Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
Benefits of Healthy Sleep
December 7, 2020

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Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

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

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Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

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

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

“Sleep Readiness” is the title of Chapter 11 of the United States of America Department of the Army field manual (FM 7-22) that prepares young men and women to become soldiers. It is the official document that describes how all young recruits will acquire necessary skills during the process that is sometimes referred to as basic training or “boot camp.” Updated in 2020, it is based on empirical data using traditional scientific methods. I have lightly edited, added emphasis, and condensed Chapter 11 in order to show you how “Sleep Readiness” can also help parents help their child sleep better.

Initially, I will post parts of Chapter 11 (Blog Posts 1 through 5) to emphasize the value of healthy sleep and then 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; for now, only read the single, age-appropriate Chapter for your child. Later, if you wish, read Chapters on What is Healthy Sleep, Why Healthy Sleep is Important, and Preventing Sleep problems. Finally, if needed, read the Chapter on Sleep Solutions.

Let’s go!

Blog 4Benefits of Healthy Sleep

Chapter 11


From the United States of America Department of the Army field manual (FM 7-22)


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.


Sleep duration and continuity are optimized in environments that are quiet, dark, and maintained at a comfortable ambient temperature. Some individuals [Pre-teens and teenagers) believe that they sleep better with music or a television on, that they can sleep anywhere, and that ambient noise does not bother them. Research clearly shows that this is not the case. Although sleepers are not aware of it, environmental sounds cause brief arousals-a momentary partial awakening-that effectively disrupt sleep continuity and reduce the restorative value of that sleep.


Stress is incompatible with sleep. Pre-sleep routines [Bed-time routines and soothing to sleep] that promote winding down prior to bedtime tend to facilitate the transition to sleep. These routines will maximize sleep duration. Conversely, activities such as watching television, playing video games, chatting online, and similar interesting or engaging activities tend to arouse the brain and delay sleep onset. These activities reduce the amount of sleep obtained and should be avoided during the pre-sleep wind-down period.


Adequate performance is best achieved by Soldiers [Children] who consistently get adequate sleep on a nighttime sleep-daytime wakefulness schedule aligned with the brain’s natural circadian rhythm of alertness [or Sleep]. Both sleep duration and sleep continuity [Consolidation] are maximized on such schedules. However, military operations [Real life family events] are often influenced by random and unpredictable events and requirements. Shift work [Late bedtimes or staying up late for schoolwork or social activities] is unavoidable for at least some deployed Soldiers [Pre-teens and teenagers]. The following situations commonly contribute to sleep loss and decrements in waking performance:

  • Shift work.
  • Social jet lag.


The human brain is biologically hard-wired to be alert during the daylight hours and asleep during the nighttime and early morning hours. Because of this, poor quality sleep results from night shift work [Late bedtimes or staying up late for schoolwork or social activities] even when Soldiers [Children] spend adequate time in bed asleep during the daytime. Although such a schedule is unnatural for the human brain, some adaptation to an abnormal sleep schedule does occur over time, but such adaptation is never complete. Soldiers [Children] always pay a cost in their waking performance and daytime sleep quality.


The tendency to stay up later and sleep in later on off-duty days [Weekends] compared to on-duty days [School days] commonly results in a phenomenon known as social jet lag. The effect is similar to that experience by individuals who experience jet lag after travelling eastward across a couple of time zones.

(To be continued.)


  1. I have an almost four month old. Your book has been so helpful. I was having issues with early morning wakening and an earlier bedtime has fixed this.

    He sleeps and feeds once over night. Bedtime 6:30pm

    My baby has been increasingly fussy and previously happy/easy going.

    Previously during the day he was napping aprox every 2 hours. Following his cues not the clock. Now he won’t nap for longer than 20 min and wakes up crying. He seems exhausted.

    I plan to move bedtime up to 5:30pm.

    Should we be using extinction or graduated extinction for naps? Should we try to extend the length of nap by holding or carrying him? I know nap rhythm doesn’t establish until six months but trying to figure out how to help him get more sleep in the meantime.

    Thank you!

    1. Please be patient and see what happens to naps, mood, and behavior as you move the bedtime to 5:30pm. Let me know what happens in a few days.

  2. So we have had a bedtime between 5:30-6pm based on last nap. His mood and behavior has improved. Night sleep is good. He is breastfed. He will wake 1/2 times overnight and return to sleep. Wakes up between 6:30-7am.

    He continues to fight naps. First nap is the easiest. Start soothing based on drowsy signs free being up1 hour. Typically asleep at 90 min. The remaining two naps are difficult. Hard to “catch the wave.” If he is on the floor playing with us it’s easy to miss. It’s like with the stimulation the cue doesn’t appear. His cue is turning/looking away. The 2 later boss involve Fussy and screaming when swaddled and lights get turned off.

    Falls asleep using option B for naps per your book typically in our arms. If we can transfer him he will sleep 20-40 min. Recently he wakes up during transfer to crib and won’t return to sleep unless held.

    Naps are 8:30a, 11:30a, 2:30p +/- 30 min based on him not clock.

    We have not done any night extinction or graduated extinction. In the past we could set him down asleep and swaddled without issue for night and naps. A handful of times I have gone in after crying 5-10 min and provided smoothing at naps without picking up trying to help him return to sleep. Typically without success.

    Thoughts on next step going forward.

    1. If the earlier bedtime has helped his mood and behavior, the first nap is now easier, and night sleep is good, I suggest that you continue as you are doing with the little change of having a very strict lights off (expected falling asleep time) at 5:30pm-not a minute later-independent of his last nap. Over several weeks, the length and regularity of naps will improve and then the bedtime might become a little later. If you think a pitch black room and/or white noise machine might help, go for it. Hpw does this sound to you?

  3. This sounds good to me. Is it normal with the 5:30pm bedtime for him to wake up after 45 minutes and have to be supported back to sleep? Gentle patting, music or trying paci? I try an avoid rocking him back to deep sleep. But sometimes I have to do this 1 to 3 times between 5:30pm and 8pm before he is asleep for night. Generally takes 3-10 minutes to calm him and return to sleep. Is this okay and appropriate?

    1. With the super early 5:30 bedtime consistently in place, I would expect this behavior to diminish on its own. If not, perhaps after 7-10 days, consider extinction or graduated extinction, only if you are comfortable with this. Please let me know how it goes.

  4. To add to the above i generally allow him to cry for 5-10 min. Score returning to offer support. Once I do this 1 to 3 times he will then sleep until he is hungry sometimes 12-1 or other times will make it until 2-3. Thanks!

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