Over the past couple of weeks, several parents have come to me with questions about their child's nightmares, night terrors, or sleepwalking. In the course of the typical question-and-answer process I use to help parents unsnarl sleep problems, I stumbled onto something: in every case, the child had just started wearing winter-weight fleece footie PJs to bed. Nightmares/terrors/sleepwalking started immediately afterward—interesting, no?
If you’re read any of my work on nightmares or sleep environment, you know that sleeping too hot is a major risk factor for nightmares and other sleep problems (including SIDS). When it comes to nightmares, too much heat is bad news, big time. In my article “Fright Night: Eight Easy Ways To Beat Nightmares” I note that parents can often “cure” nightmares by turning down a child’s too-heavy blanket or replacing too-hot pajamas with lighter ones.
So take note if you’ve recently switched your child to winter PJs, swathed his bed in flannel sheets and heavy blankets, or started turning on the furnace at night. If nightmares (or other disturbing nighttime behavior like sleepwalking) come calling, there’s no mystery. Dial the thermostat back to 68 or below, and peel off those hot footie pajamas. Ahhh, sweeter dreams for everyone.
For more on keeping the whole family sleeping well in the colder months, see my post about Sleeping Well in Winter.
Happy Turkey Day, all!
I’m a nationally published sleep expert, health journalist, and mom. My articles about sleep, health, and parenting appear regularly in over 80 national and regional magazines and on television. Can I help you? Subscribe to The Well Rested Family to have sleep news, tips, and tactics delivered to your inbox or feed reader by clicking here.
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