My sister and I moved the bunk beds so that we could watch television as it was reflected in our mirror from my parent’s bedroom. We would watch hours of Nick at Nite only to wake up cranky and unrested in the morning. In middle school, I would hide the phone (when phones still had cords) under my blankets waiting for a friend to call, quickly picking up on a half-ring, and then whisper for hours about nothing in particular. Going to bed was the worst.
Think back to when you were a child; did you dread taking a nap or going to bed? What makes children fight tooth-and-nail against sleep? According to Heather Turgeon, co-author of THE HAPPY SLEEPER: The Science-Backed Guide to Helping Your Baby Get a Good Night’s Sleep—Newborn to School Age, parents often unintentionally present sleep as a negative consequence of unwanted behavior or as a chore that we are all required to do, not as a luxurious or healthy experience. How many times have you said (or been told as a child) to “go to bed!” or “if you don’t clean up your toys, you are going straight to bed!” Turgeon suggests that we need to rebrand sleep for our children and market it as a positive experience by discussing facts about sleep during the day and changing how we talk about it in general.
Annie Murphy Paul, author of Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives, points out that we tell children why they should eat their vegetables, but we do not explain to them why a good night’s sleep is important. She goes on to state that many parents are misinformed about how much sleep their child actually needs per night and that the average preschooler needs 11 – 13 hours.
Both Turgeon and Murphy Paul agree that making the time before bed a calming ritual of bedtime stories and cuddling and by letting your children know that you are looking forward to going to bed yourself, we can shift how bedtime is perceived and hopefully help our children understand and look forward to drifting off to dreamland.
To read more about the how to market sleep to your child in a positive way, please click the following links:
- Sleep’s Marketing Problem: You ‘Have To’ Go to Bed., The New York Times
- We Tell Kids to ‘Go to Sleep!’ We Need to Teach Them Why., The New York Times
- Evaluation of Sleep Education Program for Low-Income Preschool Children and Their Families, Sleep: A joint publication of the Sleep Research Society and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
- Make Sleep the “Good Guy,” Positive Parenting Solutions