Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sleep Training

We're trying something relatively new with Elaine.  Sleep training.  Now, this isn't the typical let-her-cry sleep training, but giving her some skills to help her relax and fall asleep.  My hope is that she'll be able to use these skills as she gets older as well.  Both my husband and I have had trouble falling asleep at times in our lives and we didn't really have any skills to utilize.  Telling a 2 year old to "just count sheep" doesn't seem reasonable.  "1... 2... 3... 4...{giggle} 5... 6... 7... 8... 9... 10... {squeal} 11... 12... 14... 16... 17... 18... 19... um... 16... {jumps on bed}"  :)

So I stood by her bed last night and talked Elaine (and dad) through progressive relaxation and then we did deep  breaths until she fell asleep.  The whole thing took about 15 minutes: 6 for relaxation exercises, 8 for deep breathing and another few minutes of me hanging out just to be sure she was actually asleep.  (And all while swaying back and forth nursing a 3 week old.)  I'd like to have more relaxation ideas up my sleeve so I can keep going if she's clearly still going a mile per minute.

The ideas I used were from skimming the book The Floppy Sleep Game Book by Patty Teel.

There's nothing particularly novel about the book, but she used language that is appropriate for little kids and gives me ideas of exercises.  It's geared toward kids 3-8 years old so I had to adjust when I started using it with my daughter at 22 months.  Perhaps it was coincidence but she went from sleeping 5-6 hours in her longest stretch (then 2 hours, then 1) to 9 hours straight starting the first night we did the exercises. We didn't even use it long enough to get her to sleep, just to calm down and then got ready for bed. It seemed to make an immediate difference though.  But then I was pregnant and not able to lie on my back to do the exercises with her so that got put on the back burner.  We did do the exercises occasionally and her sleep stayed about the same (until we potty trained a month or two later) so it was still beneficial.

This was the first time we set out to actually do this until she fell asleep.  (Well, we tried it last week and it did work but there were exceptional circumstances where we thought my daughter was ill and needed to keep her away from new baby and mom and it worked, but it was not a normal night.  This was normal.  Or at least as normal a night can be with 2 little kids.)  I think we'll try to do this more regularly.  I'm not sure I'm going to use the "4-week plan" involved because that's not really my objective but I like the tools available.  I also think I'll buy the book now that I've checked it out from the library 3 times.  :)

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