So, I don’t sleep. Not really. Maybe 5 hours on a good night. Once I fall asleep, I am out for the night, but getting to sleep in the first place is a monumental task. First, a dab of Vicks Vapor Rub right under my nose for my chronic stuff-tiness. Then, adjusting temperature and fan exactly right. PJ seams lined up perfectly. Pillow One straight and firm with Pillow Two folded just so. Brown blanket covering me properly with toes peeking out for a little cool breeze and Blue blanket folded in perfect peaks over my head to block out light while still giving me enough air.
I roll over on my right side to get in the perfect sleeping position, and then….I wait. Wait and wait as my mind races through the day’s events, last week’s mistakes and decades old regrets. Meanwhile, hub is blissfully snorkeling away and has been since 9:30 p.m. Pushing aside my bitter jealously at his ability to sleep so easily, my thoughts slowly start to blur and sleep finally takes over. And that is if it is a good night.
It seems I am not alone with my sleep struggles. The CDC says that one third of adults and two thirds of teens are not getting the sleep they need. More disturbing is that two thirds of children are not getting enough sleep either. The researchers blame a lot of kids’ problems today on sleep hygiene – the nighttime rituals necessary to set you up for a good night’s sleep. Not the crazy maze of finicky tasks I describe above, but actions like turning off the TV earlier, not taking a tablet into bed, and enjoying a calming activity like a bath beforehand. Apparently, bedtime stories are no longer the norm and kids are staying awake with Spongebob, Gravity Falls and Paws Patrol instead of going to sleep with “Goodnight Moon” and Mother Goose.
Some parents are finding it hard to get their child interested in a “mere” book after being visually assaulted with exciting electronic images all day. But researchers suggest standing firm with your child, insisting that devices get turned off earlier in the evening, and pulling out a good bedtime story to read together. There are many new bedtime stories that are fun and interesting to read, and while they may not be as exciting as ninjas and superheroes, the mere routine of reading can help lead your little one fall into a sound sleep – and what is more exciting than a good night’s sleep? Try out a few of the books below:
“My Tail's Not Tired” by Jana Novotny Hunter. Little Monster tries to convince Big Monster that she is not tired enough to sleep and goes through wagging her tail, flapping her arms, and moving lots of other body parts to prove she is not ready for bed, but in doing so, she wears herself out and falls to sleep. I LOVE this book. The illustrations are ridiculously adorable but you will love it because your little one will wear herself out too.
“Nothing Can Frighten a Bear” by Elizabeth Dale. Baby Bear wakes up the whole bear family when he hears a scary noise. The family goes out into the woods to investigate and show Baby Bear that there is nothing to fear and that bears can’t be frightened. There is some suspense and a teeny bit of a fright, but the lesson learned is that Baby Bear was just scaring himself.
“Wide-Awake Bear” by Pat Zietlow Miller. In this lovely story, Elliot and his mother go into hibernation for the winter. Elliot images all the beautiful scenes he’ll see when they wake up to spring, but he just can’t get to sleep and gets nervous about the shadows he sees in their cave. Mother bear wakes up to show Elliot what the shadows actually are and to give him hope about the coming spring which helps him fall into a sweet sleep.
The Perfect Pillow by Eric Pinder. Brody is tossing and turning in his brand new big boy bed and can’t get to sleep. He and his stuffed dinosaur Horst travel around looking for the perfect place to sleep- from a squirrels nest to a cloud to a boat, until he figures out that the perfect place is his own bed with Horst.
For more sleepy time fare, come and visit the children’s librarians. They’ll help you find the perfect book to help your little one fall asleep. And the best part is that a bedtime story is a part to add to your sleep routine too.