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3 Sleep Solutions During a Pandemic

Sleep and a Pandemic
Are you sleeping? Are your children sleeping? 
By Lacey Welker - (IMPI) Certified Infant and Child Sleep Specialist
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yawning baby wearing milimili kilauea sleep sack with header 'i need sleep'
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The frustration of what seems to be endless nights of tossing and turning, and weird dreams has hit many of us. Why?
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Well, the obvious impact of Covid-19, and the stress that heavily drags along with it. When we are in REM stages of sleep, (our “active” sleep), the regions of our brains that process emotions and memory are more active. We are in a time of heightened anxiety, fear and stress, so it would make sense for all of these thoughts and emotions to be integrated into our REM sleep, causing those strange dreams and a rougher night’s sleep.
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The body’s important stages of sleep depend on regular circadian rhythms which can regulate and function when we have routine, structure and schedule every day. This applies to adults, children and infants. 
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So here are a few tips to help you AND your children get better sleep!
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little white clock held in hand, with header 'bed time'
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1. BEDTIMES
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YOU: Go to bed around the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every morning.
The body rewards REGULARITY. 
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YOUR CHILD: Put your child to bed at the SAME TIME every night. Establish, if you haven’t already, a bedtime routine.
Children and infants need to know what to expect, and having a regular bedtime routine can prepare their body for night time sleep. 
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woman in towel getting out of the shower with header 'just before bed'
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2. JUST BEFORE BED... 
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YOU: Take a hot bath or hot shower before bed. Believe it or not, the heat on the surface of your body cools the temperature on the inside, which can help us get to that deep and peaceful stage of sleep — the stage of sleep where our body temperature actually drops 2-3 degrees Fahrenheit, heart rate slows, the body repairs itself and our immune system strengthens. 
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YOUR CHILD: Avoid screens 30min-1 hour before bedtime. I’m sure you’ve heard this before. Watching TV or having some iPad time is probably prevalent in the majority of households before bed, especially when juggling more than one child. Light-emitting devices such as TV, phones, laptops, can interfere with the body’s natural production of melatonin, a hormone that promotes drowsiness, and is produced when it is dark. I’m not saying take away all devices but, to the extent possible, turn them off at least 30-60min before bedtime in order to help your child drift into a more peaceful sleep. 
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woman in yoga clothes with header reading move yo body
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3. MOVEMENT & ROUTINE
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YOU: PHYSICAL ACTIVITY! Anything cardiovascular such as walking, running, or even household chores! This helps stimulate and build the body’s “hunger” for sleep, which also helps reduce anxiety and insomnia. We all know how connected our mind and body are. Daily exercise will help us all stay mentally healthy. 
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YOUR CHILD: CONSISTENCY AND SCHEDULE. Routines give children a sense of security and help them develop self-discipline. Children fear the unknown. Children, like the rest of us, handle change best if it is expected and occurs in the context of a familiar routine. Many changes can't be avoided, like this pandemic. But that's why we offer children a predictable routine as a current foundation, so they can rise to the occasion to handle big changes or stresses when they need to. A predictable routine allows children to feel safe, and to develop a sense of understanding in handling their lives. Structure and routines teach kids how to constructively control themselves and their environments. 
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Your babies and your toddlers and young children want to know what to expect from you as parents. Try not to change your approach or response. If anything, find that balance between maybe a little extra nurturing during this time, while still keeping the important structure of their night time sleep and daytime routines. Take those deep breaths, take care of YOURSELF... so that you can be there for your little ones during this time. 
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Want more tips for how to help your baby get better sleep? Check out Lacey's classes and one-on-one sessions to get your baby sleeping through the night. 

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