A Healthy Child Needs a Healthy Brain,
A Healthy Brain Needs Healthy Sleep.
“Sleep Readiness” is the title of Chapter 11 of the United States of America Department of the Army field manual (FM 7-22) that prepares young men and women to become soldiers. It is the official document that describes how all young recruits will acquire necessary skills during the process that is sometimes referred to as basic training or “boot camp.” Updated in 2020, it is based on empirical data using traditional scientific methods. Sleep is serious business.
If you have not already done so, please read Blog Posts 1 through 5 that describe how sleep is important and beneficial, from the point of view of the United States of America Department of the Army. I have lightly edited, added emphasis, and condensed Chapter 11 in order to show you how “Sleep Readiness” can also help parents help their child sleep better.
Initially, I posted Chapter 11 (Blog Posts 1 through 5) to emphasize the value of healthy sleep. Based on the material presented in Chapter 11 of the Army field manual, Blog Posts 6 through 15 show how basic principles of sleep apply, not only to military basic training, but also to parenting.
Going forward, I will post specific information for parents and children based on my book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” Please do not be put off by my book’s length. For now, only read the single, age-appropriate Chapter for your child. Later, if you wish, read Chapters on What is Healthy Sleep, Why Healthy Sleep is Important, and Preventing Sleep problems. Finally, if needed, read the Chapter on Sleep Solutions.
NO TELEVISION or DIGITAL ELECTRONIC DEVICES IN CHILD’S BEDROOM
The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages having a television or other media in the child’s bedroom because of the association with a variety of sleep problems and a late bedtime.
In Singapore, television viewing among infants aged 6 months or younger showed the greatest reduction in sleep. In the United Kingdom, 75% of children 6 to 36 months used touchscreens daily; increase use was associated with decrease night sleep duration.
In 2007, a nationally representative survey in the U. S. showed that a television was present in the child’s bedroom:
· 18% for children under age 2 years.
· 43% for children 3 to 4 years old.
· 75% for children 5 to 6 years old.
WHY IS A TELEVISION IN THE CHILD’S BEDROOM SO COMMON?
The association between more TV viewing and less sleep is especially focused in households with lower income/lower education where there tends to be more sleep problems. For example, a 2019 study of children about 3 to 6 years old showed that about 36% of families had a TV in the child’s bedroom. Among the families where a TV was not present in the child’s bedroom, 80% of the mothers had a college degree or higher-level education supporting the observation associating TV in bedroom with lower SES. However, among families where a TV was present in the child’s bedroom, 33% of the mothers had a college degree or higher education level.
Similarly, another study of children 1 to 6 years showed that about 51% of families had a TV in the child’s bedroom. Among these families, 73% had a university education. In a subgroup of these families who had a TV in the child’s bedroom, some children had more nightmares and other sleep disturbances, and in this subgroup, 84% of mothers had a university education.
So why do well-educated families allow a television in their child’s bedroom?
(To be continued)
IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO MAKE YOUR CHILD CRY TO HAVE A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
WHAT A PARENT CAN DO
• No television or digital electronic devices in child’s bedroom.
• Some babies sleep better than other babies. Develop coping strategies to reduce stress if your baby has extreme fussiness or crying. Plan to encourage self-soothing skills at 2 to 4 months of age. Blog Post 20.
• ‘No Cry’ sleep solutions (‘Fading’ and ‘Check and Console’) may solve sleep problems. Blog Post 19
• Communicate with each other and coordinate nighttime parenting practices. Consider delaying your response to nondistress sounds your baby makes at night by 5-10 seconds, especially after 3 months of age. Blog Post 18.
• Encourage partner to help care for baby daytime and nighttime. Be emotionally available at bedtime. Seek help if your child is not sleeping well and there are symptoms of anxiety or depression for yourself or partner. Blog Post 17.
• Encourage self-soothing; the earlier the better. Consider leaving the room after putting your child down to sleep. Provide opportunity for naps based on drowsy signs. Encourage partner to help care for the baby daytime and nighttime. Blog Post 16.
• Plan for healthy sleep by focusing on sleep quality, not just sleep quantity. Provide opportunities for naps. Blog Post 15
• Make a sleep plan that you are comfortable with; be flexible and tolerant. Blog Post 14.
· Become more aware of the difference between how you feel when well-rested versus mildly sleepy. Blog Post 13.
· Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule. Blog Post 12.
· Try to not respond immediately to every quiet sound your baby makes at night. Blog Post 11.
· Practice soothing to sleep and bedtime routines, every night, if possible. Blog Post 10.
· Watch for drowsy signs. Blog Post 9.
· Respect your child’s natural sleep rhythms. Blog Post 8.