The Whole Parent Podcast

Bedtime Battles #002

January 18, 2024 Jon Fogel - WholeParent
Bedtime Battles #002
The Whole Parent Podcast
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The Whole Parent Podcast
Bedtime Battles #002
Jan 18, 2024
Jon Fogel - WholeParent

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Facing the nightly challenge of tucking your little human into bed with their energy still soaring? You're not alone, and I'm here to guide you through the sleep-time skirmish. This episode unveils the art of navigating bedtime routines, offering comfort to parents and children alike. As we dissect the delicate balance of enforcing bedtime without igniting tantrums, our conversation uncovers the importance of sleep schedules, wake windows, and hacking naturally occurring brain chemicals! 

Every parent has felt the frustration of a child who just won't settle when that bedtime window slips by. We take a closer look at the science behind sleep—how missing the optimal time for slumber can lead to a surge in cortisol and epinephrine, kicking bedtime peace to the curb. With practical tips on timing adjustments and the reassurance that earlier bedtimes don't mean earlier mornings, this episode offers a new perspective. It's an insider's guide to syncing your child's sleep rhythms with their natural cues, ensuring the whole family gets the restful night they deserve.

But what about the monsters lurking in the closet or the imagined shadows that dance on the walls? We tackle the heart of nighttime fears that many children face. With empathy and patience at the forefront, we discuss how to establish bedtime rituals and environments that reassure and comfort. From transforming fear into silliness to customizing bedtime routines to each child's needs, this episode arms parents with compassionate approaches and long-term coping solutions. Join me as we turn bedtime from a battleground to a sanctuary, one peaceful routine at a time.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Loving the Whole Parent Podcast? Leave me a review!

For more on Whole Parent, including a link to join the membership click >> https://stan.store/wholeparent <<

Facing the nightly challenge of tucking your little human into bed with their energy still soaring? You're not alone, and I'm here to guide you through the sleep-time skirmish. This episode unveils the art of navigating bedtime routines, offering comfort to parents and children alike. As we dissect the delicate balance of enforcing bedtime without igniting tantrums, our conversation uncovers the importance of sleep schedules, wake windows, and hacking naturally occurring brain chemicals! 

Every parent has felt the frustration of a child who just won't settle when that bedtime window slips by. We take a closer look at the science behind sleep—how missing the optimal time for slumber can lead to a surge in cortisol and epinephrine, kicking bedtime peace to the curb. With practical tips on timing adjustments and the reassurance that earlier bedtimes don't mean earlier mornings, this episode offers a new perspective. It's an insider's guide to syncing your child's sleep rhythms with their natural cues, ensuring the whole family gets the restful night they deserve.

But what about the monsters lurking in the closet or the imagined shadows that dance on the walls? We tackle the heart of nighttime fears that many children face. With empathy and patience at the forefront, we discuss how to establish bedtime rituals and environments that reassure and comfort. From transforming fear into silliness to customizing bedtime routines to each child's needs, this episode arms parents with compassionate approaches and long-term coping solutions. Join me as we turn bedtime from a battleground to a sanctuary, one peaceful routine at a time.

Jon Fogel:

For whatever reason, we just didn't go to sleep, and that probably means that we couldn't go to sleep, that we didn't get back to a safe place, for whatever reason. Our evolutionary survival instincts, when we miss our sleep window, then go okay, if we're staying up, we're staying up, all right. So today's topic on the Whole Parent podcast is definitely a favorite of people who ask questions. We definitely don't have a majority of people who ask questions on a specific topic, but if there was one topic that is asked about more than almost any other, it would be bedtime, and so today we're going to be tackling three bedtime questions. By no means is this going to solve all of your bedtime issues, but I think we've picked three questions that really hit different things and really common denominators among many of the parents that are either in the membership with me or who just reach out through DMs or email, who are on the email list, and so the first one comes from Lisa, in San Francisco. She says hi, my name is Lisa, my child's name is Emily and she's four years old. Lately I've been struggling with her testing boundaries, especially during bedtime. She refuses to go to bed on time and it turns into a nightly battle. Emily insists on staying up later and when I try and enforce bedtime she throws tantrums. It's becoming exhausting, and can you offer some guidance on how to handle this defiance during bedtime with a preschooler without making it a nightly meltdown? And I'll say we don't make it a nightly meltdown, but how about without making it a nightly battle? We can't always control the meltdowns that our kids will have. We can definitely do some things and we're going to get into that right now. Lisa, wherever you are in the world probably San Francisco, unless you're traveling when you hear this we're going to get into that. If you have a young one, whether two, three, four, five, six, and they're struggling with bedtime, a lot of the stuff that we're going to talk about right now is going to help.

Jon Fogel:

The first thing that I would identify with a four-year-old and this is pretty important, obviously, the nature of the questions coming in is that I don't have an opportunity to ask a clarifying question. If Lisa is in the membership which she's not, and she asked me this question on a group coaching call the first thing that I would ask is is Emily still napping? Because this is a question for four-year-olds, I would say I don't know the exact statistics on this, but there is a not small percentage of four-year-olds who nap sometimes or all the time. Certainly, if Emily was three, if we were having this conversation a year ago, that would be my first question Is Emily still napping? And the reason why I ask that question is that one of the things I'm going to suggest in my answer here is that we might need to move Emily's bedtime up. We might need to make Emily's bedtime earlier, and I'll explain why in a moment. But if Emily was still napping, I would actually have the reverse advice, which is we might need to make Emily's bedtime a little bit later.

Jon Fogel:

And this is because, by and large, you can get away until about age six or seven with a seven o'clock bedtime, with one exception and we're not really talking about kids under the age of six months or nine months, because they may not have a really consistent bedtime schedule when exactly they're falling asleep. But certainly kids, let's say nine months to a year, all the way up to seven years old. That's just the number I use, because seven until seven, that's kind of how I frame that. It's an easy thing to remember. With all things. These rules are not hard and fast. Might be seven, 15, might be six, 45, depends on your kid, but seven before seven is a general rule that I use for many parents, with one very significant exception. There are kids who are over the age of three who are still napping for at least one hour to 90 minutes a day. And this is because I've talked to so many pediatric sleep specialists, so many sleep specialists who talk about this phenomenon of being under-tired.

Jon Fogel:

And the reason why I'm starting with under-tired before I go to over-tired is because all of us have this is what we all assume it is. Before we learn about over-tiredness, we learn about how the body functions and how the body winds down, et cetera. What we assume when we try and put Emily down at you know, let's say, seven o'clock, we I don't know you didn't say exactly when the bedtime is, lisa, but we'll assume that it's later than seven. When we put Emily down, let's say it's seven forty five right, or seven thirty. That when we're trying to put Emily down at seven thirty and she doesn't want to go down and she fights and she throws tantrums and she's always trying, she insists on staying up later. Is what you said in your question, that that it must be that she's not tired, that that that that it must be what it is.

Jon Fogel:

She's under tired, and that very well may be the case for kids over the age of three who are still napping for an hour to 90 minutes, to even two hours a day. Although many sleep Experts kind of go back and forth On what how long you should let your kid nap during the day or how late you should start their nap, I mean that's that's always a possibility to. You could start their nap a little earlier if it works for your schedule. Then they wake up. But this is because of what's called wake windows, and the idea with the wake window is that Kids who nap have a certain amount of time that they're triggered to start releasing sleep hormones, to get tired, to wind down, to go to sleep, based on a couple of different factors. One is routine. We're gonna talk a lot about that here in just a moment. Number two is the time of day. It is right how dark it is, or light it is, um, but also you know well how does that work, john, when they go down in noon, when the Sun is highest in the sky.

Jon Fogel:

Well, number three is what wake windows? How long have they been awake and with kids who are three, who are still napping, or even four, some kids a nap up until five, who are still napping, their wake windows get longer and longer and longer. And the reason why their wake windows get longer is Because their hippocampus, which is responsible for turning short-term memory into long-term memory, it's kind of their like short-term memory storage device and all of our brains. They're learning so much when they're so young that it gets filled up. It gets all filled up with new information. And when does the hippocampus turn short-term memory into long-term memory? Well, when they sleep, and so it gets all filled up during that wake window. They learn lots of stuff and they get all you know, all this new Wonderful information and all the neural synapse connections and neural pruning that's happening and all that amazing stuff that's happening in their beautiful, blossoming young brains. And they need to go to sleep for at least, you know, 30 to 45 minutes, a full sleep cycle, so that that information, all of that Learning, can be offloaded from the short-term to long-term memory.

Jon Fogel:

By the way, for those of you who Remember college or remember high school and cramming for a test, and you stay up all night, you never go to sleep people in all night or so you can cram for the test. The reason why many people do not wind up doing very good or very well, I should say on those tests is because they don't ever convert the short-term memory that they have just learned, all those short-term learning that they've made, into long-term memory. Why does this matter? Well, who cares if it's short-term or long-term, john? Well, we're really good at retrieving, not really good, I shouldn't say it in that terms. It are during the process of converting short-term memory into long-term memory. We organize it. We Imagine it's like a pile of papers on your desk and then they're all organized into the you know they're correct places and it's moved around to your brain and stored in different places. That's what the hippocampus does, among other things, the reason why when you're studying and cramming for a test and then you go and you can't seem to recall the right information For the right question on that anatomy quiz this was me, by the way, in college.

Jon Fogel:

I, for as much as you think I might know about anatomy and physiology now, or pretend you know, pretend to study those things extensively, at least that In college I was poor, awful at remembering and memorizing in that way, and a lot of that was because I tried to do all my Studying in the short term. I tried to study immediately before the test instead of the day before it's. I never organized that information in a way that my brain could recall. So this is why, by the way, three-year-olds, four-year-olds, two-year-olds, one-year-olds need a nap. They need a nap so that their hippocampus can turn, among other things. They also need rest and for other reasons, their brain also cleans itself at night. You guys don't know that, maybe, but that's a really cool function removes neurotoxins. That's not some woo-woo thing. That's that science. That's how it works.

Jon Fogel:

All that amazing stuff happens when they sleep is why little little ones need to sleep, and what can result is when you have a three-year-old who is really struggling to go to bed at night, it may just be that their wake window has extended and now you need to wait longer to put them down. This is why the three-year-old you know, three and a half year old four-year-old who's still napping for an hour to an hour and a half A day. You might need to put them down at 8 30 and that's something that you almost never hear me say in other contexts. But you might need to, because that might be their proper wake window. So that's under tired and that's possibility here.

Jon Fogel:

Emily, if you have a four-year-old who's still napping but more likely most I don't know if it's most four-year-olds or I don't know the exact, you know, percentage but Most likely if your four-year-old is not napping you're actually facing the opposite thing, which is your child is overtired by the time they go to bed. So what does overtired mean? Well, undertired is obvious, means that they're not tired, yet overtired is less obvious. It means that they were tired, you. And when they didn't go to sleep in what we call their kind of ideal sleep window, when their body was starting to wind down and prepare them for sleep, when they didn't go to sleep, what happened was their body started to for lack of a better term panic, because instead of falling asleep naturally and kind of listening to their body and going, okay, I need to wind down, or maybe their parents identifying some of the triggers, maybe rubbing eyes or yawning, or now I feel like I'm gonna yawn, or what have you? You know, different kids had different triggers, or just the right time of day. You just know that it's the right time of day and you put them down.

Jon Fogel:

When you miss that, their body decided hey, for whatever reason, we just didn't go to sleep, and that probably means that we couldn't go to sleep, that there was a danger, or perhaps we're traveling with our tribe or whatever. Remember, the brains are, even though brains of little ones are only a couple of years old and still developing. They carry with them evolutionary memory right, evolutionary survival instincts, and so one of those survival instincts is, when you don't go to sleep, within your wake window, the body floods itself with cortisol, which is the stress hormone, and epinephrine, which is adrenaline. And this is designed to help the body, which wants to go to sleep, and the brain, which wants to go to sleep, to stay awake, because you know there's a threat and we can't sleep right now. We didn't get home in time, we didn't get back to a safe place, for whatever reason. Our evolutionary survival instincts.

Jon Fogel:

When we miss our sleep window, then go. Okay, if we're staying up, we're staying up, and this is why you'll find a kid, by the way, and this is also why you get slap happy if you stay up a little too late and everything seems funny because you got a lot of adrenaline running through your veins. This is why so many parents report to me. You know, I just kept making their bedtime later and later, and they were just bouncing off the walls right, and in this case she throws tantrums. But it's not always tantrum. Sometimes it's just like I wanna play, I wanna play, I wanna play.

Jon Fogel:

If I miss my seven year olds wake window, by the way, or his sleep window, I should say, not his wake window. I'm talking about wake window, so I'm getting confused when I miss his ideal sleep time. He can stay up until 10, 11, even midnight. He can stay up so late when he usually goes to bed about 7, 15, 7, 30. And the reason he can do that, the reason he can stay up so much later, is because once his body decides we're staying up, the hormones kick in to make that work for him, and so it's cortisol and epinephrine or adrenaline, and so the first thing I would do, if your child is taking an app, would be to push bedtime back half an hour. The first thing I would do if your child is not taking an app is to push bedtime up half an hour Are you missing the wake window?

Jon Fogel:

And to say that sometimes that is all it takes and parents who have struggled with sleep, bedtime routine doesn't work, all this other stuff for years. It feels like maybe, or maybe only months I shouldn't exaggerate here but who have struggled for months, at least weeks, and we can't figure it out. We try everything and nothing works. But then they move their kid's bedtime up half an hour and boom like a light switch their kid's out in 10 minutes. It's been taking them an hour and a half to get their kid to go to sleep and they're out in 10 minutes. That's the magic of actually working with the body instead of against the body. The body sends the right sleep hormones, like melatonin, into your child's bloodstream at the same time or at a consistent time every day, and so in doing that, if you miss that, you're gonna be in for a world of problems. So again, it might be.

Jon Fogel:

There's so many more things here that we could say, lisa. We could go on. We could talk about bedtime routines as a way Of triggering sleep hormones, but the fundamental thing I would try absolutely first Taking a nap. Push it back half an hour. They're not taking a nap. Push it up half an hour. That still doesn't work. Push it up another 15 minutes Once you start getting this like six o'clock bedtime, then you know you're probably a little Something else going on and we got a, we got a reset and we got to figure out something else.

Jon Fogel:

But until you get to six o'clock, just keep pushing it up and Many parents will then say, well, that's impossible for my schedule or this or that. I know it's really, really hard. One more note on this before I move on. I know I'm spending a little longer on this question than I usually spend on questions, but, um, one more really quick note on this for those who are hearing this and going wait, wait, wait.

Jon Fogel:

John, I'm afraid that if I put my kid to bed at seven, when they have been going to bed at eight, thirty, nine o'clock, that all of a sudden you know they're waking up at seven right now. They're gonna wake up at six or five in the morning. This is a logical conclusion that you're making, but it's not grounded in actually what we know about sleep, and that is that sleep begets sleep. The better sleep that they get, the more you are in line with how their body wants to sleep, the more likely they are to sleep longer. So a child who who is getting up too early actually is often a child who is Having that cortisol and epinephrine in their bloodstream when they're going to sleep. So kids who wake up at 5 am Every morning some kids just do, by the way, it's not always a solution to solve that this way, but some kids who are waking up at five and who are very cranky and seem like they need more sleep, but they just wake up at five and what can you do?

Jon Fogel:

You put them to bed earlier, before their body tries to keep them awake, and they are able to sleep way later into the morning Because they're not fighting with those hormones. And so that's, that's just one thing. Parents always ask me but John, but John are. Is my kid then not gonna sleep in? Are they, you know, gonna start waking up at five or six? Many kids just wake up at six. Many kids just wake up at 6 30. That just might be that in the future for you. I'm sorry if you're not an early person. I wasn't, for seven years I learned, I learned how to be. Now my kids wake up at 6 30. I got to get up with them. But yeah, that's, that's, that's how I would respond to that.

Jon Fogel:

Hey guys, john here, interrupting myself with two quick things for you. The first is that if you're enjoying this episode about bedtime and how to help your kid to feel safe and have a good bedtime routine, please consider going in and on whatever podcast app you're listening to, whether it's YouTube or Apple podcast or Google podcast or Spotify. I'm reviewing this podcast, not just this episode, but reviewing this podcast. You can just, you know, hit that five star button if you're really feeling like this is Benefiting your life or, you know even better, write a full review for me. I read every single review that I get, so if you are listening to this and it's helping you, go ahead and review it. And then the second thing is to share this with somebody in your life who is a parent. Whether they're struggling or not, we don't always know but if you have another parent in your life of young kids, share this episode with them or just share this Podcast with them. There is no higher compliment that you can give me, no way that you can help me more Then simply by sharing this with other parents, because our goal, my goal is to spread the message of positive, conscious, gentle, authoritative parenting to the world, and the only way that I can do that is with your help. So go ahead, review this episode, write me a review. I will promise you that I will read it and then take this podcast either this episode or another episode that might be more Applicable to another parent in your life and share it with them. Thank you so much, and let's get back to the episode. All right?

Jon Fogel:

So the next question is from Michael. He says my daughter's name is Lily. She's five years old. Lately We've been facing bedtime challenges with Lily. Specifically, she's been having frequent nightmares. She's terrified of going to bed alone, wakes up crying, comes into our room, which is affecting everyone's sleep. We're not sure how to address the fear of bedtime and nightmares without making her more anxious. Can you provide some advice on how to help a scared child settle into bed, find peacefully and conquer their nighttime fears? That's a great, great question, michael, and something that many, many parents struggle with.

Jon Fogel:

The first thing that I want to say, before I get into anything related to this, is that we in the western world are fairly Unique in human history in the way in which our children sleep away from us. Now Don't hear me saying you try to advocate for Bed sharing and things like that. That's a whole separate discussion that I'm trying to have. What I'm saying is in throughout human history, humans have almost always slept in the same room with their young, not always in the same bed, frequently in the same bed, but not always, but almost always in the same room. And it's only in recent western history, you know, in the human, in the history, in the history of human evolution, if you broke it down into a 24-hour period, right in equal delineations, we've only been sleeping, apart from our kids, since about 11, 58 pm, if it's midnight right now, right, all a very, very small, tiny fraction of human history. And, by the way, Even today, internationally, there are many countries in the world, some of the largest countries in the world.

Jon Fogel:

We're sleeping in the same room as your parents is normal, but that is the typical, a way of things, and so this idea that our kids are afraid when they are away from us at night Is a typical and expected survival instinct that they really almost should have. Um, night time is vulnerable, right, we are afraid of the dark because our ancestors, who were not afraid of the dark, got eaten, and the ones who were afraid of the dark are the ones who survived. We have been afraid of the dark for a long time, before we had locks and security cameras and lived in generally safe environments and lived in homes that you know you couldn't a pack of wild dogs couldn't get into. We have only been safe enough to sleep away from our young for a very, very small percentage of human history, or had enough infrastructure to sleep away from our young for a very small percentage of human history, and our kids cannot be expected to just immediately adapt to that. So just begin from the perspective of understanding that it is normal and natural for your child to want you at night.

Jon Fogel:

That is a hard reality for many of us to swallow, especially those of us who live in the United States, where sleep training is very, very pushed as a. You know this is what we're supposed to be doing and you're supposed to be getting your kid totally independent from you at night. I understand why it does affect everybody's sleep. It's not fun. I'm not saying that there aren't cases where you need to do this, but do so with you. You need to approach this first with empathy, understanding that everything in your child's body is telling them do not be away from the grownups at night. That's just how their survival instincts have kicked in for the last you know, couple hundred thousand years.

Jon Fogel:

So, that being said, our job is to help our kids to feel safe, one of the ways in which we can help our kids to feel safe and some kids, by the way, are going to really struggle with this and some kids are not going to struggle with this. Some kids you're going to say it's safe and they're going to say, okay, and you might have three kids and all three of them do this differently. Some of them might say I had no problem with this and others might say, yeah, I really need you every night. My one year old doesn't really need us very much at night. Almost ever he can wake up, look around, he's fine, he's almost two, go right back to sleep. Our three year old goes through phases where he needs us, but for the most majority of his life does not. Our seven year old has needed us almost every night of his whole life. It's just a struggle for him. He is incredibly intelligent and that means that he is incredibly aware of how vulnerable he is while he's sleeping.

Jon Fogel:

There are kids who are just more anxious in that way and again approaching that with empathy For those kids who are highly sensitive to this or who are anxious about bedtime. I'm going to give you two tips as it relates to sleeping, nightmares, bedtime, etc. Tip number one, before we get into the nightmares, is that you need to develop a ritual with your kids where they know that you are going to be available, aware that they're sleeping, that you're not going to just blow them off, that you're not going to just leave the house while they're sleeping. It seems very obvious to us as adults that we won't do that, but our kids need to be explicitly told of that. A ritual that works really, really well for many parents is to either stay with them until they fall asleep, which is totally fine if that works for your family, great.

Jon Fogel:

If that doesn't work or, if you want to move away from that over time, to check in on them at regular intervals. Those intervals can be increasing in time, especially as your five-year-old becomes more accustomed to this. Hey, I'll be back in 10 minutes to check on you. Then maybe it's 12 minutes and then maybe it's 15 minutes and maybe it's in a given night. It starts at five and then it goes to 10, and then it goes to 15 and then it goes to 20. That's where it needs to be, so that they know you're going to be checking on me, I am going to be safe while I sleep. Either you're here with me, maybe they need you to be in another room, maybe they need to have a walkie-talkie.

Jon Fogel:

What I wouldn't recommend is Trying to give them something to do while they're falling asleep. That doesn't tend to work as well with kids as it does with adults, because our mind can get distracted by things and and then fall asleep. Sometimes there's it's much more difficult for them. Some kids it works for, but a lot of kids it doesn't. You can also have a nightlight, obviously. That's a really popular thing. Nightlights tend to not be really really great in the middle of the night. You know, if you have a lot of bright light shining in your kids room when they wake up between sleep cycles which, by the way, all kids, all, all humans wake up between sleep cycles it's this that we condition ourselves to kind of Not worry about that and go back to sleep. A lot of bright light can can kind of Stimulate them to get up and to come looking for you. And so, having a nightlight that may be on. A timer goes off after an hour or so after they're asleep. That might be a helpful kind of in between, but checking on them is just a big piece, because it just says, hey, I'm still here, you're safe, I'm not gonna let anything happen to you, your adults are still here, and some of their evolutionary survival instincts can kind of just be eased then.

Jon Fogel:

The last thing I'll say about nightmares is that the easiest way to Help a kid with nightmares is to make it is to help them to use their imagination to Dispel their nightmare. What do I mean by that? Well, the reason why kids can have nightmares so much more and not all kids, but but why kids tend to have more nightmares than adults is not only because they're more vulnerable, but also because they have much more expansive Imaginations, and so that expansive imagination can be hijacked by themselves and Be used to kind of come up with terrifying images. My son said the other day that he was really afraid that a gigantic spider was gonna crawl off underneath this, his bed and that even if he, you know, punched it or killed it or whatever, he said that it would break into a thousand tiny spiders and they would crawl over me. I'm like man. If I thought that to myself while I was falling asleep, I'll be pretty scared too, right, but my imagination is not that expansive, but his is, because he's still little, and so the best thing that you can do is actually to have them leverage that same imagination to make whatever it is silly, to leverage humor as the Opposite, and I sometimes wonder if this technique, which is established in the scientific literature and in the parenting community and the Psychological community, is what inspired J K Rowling to write this into the third Harry Potter book, the prisoner of Azkaban, as the way of banishing a bogart which becomes your worst fear, is that you make your worst fear silly or ridiculous.

Jon Fogel:

And you say ridiculous Because actually this literally works on our brains. The very part of our brain that is causing us that's discomfort Can be the part of our brain that, just that, you know, puts us at ease by making that scary thing Silly. And so what I do when my kid has a nightmare is I go into the room and I say how can we make this silly? And I may, I'm very sure. I'm very careful not to make all of it silly Myself, because I don't just want to tell him how silly it is. I want him to make it silly. If I just tell him how silly it is, then I'm just not validating his experience of being afraid. If he Develops how, the way that it can be silly, then he actually can get through it much more practically and we're building lifelong skills. Right, you can do this too. You can look at a horrible, anxious, anxiety and producing situation at work and you can find the humor in it and it's an amazing tactic for for getting through that. I've had some really anxiety producing things happen at my other job right now. Awful man, so many cyclical thoughts, you know, intrusive thoughts. What's gonna happen? Is this gonna happen? Fear. I Just look at the humor and all of it and it's so, so helpful. Therapists have been doing this for a long time and so, especially the nightmares, this is a really effective tool.

Jon Fogel:

Alright, our final question for our episode on bedtime and I'm sure we're gonna have to have so many more episodes on bedtime over over time because we can't even, you know, begin to cover everything is from Megan. She says hi, my name is Megan, my, my child's name is Emma and she's three years old. I've been having a tough time with Emma's bedtime routine. It seems like every night, right before bed, she becomes incredibly wired and full of energy. She starts wrangling around the house bouncing on the bed and it feels like she's taking forever to settle down or go to sleep. I'm worried that she's not getting enough rest. Hey, can you offer some help as to what? What might help call my younger child down and establish a more peaceful bedtime routine for her?

Jon Fogel:

So, megan, first of all, everything that I said to Lisa at the beginning Overtired, undertired. I'm not gonna go back over it because it's very clear. Three year old, we very well might be, we just dropped our nap and we need to go to an earlier bedtime. Right, a three year old is the exception on both sides. So a three-year-old who's dropped their nap should probably be going to bed not at seven, closer to six, fifteen, six, thirty, and a three-year-old who hasn't dropped their nap might maybe more like eight, thirty or eight, even eight, eight, thirty, right, usually not nine more. By the time we get to nine. Now we're pretty pushing it. We should probably be putting them down earlier so that their wake window doesn't land there. So everything I just said there, right, if we're napping, we got to go to bed later. If we're not napping, we are better earlier. That being said, we also and this is why this is gonna help you, lisa, too right, you guys get a double whammy, you get a double response.

Jon Fogel:

Today we also can do some things that can help trigger those sleep hormones instead of getting triggered by those awake hormones. So Megan has kind of identified the perfect example of probably an overtired kid. My guess would be an overtired kid because it seems like, oh, she gets wired right before bedtime. That's because we just missed their wake window. It might be for Megan that we put him down 30 minutes earlier and it's boom, lights out, no problem, we're asleep real quick. But say that didn't work. Say we put him down 30 minutes earlier and we're still really really struggling. Well, sometimes we can actually or not? Sometimes we can actually help those sleep hormones to hit right at the right time, and so this is my rule about that, or this is my suggestion about that Every bedtime routine should be a minimum hear this a minimum of 30 minutes. So when I said we're gonna put our kid down at seven, that means bedtime routine has to start at the absolute latest at 6.30. And the reason for this is that when we develop an established bedtime routine, our kids remember the three reasons why our kid has their sleep hormones activated.

Jon Fogel:

This is very simplified. I'm not actually getting into all the science of how sleep hormones are triggered, but the three general rules. Right, light. So how much light is there? Is it daytime, is it nighttime? Can we put them in a darker room? We'll talk about that for the better in routine.

Jon Fogel:

Number two wake window. We've already talked about that a lot. Number three routine, so routine. The routine piece of this is number one having bedtime at the same general time every day, so the same physical time on the clock. That's really helpful, not just going with the sun, which I know a lot of families do, and they feel that that's successful. They're relying more on the light than on the routine.

Jon Fogel:

Some kids that work, some that doesn't, but being more strict and rigid about the actual bedtime time. That's number one. Number two to build a routine out that is the exact same every night, that is identical. So if we're gonna do bath, we're gonna do it every night. If it doesn't need to be part of bedtime routine, because we don't do it every single day, which is, by the way, okay if you don't bathe your kid every day, then don't make it part of bedtime routine. If you can't do it every day, don't do it as part of this routine, at least not for the first two to three weeks when we're going through this transition for Emma, as we're gonna try and have her get to bat a little bit quicker and without bouncing off the walls. So we're gonna develop a really simple bedtime routine. If you don't have one, you don't have to get cute with it. Daniel Tiger has a great one Bath time PJ's brush teeth story and a song.

Jon Fogel:

Cut out bath time. Out of that you get brush teeth or PJ's brush teeth story and a song. If you can stretch out that routine PJ's brush teeth story and a song or maybe there's a different piece of that, maybe it's three stories and no song, whatever it is to about 30 minutes, and then you keep it consistent you are actually going to train your child's body to tell when lights out are gonna happen, based on number one, the time on the clock. Number two, the wake window. Number three, the darkness of the space, right. So this bedtime routine should all take place in low light areas if you can. This can work for nap too, but you don't usually have to do that as much. Kids tend to be easier for nap generally not all kids, but most than bedtime. So low light environment at the exact same time every day and you're actually gonna, over time, train their body to anticipate when lights out is, and then their body will count backwards about 30 to 40 minutes.

Jon Fogel:

Sometimes it's only 15 for some kids who release hormones. Their hormones are released more quickly and if you were to spit test that kid, if you were to test their saliva, you would actually notice that the moment that bedtime routine starts, the sleep hormones that are going to help them to fall asleep, 30 minutes from them, then already start to activate. So sleep hormones are not like stress hormones. Stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, the things that wake them up, for them to be overtired, but also the things that send them into fight or flight. These are things that activate in our body in a split second, literally in less than a second Our body responds to the presence of adrenaline or cortisol. Sleep hormones are not like that. It's not an instantaneous thing. It takes time for our body to kind of feel those things and start to wind down, and so that's the importance of the bedtime routine.

Jon Fogel:

People don't understand why bedtime routines are important. But the reason why they're important is because it actually changes the physical chemistry of your child's body, the hormonal chemistry of their body. By doing the bedtime routine in this way, you set up the cascade of hormones to occur at the exact same time every day and it just makes your life a whole lot easier. It also removes all places from that routine for autonomy seeking behaviors, and this is another thing that happens with three year olds and four year olds and five year olds. They get into a no phase and an autonomy seeking phase and then that impacts and intersects with all aspects of their life. Well, one of the easiest ways to avoid a fight, a tantrum, a meltdown again this is for Lisa yes, you, and also Megan the easiest way to do that is to create a rock hard routine, because the child really has nowhere in the routine to have those autonomy seeking behaviors. Maybe they get to pick the book, like you can build some autonomy in. But if there's three books every night, then there's three books every night. If it's we read all the books that are in your bed, then it's we read all the books in your bed.

Jon Fogel:

Whatever the routine is, you're gonna stick to it rigidly. So you're gonna figure out a routine bath time, pjs, brush teeth story on a song. Maybe that's gonna be yours. Ours is pretty similar to that. I'll be honest, guys, with my almost two year old it's brush teeth, pjs, brush teeth. We read three or four board books real short, and I sing a song at the end and then we actually say good night to like different things around the room. That's like our little bonus one that we have, but you don't have to add to that. We do that and my kids out in 15 minutes every night People go that's crazy, john.

Jon Fogel:

You can't expect any every kid to do that. You're absolutely right. That never worked that well for my seven-year-old. Some kids are gonna be more difficult bed time routine. They're gonna require more coaxing. It's just gonna be harder for them. But my one-year-old used to not be like that. Not until we establish that very, very consistent bedtime routine and we could get those hormones working the right way when we're actually putting them down at the right time. Then all of a sudden to work. If I miss that by half an hour, guys, my two-year-olds bouncing off the walls if I mess up that routine.

Jon Fogel:

Now I can. I can vary it now because it's so rock hard set in stone for months, like two months now, that I can vary it and it's not gonna like totally throw them off. But if I vary it too much, if I try it like we were out late at a holiday party or something like man, I can't, just don't, I can't do any of it, it's just way too late and I just got to try and hit that sleep window. It's a crapshoot, it's a coin flip. Is this gonna go really off the rails? It's gonna be easy. You know, I try and do at least one piece of it, no matter what, and I always have to do PJs and brush teeth. Right, he's got a brush kids teeth. You're not brushing your kids teeth. That's a whole another podcast episode. But, um, but yeah, so that, so. So that's that's what I have for you.

Jon Fogel:

Those, those are kind of my three. How do we, how do we handle, you know, overtire, under, under, tired, what's that all about? What's wake windows all about? How do we deal with nightmares and fear and anxiety around going to be at bed alone? And then, last, how do we deal with how, why, what, what is so important about bedtime routines. If you do, if you knock out those three things about up to age seven, you're gonna have a really, really amazing, transformative experience asleep. You will find that so much of this, the things, can be handled by those simple things that we talked about today. So, yeah, that's it. That's what we got on sleep.

Jon Fogel:

Hey guys, just jumping in one more time to say thank you for listening to this episode and, once again, if you have not reviewed this podcast yet, please go ahead and do that. Hit that five star, tell me what you think of it. In the in the comments, I read every single review and One more little call to action here that I keep being told that I don't talk about enough, and it is my membership. I have a membership of parents, just like you, who are connecting around the issues and the types of things that I talked about here on the podcast. In fact, in that membership I do regular group coaching sessions that are just like this podcast, except for their live. They are live on zoom with me, where parents get to ask their questions. They don't have to wait and find out if I'm gonna listen or I'm. I always listen, but if I'm going to use their question for a podcast episode. They can get real-time answers for me in the moment and then have feedback and and and discuss things.

Jon Fogel:

We also do workshops in that membership. There's a kind of a robust community that we're that we're constantly working on to get more connection with, and it's hundreds of parents just like you who are just trying to do better. And so if you find value in this podcast, if the things that you hear from whole parent Whether an email list on this podcast, on social media or resume with you, go over to my stand store at any of the links in the link in the description of this podcast, at the links in any of my social media feeds, and Sign up for a month of that membership, it is going to absolutely change your life. So if you, if you want to connect deeper, if you want to go deeper with whole parent, that is the best way you can do it. All right, let's get to the next episode. You

Podcast Intro
Tantrums at Bedtime!
Interlude: Review and Share!
Helping Scared Child With Nighttime Fears
Establishing a Peaceful Bedtime Routine
The Whole Parent Membership