Can’t Sleep? Try These Tips for Sweet Dreams

Everyone has the occasional touch of insomnia. Practicing what sleep experts call good sleep hygiene can help you get the shut-eye you need.

• Make your bedroom a soothing oasis. Ban TV watching, iPhone surfing and reading and reserve your bedroom only for sleeping and sex.

• Turn your bed into a comfy nest. If your bed is comfortable, you’ll fall asleep more quickly and wake up refreshed. Invest in a poufy comforter or fluffy pillow to snuggle into when you go to bed.

• Stick to a schedule. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, weekends and vacations included.

• Ban caffeine, alcohol and heavy snacking after dinner. Opt for a small snack about an hour before bedtime so hunger won’t keep you awake.

• Turn out the lights. Light, even the small amount emitted by an LED alarm clock, can make it hard to fall asleep and can keep you from sleeping soundly. Invest in some room-darkening shades or blinds to block light coming through the windows or wear an eye mask to bed.

• Turn down the volume. If street sounds, highway noise or your mate’s snoring are keeping you awake at night, run a fan to create white noise or pick up a cheap pack of earplugs.

• Turn on the Nighty Night video. With its soothing music and images, the Nighty Night video will have you nodding off in no time.

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How to Win the Bedtime Battle

Bedtime battles are frustrating and exhausting for both parent and child. You may have spent a wonderful day with your toddler; but announce that it’s bedtime and your darling child can turn into a screaming monster. Even the most even-tempered toddler goes through spells when he doesn’t want to go to bed, even when his deteriorating behavior indicates that bedtime is exactly what he needs. The resulting tug of war between cranky toddlers and frustrated parents can turn every bedtime into a noisy battle.

The toddler years are so full of exciting new skills and experiences that it’s hard for children to stop playing and go to sleep. After being tucked in your toddler may experience a twinge of separation anxiety when you leave the room. Noises from other parts of the house — parents talking, television, etc. — may pique your toddler’s curiosity and interfere with his ability to settle down for sleep. And then there are always those nights when your toddler decides to exercise his independence — and test your patience.

Many parents have found that winning the bedtime battle is as easy as turning on the Nighty Night video. An effective toddler sleep aid featured on the Dr. Phil Show, the video of baby animals settling down for sleep instantly attracts your toddler’s attention, distracting him from his bedtime objections. In seconds, your testy toddler turns back into his sweet, lovable self, relaxing quietly as he yawns with the baby animals and blissfully falls asleep.

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Toddler Sleep Training Reaps Future Rewards

Sleep plays a more important role in physical and mental health than most people believe. Scientific studies have linked sleep loss to poor school and work performance, heart disease, diabetes, depression, marital problems, stress and a growing list of other medical issues. Yet, when our to-do list becomes too crowded or we’re up against a deadline, sleep is usually the first thing to go.

Most teens and adults underestimate the amount of sleep they need to stay healthy and believe that they can make up lost sleep by sleeping longer on the weekend, despite scientific proof to the contrary. The negative impact of sleep is cumulative. There is no substitute for getting the amount of daily sleep you need, 8 to 9 hours a day for teens and 7 to 8 hours a day for adults.

Perhaps because of their own erroneous beliefs about sleep, most parents underestimate how much sleep their child needs and how much sleep he is actually getting. Infants need from 14 to 15 hours of sleep each day; toddlers, 12 to 14 hours; preschoolers, 10 to 12 hours; and children in elementary school, 10 to 11 hours.

Beginning sleep training during your child’s toddler years teaches your child good sleep habits and helps him form productive sleep patterns that will last a lifetime. Sleep training your toddler now sets the stage for healthy sleep habits that will benefit him throughout his life.

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Safe Sleep Aids for Sleep Training Babies

Baby sleep aids play an important role in helping infants learn to comfort themselves and fall asleep. Toys, thumbs, blankies, dolls and stuffed animals are all time-honored sleep aids; but experience has shown that they are not necessarily safe objects to place in your baby’s crib. All but thumbs have been banished from the modern baby’s crib. Even bumper pads are a no-no these days.

Reports of babies suffocating or strangling in their cribs has made parents extremely cautious about what is allowed into their infant’s crib. No parent wants to take the risk that their baby could become tangled in a blanket or push his face up against a toy and not be able to extricate himself. Infants have not yet developed the muscle strength and coordination to keep themselves out of danger. Hence the barren crib. Better safe than sorry.

Without the traditional physical props, parents have to be more creative about providing baby sleep aids that will help their child relax and fall sleep without putting him at risk. Soothing music is an excellent sleep training aid for babies. By playing the same comforting musical selection every time you lay your baby down for sleep, you train your child to relax and anticipate sleep whenever the music plays.

Parenting tip: Many moms find that listening to Nighty Night CDs while nursing helps them to relax and let their milk down more easily.

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‘Up All Night’ Shows Funny Side of Toddler Sleep Training

In NBC’s new fall television series Up All Night, stars Christina Applegate and Will Arnett who draw on their own sleepless nights as new parents to find the humor in those first frustrating months of parenthood when sleep is always in short supply. Brand new mom Maya Rudolph has a supporting role in the new fall sitcom as a talk-show host. Although carefree and single in the series, Rudolph’s real-life experiences as a new mom should give her an insider’s view on the difficulties of sleep training toddlers that consume her friends.

TV reviewers are giving the show a thumbs up. Not only is the plot original but the interplay between the characters is hilarious as they trade quips and share infant sleep training tips. The universal appeal of the show should make it an early hit. Toddler sleep training is a subject all parents should be able to identify with.

During the recent fall season press tour, Applegate recalled her own disastrous experiences trying to sleep train her now one-year-old daughter Sadie using the Ferber (cry it out) method of toddler sleep training. It’s too bad, Christina didn’t know about Nighty Night sleep training videos and CDs, the easy, no-tears way to sleep train toddlers. Of course, peacefully sleep children don’t make for riveting television, but they do have happier parents!

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Video Sleep Aids for Toddlers Keep Peace on Vacation

Vacation travel can wreak havoc on your toddler’s sleep schedule. New sounds, new sights and new people provide wonderful stimulation for your toddler when he is awake; but when bedtime comes, all the unfamiliar people and places can make your child feel anxious, increase separation anxiety, and interfere with his (and your) ability to go to sleep.

Child sleep experts recommend bringing familiar toys, stuffies, blankies and other toddler sleep aids along when you travel to help comfort your child at bedtime. Parents should also make an effort to stick to the same bedtime routines followed at home. Familiar objects and activities provide young children with the reassurance and security they need to handle change successfully.

Children feel secure when things are the same (one reason they love to hear the same story over and over again). Recreating even a portion of your toddler’s normal home sleeping environment when traveling will help make your child feel safe and allow him to relax at bedtime. You’ll definitely want to pack your Nighty Night video and CDs when you travel. Watching the Nighty Night video of sleepy baby animals and listening to the soothing melodies on the Nighty Night CDs just like you do every night at home will help your child relax and fall asleep just like he does at home.

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An Easier, Gentler Way to Sleep Train Toddlers

If the Cry It Out method of toddler sleep training is turning bedtime into bedlam or the Sleep Lady method is infringing on the few precious hours of adult time you count on each night to relax and recharge, there is a kinder, gentler third method of sleep training for toddlers — the Nighty Night method of sleep training.

Recommended by Dr. Phil on his television show as toddler sleep aids that work (click the link to watch the program clip), Nighty Night products are a fast, easy and enjoyable method of toddler sleep training that is earning praise from grateful parents.

Here’s how it works: After the normal bedtime routine, dim the lights and cuddle with your child while you watch the Nighty Night video together. As you begin toddler sleep training, lie on the bed with your child or hold him on your lap during the video. As sleep training progresses, encourage independent sleeping by sitting in a chair next to your child’s bed.

The darling baby animals will immediately engage your toddler’s attention. As each baby animal yawns and settles in for sleep, your child will also relax and become drowsy. When the 20-minute video ends, kiss your child goodnight and turn on the Nighty Night CD as you quietly leave the room. The soothing melodies on the CD will help your child remain relaxed and drift off to sleep.

With Nighty Night toddler sleep aids there are no more bedtime tears or long goodbyes; just sweet dreams.

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How to Sleep Train Your Toddler

Children need about 12 hours of sleep a day to promote healthy growth and development but making sure your child receives the sleep he needs can be a nightly challenge. As babies move into their early toddler years it can be difficult for children to shut out all the exciting stimulation that fills their world and settle down for sleep. Beginning toddler sleep training when your child is young (typically at 4 to 6 months of age) can help your child develop important life-long sleep skills.

There are two primary methods of toddler sleep training: The Ferber or Cry-it Out Method (see our previous post) and the Sleep Lady Shuffle. Considered less traumatic than allowing children to cry themselves to sleep, the Sleep Lady Shuffle is based on the belief that children need the comforting presence of a parent at bedtime.

Here’s how the Sleep Lady Shuffle works: After completing the established bedtime routine (bath, story, etc.), the parent places the child in bed and says goodnight. The parent then sits quietly in a chair near the crib but does not engage the child. The parent only picks up the child if his crying becomes frantic. After comforting, the child is returned to bed.

Every 3 to 4 days, the parent moves his chair closer to the doorway, then in the doorway, then into the hall and eventually out of the child’s sight. The gradual distancing shows the child that even if he cannot see or hear his parents, they are still there.

Next time: A new method guaranteed to succeed


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Two Popular Methods of Toddler Sleep Training

Sleep training during your child’s early years sets the stage for good lifelong sleep habits. Once your baby is able to sleep through the night (typically between 4 and 6 months), parents can introduce sleep training. As your child moves into his toddler years, toddler sleep training ensures that your child receives the sleep necessary for healthy growth and development.

There are two primary methods of toddler sleep training:

The Ferber Method, or Cry-it-out method, has fallen out of favor recently but is not as cruel as parents think. The method is based on the belief that children can learn to self-comfort and fall asleep if given the opportunity.

Here’s how the method works: After following the established bedtime routine and tucking their child in at night, parents are encouraged to ignore their child’s crying. The common misconception is that parents should allow their child to cry until he cries himself to sleep no matter how long it takes.

Actually, the Ferber Method recommends that parents tuck their child in, tell him it is time for sleep and leave the room. If the child cries, parents should return at regular intervals to reassure their child, again tell the child that it is time for sleep and leave the room. As toddler sleep training progresses, the length of the return intervals is gradually increased.

To work effectively, parents must be able to discern the difference between cries for attention and cries of distress, to which parents should immediately respond.

Next time: Sleep Lady Shuffle

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What Is Toddler Sleep Training?

Sleep training begins when you bring your baby home from the hospital for the first time. During your child’s first months, it may seem more like you and your spouse are the ones being trained as you awaken night after night for midnight and 3 a.m. feedings; but, in fact, you are beginning to set the stage for the development of effective bedtime behaviors.

As your infant grows and is able to take in enough nourishment to supply his body for gradually-lengthening periods of time, the nighttime emphasis shifts from feeding to the establishment of bedtime routines that will ensure that your child receives an adequate amount of sleep every night. Your response to your child’s demands for assistance or attention at bedtime and through the night mold his behavior during his sleep hours.

Nightly repetition of the same parental response every time a child’s sleep is disturbed and he cries out at night forms a dependable pattern of predictable behavior, training your infant to respond to nighttime awakenings in a certain way. When baby sleep training is performed effectively, the parents’ nighttime responses teach the child to comfort himself if he awakens during the night and fall back asleep without his parents’ continued intervention.

This baby sleep training sets the stage for the development of lifelong sleep habits that become more firmly established during your child’s toddler years.

Next time: Two popular methods of toddler sleep training


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