This post was written by guest blogger Jen Pritchard from Sleepy Lambs as part of our ‘Parental Painkillers’ series. www.jenniferpritchard.sleepylambs.com
Is your little one struggling to go to sleep?
Are you often told ‘They’ll sleep when they’re ready’?
I was fed up hearing it too!
We need to ask ourselves ‘Is this normal, should my family be suffering exhaustion like this?’
The answer is NO!
Most people don’t realise that there’s always a reason why our little ones might be struggling with sleep. Keep reading to find out about some of the main issues which can cause disruption to sleep.
Overtiredness plays a big part in bedtime battles, night wakings, early rises and even naps. If your little one shows tired signs like rubbing their eyes, yawning, or a toddler being hyperactive, they’re already overtired.
This creates a surge of stress hormones rushing through their little bodies. These hormones stay in their system for 18 – 24 hours preventing them from having a restful sleep. Ensuring your little one has the right amount of sleep for their age will help prevent them from being overtired.
Many of our little ones have sleep associations – mine included. Before I became a sleep consultant, I didn’t really think about what I was doing…I did what I had to do!
If things like feeding, rocking, and swinging help your child fall asleep at night, they will need that same pattern to get back to sleep if they wake up. There’s nothing wrong with sleep associations. If it works for you and you’re happy, go with it. Always remember to follow safer sleep guidelines.
When you wake up and forget where you are, you panic. Then you realise you’re okay. The same thing happens with your baby. The difference is if they wake up and the environment is different from when they fell asleep, they can get upset and scared.
Teaching your little one to self-settle gives them the confidence to be able to fall asleep on their own in their environment, so each time they wake everything is the same. If they have sleep associations such as white noise, you need to make sure you recreate the same environment for when they wake up during the night.
Fear and anxiety
Sometimes we assume that our little ones are used to their environment, whether that be their own room or bed, but that’s not always true! If your child is unsure or unfamiliar with their surroundings, it can cause fear and anxiety.
Maybe they’ve had a fright, are seeing shadows, or are in a strange room on holiday. Having some play time in their room or where they’re going to be sleeping can help reassure them. It familiarises them with their surroundings, making them feel safe and secure.
If your little one is coming down with something, sleep will be disrupted. If you can, stick to their routine as much as possible. It all helps. Sometimes all they want to do is sleep…and that’s okay.
Being asleep helps them recover and build their immune systems. If their routine does change then, as soon as they start to feel better, try and get back to your routine as best and quickly as you can. It takes just three days to create a new bad habit. It goes without saying that lots of love and hugs are always required!
When you know the reason for your child’s sleep challenges, you will find the solution.