Like every other parent, you are probably frustrated by the unpredictable nature of child sleep. You wonder why you cannot always make your baby sleep with relative ease.
Then you can have the much-needed break from diapers, the unending demands for attention, and of course, routine crying.
There are other more important reasons you want to make your baby sleep, other than only creating quality time for yourself.
It is only during sleep that children undergo a whole set of complex biological functions, such as cell repair, detoxification, organ growth, cognitive development, and consolidation of memory.
Research also shows how good sleep helps children fight germs, and neutralize heart-related problems.
On the other hand, sleep deprivation or sleep debt, is linked to increased instances of brain arousal, higher levels of cortisol, and a precursor to medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and allergies. Insufficient hours of sleep will also make your child less productive during the day, and increase the likelihood of social and behavioral disorders later in life.
Whereas the recommended sleeping hours for adults range from 7 to 8, up to 15 hours is recommended for toddlers, and 11 hours for 12-year-olds. Teenagers can get by with anything between 8 and 10 hours. Of course, more is always better.
The following hacks should make your baby sleep fast
Making your baby sleep may not seem like a big deal if you are available 24 – 7. But again, who of us is available in this age of technology and the treacherous hustles of life?
We work a lot, and when finally free, we want to binge on our smartphones, or explore other exciting activities.
For these and other reasons, the desire is always there to have our babies go to sleep and fast. This may involve lots of tricks, most of which involve getting them tired!
When tired, your child’s brain wants nothing else but an opportunity to put the head down.
1. Use the S’s of sleep to sooth your child’s motor senses
In order to help your child transition from wakefulness to sleep, you may want to start by decreasing the levels of cortisol hormone in the body. This hormone is notorious for keeping children awake and eager to explore their motor senses.
One way to get this done is by lowering the sensory activities in the brain. You can do this by singing a soothing lullaby for your child.
Yes, singing is a powerful antidote to make your child forget everything else and totally calm down.
The other S-s of sleep include:
- stomach position
Swing your child through rocking, wrap him in a blanket, shush him in memory of the womb environment, let him suck, and position him in his favorite stomach position to sleep.
By using all or some of these hacks, you will surely make your baby sleep, and fast.
2. Let him explore the outdoors
If your plan is to have your child sleep early and for long at night, create a daily routine to have him explore the outdoors during the day.
Plenty of playtime and exposure to daylight will tire your child and prepare his body for a good night’s sleep.
In a research conducted by Yvonne Harrison at Liverpool John Moores University,
Babies who slept well at night were exposed to significantly more light in the early afternoon period.
Oftentimes, kids are locked indoors and remain sedentary most of the day because parents believe they will be safe from the unpredictable world outdoors.
This is wrong. Your child deserves the right to get out, explore, and become part of nature. By venturing outdoors, your child will also benefit from earthing, which enables him to connect with nature.
If your child remains seated indoors watching television most of the day, he is more likely to take unnecessary naps during the day, and stay wide awake at night.
Even when he makes up his mind to sleep, your child may struggle to REALLY sleep and will wake up frequently throughout the night.
Beware though not to have your child overplay simply because you want to get him tired. He should stick to what his body can handle. Excesses in physical activity can lead to body tear and extreme fatigue.
3. Create an ideal sleeping environment
The timing, temperature, noise, comfort, electromagnetic fields, and light in the bedroom, can all play different roles in ensuring your child sleeps well.
For example, if your baby spends the better part of the day playing, he should shower and eat an hour before going to bed.
Secondly, your child should have the privilege of sleeping in the same bedroom every day.
Your child feels more comfortable waking up in a familiar bedroom, than waking up in new environments every other time.
Also ensure the bedroom where your child sleeps is cozy and quiet, with optimal temperature. High temperatures in the bedroom can lead to dehydration, heat cramps, exhaustion, and a tendency to fall sick frequently.
On the other hand, low temperature can trigger allergic reactions, and lead to complications such as hypothermia, hives, trench foot, and Raynaud’s phenomenon. Your child can also develop pneumonia, in addition to frequent colds and flu.
Your child’s bedroom should also be dark enough to stimulate the release of hormones that facilitate body growth and cognitive development.
Turn off light from the electric bulb and computing devices such as cell phones, laptops, gaming consoles, and the TV screens.
According to NCBI,
The widespread use of portable electronic devices and the normalization of screen media devices in the bedroom is accompanied by a high prevalence of insufficient sleep, affecting a majority of adolescents, and 30% of toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children.
4. Serve REAL meals
Always serve your child nutritious meals during the day, and one hour or so, before bedtime. A meal one hour before sleep will give his digestive system time enough to process the food he has eaten.
Eating too close to bedtime, will disrupt digestion and lead to unpleasant gastrointestinal issues, discomfort, and even weight gain.
Elsewhere, try not to indulge your child in snacking just before bedtime. Insist on real food to ensure your child gets the right amount of nutrients for better health and quality sleep.
According to Nancy Z. Farrell, R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
While he snoozes, his bones are growing and his brain is processing all that he learned during the day … Nutritious foods help foster good sleep patterns.
Foods such as veggies, whole grains, milk, fruits, eggs, beans, etc., are recommended. Candies, fruit snacks, fries, cola, etc., lack the necessary nutrients, and will force the ghrelin hormone to send hunger signals to the brain every other hour.
Try to stick to this feeding routine everyday, and your child will tag along just right.
5. No screen-time before & during bed-time
The use and storage of electronic devices in the bedroom can interfere with your child’s sleep, because they are disruptive, and a source of addiction.
Smartphone and laptop screens also emit blue light, which is known to interfere with the sleep/wake cycle and biological clock.
The blue light from the screens is known to hinder the pineal gland from releasing the melatonin hormone, which is crucial in triggering sleep at the night.
Using TVs, tablets, smartphones, laptops, or other electronic devices before bed delays your body’s internal clock (a.k.a., your circadian rhythm), suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and makes it more difficult to fall asleep.SleepFoundation
The first step in fighting tech disruption and therefore sleep disruption is to make the bedroom absolutely tech-free.
The temptation to use smartphones and other gadgets will always be there if these devices find their way into the bedroom.
You may also want to cut down on pre-bedtime entertainment such as TV and movies. Beware of scary movies and other unpleasant TV shows. These can lead to violent dreams, and therefore poor sleep.
6. Eliminate EMF in the bedroom
The presence of invincible electromagnetic fields (EMF) in the bedroom will interfere with sleep/wake and therefore sleep deprivation in children and adults.
This is because EMF interferes with the release of sleep inducing hormones:
The pineal gland is likely to sense EMFs as light but, as a consequence, may decrease the melatonin production.
In addition, EMF can lead to disruption of the immune system and facilitate general body fatigue.
You may want to control the levels of EMF in the bedroom by doing the following:
- Keep Wi-Fi devices out of the bedroom. Turn them off if nearby
- Switch off cell phones, or turn Airplane Mode on
- Unplug electronic devices from power mains next to the bed (they shouldn’t be in the bedroom in the first place)
- Avoid sleeping in a bedroom/house near a cellular tower or heavy electrical installations
- Turn off the lights when your child goes to sleep
- Minimize the use of fluorescent lighting in the bedroom to minimize exposure to dirty electricity
When your child is fast asleep, ensure this journey is not hindered by foreign distractions whatsoever.
At the end of the day, how often you stick to your child’s sleep routine will determine how healthy his sleep will be.
Now you know.