Are you prepared for THE END (of daylight savings)?

The end of daylight savings time is just around the corner. Most of us are ecstatic to “fall back” and gain an extra hour of sleep.  But, for some parents, the time change can be a sleep setback.  Why?

Your child’s internal clock doesn’t naturally “fall back” with the rest of the digital clocks which magically change overnight while you sleep.  Nope.  You can bet that if your kiddo is usually bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 6:30 a.m., she’ll be ready to shimmy and shake at 5:30am on the day after daylight savings end. It’s not her fault.  She doesn’t know about the time change and 5:30am feels like 6:30am to your child – because it ACTUALLY WAS 6:30 just one day before!

Which is why “falling back” can create sleep problems for parents. The end of daylight savings time can cause some kids to wake-up earlier, which then dominoes into earlier naps and bedtimes.  Then, before you know it, that smooth sleep schedule is converted into a cycle of overtired crankiness.

To keep the time change from spoiling your family’s sleep, here are a few things to try:

  1. Get outside or at least soak up some sunlight in the early evening. This helps regulate your child’s melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate their body’s internal circadian clock.
  2. Make sure to stick to your regular bedtime routine.
  3. Take measures (i.e. blackout shades) to ensure that your kiddo’s room isn’t too bright in the morning.
  4. Cut your kid some slack in the days following daylight saving time, the time change can cause such short-term changes in your child’s mood and behavior, but your patience and understanding will help her adjust more easily.
  5. If preventative measures don’t work, you can get back to that old schedule by slowly adjusting your child’s schedule. Try moving naps and bedtime forward by 10-15 minutes every few days, until she is back to her regular routine.

If you need something super creative to “fall back” on…check out Snooze.  A storybook tool that persuades sleep-defying children to hit-the-hay, so Snooze (a magical flying sheep) can pay them a visit while they sleep and leave behind a special surprise.  Check out this tried-and-true story book tool created by your truly at www.snoozethesheep.com.

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Two Strategies to Help your Child’s Sleep Schedule when Daylight Savings Time Begins

 Daylight Savings Time begins on Sunday, March 13th, 2016.  This is the time of year when we spring our clocks forward (and lose one-hour of sleep). For most of us, the lost hour of shut-eye is no big deal, but for young children, daylight savings can create a kink in their sleep-wake cycle.

So, what can parents do?

First and foremost, begin by developing these healthy sleep habits:

  1. Establish a consistent sleep schedule for your child. Bedtime and nap times are always the same time.
  2. Establish a 20-30 minute bedtime routine. (i.e. Brush teeth, story time, prayers, snuggles, good night kiss.)
  3. Know your child’s sleepy cues. Consistency is encouraged, but also be aware of your child’s sleepy cues. (Yawning, irritability, etc.) An over-tired child will have a more difficult time falling asleep, so start the bedtime routine as soon as you see those sleepy cues.
  4. Eliminate bright lights or screens at least an hour before bedtime. Blue light interferes with melatonin production and can create bigger bedtime battles.

Once you have these basic sleep practices in place, choose one of these two methods to help your little one transition with the time change:  “Go with the Flow” or “Adjust the Schedule Steady and Slow”.

“GO WITH THE FLOW”

WHO: Early risers, kids who typically wake up at the crack of dawn and kids older than two years old.

HOW:

  1. Move all your clocks ahead one hour before going to bed Saturday night (March 12, 2016)
  2. On Sunday, continue with your normal routine. If you have an early-riser, your child should wake up a little later.
  3. Keep nap and mealtime routines on schedule according to their usual schedule. (i.e. If nap time is noon, keep it at noon)
  4. Keep bedtime the same as always, if bedtime has always been 7:30pm, keep it at 7:30pm.


“ADJUST THE SCHEDULE STEADY AND SLOW”

WHO: Babies and children who are more sensitive to changes in schedule

HOW: Slowly adjust your child’s bedtime after the time change:

  1.   Shift your clocks forward one hour on Saturday night (March 12, 2016).
  2.   Sunday, keep your child in bed until the new waking time, which would be 30 minutes earlier than normal. So if your child normally wakes at 8:00 a.m., you will want to wake your child up at 7:30 a.m. (which is the old 6:30 a.m.).
  3.   For bedtime, you’ll want to have your child in bed at 8:30 p.m. (this is the old 7:30 p.m.).
  4.   It’s important that you are consistent with your child’s schedule and routines. To do this by moving all mealtimes and naps 1/2-hour later.
  5.  After 2-3 days, move your child’s bedtime back another 1/2-hour to 8:00 p.m. (the old 7:00 p.m.). You will also need to shift your baby’s waking time later by 1/2-hour. So you’ll now wake your child at 8:00 a.m.
  6. Adjust all mealtimes and naps 30-minutes later throughout your daily routine.

It can take a week or two for kids to adjust to the time change.  So, stay consistent and persistent.

Snooze E. Sheep’s Toddler Treasure Hunt is Happening THIS OCTOBER!

Guess what?  A magical sheep has just flown into Kansas City.  His name is Snooze E. Sheep, and he is on a mission to transform toddler nap-times into a fun adventure.  Snooze is so super duper excited for the kids of Kansas City to discover the joy of “snoozing” with Snooze, that he is going to hide copies of his book, Snooze©, in various kid-friendly spots throughout the city!

Everyday Friday this October, Snooze will hide his book in a new location.  Check his Facebook page each Friday morning at 9am to get a treasure map to help you find the book.

Use the treasure map and take your toddler on an exciting treasure hunt to look for Snooze’s signature z-shaped clue and find the magical book that has the power to transform not-so-happy nap-times into magical adventures.


Don’t worry if you aren’t the first one to find Snooze’s hidden treasure.  Anyone who finds Snooze’s clue has a chance to be a winner! Take a picture of your child next to Snooze’s clue and post it on Snooze’s Facebook Page with #snoozethesheep for a chance to win a copy of his book!

Winner’s names will be drawn and announced at the end of the month.

Don’t have time to take your toddler on a treasure hunt, but want a fun new way to transform nap-time “nays” into “hip-hip-hoorays”?

Check out Snooze’s website where you can purchase the book and get more fun information about Snooze E. Sheep (like what in the world is his middle name and what Snooze likes to do for fun).

Happy Hunting!

Snooze the Sheep

Could an iron deficiency be the cause of your child’s sleep issues?

How do you picture a child with low iron levels?   You probably imagined a child who is pale and tired. Not a hyperactive child bouncing off the walls having a difficult time sleeping at night.

Well, think again.
Recent studies have revealed a link between childhood hyperactivity and sleep disturbances with low serum ferritin levels. 

What in the world is ferritin? Ferritin is a protein found inside cells. It binds to iron and stores it until the body needs to use it. Measuring ferritin levels is more helpful than measuring iron levels because ferritin levels can be low before symptoms of low iron occur. According to the World Health Organization, a ferritin concentration of less than 30ng/mL in children under 5 years old indicates depleted iron storage.*

Several studies have indicated that children with serum ferritin levels below 45 ng/mL had more disturbed sleep than children with higher levels.*

  • Is your child suffering from disturbed sleep?
  • Are they very active during the day?
  • Are their legs restless and do they wiggle in their bed at night?
  • Are they picky about what they eat?

These symptoms could indicate low ferritin levels.
Chronically disrupted sleep accumulates as sleep debt. Lack of sleep isn’t just a pain in the neck for tired parents. It can also lead to problems with your child’s cognitive functioning and behaviors.

The ferritin blood test is a simple blood draw that can be ordered by your pediatrician. If you are concerned that low iron may be effecting your child’s sleep, talk to your pediatrician right away. This test could be the simple solution to your child’s sleep challenges.

*Resources:
Cortese S, et al. European & Adolescent Child Psychiatry. 2009

Maha K Abou-Khadra, et al. BMC Pediatrics. 2013

http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/micronutrients/anemia_iron_deficiency/9789241596107_annex2.pdf

5-Steps Towards Getting Your Toddler to Sleep

Hello, Sleep 911.  

Is this an emergency?  

If you are the exhausted parent of a toddler with sleep issues, your answer is–

YES!!!! 

Well, good news, you are at the right place for sleep solutions. I know tired parents don’t want lengthy jargon.  You want answers, so I’ll cut right to the chase.

Here are 5-steps towards fixing your toddler’s sleep issues:

1. Identify how much sleep your kid needs.  

Use this handy-dandy chart to figure it out: You really ought to keep a log of your child’s sleep schedule for at least a few days. You may think they’re getting enough hours, but when you see it on paper, it can be a totally different story.

Here is a sleep log for your convenience:  After you have collected the data for your sleep log, compare it with the recommended daily hours of sleep for your child’s age.

If your child is getting less than the recommended daily amount, your kid is suffering from “sleep debt”…advance to step two.

2. If your kiddo has “sleep debt” then you probably need to put them to bed earlier. 

I know…It seems counterintuitive. When your kid is waking up early in the morning, your first instinct, is to put them to bed later so that they will sleep-in. However, due to REM cycles, and some other sleep mumbo-jumbo (you can read about the details here at The National Sleep Foundation website, if you’re interested), your kid’s sleep is going to be completely out of whack if you keep them up too late.  

One tell-tale sign that your child is staying up too late is a behavior of complete mania and delirium or what I like to call “the point of no return”.

This is the behavior when your kid is so tired, they run around, jump on the bed, and scream or giggle uncontrollably. This is their little body’s way of trying to stay awake when they are completely exhausted.  This. Is. Not. A. Good. Sign. If your child has already reached “the point of no return“…You have some work to do.

I know what you’re thinking now…”How am I supposed to put my kid to sleep earlier when they wake up from nap at 5:00 PM?” Good question!

3. Initiate the Sleep Gap Rule. 
The Sleep Gap Rule is this: your child needs a certain number of hours of active wakefulness between arising in the morning and taking naps.  Plus,  more awake time before going to bed at night. Refer back to the handy-dandy chart to know how much wakey-wakey your kiddo needs.
 

4. Establish a routine.
This means two things.  First, decide on a set bedtime and set naptime. So, you know how many hours of sleep your child needs a day AND you know how many hours they need to be awake between the sleeping times. Now figure out a schedule that works for your family.

WRITE IT DOWN. 

What time is bedtime? 

What time is naptime? 

At what time can your child come out of their room in the morning?

Next, figure out that pre-bedtime routine. How is it going to look each and every time before you put your child to sleep?  Will you read a story, rock-a-bye, or sing a song before putting your child to sleep?

Kids need routines and–trust me–every time they hear that same story, say the prayer, or hear that same song, it will be like turning on a switch, telling their bodies, “it’s time for you to go to sleep.”

5. Just Do it!
This is actually the hardest step. You have done all the work to figure out what your child needs. Now, comes the tough part. It can take weeks and sometimes even months to transition your child to this new sleep routine. Be patient and diligent. I promise. If you stick to the plan. Stay the course and maintain that routine. Your child will become a better sleeper!
Sweet dreams and Happy Napping!