When my kids were little the stars of “Sleepless in New Jersey,” I used to look forward to the annual National Sleep Awareness Week, because it made me aware there was sleep, even if I wasn’t getting any.
Now there’s a new study that explains why your toddler won’t go to bed: their body clock doesn’t match their bedtime.
This is exactly the kind of study that I would have read and re-read with the hopes of finding out the secret to getting my toddlers to zonk out and stay zonked out til at least dawn, so I looked into it for you, because you’re too tired to parse it all.
According to the Associated Press:
- Melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep (and also comes in a bottle at the health food store) tends to peak around 7:40 p.m.
Parent Translation: You have a half-hour to get them to bed before you miss the sweet spot in your toddler’s melatonin-drenched brain or you’re going to end up reading “Goodnight, Moon” 147 times.
- About 25% of young children experience some type of sleep difficulty.
Parent Translation: Your child is in the minority, which no doubt makes you feel like one very tired loser. If only there were a home melatonin test.
- But since you can’t test your toddler for melatonin levels, the researchers suggest that you look for “cues, such as yawning or rubbing eyes” to determine your toddler’s bedtime.
Parent Translation: Duh. If you’re one of the lucky parents who has kids who yawn and rub their eyes while they make their never-ending reading and water demands like tiny tyrants in soaked diapers, I apologize for even bringing this up.
- Other factors that can disrupt your toddler’s sleep include: noise, stress, anxiety, disrupted home routines.
Parent Translation: Also, the sound of the heater going on and off, the dog snoring, full moons, half moons, waxing and waning moons, air traffic, road traffic, the band Traffic playing on a CD player next door, the thought of there being just one cookie left and what if it’s not there in the morning and someone else eats it, rainstorms, holidays, Tuesdays, lost crayons, and nighttime.
Conclusion: Toddlers, like adults and teens, have natural body rhythms that appear to be affected by melatonin levels. Get over it, Mom and Dad.
Let me assure you, I feel your pain: