Posts Tagged ‘sleep’

Learn how to put your baby to bed safely

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Did you know SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between 1 month and 1 year of age? SIDS stands for sudden infant death syndrome, but can also be called crib death. SIDS is the unexplained death of a baby younger than 1 year old and can happen without warning to a baby who seems healthy.

While we don’t know what causes SIDS, we do know that some things increase the risk of SIDS.

SIDS is more likely in a baby who:

  • Sleeps on his tummy or on his side.
  • Sleeps on pillows, soft surfaces or soft bedding.
  • Wears too many clothes to sleep or sleeps in a room that is too hot. These things can cause your baby to overheat.
  • Shares a bed with you. This is called bed-sharing. It’s when you and your baby sleep together in the same bed. Half of all babies who die of SIDS are babies who share a bed, sofa or sofa chair with another person. The American Academy of Pediatrics (also called AAP) recommends that you and your baby sleep in the same room, but not in the same bed, for the first year of your baby’s life or at least for the first 6 months.
  • Is swaddled for sleep and rolls over on his tummy. Swaddling is when you snuggly wrap a thin blanket around your baby so that it covers most of his body below the neck. It’s safe to swaddle your baby until he can roll over.  When he can roll over, stop swaddling.
  • Has parents who smoke, drink alcohol or use street drugs. 

How can you put your baby to sleep safely?

  • Put your baby to sleep on his back every time until he’s 1 year old.
  • Your baby should sleep on a flat, firm surface, like a crib mattress covered with a tightly fitted sheet. Use only the mattress made for your baby’s crib.
  • Dress your baby in light sleep clothes. Remove any strings or ties from his pajamas and don’t cover his head. A blanket sleeper can help keep your baby warm without covering his head or face.
  • Put your baby to bed in his own crib or bassinet. Don’t bed-share.

What products can help lower a baby’s risk?

Giving your baby a pacifier for naps and at bedtime may help prevent SIDS. But if your baby doesn’t take a pacifier, don’t force it.

There are also products on the market such as special mattresses or wedges that are supposed to reduce a baby’s risk of SIDS. The AAP says not to use these products – there is no evidence they help prevent SIDS. For the same reason the AAP also advises against using home cardiorespiratory monitors as a way to reduce SIDS.

In honor of SIDS awareness month, take a minute to learn more about safe sleep for your baby. Have questions? Text or email us at AskUS@marchofdimes.org.

Pregnant in the heat – can I get some sleep?

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

sleepingAs your belly is getting bigger, and the temperatures get hotter, your hours of sleep may be getting smaller. Lack of sleep is a common complaint we hear from pregnant women. Trying to get comfortable, rearranging pillows and having to get up to use the bathroom are only a few of the culprits that can cause lack of sleep.

But getting a good night’s sleep is crucial– just as important as eating nutritious food and drinking enough water. Eating, staying hydrated and sleeping are the foundations to good health and a happy pregnancy.

Trouble sleeping doesn’t just happen late in pregnancy; sleeplessness can happen right from the beginning. And if you’re experiencing hot summer temperatures and don’t have air conditioning, you may be feeling the heat, literally. No only that, the same pregnancy hormone that causes fatigue during the day can disrupt your sleep cycle at night. And if you have added anxiety or stress, this will only increase the problem.

So what can you do? here are a few tips to help you sleep through the summer heat:

  • The basement or bottom level of houses are usually the coolest – try setting up a temporary bed when the temps rise.
  • Wet a washcloth in cool water and place it around your neck.
  • Sleep with light, breathable sleepwear and sheets.
  • If you don’t have air conditioning in your house, use one or more fans to help you stay cool.

Between heat, bathroom trips and rearranging pillows, try to catch up on sleep where you can. Here are more tips on how to get your sleep in before baby comes.

For more information on how to get a restful night’s sleep, and when to see a doctor regarding possible sleep problems, see this handy guide.

Have questions?  Email or text AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Can sleep affect your child with special needs? Or you?

Friday, April 21st, 2017

dad-and-daughter-asleep

Quick answer…YES. Sleep is more than, well, sleep. It is restorative and essential to a healthy life. It is as important as water, food and air. For a child with special needs, it can make the difference between an “okay day” and a horrible one.

What does sleep do for your child?

A study in Pediatrics revealed that “Children with non-regular bedtimes had more behavioral difficulties…Having regular bedtimes during early childhood is an important influence on children’s behavior.”

Non-regular bedtimes can disrupt your child’s behavior because it interferes with a body’s circadian rhythms (sleep cycle). It may also result in sleep deprivation, which may then negatively affect the part of the brain responsible for regulating behaviors. But, when children with non-regular bedtimes changed to regular bedtimes, parents reported positive changes in their behaviors. (Yay!)

Sleep also helps a person…

• get to and maintain a healthy weight

• stay healthy (you get sick less frequently)

• grow (if you are a baby, child or teen)

• lower your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes

• boost your mood

• think clearly, be more focused, and sharp

All of these benefits will allow your child to feel happier, do better at school, avoid injuries and be at his best – and that includes being better behaved.

For adults, the benefits are the same, making you more efficient at work, more energetic, less likely to make mistakes, and able to maintain a positive outlook. It also helps you to maintain patience – something needed when you are dealing with babies, children or teenagers, with or without special needs.

How much sleep do you really need?

• newborns need 16 -18 hours of sleep each day

• preschoolers need 11-12 hours per day

• school-aged kids need at least 10 hours

• teens need at least 9 hours of sleep each night

• adults need about 7-8 hours of sleep each night (some people need more, some less).

Note the words “at least,” as there are many kids who need much more sleep in order to function properly, depending on their lifestyle and medical condition.

What happens if you don’t get enough sleep?tired-family-in-car3

Children and teens need sleep to help their bodies grow. Cells regenerate at night during sleep. By not getting enough sleep, the hormone balance in a child will be thrown off. Without adequate sleep, a child’s immune system will have a harder time fighting off germs and diseases.

If you don’t get enough sleep, your “sleep debt” will increase to a point when you will need to make up for the lost sleep. If you do not get the sleep you need, your body won’t operate as it should. Your judgment and reaction times will be negatively affected. This can be dangerous for adults, especially if you are caring for an infant or child, or you are driving a car. Lack of sleep and driving is risky – it is as dangerous a combination as drinking alcohol and driving!

Where can you get more info?

For information on how to get a restful night’s sleep, sleep tips for children and adults, and when to see a doctor regarding possible sleep problems, see this handy guide.

If you are pregnant, you may have trouble finding a comfortable sleep position. Try sleeping on your left side with a pillow between your legs. Here are other tips.

Bottom line

Sleep is not a luxury; it is a necessity. By keeping a regular bedtime, your child’s health and behaviors may improve. Think of sleep as an essential nutrient (like a vitamin). Then, you may be able to make sleep one of the priorities in your life.

If you and your little one get the sleep you need, you will see and feel a positive difference.

Have questions? Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org

For additional information on parenting a child with special needs, see our series on Delays and Disabilities.

Sleep soundly knowing your baby is sleeping safely

Monday, April 17th, 2017

back to sleepNewborns sleep a lot, about 16 hours a day. It’s safe to say that sleeping is a big part of your baby’s life. So as your baby drifts off, dreaming of your cuddles, be sure she’s sleeping safely. Safe sleep can help protect your baby from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

Here are some tips:

  • Back to sleep: always put your baby to sleep on her back on a flat surface.
  • Share a room with your baby but don’t share a bed. Make sure your baby has her own crib or bassinet to sleep in.
  • Besides your baby, the bassinet or crib should be empty. Crib bumpers, loose bedding, toys and stuffed animals can be dangerous and lead to suffocation.
  • After you and your baby have established breastfeeding (around 4 weeks) give your baby a pacifier for naps and at bedtime. Pacifiers may help protect against SIDS. If your baby doesn’t want a pacifier, don’t force it. If the pacifier falls out while your baby is sleeping, that’s OK.
  • Thinking of a cardiorespiratory monitor? These monitors track a baby’s heart rate and breathing, and in rare cases a baby may need this kind of monitor for medical problems. But there is no evidence these monitors help reduce the risk of SIDS in healthy babies.
  • Dress your baby in light sleep clothes. A blanket sleeper, a kind of clothing just for sleeping, can help keep your baby warm without covering his face or head. If your baby is sweating or her chest feels hot, she may be overheated.

If you are worried about your baby’s sleep, talk to her health care provider.

Have questions? Email or text us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Eat, sleep, and repeat

Monday, March 7th, 2016

sleepAs your belly is getting bigger, your hours of sleep may be getting smaller. Lack of sleep is a common complaint we hear from pregnant women. Trying to get comfortable, rearranging pillows and having to get up to use the bathroom are only a few of the culprits that can cause lack of sleep.

But getting a good night’s sleep is crucial– just as important as eating nutritious food and drinking enough water. Eating, staying hydrated and sleeping are the foundations to good health and a happy pregnancy.

Trouble sleeping doesn’t just happen late in pregnancy though; sleeplessness can happen right from the beginning. The same pregnancy hormone that causes fatigue during the day can disrupt your sleep cycle at night. And if you have added anxiety or stress, this will only increase the problem.

This week, the National Sleep Foundation is celebrating its annual Sleep Awareness Week. If you do not get the sleep you need, your body will probably not operate as it should. Your judgment and reaction times may be negatively affected. Simple things like driving a car can be severely impacted with lack of sleep – it’s as dangerous a combination as drinking alcohol and driving.

So between bathroom trips and rearranging pillows, try to catch up on sleep where you can. Here are tried and true tips, which should help.

For more information on how to get a restful night’s sleep, and when to see a doctor regarding possible sleep problems, see this handy guide.

Have questions?  Email or text AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

The holidays are here…

Monday, December 7th, 2015

pregnant woman in bedBesides the usual stress of pregnancy and getting ready for your baby, the holidays often add more pressure, which can take a toll on your health. Feeling stressed is common during pregnancy, but too much can make you have trouble sleeping, have headaches or lose your appetite. High levels of stress that continue for a long time may cause health problems like high blood pressure, which can increase the chances of having a premature baby.

December is a very busy time: there are friends and families to see, holiday gatherings to attend, meals to cook, and gifts to buy. So much to do! During this time, remember to take care of yourself: breathe deeply, relax and concentrate on your pregnancy.

Here are some tips:

  • Keep moving. Exercise can help reduce your stress and prevent pregnancy discomforts. If you are shopping for gifts, walk an extra loop around the mall before you head out to your car. Park further away in the parking lot (this way you can also avoid some of the traffic of shoppers trying to park close to the mall entrance).
  • Holidays are a time for delicious desserts and heavy meals. Before you sit down and indulge in your family dinner, eat a healthy breakfast and lunch earlier in the day.
  • Extra sleep is important during this time, but taking breaks is just as important. If you have some free time between wrapping gifts, put your feet up, read a book or magazine, or watch a favorite TV show. Even just a 15 minute break can help you relax before your next task.
  • Ask for help. Holidays are a time of giving, but also receiving. Accept help when a friend or family member offers and ask for help when you are feeling tired or overwhelmed.
  • Cut back on activities you don’t need to do. Instead of spending time making a holiday dessert, why not have your favorite bakery do it for you?

Holidays can be stressful, but remember to take time for yourself.

Have questions? Email AskUs@marchofdimes.org

Need to catch up on your zzzz’s?

Monday, November 30th, 2015

sleepingYour baby hasn’t arrived yet, so why is it so hard to get enough sleep? Getting up to go to the bathroom, heartburn and having to adjust pillows to find a comfortable sleep position are just a few of the discomforts of pregnancy.

If you’re like me, you may have spent most of your life sleeping on your back. But now that you’re pregnant, you need to adjust to sleeping on your side. The issue with lying on your back during pregnancy is that the weight of your uterus can flatten a major blood vessel that carries blood between your lower body and heart. It is better to lie on your side, especially the left side, which will promote circulation and help reduce swelling in your feet.

So how can you catch up on your sleep?

  • Reduce your stress before bedtime – try breathing deeply, closing your eyes or relaxing in your favorite armchair before bed. You can take a warm shower or bath before bedtime too.
  • Use pillows: between your legs, to support your back and abdomen, and to lift up your upper body if you suffer from shortness of breath.
  • Use your bed only for sleep- don’t watch TV or use your iPad while in bed. Keep the room at a comfortable temperature and try using a noise machine to block out other sounds.
  • Go to bed earlier – you need as much rest as possible.
  • Avoid drinking fluids right before bedtime. If you suffer from heartburn, try to eat your last meal a few hours before going to sleep.
  • Exercising during the day can help you get a better night’s sleep, but don’t exercise too close to bedtime or it may make it hard for you to fall asleep. Read about our tips to stay active.

Your baby will be here before you know it. Take this time to grab a few extra zzzz’s whenever possible.

Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Research shows a consistent bedtime routine helps children

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

parents reading to child“Dinner, bath, books, bed.” That was my mantra when my kids were little. They knew the routine once I started getting dinner ready. The moment the dishes were in the dishwasher I would bring them straight upstairs to get ready for bath time, and to pick out a book. Once the story was read, it was time to hop into bed.

It helped ME to keep them in this routine. (After all, a mom needs to be off-duty, too!) And now, new research has shown that it helps KIDS to have a consistent bedtime routine, as well.

In a multinational study, mothers of 10,085 children (from infants to age 5) in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom and the United States were surveyed about their children’s sleep habits – both daytime naps and nighttime. They completed a questionnaire which was then analyzed by the researchers.

The results?

The children who had a consistent bedtime routine slept better, longer, and woke up less during the night. They also fell asleep sooner than those who did not have a consistent routine.

Parents reported fewer behavior problems the next day in the kids that had a consistent bedtime routine. (I know that if I have not had a decent night’s sleep, I can be grouchy and irritable the next day. It seems reasonable that the same would be true for our kids.)

It is interesting that the results were consistent across many different countries. Kids are kids, no matter where they live. They all need good, solid, restorative sleep. These data suggest that a bedtime routine can be key in helping your child sleep well every night.

More good news

It is never too late to establish a routine. Also, this study suggests that the younger your child is when you start, and the more consistent you are with keeping up with the routine, the better the outcome will be. Plus, reading to your child has many known benefits for language development.

Do you have a bedtime routine for your child? How is it working?

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org

See other topics on how to help your child, here.

 

 

Sleep during pregnancy

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

sleep2Almost all pregnant women have sleep problems at some point. Nausea, difficulty finding a comfortable position, having to get up umpteen times to pee, etc. all contribute to problems in Slumberland. Here are a few positioning tips:
Avoid sleeping flat on your back.
• This position puts the full weight of your uterus on your back and on the major vein that carries blood between your lower body and heart.
• Sleeping on your back can increase your chances of getting backaches. It can also aggravate digestive problems, heartburn and hemorrhoids.
• Try to get used to sleeping on your side, particularly on your left side. This position can improve your circulation and help reduce swelling in your feet.
Use pillows.
• Tuck one pillow between your legs.
• Use more pillows to support your back and abdomen.
• If you suffer from shortness of breath or heartburn, use pillows to lift up your upper body.

For more tips on getting through the night, or nap, read our information on sleeping problems.

Sleeping in this heat

Friday, July 19th, 2013

hotAs far as the temperature goes, it’s disgusting outside. How can we sleep in this heat? I have some friends, who do not have air conditioning in their home, who have made a bit of a relief adventure for their kids. They set up cots in their basement where it is much cooler. They’re pretending they’re camping out. It helps that their freezer also is in the basement and that it’s loaded with ice pops!

When it’s hazy, hot and humid it’s perfectly fine to let your baby sleep in just a diaper. No extra clothing needed when it’s really brutal. BUT, if you camp out in your basement where it’s cool and sometimes damp, or you have the air conditioning cranked up in your home, you’ll want to check your kids before you hit the sack. It’s possible that adding a Tee shirt or a light blanket might be in order. Once the temp drops at night and the AC has cooled away the dragon breath of the day, it’s quite possible to get a little chill in the wee hours of the night and early morning.

Good luck with your Zzzzzzs.