How’s the bedtime routine going? Are you and your partner on the same page with expectations, limits, and enforcing them? Did you cut back on or eliminate caffeine? Did your child exercise, but not too late in the day? Did you have a “de-clutter” time to make the sleeping space more inviting? I hope you had a chance to try the strategies from the last posting—I’m working on it too!
What if things are still not going well? I often see kids struggling with nighttime fears (e.g. fear of the dark, monsters under the bed, “bad people” coming into the house), sleep terrors and nightmares, resisting going to bed, and problems falling asleep. Most people contact their primary care provider to get help sorting things out. I encourage you to do so—most sleep problems are readily addressed with professional assistance. Your PCP can also help you determine if there is a problem that needs further medical intervention (e.g., sleep apnea). Many psychologists also treat a variety sleep problems. It’s especially helpful when your PCP and psychologist can work together. Sometimes just a couple sessions are helpful to learn coping and relaxation strategies, make a plan to desensitize fears, and investigate emotional or behavioral issues that could be making sleep challenging.
Here are several online and written resources you may find helpful:
From the American Academy of Pediatrics
Tips on how to help your infant and young child go to sleep
Your Child’s Health by Barton D. Schmitt, MD
Written by a well-regarded pediatrician, Dr. Schmitt provides in-depth strategies, especially for infants through preschool age. If you have questions about nighttime feeding and waking, this chapter may be of interest.
Taking Charge of Your Child’s Sleep by Judy A. Owens, MD and Jodi A. Mindell, PhD
Sleep experts (a physician and a psychologist) offer a thorough review of the importance of sleep, what’s typical, things that interfere with sleep, and descriptions of and strategies for sleep problems such as:
- Resisting going to bed
- Getting out of bed repeatedly
- Problems waking up in the morning
- Waking up too early
- Sleeping with parents (if you don’t want them to)
- Waking up in the middle of the night
- Night time fears
- Restless leg syndrome
- Issues specific to teenagers
- Delayed sleep phase syndrome
- Sleep terrors
- Snoring and snorting
- Sleep apnea
- Sleep and ADHD
Sleepless in America by Mary Sheedy Kurchinka, MA
I enjoy all of Ms. Kurcinka’s books! I especially like the chapters on stress and tension, as well as a discussion on temperament and how it might affect sleep. There are also sections on infant sleep, transitioning from your bed and the crib, and troubleshooting when traveling.
From Mindful Life Today
Developed by psychologist Kristin Race, PhD, these CDs are useful for bedtime relaxation and sleep, as well as CDs to be used during the day to teach relaxation, attention, memory and problem-solving skills. I have recommended these products to my clients with positive results.
*Ask your local bookstore and library if they carry, or can order, these resources for you!