Friday, September 9, 2011

Dr. Breus' Back to School Sleep Tips & Mattress Review

Oh, How I Covet Thee
My name is Karns and I have a problem getting my toddler to sleep at night. As has been well documented on this blog, we are having some MAJOR problems issues sleeping at all peacefully at night. Baby D wakes us up every 3 hours and Big D has to sneak off early in the morning to take a nap downstairs before getting up for work. Not good for family harmony. I’ve just become resolved to a lifetime of intermittent naps throughout the day. I’m convinced that the only way I’ll ever sleep is when I attend out-of-town legal or blogging conferences.
A few weeks ago, I attended a presentation by Dr. Michael Breus, aka The Sleep Doctor, at the Sleepy’s store in Midtown. I was impressed. Not only with the content of the discussion but with the seating arrangements. We were all sitting on a cloud of a bed listening to someone talk about getting a better night’s rest. Genius. I had no idea that these beds were in the Dr. Breus line until I went home that night and researched him. The pillow tops were so comfortable that I plan on going back to Sleepy’s to get some more sleep inspiration this evening. Its Friday night, so the store shouldn’t be too busy, should it? This is the only way to see if Baby D appreciates the pillow-top as much as I did. It was fit for a king and a HUGE upgrade from his crib mattress.
Of all the salient points that Dr. Breus made that night, these were the tips that really stuck with me. This man REALLY gets it. What I likes about him is that he supported his professional experiences with anecdotes about his personal experiences getting his own children to sleep. He’s the sleep whisperer. And I’m a fan. If I can stick to the plan, we’ll have Baby D and the whole family sleeping in no time.
“Kids cannot learn when their bodies don’t receive restorative sleep, period,” continues Dr. Breus, who recommends the following when transitioning kids to a “back-to-school” sleep schedule.
Major points I jotted down (while nearly asleep on the luxury mattress):
  • About 2 weeks before school starts, have your child go to bed 15 minutes earlier than they normally do. After three days of this make it 30 minutes, and so on, until they are within 30 minutes of what should be their normal bedtime.
  • Even if you cannot get your children to go to bed any earlier (which you really should try) get them waking up closer and closer to their school time wake up time. This will help provide an anchor to their already shifting biological rhythm.
  • Get the right mattress.
  • Exercising each day will certainly help their sleep, so keep them outside as long as you can (use sunscreen) and in the pool so they will be nice and tired (particularly for younger children). Make the bedroom dark, as in many cases you may be asking them to go to bed before the sun has completely set.
  • Start to have them “unplugged and powered down” an hour before bed. Have them relaxing, reading, and getting back into a bedtime routine.
  • Here’s a tip for Dads: when you get home  late from work – even though you haven’t seen the little people all day - please avoid horseplay (i.e. getting the kids all excited) before bed. It’ll be impossible to get them calmed down enough to get to sleep within a reasonable hour. Big D and I are super guilty of this.
  • And finally, in response to whether I, as a working mom who commutes a far distance, should yank on Baby D’s leg to keep him awake until we get home (it reportedly worked for my coworker!) – the answer is NO. I've never tried this but I admit I contemplated it. However, he did recommend that I try to keep him engaged with songs and silly games so that he doesn’t take a rejuvenating (uh oh!) nap in the evening.
Oh, and I've got the weight loss book he wrote as well. This sleep thing could be a win-win for everyone...


Disclosure: The book and presentation were gratis. However, I did not receive any compensation in exchange for this review.

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