The cliché of sleep deprived parents is a reality for most families with newborns, but what happens when kids get bigger and sleep remains elusive? It can wreak havoc on the entire family, with bleary-eyed parents struggling to fulfill personal and professional obligations, and siblings who keep each other up well beyond bedtime. What to do?
1. Practice good sleep hygiene. Get everyone onto a regular sleep and waking schedule. Avoid caffeine before bedtime (don't forget about chocolate!). Eliminate screen time or other potentially stimulating activities too close to bedtime.
2. Make sure that everyone gets ample exposure to natural light during the day and a dark, quiet room at night. In a city with bright lights and noises, blackout window treatments can be helpful.
3. Rule out medical concerns. Excessive snoring or drooling can indicate obstructive sleep apnea, while tossing and turning can be a sign of restless leg syndrome. Congestion can be mitigated with a cool mist humidifier and saline nasal gel or rinses. Zip dust mite covers onto mattresses and pillows.
4. Put the kibosh on behaviors that hinder sleep. Avoid stalling tactics by establishing a consistent routine. Night wakers will know that it's still bedtime with the addition of a time to wake clock.
5. Consider aromatherapy. Essential oils like lavender, clary sage, and chamomile can help squirrelly kids and their parents get some rest.