CALL TODAY  403.389.9390

Blog

Circadian Rhythms and Sleep

Sleep is a natural science. 

Have you ever wondered why a rooster begins their day at dawn? 

Circadian Rhythm is the idea that our bodies are scientifically programmed to wake with the sun rises and sleep when the sun sets. Although most of us don't wake up at sunrise, we are considered healthiest when our sleep patterns are closest to this natural rhythm. In an adult, this biological clock makes the us desire sleep the most between midnight and dawn. This biological trigger is established in the first few months and will create our individual sleep patterns that we will experience throughout our life.

This process is chemical! When exposed to darkness, our bodies begin producing more melatonin to encourage sleep and this chemical is decreased in the morning, causing us to wake up. Many people who are melatonin deficient or need an extra boost occasionally turn to melatonin supplements to encourage a more restful night's sleep.

Circadian Rhythm is instrumental in the process of quality sleep and important in the development of a child's sleep milestones. Quality sleep in children or adults is dependent on the proper amount of sleep, falling asleep at the right time, for the right consolidated period of time. 

Circadian Rhythm and New Babies

When your baby is four months old or less, they are still struggling to develop their circadian rhythm and biological clock. Your melatonin levels aren't the only processes affected by circadian flow. Body temperature, blood pressure and hormone release all play an important role in quality sleep. If you're in the process of sleep training your baby, using, be consistent with your bedtime and create a dim and comforting environment to help your baby settle down. 

Developing a sleep pattern won't happen overnight and it will require some patience and practice. It's important to progress your sleep routine at your baby's individual pace. Biologically, there's stages of development as your baby is creating a circadian rhythm. To identify where your baby is at this point requires a little bit of recording. 

So a great night's sleep starts with an understanding of our body's chemistry and a little help from the sun!

And you thought sleep was simple. Using the circadian method to help your baby establish their own sleep pattern is a step in the right direction for relaxing and substantial sleep throughout the night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nightmares and Night Terrors

Nothing ruins a good night's sleep quite like a series of nightmares.

For your little one, constant nightmares can keep them avoiding bedtime and making your evening routine a daily battle.

Are these nightmares something to be concerned about? Could they be something worse? How can I soothe my little one during these episodes?

When children experience nightmares or night terrors, they can disrupt your sleep routines and be alarming for parents. Healthy sleep is a science and understanding the difference between nightmares and night terrors can help you soothe your upset child to get them back on track and sleeping soundly. 

Understanding Stages of Sleep

Sleep is complicated! You might think you fall asleep and thats it, but in reality there are five stages that your brain experiences during the night as you sleep. They can usually be divided as Non-REM sleep and REM sleep. 

What is a nightmare?

Everyone gets nightmares, and some people experience them more frequently than others. A nightmare is a lingering thought that has caused the person to become frightened or anxious while they're awake and becomes processed again during periods of deep sleep. These thoughts can be experiences that have actually happened or just a thought that makes your child feel worried or scared. Usually, children can recall their nightmares pretty acurately with a fair amount of detail. Nightmares usually occur during REM sleep, and often happen in the second part of the night. 

When adults experience a nightmare, we wake up and can acknowledge that it was only a bad dream and usually settle our minds. Kids however, have a difficult time separating nightmares from reality and the don't quite understand yet that dreams are just thoughts and can't cause them any real harm. 

What are night terrors?

Night terrors are similar to nightmares in essence, but night terrors create a different type of response. Night terrors aren't exactly a bad dream, they're more a response of fear as your body transitions from one stage of sleep to another. This transition most commonly occurs when your children are transitioning from the deepest part of Non-REM sleep into the lightest stage of REM. Usually the transition is seamless, but sometimes it causes the person to be agitated or frightened where it can be identified as a night terror. The physical reaction of a night terror is scary for parents because it looks like their child is terrified, thrashing violently, screaming or sitting up with their eyes open. In reality, your child won't even remember having experienced this when they wake up the next day. 

These happen more frequently when your kids are overtired, stressed, upset, or sleeping in a different environment. 

After understanding more about the different sleep disruptions, you can better handle night time distress to soothe your child and promote better night's sleep. 

Because stress is a trigger for both nightmares and night terrors, to minimize the chance of either you should utilize relaxation techniques and affirmations each night before bed. Relaxing with a warm bath and a calm story with gentle pictures can help relax the mind and provide a better foundation for sleep. 

If bad dreams are reoccuring, try giving your kids a lavender scented lotion in an unmarked bottle to rub on their feet, face or belly and tell them it's good dream cream and will banish bad dreams. Parents can also give kids a spray bottle with water and a few drops of vanilla extract and let them cleanse their room of bad dreams every night before bed. They might sound silly, but sleep anxiety is very much a psychological obstacle. 

Nightmares and night terrors are often a phase for children to outgrow and require a little more patience from parents. Contact us if you are looking to improve your sleep routines and the quality of your family's sleep through every phase and stage. 

 

When In Doubt, Cry It Out

Sleep training is not for the faint of heart. 

Establishing a sleep routine for baby can be emotionally overwhelming for parents as they navigate all the different sleep training methods to find the right fit for their little one. What can be the most challenging is sticking to a method, even when it seems difficult on your baby and welcomes criticism from friends and family. 

 

There is science to sleep. 

Good sleep patterns are trained, not always inherent. Although it may seem like a difficult process for your baby to endure, this is an important developmental window to establish positive sleeping routines for your baby as they grow.

One of the sleep training methods that gathers a significant amount of controvery is the "Cry It Out Method" or the "Ferber Method."

These sleep methods encourages babies to develop self soothing techniques and be able to comfort themselves to sleep efficiently.  Essentially they are way to encourage babies to find their own path of falling asleep without depending on comfort from parents. Both methods are also a way for parents to break bad habits of attenting to their baby for every complain or tantrum they have throughout the night when they're uncomfortable. 

Like any parenting style in general, there's pros and cons involved. 

 

Pros

Once your baby gets past the first few days, they will usually sleep through the night longer and bedtime will be a more predictable experience. The turn over is relatively quick and your baby will learn to relax and comfort themselves within a few days. Ferberizing still keeps your baby attuned to the presence of parents, while still encouraging them to self soothe. This stops bad sleep habits in their tracks and can convert the fussiest sleeper to a baby that sleeps like an angel throughout the night.

Cons

Both methods get a notoriously bad rep for coming across as cruel or cold on the parents' end. It's a difficult process and can be emotionally trying on parents as they're forced to listen to their child's cries for long periods of time without the ability to comfort them. Criticism of the Cry it Out method argues that this style of sleep training is too harsh and gives babies negative perspectives of relationships and comfort when they're older.  Even though research has shown that both methods are effective.  The process has to be consistent from start to finish.

 

It's important to note that the Cry it Out method doesn't mean you ignore your baby through the night.

 

Whatever sleep method you choose, keep your baby's safety in mind. Most of all stay patient and consistent throughout the process to yeild the best results!

Sweet Dreams!

Transitioning From Crib to Toddler Bed

Untitled design 4One of the most exciting times in a parent's life is the big transition from a crib to a "big kid bed." 

Although it's a big step for your little ones, it's definitely not something you want to rush into. There is no perfect age that you should ditch the crib and make the switch, so this is case by case and you shouldn’t be discouraged if your child isn’t quite ready yet.

The average age for children to start sleeping in a bed is usually around 3 and 4 years old. Without the crib, you’re giving your child some extra freedom to run free of any sleep schedule. That means baby on parroll and you might be wrangling them back into bed a few times. This is where some extra patience comes into play, you can do this Mom and Dad.

If your toddler is pulling olympic gymnast routines to get out of their crib it’s a good sign that you’re ready to get this bed transition in the works.

A toddler bed is an easier stepping stone than plopping your child into a twin sized bed. They’ll feel cozier and safer in a “mini bed” and it uses the same size mattress. If your toddler physically outgrew the crib, you’ll have to just head over to a twin size.

Okay let’s do this!

First things first, you’ll need to baby-proof the whole room. It’s normal for your little one to do some exploring when they should be sleeping, they are just taking advantage of all this new freedom. Protect them from nighttime falls with some bed bumpers, they’ll give you some extra peace of mind while your rolly-polly is finally out of their crib.

Remember this isn’t a big surprise. Toddlers love routine and hate surprises.

Let them know about their exciting big kid bed for a week or so before the crib disappears. If you have a child that really loves predictability, it might help to involve them in the process of assembling and dressing the bed. Make it cuddly! Outfit their new bed with all their cuddly favorites and any toy that they can’t part with. It’s their space, so whatever makes them comfortable should find it’s way there.

Once you’re in the front lines of the big switch, expect to see your child at your side of the bed staring at you during random hours of the night.

Instead of getting worked up and drawing any attention to them being out of bed, a calm and silent walk back to their bed and tucking them in will keep the behavior in check.

Don’t expect miracles, stay patient.

Change is scary for a small child, encourage them and support the nights they’re feeling a little uncomfortable and restless.

Any good night’s sleep is a baby step in the right direction!

How to Establish a Good Foundation for Sleep

getty rf photo of sleeping babyAt the age of 6-8 weeks of age, social smiling is an important milestone which signifies that his/her brain is making connects and forming habits/routines. Here are 4 essential components to creating a good foundation for sleep at this age:

1.     A consistent sleeping place - This is the best time to introduce the crib if you haven’t already done so.  The baby is forming habits/routines and introducing the crib now will help with issues down the road. Be consistent and put your baby down each time for naps and bedtime in the crib.  Install dark shades for the windows and think about a “quiet noise” in the room, such as a small fan or a humidifier. Decrease the amount of swings, bouncy seats, strollers and car rides to aid with sleep.  Here is a website for your reference - What Does a Safe Sleep Environment Look Like?

2.     Develop a soothing routine (cue) A soothing routine is a cue to the baby to calm down, relax and go to sleep. The routine can include such things as feeding, rocking, singing or a combination of these things. Using a pacifier can reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and can be effective aid to help with sleep.        

3.     Self- soothing After an hour or hour and a half of being awake, put the baby down in the crib and watch to see if child can put himself to sleep.  At this age, it is simply to allow the opportunity for him to fall asleep on his own.

4.     Bedtime becomes naturally earlier Watch for drowsy signs which develop earlier in the evening.  Remember the two-hour wakefulness rule and try to put baby down before he/she becomes overtired. 

 

Day Light Saving Sleep Tips

Picture1Here are some simple tips to Help Your Family Breeze Through Day Light Saving Time Change

On March 13, our clocks are springing forward! Here are some simple tips to help you and your family breeze through this time change!

  1. On Saturday night, change your clocks forward an hour. The best and most effective method is to not to change anything to your child’s routine or schedule. You will continue to wake him/her at the same time and he/she will soon adjust to the time change.
  2. Make sure their bedroom is dark with black out curtains. They probably will not be tired, however make sure the room is dark and you are consistent with your routine.
  3. If you want a different option, you can also move the everything (including meals, naps and bedtime) earlier in 15 minutes’ increments starting on Wednesday. That way, by Sunday, their bodies have adjusted.
  4. Enjoy the outside and get moving. The natural sunlight helps reset our natural internal clock and the fresh air will help get those little ones to sleep much quicker!
  5. For those early risers, this could be a gift! As they begin to sleep in later, avoid putting your little ones to bed later as this can lead to night waking's and getting up to early in the morning.

How can hiring a certified sleep consultant help you?

blog 1 banner
  • We listen to the family to work towards establishing safe and healthy ways to get a good night sleep
  • Choose the right sleep training method to match the families values and philosophies
  • Teach your baby to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own
  • Create a safe and consistent sleep environment
  • Establish an age appropriate nap schedule
  • Motivate clients to change old behaviors to produce a successful outcome
  • Non-judgmental
  • We provide support on-going
  • We are professionals and understand our scope of practice. We are able to make referrals to specialists
  • We do not give medical advice but will collaborate with other professionals to achieve the families goals

Why Sleep Is So Important?

blog 2 banner

Healthy sleep allows us to function optimally

We all know the importance of sleep – if we sleep well, we feel good, and we grow and develop properly and stay healthy. Sleep recharges our batteries and gives us the ability to learn, focus on and deal with life issues better.

I’m sure that all of us know how it feels the next day when we have had a bad night and didn’t sleep properly. Children respond in the same way. When a child is overtired they cry more often, behave poorly and will have more temper tantrums.

Although a baby instinctively knows how to suck and sleep, the process of falling asleep and staying asleep is a learned behavior. This is where most parents need help so that they don’t hinder the development of healthy sleep habits. Having an understanding of the changes that occur before they happen can keep you ahead of the game.

The key is to start early to establish good sleep habits for baby so that you don’t have to correct any future issues. This takes knowledge, practice, patience and flexibility on the parents to help children sleep through the night.