I’m a nationally published sleep expert, journalist, and the mom of three young kids. I’ve been helping tired families sleep since 2007 (more about me here). Subscribe to The Well Rested Family for fresh news and tips on keeping your bunch happy and healthy. Thanks for stopping by!

SEARCH THIS BLOG

Find Me Here!

Tag cloud
10 month old sleep 11 month old 2 year old can't fall asleep 2 year old nap 3 year old stops napping 4 month old 45 minute naps 8 month old adults adults sleep alarm clock babies baby baby bedtime baby doesn't nap baby fall back baby nursing to sleep baby rolling at night baby short naps baby sleep baby sleep positioners baby sleep routine bad bedtimes bedroom too loud bedsharing bedtime bedtime baby bedtime books bedtime child bedtime for teens bedtime problem bedtime routine bedtime snacks bedtimes bedwetting best bedtime stories for kids big boy bed blackout curtains boost breastfed baby sleep through the night bsby cosleeping bumpers caffeine child child bedtime child can't sleep child sleeping in a tent childcare childhood fears and sleep children cosleeping cover story creativity crib cry it out cultural intelligence daycare daylight savings time Daylight Savings Time kid bedtime daylight savings time sleep DHA does exercise help kids sleep dropping a nap DST early waker early waking ebook education energy equality equally shared parenting exercise and kids exercise and sleep fall back falling back families family five month old naps five month old short naps five month old sleep five year old bedtime food getting baby to bed getting dad to help with bedtime Getting kids to bed getting kids to bed during the summer getting kids to bed when it's light out getting rid of the pacifier giveaway green Harvey Karp Hawaii health heart health tips help helping kids adjust to daylight savings time helping kids get to sleep after vacation Helping kids sleep in the summer helping kids sleep through the night helping twins sleep holiday how long should babies nap how long should bedtime take how much sleep do adults need how to get rid of nightmares how to help a preschooler nap how to stop nightmares humor immune system infant sleep insomnia kids kids always get sick kids and daylight savings time kids sharing bedrooms kids sleep questions Kindle king 5 large family late bedtime learning leg cramps light math Moms moving child to his own bedroom nap nap routine napping in arms naps new sibling newborn news night terror night waking nightlights nightmare nightmares nighttime dryness nurse to sleep association nutrition one year old overtied kids overtired overtired child overtiredness pacifier pajamas nightmares parenting parentmap pediatric restless legs syndrome potty training pregnancy and newborn preschool Preschooler problem problem solving product productivity pull ups putting kids to bed questions raising a boy robotic safety safey separation anxiety setting a bedtime for kids shared bedroom shared bedrooms Shopping short naps short sleeper six month old sleep skipped naps sleep sleep and learning sleep coach sleep coaching sleep consulting sleep expert sleep for moms sleep gadgets sleep help sleep hygiene sleep pregnancy sleep questions sleep regression sleep through the night sleeping during the summer sleeping well during pregnancy sleeping while camping soundproof spring forward standing and screaming in crib stress sugar summer summer bedtime swaddle teen teen bedtime Teenage brains television time change time zone adjustment toddler toddler 4 am toddler bed toddler leg cramps toddler naps toddler sleep toddlers toilet transition transition to one nap travel with kids tryptophan twins undertired up all night violence and kids violent video games and children waking warm bedroom hurts sleep weaning the swaddle winter women heart health won't fall asleep work worries

Entries in early waker (1)

Tuesday
Feb212012

Feeling Stuck? Try A Flip.

Many of the parents I work with on sleep problems are feeling stuck—their child has a stubborn sleep problem that seems unfixable, and they feel powerless to correct it.

Two of the most common examples are kids who start the day painfully early in the morning (like 4 a.m.) are kids who resist bedtime for hours on end, finally falling asleep after 11 p.m.

These parents feel stuck because no matter what they do, they cannot seem to get their child to sleep later in the morning, or go to bed on time. They try lullabies and white noise, install room-darkening blinds, up their child’s calorie intake, and nothing works. Understandably, their problem-solving revolves around their child’s “witching hour,” whether it happens to be 4 a.m. or 9 p.m.

They focus on this unpleasant part of their day during which they seem to be completely unable to control what happens—anyone who has tried to get an unwilling toddler to go back to sleep at 4:30 a.m. knows this powerless feeling. Unfortunately, that type of tunnel vision often prevents parents from seeing what they can do to help their child move past their problem.  

Focusing on feeling powerless isn’t fun, and it’s not a fruitful way to work toward solutions. What I tell these parents to do is lose the micro-focus on that one part of their child’s schedule—those groggy hours in the early morning, or the awful hours after bedtime. Instead, flip it—focus on the opposite end of your child’s sleep routine, the part that you can control. For early wakers, that’s bedtime. For bedtime-haters, that’s wake-up time.

So for a child waking at 4 a.m., this means that instead of focusing on forcing a not-tired child back to bed in the early morning, you focus on the flip side of her sleep schedule: Her bedtime. A child waking at 4 a.m. either needs an earlier bedtime or a later one. How do you figure out which? By tracking her sleep and using behavioral cues, which I describe in detail in my e-book “Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep, So You Can Sleep Too.

Likewise, when bedtime’s a battle, parents sometimes throw up their hands and say “There’s nothing I can do!” There is. By setting an appropriate wake-up time, you’ll help program your child’s body clock and pave the way for easier bedtimes. Again, this topic is covered in detail in RSS.

So when you’re stuck and feeling powerless over your child’s sleep, lose the micro-focus. Flip the problem by looking at the other end of your child’s sleep routine, and see if the solution doesn’t pop out at you.