3 Week Old Baby Stays Awake For Hours At Night Sleep Issues for Visual-Spatial Kids

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Sleep Issues for Visual-Spatial Kids

When I was pregnant with our first child, someone gave me a card that I have never forgotten. It read: “Having a baby is Nature’s way of telling you that you sleep too much!” In the thirteen years since, there have been many nights I’ve longed for an evening of children getting ready for bed without incident, quietly dosing off, staying blissfully asleep through an uninterrupted night and waking up — as a family — thoroughly rested and ready for the day. Since I have been studying the characteristics of visual-spatial learners, those who think in pictures, not words, I have wondered whether or not sleep problems are more common among these children than among their auditory-sequential counterparts. Do your visual-spatial children struggle to sleep at night? Are they much “too wired” to sleep going to bed? Perhaps now that the left hemisphere of their brain is free to take a break from the school day, the right hemisphere is wide awake and ready to create inventions or go on imaginative adventures.

If your kids have trouble sleeping at night, I have a few tips that might help. First, your children need to understand how important sleep is for their body and brain. They may think they are fine without much sleep at night. But, if they really got the amount of sleep their body needed, every night, they would do better in school, sports, music–even their relationships with friends and family would improve. Each person’s need for sleep is different so there really aren’t any guidelines after childhood on how much sleep a person needs. However, if your children find themselves dozing off in class, or unable to focus clearly, they should start with an earlier bedtime.

Sleep researchers believe that sleep, especially deep sleep,

…allows the brain to review and consolidate all the streams of information it has gathered while awake. Another (study) suggests that we sleep to allow the brain to supply fuel and dispose of waste products. A third that has gained currency is that sleep works in some mysterious way to help you master various skills, such as playing the piano and riding a bicycle. (Time, December 20, 2004, Why We Sleep by Christine Gorman, pp. 48-49)

Researchers have learned that most mammals, including humans, switch between two different phases of sleep: REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM. It is during REM sleep that people experience increased brain activity and vivid dreams. REM sleep is critical for humans, but you have to go through the stages of non-REM sleep to get there. In fact, “your ability to recognize certain patterns on a computer screen is directly linked to the amount of REM sleep you get.” (Time, December 20, 2004, Why We Sleep by Christine Gorman, pp. 48-49) Also, learning something new just before your children fall asleep will help them remember that information better. So, any important studying for an exam should probably be done just before they go to bed.

Have you ever fallen asleep with a problem on your mind, only to wake up in the morning and have the answer? This is because your brain is still working, reviewing the day’s events, even though you are no longer conscious. You may be encouraging your children to “sleep on” an issue before making important decisions. They might be surprised to discover a solution overnight!

Once your kids understand the importance of sleep, how do you get them to sleep in the first place, right? Here are some tips to help your children become relaxed and calm enough to get a good night’s sleep:

1. Set their body clocks by keeping the same sleep schedule, seven days a week. Don’t let them try to catch up by sleeping late on weekends.

2. Create an environment that helps your children sleep, not one that keeps them awake. A cold, dark and untidy room should help. Eye or earplugs can also help.

3. No caffeine in the afternoon or evening. This means no soda pop or chocolate. They should avoid spicy foods and finish eating at least three hours before going to bed.

4. No computers, TV or arguments half an hour before bed. Research indicates that the body’s production of melatonin (which helps one sleep) is reduced by playing on the computer or watching TV.

5. Offer a snack before bed. Certain foods naturally trigger the release of serotonin, which helps induce sleep: a glass of milk, a piece of whole wheat toast with a slice of cheese, half a peanut butter sandwich, or oatmeal with bananas might do the trick.

6. Soothing music often helps, so are hot baths.

So, let’s say you finally got the kids to sleep. Now, how do you help them sleep? Snoring is an issue not exclusive to adults. As many as 12% of all children suffer from snoring problems, which can have a dramatic effect on their ability to get a good night’s sleep. And, when a child snores, new studies suggest, he or she has a better chance of failing in school compared to a child who doesn’t snore. “What research is showing now is that snoring can cause problems with behavioral problems, attention problems and difficulty concentrating,” says Dr. Norman Friedman, a sleep disorder expert at Children’s Hospital in Denver.

Both my children were prone to nightmares. Do your visual-spatial children suffer from nightmares that seem so real that they have trouble shaking them from their memory when they wake up? Such nightmares usually occur during the deepest part of sleep, REM sleep, and the type of sleep your child needs most. You might try using a dream catcher and hanging it above their beds. Dreamcatchers have been used for generations. Native American legend says that dream catchers sift through the dreams of the sleeping person, capturing the good ones and sending the bad dreams through the hole in the center. If it helps your kids drift into a deep enough sleep that nightmares aren’t bothersome to them, they’ll have done the trick!

Of course there are other sleep problems, including sleepwalking, sleep talking, sleepwalking and night terrors, to name a few. According to the website, Child Sleep Information for Parents and Teachers (www.sleepforkids.org), you should talk to your child’s doctor if any of the following are observed:

· A newborn or baby who is extremely and constantly quiet

· A child who has difficulty breathing or whose breathing is noisy

· A child who snores, especially if their snoring is loud

· Unusual night awakenings

· Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, especially if you experience daytime sleepiness and/or behavioral problems

Please visit the National Sleep Foundation for more on your child’s sleep patterns. And that’s before many restful nights!

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