Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
36
Six Popular Myths About Children’s Sleep
July 19, 2021

Found in age groups

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 36Six Popular Myths About Children’s Sleep

Six Popular Myths About Children’s Sleep

  1. Teething disrupts children’s sleep.

Direct observational studies document that when the crown of the tooth erupts through the gingival tissue, sleep is not disrupted.

This myth is extremely popular in part because it is the oldest myth and if many generations of parents pass this down to their adult children and everyone knows it to be true, then it must be true. Also, this myth is the original smokescreen that doctors hid behind to conceal their ignorance regarding children’s sleep and because almost all doctors repeated it, it must be true. Other doctors might repeat this myth to parents is because they are in a hurry and do not want to spend the time needed to determine why the child is not sleeping well. Another reason why this myth remains popular is that many products such as gels, drops, and teething rings are sold to prevent teething pain from disrupting sleep. This commercial interest requires advertising so again, parents are lulled into believing that, if untreated, teething will disrupt sleep. One popular product, Orajel (benzocaine) is no longer recommended under the age of two because benzocaine products have the potential to cause a condition called methemoglobinemia. Methemoglobinemia is a potentially deadly condition that causes blood to carry less oxygen.

  1. Graduated extinction and extinction disrupt the mother-child relationship.

Blog Post 24 details relevant studies proving that this is a myth.

This myth claims that because the child “gives up hope” that the mother will come when she or he cries, letting your child cry at night to help the child sleep better will interfere with “attachment” with life-long adverse consequences. Those that believe in this myth cite animal studies and studies that are not relevant to the specific question of whether allowing the child to cry at night to help the child sleep better actually harms the child.  

  1. Graduated extinction and extinction stresses the child which causes elevated cortisol and elevated cortisol causes brain damage.

Blog Post 24 details relevant studies proving that this is a myth.

Those that believe in this myth cite animal studies and studies that are not relevant to the specific question of whether allowing the child to cry at night to help the child sleep better actually elevates cortisol which, in turn, causes harm to the child. One researcher published a 5-day study but did not include baseline data or data on days 4 and 5. Cortisol levels did not increase but she nevertheless argued that letting the child cry to sleep better was harmful. In fact, although not statistically significant, cortisol levels decreased. After extensive email exchanges, she reneged on her promise to perform analysis comparing baseline data to day 4 (or day 5) data which might have, or might not have, supported her conclusions in her published paper regarding cortisol. Professor Gradisar studied infants 6-12 months old and observed a statistically significant large decline in cortisol in the graduated extinction group and a moderate decline in the bedtime fading group.

(To be continued.)

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