“Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring....” words that give a magical tingle to any parent anticipating the excitement of Christmas morning when their children wake to see their stockings at the end of the bed, yet for many parents those words couldn’t be further from the truth and there has been plenty of stirring going on!
Parents' Sleep Derivation: The Facts
A poll on parenting website Netmums revealed that less than half of parents – 45.8% - say that their child regularly sleeps through the night, with more than 11% getting up three or more times; not a great start for parents on arguably the most hectic day of the year.
Leading UK sleep expert Karen Bramall attests that uninterrupted sleep, is the most restful, healthy sleep for infants and adults. Sleep that is broken with night waking leads to daytime tiredness, a decrease in mental flexibility and attention, as well as considerable impairments of mood.
The juggling act of keeping the turkey moist, the potatoes crispy and the glasses filled can become a nightmare for a parent who has been up since 5am after being woken several times in the night. Add an overtired toddler into the mix and the magic of Christmas can start to lose its shine.
Get the rest you need
So how can you prevent this and get your child to drift off happily at bedtime and sleep until a respectable hour, even on Christmas Day?! Well, Karen wishes she could tell you where to buy that magical dust her children believe the big red man sprinkles on them before he comes down the chimney, but sadly she can’t. What she can tell you though, is that every child is capable of sleeping soundly for 10-12 hours a night and waking well-rested, attentive and cheerful... they simply need to learn how.
Karen is the founder of the largest group of certified sleep consultants in the UK and has worked with thousands of families all over the world to solve their children’s sleep issues with her gentle caring methods, for over a decade. She is a huge fan of Lumie Bedbug, our award-winning sleep aid for babies and children that uses low-blue light to create calm bedtimes and good nights:
“I absolutely love Lumie Bedbug and its features which are perfectly compatible with helping a child to develop great healthy sleep habits. So many baby products have light that is in the blue-green spectrum which is detrimental to sleep as it suppresses the production of melatonin – the sleepy hormone. Lumie Bedbug's light is just the perfect colour”
"The function to leave it as a nightlight is a key feature. Sleep is a cyclical process, with us all waking multiple times in the night. If a child gets used to having a nightlight to go to sleep, then you want the ability to have that still experience that when they have one of the many natural wakes that happen at the end of those sleep cycles for both adults and babies. Without that same light they may struggle to resettle in such a different environment to bedtime. These features make it the perfect choice for all of the Baby Sleep The Night certified team of consultants to recommend to parents.”
We were delighted to see Karen recognise the potential of Lumie Bedbug in helping tired parents get their children's sleep back on track! Karen’s top tips for sleep can be downloaded from www.babysleepthenight.com; for many people with a child that wakes every night implementing them is a daunting task. However, if getting your little one to settle has been a struggle, the single best present you can give yourself this Christmas is to ask for help, something many parents are afraid to do. In fact, the aforementioned poll also revealed that a third of exhausted parents lie about their children’s sleeping habits because they want to be seen as perfect parents. A further 61.7% have lied about how well they are coping with sleep deprivation with parents reporting incidents such as starting kitchen fires by putting sterilising equipment on the hob because they were overtired, while others said they had collapsed and been hospitalised. If you find yourself in this position then you really are not alone and your child not sleeping is certainly not a reflection on how good a parent you are!
Sleep is a complex issue, any parent knows there’s no manual to the toughest and most rewarding job in the world so do not beat yourself up thinking you’re failing if your child doesn’t sleep well, you’re not alone and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
If you find yourself staying away from home this Christmas with your child, then look at Karen's top tips for travelling with baby:
- Don’t over schedule yourself – late nights will only make sleep harder for your overtired child. Stick to routines and bedtime as much as possible.
- Make sure you bring your child’s sleeping toy/blanket and their unwashed sheets from home so that the smell is familiar.
- Don’t share a bed with your child even for a few nights, you could find yourself having to teach them to sleep independently all over again when you get home.
- If a separate room is unavailable then try to make some sort of private space for your baby to sleep, anywhere that you can build a partition so that if she has a night waking she is not excited to see you and thinking its playtime!
- It is very normal for children to test the boundaries around sleep when they are somewhere new, this may mean that your baby cries for some time at bedtime or has a night waking or two. The best way to deal with this is not to do much different than if you were at home, go in and offer a little reassurance every 5 minutes or so, but other than that don’t bend - even to the pressure of your well meaning in-laws standing outside the door repeatedly asking if you’re sure the baby is OK!