"He's been up since 4:30 am," a tired parent told me at preschool drop-off. This was not an isolated incident. This particular 3 year old was up early every morning. Maybe not 4:30 am early but 5:00 or 5:30 am early which, let's face it, is EARLY. Every parent knows that they are not really going back to sleep when something like this occurs. When your toddler is up early, you might be able to doze on the couch - but we all know that the real sleeping is done.
And that makes everyone cranky.
Sleep issues are complicated. One child could have trouble going to sleep, while another could have trouble staying asleep. Some are really early wakers and some are hard to wake up in the morning. Unfortunately, there may be no clearcut path to helping your child sleep better, but there are some drug-free solutions that can help with sleep issues (even in adults). These products have to do with the calming effect of weight and compression when sleeping. Remember how much swaddling helped your baby sleep? This is the same principal. When weight and/or compression are applied, your body releases the chemical serotonin, which is believed to play a role in calming the central nervous system. More serotonin equals better sleep.
Weighted blankets: These come in all shapes and sizes and are widely marketed to the autism population. The great thing is that they work for everyone, not just those with sensory needs (although we probably all have sensory needs in one form or another). Most are filled with heavy poly beads, therefore making them heavier than a regular blanket.
When shopping for weighted blankets, Etsy is always a good bet. I found some particularly cute ones at the Etsy shop, Red Barn Blankets. The fabrics are fantastic and most of the blankets retail for $79.50 to $120.00, depending on the size. Note: Red Barn Blankets warns that weighted blankets are not safe for children ages 2 years and under.
Compression blankets are a bit different than weighted blankets. They provide the same physical input, but may be a better bet if your child gets hot and sweaty at night. Most compression blankets are made of lycra or spandex and fit snugly on the bed so that the child can slide under them. Again, you can find these on Etsy. Captivating Seven sells compression blankets, called SnooZEN Snug Bugs, made of spandex that are custom fitted and retail for $70.00 to $115.00 depending on the size.
So if your child is struggling with sleep, these products are worth a try. Spritz them with lavender spray, make a plan for a bedtime or nap time routine, and hope for more restful days and nights!
Let Them Fly!0