Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sleep Tips from the Formerly Sleep Deprived

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Zarbee’s Naturals. I received product samples and a promotional item as a thank you for participating. #SleepWeek #MC

When I first became a Mom, someone should have warmed me that sleep would end up being such a focus of my waking thoughts. Not only for myself, but for my children. It used to be just what happened at the end of the day. I took it for granted.

Never again.

Over 6 years I have experienced sleep deprivation, insomnia and night terrors. I have seen first-hand what happens when my sweet little angels don't get enough quality sleep themselves. With National Sleep Awareness week here (March 2 - 9), and Daylight Savings Time begining on March 9th, I think it is time to rub the sleep out of our eyes and talk about it.

The best advice I ever received as a new Mom was to respect the child.

Respecting the child ultimately meant to set a reasonable schedule, form a bedtime routine and then stick with it through thick or thin.

I wish it was always that easy, but with Daylight Savings Time looming it is time to batten down the hatches and prepare for the storm of changing bedtime schedules.

Now, schedules are very important, but you have to be willing to follow through with it every night. So first off you need to:

Create a Routine
Not only do you need a consistent bedtime, but also a consistent bedtime routine. The steps leading up to "good night" are very important for kids to not only know what to expect, but signal for them to relax. During the school year our bedtime is 8:00 and we have stories, snuggle time and songs or relaxing music before the kids actually get into their own beds. My favorite lullaby to check out for you children is It's A Big World  by Renee and Jeremy. I have this song at home, but also have it on my phone so we can listen to it when we are taveling. A good routine doesn't have to stop when you are away from home.

Darken the Room
Sometimes, especially during the Summer and naptime, it is hard to fall asleep with the sunlight pouring in. To help with this, we invested in some inexpensive blackout curtains for the windows. When they are closed it is dark and much easier to set the mood for sleep.

Of course to keep those boogie monsters away, each child has a nightlight or sleeptime friend that glows. We need it dark, but I don't want the kids to be scared in the dark either.

Take a peek at the graphic above to see how much sleep our children need. Making sure they don't wake up too early or are able to easily drift off during naptime is my secret to getting in enough Zzz's.

Move Bedtime Slowly
We started moving bedtime slowly before and after the time changes because we had come to belive time changes were created to punish parents. They make no sense from a kid's point of view! Why should they go to bed at one time, one night, and then an hour earlier or later the next day? After a few years of fighting our oldest, we started preparing ahead of time by having the kids go to sleep a few minutes (15) minutes earlier or later. We spread that out  for about a week till the kids were acclimated.

Even I don't mind getting up just 15 minutes earlier... but would drag if you made me go a whole hour earlier.

Less TV
This tip is two-fold. No, I don't actually mean let your kids watch less TV, that is up to you, it means less at certain times. Ever had your kids all hyped up after watching a show like Sponge Bob? Well, by cutting out TV viewing in the evening before bedtime and right before naptime, my kids are able to settle down and get to sleep easier.

The other part of this equation was the decision to take the TV out of the bedroom. It was the best decision I made...ever. I used to watch it before bed or catch the news as I was getting ready for my day, but we finally decided to declare our bedrooms as snuggle and sleep zones only. It has worked really well for us.

Wear Them Out
This tip probably comes because my oldest is a boy. He rarely sits still let alone lays down and closes his eyes at night without complaint. For us, getting him outside and moving really helped. The more worn out he was during the day from physical activity, the more likely he was to sleep well.

And when the weather is too wet or cold to play outside? We either take the kids to our local bouncey center or fire up the Xbox and play a Kinect game that requires us to jump and move to play. My kids are big fans of the Just Dace for Kids series.

And then if my kids still have trouble sleeping... which has been common for my 4 year old lately... we can give her Zarbee's Naturals Children's Sleep. It contains just 1 mg of Melatonin to naturally help with her sleep. Not a long-term solution, but a great way to combat that occaisional rough night.

All week, Zarbee's Naturals is helping parents by sharing sleep tips on their Facebook page and on twitter. Dr. Zak will also be hosting a special Daylight Savings recovery chat on twitter, Sunday March 9th 7pm ET for your questions. Be sure to follow @zarbees.

And to get you prepared for the time change, here is a coupon code for $1.50 off Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Sleep (and free shipping on all orders over $10). Available online at using zarbeessleep at checkout.

What are your sleep tips?
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