5 Ways to Help Your Kid Get More Sleep

Mancub at age 10 sleeping on the way home from Arkansas.

Mancub at age 10 sleeping on the way home from Arkansas.

 

Remember the good old days when all you had to do was say, “Ok kids! Bedtime!” and your kids would happily obey, their smiling faces hugging and kissing you goodnight? Me neither. This has never happened in the history of the WORLD. If you have the perfect family that is described in this scenario, I dare you to drive to Texas and tell me to my FACE.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but getting your teen to bed is sometimes just as hard as it was when he was little…and teens are way sneakier than their cute toddler counterparts.It’s time to get ready for school, and your Mancub is not cooperating. You knock gently, then louder, to only hear a muffled noise that resembles English but makes no sense. It’s happened again, hasn’t it? When our kids grow into teens, it’s more difficult to enforce rules like bedtime. They have after-school activities, chores, social media, and friends to distract them from getting the rest they need. What can we do to help them without it turning into a confrontation? Here are five of my best tips.

1. Make a no-electronics in the bedroom rule at bedtime. No computers, TV, or cell phones within reach after a certain time. This way, when other kids text or Skype your kid, he won’t even know … hopefully  because he’s sleeping. I found it so much easier to get Mancub to bed once I moved the computer to the study. No late-night gaming unless I know about it.

2. Cut off the caffeine. It’s ok to tell your kid that one soda a day is a limit. It will help your wallet, too.

3. Give your Mancub the tools for a good night’s rest. Make sure he has a good mattress and pillow available. If you need to, skimp somewhere else on your budget so you can afford it. Teens need between 9-10 hours a night to keep up.

4. Keep the pets out of the bed. It’s proven that we can’t sleep as well when we’re joined by our furry friends.

5. Cut off screen time for at least a half an hour before your kid goes to bed. It’s proven that playing video games or the use of electronics stimulates the brain and makes it harder to wind down.

Just talking about bedtime is making me sleepy. See how well this works?

Do you have any tried and true ways to get good rest? Please comment below.

Sleep Studies and Stephen King

I don't know what the Chinese says here--it might be something about the effects of bad tacos

I don’t know what the Chinese says here–it might be something about the effects of bad tacos

Last night I didn’t sleep in my own bed. I PAID MONEY to sleep in a strange environment with slippery plastic pillows and a giant crucifix over my head. Part of the all-inclusive experience was that a man I’ve never met put globs of glue all over my head and face and stuck electrodes on me. It reminded me of a spa visit I took last year. Not really.

Before you ask, I was stone cold sober. I was told by my doctor, who specializes in Sleep Medicine (as if THAT’S a real job) that I needed to come be … well, studied. The assumption is that I stop breathing at night. Now let me tell you something–I’ve gotten forgetful over the past years (3 kids, a night-shift job and 6 years of college will do that to you) but it’s pretty bad when you forget to breathe at night.

I’m also told I snore. On the trip to Shanghai last year, my roommate kept screaming at me to “STOP” all night. I just thought she was having a bad dream about her little brother pulling her hair so I didn’t let it bother me. Either that or that she was crazy, so I didn’t want to be stabbed in the middle of the night so I just kept my cool. Turns out I was snoring at approximately the same decibel of a jet taking off. So—rry! Get some earplugs and get over it. Just don’t stab me.

Anyway, it turns out snoring (especially when it’s loud enough to frighten wildlife and cause people to become psychotic) is a symptom of sleep apnea, which is very serious. I could die. And not by stabbing.

A very pleasant respiratory therapist came in to put the globs of glue on and to hook me up to 75 wires. Then, after I was hooked up and had achieved the same wild-eyed look as Sylvia Plath after electroshock therapy, they told me to go to sleep. They turned off my movie (the last few minutes of the Green Mile) which ticked me off. It wasn’t even bedtime! Just five more minutes, Mom! I love this movie. And it was the part where John Coffey (like the drink, but not spelled the same) was watching the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie. I love that part! Stupid bedtime.

I know what you tired mothers are thinking. Wow, let’s listen to this woman cry about the fact that she was put in a quiet environment where she’s encouraged to SLEEP. Boo hoo! Next. Normally, I would agree with you. On any other day, I’d tackle the three old ladies in front of me like a wild linebacker just getting his chance to prove to the Coach that he’s worth his Wheaties.

Normally, I walk around in a continual twilight state of feeling as if I’ve been trampled by rabid antelopes in a Disney movie gone bad, so the opportunity to sleep always sounds good. Seriously. I have the energy of a ninety-year-old rock star who spent two decades partying and riding on buses all night–without the actual partying or buses, so believe me I want to slap me right now.

Did I mention that they put canula in my nose? I’m not sure what that was about. To hear my snoring? I’m sure that was SEXY. Did I mention the part where they use a night-vision camera to watch you all night in case you do something weird? Thank goodness they didn’t film me Wednesday night when I dreamed I was on an episode of  The Office and literally woke myself up (and The Engineer) laughing like a deranged hyena. That would have been a kick.

But I’m sorry–haven’t these people watched the Paranormal movies where putting a camera in the room automatically draws demons from miles around? Is that what they want? And believe me, they aren’t afraid of a little crucifix.

And guess what? There might be a part II to this blog entry because they said I am going to have to come back. I think I was just so entertaining that they are going to plan a staff party with me as the entertainment.

I’m so sleepy right now.