THE 5 COMPONENTS OF A STRONG SLEEP FOUNDATION
Often times I will get clients who mention on the Intake Form that they have tried EVERYTHING! They have tried the chair method, timed checks, extinction. Nothing works! They start to convince themselves that their child is just different and doesn't require as much sleep or is too stubborn to change or can't handle it.
Every. Single. Time. This ends up NOT being the case. After reading through the rest of their intake form and digging a little deeper into their stories, I find that something was missing.
If a child is not able to fall asleep independently or transition on their own between sleep cycles? Then yes. Figuring out a sleep training method is necessary. However, how you go about that method matters!
Also, falling asleep independently is not the only key to optimal sleep. There are several other components that must be in place in order to truly see long term success. To help your child create a strong sleep foundation, here are the five components needed.
1 - SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
The sleep environment should be one that encourages sleep. The room should be as dark as possible, quiet and without distractions, and cold.
Cold meaning a temperature between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit with 65 being optimal for sleep. Cold meaning an appropriate amount of clothing and blankets. Cold meaning with clothes that are breathable in case the body needs to regulate temperature.
2 - CONSISTENT ROUTINES
You can strengthen your child's drive to sleep by having a consistent wake routine and sleep routine. Having a consistent routine cues to your child's brain so that they know what to expect. Subconsciously, your child will start to get tired if every night before bed you spend time going through the same routine.
3 - DAILY SCHEDULE
The systems within our bodies are heavily regulated by our circadian rhythms. It is important that your child is sleeping at the appropriate time of day for their age. If they goes down for a nap when they are too awake or overtired, this will prevent the quality sleep that they get when the timing is correct. Typically the start of AM naps fall around 9AM, PM naps somewhere between 12PM and 1PM, and bedtimes between 6PM and 7:30PM. Each child is different and the age of your child will matter when it comes to certain times, however, most children do not fall far from this timeline. For more information regarding an appropriate schedule for your child's age, check out my post
Although bedtime is included with Daily Schedule, I find it important enough to be a component of its own. Without an appropriate bedtime, you can experience a snowball effect of frequent night wakings, early risings, and short naps. I also find this to be important enough on its own because this is one area that most of my clients end up needing to adjust.
Bedtime will be somewhere between 6PM and 7:30PM until at least your child is five years old. And on days when your child has not napped well, has been fussy, is not feeling well, has been super busy, etc? AN EARLIER BEDTIME IS NECESSARY! Pay attention to how your child's day goes and her temperament between the hours of 4PM and 5PM. If she is fussy? That is a sign for an earlier bedtime. And by earlier, I mean putting your child down between 5PM and 5:30PM!
4 - ABILITY TO FALL ASLEEP AND CONNECT SLEEP CYCLES INDEPENDENTLY