Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
162
Best Advice for Long Night Sleep Durations
December 18, 2023

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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

Blog Posts 15, based on the United States of America Department of the Army Field Manual: Holistic Healing and Fitness, describe what really matters for your child’s sleep. If sleep is an important enough topic for national defense than surely sleep should be considered a serious topic for parenting!

Blog 162Best Advice for Long Night Sleep Durations

A 2022 review of 45 published peer-revied randomized clinical trials involving 13,539 children asked the question: What interventions work to help your child sleep longer at night. Every intervention regarding soothing strategies, bedtime routines, parent behaviors, physical exercise during the day for the child, and so forth was examined.

The answer: “Based on the best available evidence to date, earlier bedtimes offer a simple pragmatic strategy to meaningfully increase sleep duration.” The best interventions included earlier bedtimes and were associated with a 47-minute sleep extension compared with the remaining studies of only a 7-minute sleep extension.

For more of the best sleep advice, check out the following child sleep blogs:

Blog Post 74 explains how to move the bedtime earlier.

Blog Posts 6 and 154 document how just a few extra minutes of sleep may help your child.

Blog Posts 68, 123, 130, and 140 explain how late bedtimes harm your child.

Comments

  1. Dr. Marc, I hope you can help! My son is 5.5 months (6 months on 1/21). He has always been a good sleeper and for several weeks was sleeping 12-13 hour stretches with one, sometimes two wake-ups for feeds (he is breastfed). After the holidays, everything changed. He wakes up frequently – sometimes as often as on the hour – and he is quickly soothed with his pacifier, but keeps waking up. Since the holidays we decreased him from 4 naps to 3 and extended his day sleeps so that his first nap is ~2 hours after he wakes, and we try to add 10 mins to each wake window. His naps are slowly extending but are still as short as 30 mins and very occasionally over one hour long. Is this a sleep regression? How can we help him get back on track? Thank you for your help!!

    1. Please read the sections in my book on teething, wake windows, and sleep regression to fully appreciate why these are all bogus concepts. Please describe a typical schedule of naps and bedtimes. Have you read the age-appropriate section of my book?

      1. I did read the age-appropriate section of your book, yes, but am still not sure what is best because if I watch my child and not the clock then I’m putting him to bed more frequently than appears to be recommended because he always looks so tired at the 90-135 min. mark.

        Here is a typical schedule though it varies depending on nap times:

        Wake around 7am
        Nap 1 at 9am typically to 945 am
        Nap 2 around noon typically to 1245pm
        Nap 3 at 3pm typically to 345 pm
        Bedtime around 7pm

        I wonder if he is in need of the “Reset” that you describe in box #4 of blog post 140.

          1. He slows down. He is sometimes fussy and cries, but mostly just gets quiet and low energy around that time. If we do interact with him he might “wake up” a bit and engage, but if we were to leave him alone he’d just sit quietly or start to fuss.

          2. Your description tells you that his sleep tank is near empty (“slows down”, “gets quiet and low energy”, “sits quietly”) or empty (“sometimes fussy”, “starts to fuss”) because the falling asleep time is too late. Read the section on cumulative sleepiness to understand why this causes disturbed night sleep and review drowsy signs to determine when an earlier falling asleep time is best for your son. Does this help?

  2. Oh – a few other things – he is teething (has 1.5 erupted through so far). On 12/31 he had a terrible night of sleep, as his grandparents were watching him and bedtime was off and he couldn’t settle the rest of the night. On 1/1 he had a full 13 hours with one wakeup, but since then it’s been terrible. And the last thing to note is that he shows drowsy signs very early which is why he was still on 4 naps until recently. He seems to have a high sleep need for his age.

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