Categories
Sleep Tips

Top 3 Quick & Easy Sleep Tips for Toddlers

Today I am going to chat a bit about sleep hygiene. Sleep whaaat?

No this is not about fresh pyjamas, and clean teeth….though those are certainly beneficial aspects to your bedtime routine 

(CLICK Here to download my FREE bedtime routines guide)

If you are like Most Mama’s that I work with, you are tired! Fearful of starting bad habits, and anxious get your child sleeping better. 

You also want something QUICK so that you can get some much needed rest – like right meow!

Sleep hygiene is the fancy, technical word I have been taught to call quick wins!

Read….Quick and easy sleep tips!

Better sleep doesn’t have to be complicated. A lot of this stuff is common sense, but somehow life with kids rids us of our common sense (#mommybrain)

We sometimes forget the little things. But these little things can add up, and make a world of difference. 

Let’s get them working in your favor!

These are my top 3 Quick Wins

3) Get moving!

We all know that exercise is important. Problem is, the chaos of our everyday lives does not leave enough time for most families to meet the daily recommended exercise requirements. 

According to the Canadian 24 Hour Movement Guidelines, children between the ages of 1 and 4 should spend – at least – 180 minutes moving!  We want this physical activity to be spaced throughout the day. For children 3-4, we want some of this to be “energetic play”

I haven’t yet met a kid who had too much exercise!

Though, it is not just about exercise. We don’t neeeeed to be in perpetual motion. (Though calories burned does help us build our sleep pressure)

Source: https://csepguidelines.ca/

My second tip, builds on the previous. {I am already preparing for the eye rolling…But here goes nothing}

2) Ditch the Screens. Or at least limit them to no more than an hour a day (less is better). This includes television, phones, tablets, etc.

There are a couple reasons for this. It mostly comes down to the fact that we don’t want our kids to be spending too much time sitting. Ideally, kids should avoid spending more than an hour at a time sitting. This includes being in a stroller, car seat, and screen time. 

The best sedentary activities are learning activities, like reading, and art work which utilizes concentration and  fine motor skills.

Screens can also hinder sleep because of  the light they emit. This is especially problematic in the evenings.  

When it comes to my twins, I find that TV turns them into little tele-loving zombies, and all too often I “miss” that sleepy window because they are quiet. Turn that TV off and the rambunctious munchkins return! Problem is, it’s then suuuuuuper difficult to get those hyper monkeys into bed!

My number one quick tip 

1) Spend loads of time outdoors!

The outdoors is so beneficial for our circadian rhythms. See our internal clock can get a bit outta whack because it is slightly longer than the earth’s 24 hour cycle. 

The sun basically helps to regulate us and keep things in check. 

You know how electronics and routers sometimes start to act a bit persnickety and need to be reset sometimes?

The sun is our refresh. It resets us

Without this our biological rhythm shifts forward. 

Meaning bedtimes get later!

In theory, you might think that this means mornings will shift too. And they might! But I find shifting bedtimes can also lead to dreadfully early mornings.

So it’s important to get your timings right.

See….The sun is good for vitamin D, sleep, mood and so much more!

The sun also helps us to collect all the building blocks needed for the release of Melatonin come evening time. Melatonin is our sleepy hormone, and we want it working in our favor.

For another quick Melatonin tip, check out the video above! where I talk about the role of the sun on sleep 😉

Sleep well Mama,

~ Maisie Zzz

Categories
Bedtime

What Time Should I put my Kid to Bed?

What Time Should I put my Kid to Bed? The answer is not that simple. There are cultural considerations, sleep requirements, and individual characteristics that come into play. 

In many cultures later bedtimes are common for babies and children! But in Western society those evening hours are sacred. I think it has to do with the fact that we are such a fast paced, high achieving society.

We are just plain burnt out by the day’s end and need some quiet time!

So what does science have to say about the time that I should put my kid to bed?

https://youtu.be/ApBjsuNcVFE

A research team, headed by Hoyniak and colleagues (2019), discovered something interesting. 

They followed 500 tots over time, from the age of 2.5 to 3.5 years old. It was a longitudinal study looking at cognition, and socioeconomic status, but they looked at a number of other things as well – like bedtimes! 

So what did they find?

They discovered that on average kids were not asleep until 9:30pm (even though the average bedtime was 8:50pm) Say…..what!?

Okay, why is this!?

To really understand, it’s worth taking a minute to remind you what averages mean (insert math class flash back here!)

In science there is something called a bell curve, which is commonly seen when researchers plot data from large groups of people. It helps us to understand averages. 

Within the bell curve, “most people’ will fall within 95% of average. This 95% is generally thought of as “normal.”

Some people – the 2.5% on either end of the curve, will fall below or above that normal range. In general. 

The bell curve applies to alllllll sorts of things. Anything from height, to weight, or even letter grades in school. 

When we think about sleep this makes sense. Some kids will have early bedtimes, and others will have late bedtimes, but most will fall asleep around the same time (still with me?). 

One thing to keep in mind here, is that our own sleep is an average too. We don’t sleep the exact same amount of minutes or hours each night.

We all have good nights, and bad nights.

Kids are no different!

So before you freak out that your child slept poorly, or was up late last night. Stop and think about the last few days. Or even the last week or month.

How do kids sleep on average?

Later bedtimes have a lot to do with naps

Naps for toddlers and preschoolers are super beneficial, despite being under utilized in Western society. 

Problem is….too long, or too late of a nap and your child might not be tired enough to sleep come bedtime.

Too nap, or not nap your child is an individual question. It really comes down to whether your child can tolerate a dropped nap. Many kids get cranky, wired, or emotional. 

While your following child’s lead, and monitoring their mood and behaviour is always going to be your best bet. There are a number of sleep recommendations and guides spammed all over the web that can give a rough guideline on sleep. Like this one 😉 

Best Sleep Times for Kids

what time should i put my kid to bed

When reading guides like these, all I ask (or beg of you) is to pleeeeease keep those averages in mind.

Sleep is not one size fits all!

But, the reason I am sharing this with you today, is to illustrate another point. The kids in Hoyniak’s study were sleeping on average 8.18 hours a night at 30 months, up to 8.51 hours at 42 months old. 

They were IN bed around 10 to 10.5 hours though. They just weren’t sleeping this entire time. The difference can be accounted for by the time spent falling asleep, or awake during the night. 

Still, this is WAY different than recommended 10 to 13 hours of sleep (*in a 24 hour period) by the National Sleep Foundation. 

In sleep and parenting groups, I often read about parents cutting naps short, or stopping them all together, so that they can get their child to bed “on time.”

On the whole there is nothing “wrong” with this practice. But, I really think our society needs to rethink this whole bedtime thing. 

So the next time you “fight” to get your child to sleep by a specific time, so that you can enjoy that glass of vino in peace and solitude please keep all of this wonderful knowledge in mind.

What is the Take Home Here?

Take home message – Don’t worry if your kid is up late.

It’s normal, and perfectly healthy to put your child to bed at a time that works for you AND your family.

When in doubt, look to your child. If they are happy and healthy you probably have nothing to worry about. 

If you truly are concerned, then reach out and I will give you an honest opinion of whether I can help. Let’s plan the best time that you should put your kid to bed.

Oh any by the way, I have a FREE bedtime guide! Click HERE to learn more of my top tips. 

Sleep well Mama!

~ Maisie Zzz

References:

Hoyniak CP, Bates JE, Staples AD, Rudasill KM, Molfese DL, Molfese VJ.  Child sleep and socioeconomic context in the development of cognitive abilities in early childhood.  Child Development 2019; 90: 1718-1737.