bedtime is only slightly too late, it might take a long time before these sleep problems appear.  Before these sleep problems become full-blown, your child’s mood, behavior, or sociability might have mildly or moderately worsened in the late afternoon or early evening and you might mistakenly attribute these behavioral/emotional symptoms and mild sleep issues to myths such as ‘teething’, ‘growth spurts’, or ‘sleep regressions’ (Blog Posts 3637).

Solution

Move the bedtime earlier (Blog Posts 74 and 123)

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