A common problem – Child is happy enough to go to bed or stay in bed but they just can’t get to sleep.
Try this out
The simplest and most successful solution for this type of sleep issue is reverse psychology. Stress is a great inhibitor of sleep so when the child knows they have to sleep, they overthink it and as a result get into a horrible cycle of been unable to sleep for trying too hard.
So for this solution we reverse things.
Firstly we make sure they still have good sleep hygiene (See blog on sleep hygiene) that there are no electronics in their bedroom and that they are going to bed and waking up at the same time each day regardless of the time they actually fall asleep as sleep is habit based.
Then we simply remove the pressure and we tell them they have to lie in their bed, reading a book or singing or talking quietly to themselves but that they are NOT to fall asleep. That you will be checking every 20 mins and that they are to stay in bed, in the dark relaxing but letting their mind wander and think of good things and whatever they do , do NOT fall asleep!
Now I appreciate this sounds crazy! But it is actually a tried and tested method used by sleep clinics around the world.
The science is simple, you remove the stress of falling asleep, you drop the cortisone (stress hormone) and adrenaline levels which automatically relaxes the body and mind. You then add in a dark room (a natural signal to the brain that it is night time and time to sleep) , a warm bed and no stimuli (lights, electronics , radios, tv’s etc) and the brain has little to do other than to drift off.
You add in the game element to the child of ‘beating the parents 20 min checks’ and again you reduce stress, add fun into bedtime and make sleep much much easier.
This method as all methods has to be consistent. So the first night it may take them their usual amount of time to fall asleep, the next night slightly less and so on.
When you do your 20 min check, do not engage or hype up the child, just simply say ok well done, see you in another 20 mins.
This also adds in reassurance for any child who has a small anxiety around bedtime. They know you’re checking in on them.
remember the key though, wake them up at the SAME time every morning even if they didn’t fall asleep until just a few hours before. Yes this will be exhausting for a few days but if you let them lie in, you’ve then messed up their sleep for the following night. Sleep is HABIt based.