4 Common Myths on Healthy Sleep for Kids
There is a lot of information out there about healthy sleep strategies for kids, some of it based on fact, some of it based on personal experience, and some of it based on opinion, but is the information correct, or even helpful? Here are 5 common child sleep myths busted!
Myth: Some babies sleep straight through the night
Fact: All babies wake multiple times a night, but you would never know if they can put themselves back to sleep unassisted. We all wake very briefly between sleep cycles, but we often don’t remember theses brief awakenings because we go back to sleep fairly quickly. We can help our children get more consolidated sleep if we teach them how to go back to sleep without parent intervention.
When a child becomes overtired, their bodies release a stress hormone called cortisol, which makes it difficult to fall asleep.
Myth: The more tired your child is, the better they will sleep at night.
Fact: You might think that if you keep your child up later they will crash and sleep better throughout the night, but in fact the opposite is true. When a child becomes overtired, their bodies release a stress hormone called cortisol, which makes it difficult to fall asleep. Cortisol can remain in the body for several hours which results in restless night sleep, more night waking, and early morning wake ups.
If you put your child to bed later they will often wake up at the same time the next morning, or even earlier than usual.
Myth: The later your child goes to bed the later they will sleep in.
Fact: If you put your child to bed later they will often wake up at the same time the next morning, or even earlier than usual. We all have an internal biological clock called our circadian rhythm, and it’s usually set to wake up at the same time every day regardless of whether you went to bed late or not. Baby sleep cycles are the same. If a child is up late and becomes overtired, the cortisol can cause restless sleep and those early morning wake ups as well.
If your child misses their nap, try to make bedtime a little earlier to make sure they stay well rested; otherwise they may get overtired and fight their nap even more.
Myth: If your child is fighting their daytime nap, they must not need one anymore.
Fact: Your child may fight their daytime nap when they don’t need one anymore, but they may also fight a nap due to a vacation, illness, visit from family or they are going through a developmental milestone like standing or walking. If your child misses their nap, try to make bedtime a little earlier to make sure they stay well rested; otherwise they may get overtired and fight their nap even more. If your child has been fighting their nap consistently for more than 2 weeks, it may be time to transition out of a nap.
There are many ways to sleep train a child and not all of those methods require long periods of crying.
Myth: Sleep training baby means I have to let my child cry for hours.
Fact: Sleep training is a way to change a child’s sleep behaviours and develop healthy sleep habits. It can involve changing a routine, or changing expectations around sleep. There are many ways to sleep train a child and not all of those methods require long periods of crying. Simple things like changing the sleep environment, putting baby to sleep with a consistent routine or the sleep schedule can help your child develop healthy sleep habits.
Jenn Kelner is a mother of three children, including twins, and a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant at BabyZzz. Just as every family is unique, Jenn supports many different sleep methods and works directly with families to design a solution that will help them become well-rested, happy families.