Boris Dubrovsky Ph.D., CBSM

Psychology of Sleep

Celebrate Baby Sleep Day

Pediatric sleep education improves children’s sleep and parents’ confidence.

Posted Feb 28, 2019

Photo by Persnickety Prints on Unsplash
Source: Photo by Persnickety Prints on Unsplash

“Sleep like a baby!” – say we when we want to emphasize the great quality of someone’s sleep. However, as all new parents are aware, a baby’s sleep is not exactly picture perfect. As many as 25-50% of preschoolers’ parents report sleep difficulties in their children, and sleep problems remain prevalent well into adolescence, contributing to various medical and functional issues. Fortunately, many pediatric sleep concerns can be resolved with education and behavioral changes. In a recently published study (February 2019), an educational video-based program targeting insomnia in infants and toddlers significantly improved several parent-reported measures of children’s sleep and parents’ ability to manage pediatric sleep issues. If you are concerned with getting a better sleep for your child, please take advantage of the opportunity to communicate with a panel of international pediatric sleep experts providing gratis online education and advice all day long on March 1, the annual Baby Sleep Day.

One great reason to invest time in your child’s sleep is to get better sleep for the entire family, especially for the new mother, whose sleep is continuously challenged since the beginning of pregnancy and for many, many months after delivery. Learning about successful ways to foster the appropriate development of sleep physiology from infancy to adolescence will help put the parents back into the driver’s seat of their family life.

Another extremely important reason is that good sleep practice, like other cornerstones of health, such as eating and exercise habits, will set your child on the right path for life. A baby is born with an immature neurological sleep system. Similar to other neurological functions we often take for granted, such as language or vision, the neurological function of sleep relies to a substantial degree on environmental input for successful maturation. Taking the precious time to provide the nurturing input for your child’s best sleep is the gift that will keep on giving.

And another far-reaching reason for fortifying your child’s sleep as early on as possible is that modern technology does create significant risks for healthy sleep. The brain simply has no neurological tools to cope with the perpetual presence of artificial light and perpetual connectedness to the digital universe. It does not mean that we have to abandon technology to be able to sleep. What we lack in neurological “hardware” we can compensate for by developing proper behavioral and cognitive “software” with education and guidance. Please give the experts a chance, ask questions, and give the gift of better sleep to the entire family, and maybe, as your baby grows up, to the future world.

References

Stevens, J., Splaingard, D., Webster-Cheng, S., Rausch, J., Splaingard, M., (February 2019). A Randomized Trial of a Self-Administered Parenting Intervention for Infant and Toddler Insomnia. Clinical Pediatrics, doi: 10.1177/0009922819832030.

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