We have been struggling to put our three-year old to sleep lately. She is dead tired right up until bedtime… when a sub natural force seems to let her inner lion out… know the feeling?
From there, it is a nightly routine of her getting out of bed, us rushing up to put her back down, some singing from her, some yelling from us, and… repeat. She is rarely sleeping until 9.30PM, much too late for a 3-year old.
We never had any problems putting our 5- and 6-year olds to bed. It’s always been a 10-minute exercise of brushing teeth, putting on PJ’s, reading a bedtime story, and closing the door. So we’ve been needing to get creative with Elin.
I spoke with Carolina Romanyuk, a renown pediatric sleep consultant. Voted a top 200 best sleep consultants in the U.S., I thought she could only help. She gave me sleep-related tips to help kids sleep better this time of year.
There are really 2 events coming up, which she addressed: Halloween and the end of daylight savings time. Halloween is already impacting Elin’s sleep since our whole town is decorated, the kids have been watching Halloween movies, her school celebrated the Fall festival in costumes, etc. I can definitely tell that since mid-October, we have regressed on our going-to-bed routine. Carolina had a few tips for us!
- The scary Halloween movie
I find that children’s Halloween movies can be quite spooky. We recently watched Hotel Transylvania and everyone loved it, but I could tell that our kids’ little brains took a while to process the story. If your child is amped up after watching a scary Halloween movie, Carolina recommends telling them to imagine that when the scene is done, the movie director says “CUT,” and all of the spooky characters stroll to the snack bar to have a chat and eat chips. That lets the children know that movies are all pretend and fiction, and done for fun. Don’t hesitate to YouTube a behind-the-scene to show your child what the backstage of a movie set looks like with those actors and characters!
- Halloween replays
We, adults, know that Halloween is all in the head. It plays with our emotions and the adrenaline seekers gravitate towards that rush of the fear. If your sensitive child is scared and replays scary moments in his head, help him re-create the scary image into a funny one. They can, for example, picture the scary monster in a hot pink tutu with bright pink nails and a glittery bow, dancing and partying around!
- On Halloween night
The day has come… after a long evening of fun and thrill (and countless sweets), your child is wired. His cortisol levels are skyrocket high and you will need the help of an outside factor to start the wind down process for sleep. Carolina recommends an app with sleep stories called Moshi Twilight. If you don’t know this about me, I love falling asleep to a 5-minute guided meditation track. It took me a few second to get hooked up to Moshi Twilight!! The sleep stories have a rhythm and sound that remind me of my own meditation tracks. They are soothing with an immediate calming effect. We have been using them with Elin for a few nights down and she is responding to them incredibly well! After 5 minutes or so, she calms down, almost rocked to sleep. On the third night, she went to sleep very quickly, as if she had been conditioned to the stories. She now takes them as a cue to slowly shut down and go to sleep. Carolina explains that the sense of hearing of soothing sounds connects the body and mind to start to wind down.
Since we had installed an Alexa in Elin’s bedroom a while back, hoping that lullabies could help her go to sleep, we simply ask her: “Alexa, ask Moshi Twilight to play a Sleep Story.” If you are a Google family, ask your Google Assistant the same question!
- The night after Halloween
Plan for an early bedtime. Take some time to talk about the experience with your children, especially as the night is approaching. Dim the lights in the room and like me, start a Moshi Twilight sleep story.
The time change is happening just a few days after Halloween and will create more disturbance to our little ones’ sleep routines. I know that my family typically takes a couple of days to adjust to the new schedule, and I always like to think that we are gaining an hour of sleep in the Fall… but really, who am I fooling? The kids will just be up an hour early… Don’t crush my dreams, hope is carrying this sleep-deprived Mama 🙂
When I asked Carolina about the time change, she had some great advice. It almost seems like my kids deal with a 6-hour jet lag better than the one-hour time shift and Carolina recommended a very easy trick.
With the night falling earlier, the whole schedule feels like it is shifted an hour later. And while it is generally easier to fall asleep one hour later than normal (versus an hour earlier in the Spring), younger children have a really hard time adjusting to such a long awake time. Carolina recommends gradually shifting their schedules by 15 minutes every day or couple of days.
By focusing heavily on their routine, the transition will be soothing, and Carolina recommends using tools such as darkness and sleep stories to accompany young children through the time change. If you are using electronic sleep stories, make sure to place the device under the bed covers or flat down and away from eye sight. The blue light coming from the screen is what suppresses our sleep hormone, keeping your child awake!
This is how you can adjust bedtime for a few days prior to the time change:
Adjust bedtime by 15 minutes every day. It will become 7PM, 7:15PM, 7:30PM, 7:45PM, and 8PM, which by the time you are in post daylight savings time is the new 7PM. In the morning, apply the same strategy, trying to leave your child in bed until the targeted wake-up time: 6AM, 6:15AM, 6:30AM, 6:45AM and all the way to 7AM. In four days, your child will have adjusted to the new time!
We have seen a big difference since using Moshi Twilight but if you have any sleep-related questions, feel free to speak with Carolina Romanyuk directly. She is a fabulous resource and offers a free sleep strategy call. I know you will love speaking with her!
Please note that I am not receiving any compensation nor free products for this article. Carolina has amazing tips and a long experience in helping parents and children with sleeping challenges and I am happy to recommend her to my readers.
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