Sleep is such a complex puzzle that sometimes you could be missing an integral piece you didn't even know was or wasn't there! Check out these 7 surprising things that may be affecting your child's sleep (and yours too!):
1. Their room is too bright:
Darkness releases the sleepy hormone (melatonin) so rooms should be DARK. Even the smallest ray of light can overstimulate your child and keep them up. Thanks to Daylight Saving Time (seriously, aren't we done with this yet?!) it isn't always the easiest to get your child's room as dark as necessary. Blackout curtains can be helpful but I find that they still let in light at the sides and at the top, so some extra help is usually necessary to get the room all the way dark. Some cheap and easy solutions are to use garbage bags, cardboard, or even aluminum foil on the windows to block out any pesky rays that are keeping your kiddo awake.
2. Physical activity too close to bedtime:
Physical Activity is SO important both for health and for sleep. Studies have shown that light activity in the 90 minutes before bed leads to deeper and better quality sleep. However! Physical Activity that is too close to bedtime and is too vigorous could cause their body's core temperature to spike and keep it awake longer. So those tickle fights that Dad no doubt initiates right before bed may actually be keeping your little one from falling asleep.
3. Bedtimes are too late:
One of the most surprising aspects of the sleep plan for my clients would have to be how early bedtimes should be. The sleep before midnight is the most restorative and full of growth hormones so we want children to get as much of that as possible. Children who were previously going to bed at 8, 9, 10pm now are going to bed between 6-7pm. If you don't want to commit to the early bedtime all at once, try moving it up 30 minutes every few days. Every bit of that restorative sleep helps!
4.Too much time indoors:
One of the best ways to regulate sleep hormones is to get outside in the sunshine, especially right after waking and midday when the sun is at it's strongest. When we're inside too much we miss out on the natural effects the sun has on our rhythms. By ensuring that your child is getting sun exposure at these times as much as possible it can help them to adjust their schedule.
5. Nightlight is the wrong colour:
Did you know that some colours can affect the production of melatonin? When melatonin production is effected it can disrupt your child's circadian rhythms and keep your child awake. Colours such as blue and white are both colours to AVOID. Instead, go for a RED or amber light as these colours don't affect melatonin production.
6. Screen time too close to bedtime:
This one may not be that surprising but it is worth repeating. Screen time really does wreak havoc on our circadian rhythms, causing it to be harder to fall asleep and have lower quality sleep once there. Screen time should be finished at least ONE HOUR before bedtime to give the eyes and the brain time to adjust and be ready for sleep.
7. Chocolate too close to bedtime:
This one hurts me on a personal level because chocolate is one of the best things in the world, second only to sleep. However, did you also know that chocolate contains caffeine? So if your child's favourite bedtime snack includes chocolate or chocolate milk, chances are that it will negatively affect their sleep. Instead, opt for things like nuts, toast, or bananas; things that are kind of boring but that your child likes.
Still having trouble getting the pieces of your child's sleep to fit together? If you need extra help with your little one, book your FREE Discovery Call today! www.sleepbound.ca