Blog Post 23-How to Motivate a Parent

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
by Marc Weissbluth, M.D.

A Healthy Child Needs a Healthy Brain,
A Healthy Brain Needs Healthy Sleep.

If you have not already done so, please read Blog Posts 1 through 5 that describe how sleep is important and beneficial. 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. This is a reference book. Read only the topic of interest to you.



Mothers spend more time at night caring for their child than fathers.  Some mothers do all the bedtime and overnight care in order to protect the father’s sleep in order for him to work during the day, or they believe that the father cannot do this care as well as they do, or the father does not want to help care for the child at bedtime or overnight.  There are many reasons why parents might not work together as a team regarding helping a child sleep well (Blog Posts 17 and 18) but a common situation is that the mother sees the development of drowsy signs in the late afternoon and wants an earlier bedtime (Blog Post 7), but the father coming home in the evening is not cooperative.  Alternatively, a father might want to slightly delay nighttime responses to nondistress sounds from their child (Blog Post 11), but the mother is not cooperative.

If one parent wants to help their child sleep better but the other parent is reluctant to make changes, there is the potential for increased family stress. Perhaps a consultation with a professional will be needed to help resolve the conflict. Here are some facts that might help motivate a parent to make a change that results in better sleep for their child:

  1. More sleep for your child will make your child healthier, stronger, smarter, happier, and more successful Based on the United States of America Department of the Army (Blog Posts 1 through 5):

Sleep readiness underpins a Soldier’s [Child’s] ability to accomplish the mission and continue to fight and win [Succeed in life]Think of sleep as an item of logistical resupply, like beans and bullets and plan accordingly.  Sleep is essential to health and readiness. Sleep makes Soldiers [Children] better Soldiers [Children].    As sleep duration increases, so does the likelihood of mission success.  The goal in all operational scenarios [Home, School, Playground] should always be to maximize sleep duration because more sleep always results in greater alertness, resilience, and mental activity-greater readiness. Sleep is a force multiplier Insufficient sleep degrades the brain’s function.  

Sleep is necessary:

·To sustain higher order cognitive abilities such as judgement, decision making, and situational awareness. More sleep can result in even better mental acuity

· More sleep results in greater brain readiness-enhanced mental sharpness and resilience in the field.  Sleep is crucial for tissue repair and hormone synthesis to maintain peak performance mentally and physically [Smarter and Stronger] Sleep sustains brain and physical health, cognition, the immune system, and recovery after physical activity.

· The more sleep Soldiers [Children] get, the faster response times, fewer errors, and fewer lapses in attention.  Also improved are judgement, problem-solving, situational awareness, mood [Happier], and general well-being.

· The relationship between sleep duration and cognitive readiness (and thus military effectiveness) is best thought of as a continuum, with more sleep always producing improved performance.

Effective leaders [Parents] consider sleep an item of logistical resupply like water, food, fuel, and ammunition. 

The brain is the only organ or body part that requires sleep.  The brain requires sleep to maintain normal function. The brain has a physiological need for sleep, and sleep promotes the ability to think and maintain mental toughness.  And the more sleep, the better it functions.


A Healthy Child needs a Healthy Brain,
A Healthy Brain needs Healthy Sleep.


In a Developing Baby, does
Unhealthy Sleep causes Brain Damage?

 Get More Sleep for your child by Going To Bed Earlier

            “Soldiers [Children] best get more sleep by going to bed earlier because awakening at the same time each morning helps to sustain and strengthen the brain’s alertness.

2. An Earlier Bedtime, only 20-30 minutes earlier, may produce dramatic improvement.

·  Teaching children about how and why to sleep resulted in 18 minutes of extra sleep caused improvement in grades for mathematics and languages.

·  Parent-set bedtimes on weekdays caused teenagers to have 19 minutes of extra sleep which produced improved daytime functioning, improved emotional regulation, and a reduced risk for psychopathology.

·  Experimentally adding one hour of sleep over five nights produced 27 minutes of extra sleep which resulted in improvement of emotional lability and restless-impulsive behavior and reduced daytime sleepiness.  Restricting sleep one hour over five nights resulted in more irritability and frustration and difficulty in the modulation of impulse and emotion.

3. An Early Bedtime will make your child taller and slimmer.

·  Growth hormone is released mostly during sleep especially early in the evening during the first period of deep sleep.

·  Short sleep duration at age 3 months predicted short body length at 1-2 years.

·  Long night sleep duration at age 6 months predicted lower weight to length ratio.  Your child will be slimmer. When short night sleep occurs, long naps may occur but long naps do not compensate for short night sleep.

·  Among 17-year-olds, those with less sleep and later bedtimes were about one inch shorter.

4. An Early Bedtime will make your child a better athlete.

· College basketball players showed enhanced performance with faster-timed sprint, free throw percentage, and three-point field goal percentage with experimental sleep extension.

· College tennis players showed impaired serving accuracy with experimental sleep restriction.

· Soccer players showed impaired kicking skills with experimental sleep restriction.

· Longer sleep durations improve athletic performance regarding reaction times, accuracy, and endurance.

5. An Early Bedtime Helps Produce:

·  Less crying at sleep onset.

      ·  Less time between being put down and falling asleep.

      ·  Fewer night awakenings.

      ·  Briefer night awakenings.

      ·  Less crying during the night.

      ·  Longer and more regular naps



• No television or digital electronic devices in child’s bedroom (Blog Post 21), if possible. Blog Post 22.

• 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 Posts 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 Posts 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 Posts 16, 48-52, and 57.

•  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.

·  Encourage an early or earlier bedtime (even a slightly earlier bedtime may produce better sleep.  Blog Post 6) especially at 6 weeks.  Blog Post 7.

∙ Recognize that a healthy brain requires healthy sleep. Blog Posts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

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