My son – and therefore, the rest of his family – has struggled with sleep since he was a baby. When we adopted him at 15 months I had planned to sleep in his room with him to encourage attachment, but it didn’t take long to realize that my presence was not soothing to him, but exciting. If I was in the room he wanted to stay up and play. If I wasn’t in the room he wanted to stay up and play! We quickly figured out that he needed a very quiet, calm, and dark space to sleep, although even with that he still had trouble,
We’d put him to bed at 8, he’d yell (not cry) for 4 hours, fall asleep around 12, and was up by 5. Even after sleeping only 5 hours he wouldn’t nap during the day, and although he got very wild and dysregulated because of lack of sleep, he didn’t get cranky or grumpy, which was a positive, although I’m sure that 5 hours a night wasn’t especially good for his little body. I know it wasn’t good for me. I’m a light sleeper, so even though J was in his crib, and later, in his room with a baby gate keeping him safe, when he woke, I woke. When I asked our pediatrician he talked to me about sleep hygiene, like keeping a good routine, doing calming things before bed, and making sure the child is comfortable, but I had already tried all that and felt frustrated. I was very thankful when another doctor suggested melatonin, which was immediately effective in helping flip whatever switch led to sleep. Continue reading
When you ‘complain’ that your child is not sleeping, most people assume that your child maybe has a hard time falling asleep. Or maybe your child is awake earlier than you would like. Sometimes, it is a much bigger issue.
Like most parents, we stumbled through that phase in infancy when our children were awake every 2 hours – sometimes even more often. It was completely exhausting. For us, this phase went on a little longer than most. It went on for YEARS. It is STILL going on. Parents of ‘typical’ children cannot fathom some of the struggles that parents of ETL children face on a daily basis. There are always the parents who attempt to sympathize – letting you know little Johnny was up at 5 AM. Continue reading
Malia Jacobson is a sleep journalist, columnist, coach, and mom of two. She blogs about sleep and parenting at www.thewellrestedfamily.com.
Horrendous bedtimes. Night awakenings that seem never-ending. Feeling as though you never have a moment to yourself. Sound familiar? You may be living with a short-sleeper—a child who needs less sleep than most.
Many of us arrive at parenthood believing that babies sleep around the clock, only to find ourselves parenting a child who seems to barely sleep at all. In truth, kids’ sleep needs vary widely. Average sleep times for children are 14-16 hours of sleep per day for newborns, 12-14 hours for toddlers, 10-12 hours for children three to six, but some kids don’t need this much sleep. A few need significantly less.
Although true “short-sleepers”—people who can get by on just a few hours of nightly sleep— make up just 3-5 percent of the population, the percentage of kids who need less sleep than average is much higher. And these short sleepers can tax their tired parents emotionally and physically. Continue reading