BY: STEPHANIE DODD
Fostering Healthful Sleep
According to the American Psychological Association, up to 70 percent of children experience sleep disturbances that affect their emotional and physical well-being.
Parents frequently awakened by a child’s interrupted slumber typically are torn between the need to care for their own health and that of their child. The goal is to meet everyone’s needs, so that adequate adult sleep doesn’t feel like child neglect. Solutions are feasible if the parent is emotionally equipped to feel continuing empathy for their little one and secure in their choices for resolution, regardless of setbacks or delays.
Uncovering the real reasons that a child stays alert at bedtime or wakes during the night—such as inconsistent timing of sleep cycles, excessive fatigue, insufficient physical activity, hunger, pain, anxieties, inadequate downtime or a desire for continued interaction with a parent—is the first step. With so many variables, frustration can impede the workings of parental intuition, which is key to the process, as is testing individual possible solutions long enough to assess the result and then confidently move forward.
Expecting a child to feel so empowered that they can fall asleep on their own is a good beginning. Lindsay Melda, of Atlanta, relates, “Our daughter used to wake us up by coming into our bed each night. Once I realized I was anxious about her sleeping alone in her room and was able to instead trust she was okay, she easily slept through the night, waking more rested. My own anxiety was causing her sleep disturbances.”
Christine Gipple, of Oaklyn, New Jersey, a practitioner of non-violent communication, shares, “When my daughter is chatty at bedtime and I’m past ready for her to be in bed, I have to consciously pause, or I can snap at her, thus delaying bedtime. Granting myself just five minutes to reset myself and be present in the moment before I gently re-engage is critical to the outcome.” READ MORE