Saturday, February 28, 2009

Is their bedroom the sleep problem? (#5)

A bedroom full of toys, TVs, music, computers, and game systems is probably not a good thing. You might have gifted your children with many of these things as a sign of your love and accidentally created a problem. So, maybe its time to re-think.

First, this may be contributing to isolation and loneliness: to everyone in your family being in the house "alone" together. That great family interaction time that builds a foundation of good communication may be in short supply. The house may be quiet and everybody may be occupied but at what cost?

Second, it might be time for what sleep specialists call "stimulus-control treatment." The idea is to make a bedroom environment serve as a stimulus FOR sleep (as opposed to play) You child is spending time in a room or even in bed with all sorts of activities around them that are competing with sleeping. Here are some rules (paraphrased by me) suggested by psychologist Richard R. Bootzin as found in the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D.
  1. Do not use a bed for anything except sleep. A bed is not a playpen, TV lounger, or dining table. So, help your child learn firm boundaries about the bed and bedtime and night being sleep times not play times.
  2. Head's up, if you have a child who is sleep deprived (or depriving you of sleep) because they get up at night to play in their room then one option is to use this enforceable statement "Children who use their room for sleeping at night get to keep everything in it." The consequence then would be to move toys, electronics out of that space. The idea is to make the whole bedroom a place to induce sleep or atleast a place where nothing competes with sleep.
  3. Since the goal is to associate bed with falling asleep quickly, make sure your child goes to bed physically tired. Plan more physical activity for the whole family. Eliminate naps if need be.
  4. For regular insomniacs, Bootzin gives advice to adults that may have some bearing on children (the whole family?) Set an alarm and make sure your child gets up at the same time everyday no matter how much sleep they got the night before. You are working to get the body into a consistent sleep rhythm.

Hope this series of 5 has helped. Sleep well!

1 comment:

  1. I have a young child (1 1/2), but I found Weissbluth's book very helpful. And the stats about how many people who don't learn how to put themselves to sleep at night who have sleep disorders are thought-provoking. This is really training for life.


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