It’s a common sleep challenge. The classic 40-minute nap. Why is it always 40 minutes? Sleep science. We all have sleep cycles. As adults, our sleep cycles are 90-120 minutes, but babies have much shorter sleep cycles, typically 40-60 minutes. At the end of a sleep cycle, we all come to a partial wakening. For most adults, we roll over, pull up the covers, or adjust our pillow and go back into our next sleep cycle. Babies often just wake up – EVEN if they still need more sleep.
So many babies are notorious for struggling to link sleep cycles. It’s more common in the day, when the sleep pressure is lower than it is at night. Lengthening naps also comes with age, so if you have a newborn, short cat naps are normal. Naps typically begin to extend between four and six months. What happens if they don’t and why don’t they? This week, I’ve answered Emma’s question about helping her 8-month-old lengthen her afternoon nap. She’s doing a lot of the right things, but a little tweaking may help. Watch below to find out what advice I’ve given her.
Oh, Those Pre-schoolers!
Sleep challenges for toddlers and young children can be so much more difficult to resolve than for babies. They are typically strong-willed, have active imaginations, a strong desire for independence yet struggle with separation anxiety too. This week, I’ve answered a question from Patricia, who is struggling with her 3.5-year-old and waking up 3-4 times a night, looking for attention, saying he’s hungry.
Hunger can be an issue for some children in the night, especially during a growth spurt. In addition, many children who go to daycare or nursery have their tea early and need a good snack before they go to bed because their little tummies aren’t able to go more than 12 hours without something in it. A snack with a combination of protein and carbohydrates is ideal, as it keeps blood sugar stable. Avoiding higher sugar foods or juices (even unsweetened) is important for many. Cheese and crackers, a banana and yoghurt, toast and nut butter are a few ideas.
I have some other ideas for Patricia as well, so watch below.
Mary Foster is a certified sleep consultant and founder of Sleepy Lambs Sleep Consulting and the popular Sleepy Lambs Sleep Academy. She had 3 little ones in 3 years (along with an international move at 7 months pregnant with #3, which just means she’s a little crazy and adventurous). Her little “lambs” keep her busy, with her oldest just turned 6, middle one almost 5 and the youngest is almost 3.
Mary is Canadian and is based in Surrey, UK, near the Hampshire and Berkshire border. She has supported hundreds of families in 11 countries. Mary’s unique approach is always holistic and focuses on emotional wellness, always respectful of parenting choices. Click here to send her an email.