Many parents compare bedtime routines with their kids to hand-to-hand combat — and it's true that there are often tears, trickery, tense negotiations, and “just one more” requests for everything but the kitchen sink. Well, psychologist and pediatric sleep specialist Dr. Whitney Roban has some tips on how to help your little ones get happily tucked into bed, and she’s shared them in her children’s book, Devin & Evan Sleep From 8-7: Teaching Children the Importance of Sleep.
While the story itself explains the difference between one twin who goes to bed early and one twin who struggles at bedtime, there are actually takeaway tips after the story that even grown-ups can use: “In order to get the Zzzz’s,” she wrote, “follow the ABC's (ASSERTIVENESS, BELIEF in yourself and your child, and COMMITMENT to healthy sleep)."
Dr. Roban continued, “An early bedtime is the only way to provide your family with ample time to get the required amount of sleep they need and deserve." So before you stay up all night wrapping presents and baking cookies, keep that in mind for you and your children. After all, as she pointed out, “Healthy sleep improves mood, temperament, behavior, immune system, cognitive development and performance.”
According to the National Sleep Foundation, procrastination can take a toll on your sleep patterns any time of year, so when things get tough, it recommends you take a nap. "20 to 30 minutes is all you need for a quick pick-me-up, but a 90-minute nap can be even more restorative if you have the time."
If you’re feeling more like the Grinch with zero tidings of comfort and joy (or like you’re running your own personal Santa’s workshop), keep in mind that “sleep deprivation causes adults to appear exhausted but children to appear ‘wired’ and not tired at all. The more tired a person is, the harder it is to fall asleep and stay asleep.”
And remember, it’s never too late to acquire good sleep habits. “Brief and consistent sleep routines will decrease your family's anxiety,” Dr. Roban wrote. “Children feel safe and comforted knowing what will occur at bed time everyday.” Furthermore, “sleep assisted by parents and/or electronics does not produce good quality sleep. We all need to learn to fall asleep and get back to sleep on our own.”
Keep these tips in mind, and the only meltdown you’ll see this season is Frosty in the sunshine.
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