Young 4 year old girl tucked in white bed sheets with head on penguin pillowcase fast asleep

Toddler sleep struggles

....guess what, they ARE normal.

 As a Mum, there are many times we are at our wits end when it comes to our kids and their sleep habits (or lack thereof!). I came across a great piece (that I have condensed) by @tracycasselphd, Founder of Evolutionary Parenting, that I’d like to share with you as food for thought:

Many parents report it taking a long time for children to fall asleep and tantrums around bedtime are frequent in many households.  But what if the problem isn’t behavioural?  What if it’s actually biological?  More specifically, physiological?  Research out of the University of Colorado, Boulder suggests that for some, there may be a physiological reason our toddlers struggle with sleep so much.  

A study looking at 30 to 36 month olds, researchers looked at a bedtime and compared bedtime resistance to melatonin levels (which are based on dim or dark light exposure).

The main finding was when parents try to put their kids to sleep to early, they also report far more settling difficulties.  Notably, the problems are not the child, but rather the expectation of an early bedtime by the parent.  Simply pushing bedtime back and letting children find their own rhythm may alleviate some of the night-time struggles parents have.  

This research counters that and suggests the struggles children have are due to a mismatch between their internal biology and the external environment, that is parent-set bedtimes and/or expectations of what times kids should go to bed and be asleep by.

For parents, the take-home message should be that if you’re struggling with your toddler’s sleep, especially sleep onset times and resistance, consider pushing bedtime back.  It may make all the difference.  

This is timely food for thought as we are coming up to Daylight Savings soon here in Australia and we know what havoc that causes with our kids sleep!

I’m interested in your thoughts on this. Let me know below.

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