Baby Sleep Problem: Should I Train My Child to Sleep thru Noise?

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  • March 29, 2011

Weekly Baby Sleep Problem for The Sleep Lady:

“Dear Kim,

I read your book “Good Night, Sleep Tight” and  used The Sleep Lady Shuffle when my daughter was 10 months old. She’s been sleeping great since then. Your book saved my sanity because it used to take me up to 2 hrs to put her to sleep. Now she’s turning 2 and sleeps from 7:30-6:30. A lot of people in my family and at work think I’m strict and crazy to put her to sleep so early because their kids run around until 10 pm. My husband’s family believes that it’s my fault that my daughter only sleeps well in a quiet environment. Is this really a baby sleep problem? They say that I should have trained her to sleep with TV and music. Do you think I made my daughter so sensitive to sound or is it something that children are born with? Thank you Kim for your book.

Sincerely, Yana.”

Yana,

First of all, I am so happy to hear that you had success using the Sleep Lady Shuffle! Your  question is a common one! I have so much to say about this!  Here are just a few general recommendations of good sleep hygiene:

-Go to bed and wake up at a consistent time.

-Sleep in a cool, dark, clean, quiet environment.

-If there are a lot of outside noises, try using a fan or a white noise machine.

Avoid all screen time at least an hour before bed.

The National Sleep Foundation poll found that 95% of Americans (and we are a sleep deprived nation so not a good role model) use some kind of electronic device within an hour before going to bed.  The light from screens from electronics like televisions, computers and phones could prevent your body from producing melatonin, the hormone that is produced naturally in darkness and helps regulate sleep.

I have found as a family therapist and sleep coach (for 18years and 15 years respectively), that you can’t and should not try to “teach” your child to sleep in noise. Yes, there are those children who seem to sleep anywhere, but I believe it is an anomaly and I worry about the quality of their sleep and their sleep hygiene. As Dr. Judith Owens says “Less than 5% of the population needs less than the average amount of sleep recommended. The problem is that 95% of the population thinks they are the 5%.” I find that parents think the same thing for their children! In case you are wondering, a 2 year old needs an average of 11 hours of sleep at night and 2 hours of sleep during the day.

Our children’s sleep architecture changes in the first few years of life. Their sleep deepens as they get older so it is possible that your child will become less “sensitive” as she gets older. However, temperament and IQ are a factor also. Higher IQ is associated with higher sleep needs. I also find that a very alert child has a harder time shutting the world out in order to go to sleep. They tend to be children who need to go to sleep at the same time in a quiet, dark, comfy bed- preferably their own. Sounds like they have naturally good sleep habits –if we can just support those good habits as their parents!  If we don’t do it, who will?

So in the end, just say NO to the TV and 10pm bed times and continue respecting your daughter’s sleep needs! She is probably happier and has less temper tantrums than her peers as a result!

Sweet dreams,

Kim, The Sleep Lady

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Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

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