Get Your Child to Sleep Through the Night Tonight!

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by Jenna Hall

Our 18-month-old recently started what we have affectionately dubbed ‘the midnight scream’. Every night around midnight, she wakes and screams for us to come soothe her back to sleep. With a newborn in the house waking us up every three hours, this nocturnal howl was stealing what little sleep we got. We tried the cry-it-out method, which didn’t work for our strong-willed tot, not to mention that her 3-year-old roommate started waking up too. Every night, the little screamer joined an already-crowded bed and partied every time the baby woke up to feed.
Our family was not functioning well.

A friend of mine was going through a similar version with her youngsters and she shared a valuable tip that changed our world.
Yes, changed our world.
Every night before she went to bed she would go into her children’s room and kiss them, rub their little faces, uncover them then cover them back up, and wake them just enough to break them out of their current REM sleep cycle. Once she broke that initial REM cycle, the child would start the process of a new cycle, magically skipping the middle of the night wake-up. Her non-sleepers were sleeping through the night.IMG_4802

I didn’t believe it would work and feared that my rustling would wake up our little screamer and she would end up in bed with us even earlier. But lo-and-behold, the first night we tried it, it worked. She didn’t wake up at midnight, and in fact, didn’t wake up until the morning. The first night we thought it was a fluke, but we did it for several more nights and it worked each time. The light interruption of the first REM cycle worked so well, that we started doing it to the older two children who also often made a midnight appearance in our doorway. And the one night we skipped the REM-breaking-rustle? Our little screamer returned to her midnight howl.

For this to work, we noticed that it was important to wait until a few hours after our children go to sleep. It could be as early as two hours later, but three seemed to be the magic number (but don’t wait up, just do it before you go to bed yourself). It is  important to barely wake them just enough, you are not rousing them out of sleep. For our son, he needs to roll over for us to know we broke his cycle, our daughter needs to flutter her eyes and look at us for a second, and the little screamer needs to flutter her eyes, roll over and bat our hands away before we know she has woken up enough. After we wake them just enough, they all easily fell right back into a deep sleep and seemed to stay that way for the rest of the night.

Try it! Let us know how it works for you!

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