If you are even the slightest bit like me, you savor crawling between clean sheets at the end of a day and sinking your head into your pillow just so! Arranging the covers and wiggling around until it’s a perfect nest of coziness! And you’re out.
You kids? Not so much, right? Sleep to them is code for, “Time grownups are spending together without me, doing fun things without me and having a great time without me.” Most nights sleep eventually settles over them like a cat stalking its prey with their eyes getting heavy, heavier, till they’re closed for the night. The blessed quietness follows.
But what is a mom to do on those nights when the angels won’t go to sleep? Whether it be from fear, sickness, daylight savings time, traveling, tomorrow’s birthday party, new teeth, being at Walt Disney World, a new video game, Grandma coming to visit, a spelling bee, or soccer tournament. Any of these events can gear up an otherwise regular sleeper, turning nighttime into utter chaos! Maybe this is an ongoing battle in your home or maybe this issue just popped up on your radar and you were caught unprepared. As I mentioned in the post “Tomorrow Night, I’ll Get Some More Sleep”, sleep is so very important, today more than ever as medical breakthroughs are made on how sleep impacts all areas of our health.
So at the moment we all agree, kids need to sleep. First up, evaluate your bedtime routine, to see if anything is amiss. Calming bath, comfy pajamas, teeth brushed, cuddle time with stories (yes, with your teens too!), bathroom break, hugs, kisses and prayers. Look closely. Notice there was no mention of sugar, coke, or television. No computers, Xboxes or Wiis! No phones, movies or games. As smart as our kids are, they do NOT, I repeat, do NOT have the maturity to reason out, “If I stay up late doing this, I will have a hard time getting up.” Second up, parents, please hear me on this, electronics do NOT belong in your kids’ bedrooms. They should be in living areas only. Additionally, personal electronics should have a “check in” time and a “check out” time every day, similar to the library! See reason above. That lack of maturity is evident as they struggle for independence during the pre-teen, teenage years, but do not understand the strong link between said independence and responsibility! Stand strong, Mom! SLEEP is worth it! So collect those laptops, cell phones, and handheld games at a common charging station every night!
So your routine is adjusted and electronics are off so all should be good. But your child still isn’t asleep. You’re becoming desperate. You’re considering possibilities you never thought you would. STOP RIGHT THERE! Third up, I have a solution for you that was recommended to me by our pediatrician. It’s an herb called Melatonin. It acts in tandem with our body’s own melatonin putting us to sleep naturally when it becomes dark outside, sets our internal clock and regulates our wake/sleep cycles. The enemy here is light: fluorescent, incandescent, artificial light! Kids can’t gear down when it’s a bright as daytime at nighttime!! Darkened rooms, calming activities with the release of melatonin is what makes us drowsy so we can drift off to sleep.
We have found that a good dosing formula is 1mg of Melatonin for every 20 pounds of weight. So, when needed, my youngest, weighing 30 pounds, receives 1 pill (Nature’s Bounty 1mg is best) dissolved in a spoonful of applesauce, and my older son, weighing 74, receives 3mg of the liquid variety (Finest Nutrition). Less is better so try out 1mg and see what happens. Remember, you’re just nudging the natural release of melatonin. Give it to them approximately 45 minutes before bedtime. And watch with awe as you go through your evening routine and your child peacefully falls to sleep for about ten hours! Now, some of you are going to say it isn’t natural. Well, yes and no. You are giving your child an herb (which by definition is natural) that works with their body and does not stay in their system. By morning, it’s gone with no habit forming qualities. It simply helps them fall asleep, and does not necessarily keep them asleep. There are unknowns as far as long term use regular usage. But I’m talking about the vacation times, the high excitement times, and the big transition times or the Sunday nights getting back into routines where it has been a miracle worker for our home.
Some folks think my kids are so smart. They are. But the real truth, I believe, is that I allow their smartness to shine because we make sleep a priority for our kids. It’s one magic trick I know and never get tired of!
What’s your trick to get your kids to sleep?