Are you the parent of a light sleeper? I often chat with parents who feel as though a lot of their child’s sleep struggles stem from the fact that they are woken very easily when they’re sleeping. So I wanted to address this in a blog post and talk a little bit about why this might be happening and what you can do to help them in order to ensure that they’re getting the sleep that they need.
The first question that I always ask parents is “how does your child fall asleep for naps and bedtime?” Do they need to be nursed, rocked or bottle fed to sleep? Do they often fall asleep in your arms and then you transfer them into their bed? You’ll want to look at what your child’s sleep strategies are and how they are getting from Point A, being wide awake, to Point B, being asleep. If they need your help to take this journey either some or all of the way, then if they were to be disturbed while sleeping by a loud sound such as an ambulance, laughing or a sibling screaming, then they will more than likely start crying almost immediately. They wake and are alarmed, not so much by the sound that woke them, but by the fact that they are not in the same position that they fell asleep in. You can’t blame them for that, any of us would be alarmed to wake up in the middle of the living room floor when we had fallen asleep in our beds, wouldn’t we?
If you have a child who has strong independent sleep skills that is able to fall asleep on their own in their bassinet, crib or toddler bed, then if they were to be awoken by a sound, they may recognize that they had woken up but would be comfortable in their surrounding and would be able to put themselves back to sleep without crying out for Mom or Dad to come and help them. They will be less bothered by environmental noises in general when trying to sleep.
That being said you should always be respectful when your child is sleeping; they’re asleep, not in a coma! Just like you or your partner would want things “quieter” when you’re trying to take a nap, you should give the same level of respect to your child’s sleeping environment. That doesn’t mean that you should tiptoe around the house though, if you’re doing that, then yes, most likely any loud sound will disturb their sleep leading to an unnecessarily short nap.
Sound machines can also help eliminate any wake-ups during nap time, the evening or early in the morning when others in your home may be awake, particularly loud toddler siblings when you have a baby trying to sleep. Make sure that if you are using a sound machine that it’s set to white noise (no obvious pattern with a beginning or end) and that it can play for the entire duration of your child’s sleep.
However, if your child can’t fall asleep on their own that is the best place to start to help your “light sleeper” sleep more soundly and get the rest that they need to thrive.
If you feel like you could use some support in doing this, I can help! Contact me today to set up a time to chat about your child’s specific challenges and how we together can gently guide them to be independent sleepers.