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Helping Light Sleepers Stay Asleep

13 Ago 2014 – 02:33 PM EDT

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“Sleep when baby sleeps.”

I have a feeling this might be the most commonly uttered piece of advice given to pregnant women and new mothers. I know I heard it over and over when both of my children were small, however, it’s less simple to put into practice — especially if you have a particularly light sleeper on your hands.

Newborns are light sleepers by nature — their sleep cycles and circadian rhythms haven’t had a chance to develop on their own yet which means they don’t sleep like an adult, or even an older child. While our biological clocks are accustomed to a 24 hour cycle of day and night, light and dark, a newborn is more attuned to their tummy’s schedule. Essentially, they sleep less because they need to eat more!

However, whether you have a newborn, toddler, or school aged child at home — some kiddos just happen to be lighter sleepers than others. And this can mean less-than-restful sleep for mom and dad. So how do you handle the sleep habits of your kids when they don’t match your own? If you happen to have a light sleeper in your home, I do have a few tips and tricks that’ll help to keep your snoozers snoozing.

Swaddling & Tucking Tightly

We all know babies love to be swaddled and while it definitely helps newborns to fall asleep, it can also help them to stay asleep — at least between feeding times! For older babies, try tucking them in tightly to create that same secure atmosphere. Always be sure blankets are safe and not covering your child’s face, of course.

White Noise & Music

Despite following all the “rules” I heard about helping my kid to NOT be a light sleeper (like never keeping the house silent because then kids will wake up at any small sound) but it never quite worked out for me. However, I always found that keeping a fan, or music, or a white noise machine going in their rooms at night helped them to stay asleep longer — even through delivery men knocking at the door, unexpected guests, and late night thunderstorms. If you’re in the market for a white noise machine, which helps to block out those little every day/every night noises, look for one that can stay on all night, rather than a timer-based machine.

A Peaceful Bedtime Routine

For older children, you can begin to guide them into the evening hours by finding a bedtime routine that works for you. For example, start off with a bath, dimming the lights in your home, followed up with a baby massage, soothing music, and snuggles! Creating this routine with your older baby can help them get into a rhythms of bedtime, each step leading them closer to snoozing. This winding down helps them to fall asleep sooner, which means they’ll fall into a deeper sleep more quickly than a child who has had a more hectic pre-bedtime experience. Try this out in your own home and find out what works for you! This is also a wonderful way for your family to connect at the end of a hectic day — everyone knows it’s time to relax and be mellow!

Essentials Oils

Lavender is a magic sort of essential oil, if you ask me. This calming scent is not only great for creating a mellow vibe before it’s time for lights out, but it’s a great way to help kids stay asleep during the night. Try adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to your child’s bath before bed or adding a few drop to a facecloth placed under baby’s sheets. You can also use a diffuser to fill baby’s room with the gentle scent of lavender!

I think that helping your children to practice healthy sleep habits, even before they’re of the age to understand them, will set them up for a future of having a positive relationship with sleep.

My number one bit of advice when it comes to helping light sleepers to stay asleep? Just keep trying! Even if one of these tips doesn’t work for you the first time, don’t discount it. Kids go through rhythms and changes as they grow, and what once worked, might not again — and vice versa. Be flexible and stay positive. You’ll find your own way to help everyone in your house get enough sleep.

Wishing you a good night’s sleep!