How to sleep better – children and elders alike

Axelrod learned that parents’ brains – mostly mothers – are wired to care for a young child. Noise, Tamizh or vandalism at night will awaken many of us. Even when the child is capable of self-happiness. Even when we are so tired.

But if we let our instinct reign supreme for our young children, and as a result there is no sleep, then one wins. “If the uncle is not happy, no one is happy,” is the old saying; And sleep-deprived uncles are not happy.

“I wanted to be happy, and I needed sleep to make me happy,” Axelrod said. “So I said, how do I make it?”

Axelrod talked to CNN about how to maximize everyone’s sleep since the baby years. He also had some ideas about which epidemic habits might occur during a good night’s sleep, and which surprisingly are not.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

CNN: Man naturally responds to light and receives sleep signals from natural and artificial light. What should parents use for lighting to indicate “sleep time” to their children?

In a lab incubator, neuroscientist Sophia Axelrod examines fruit fly strains, placed in precisely defined light / dark cycles to correct their circadian rhythms.

Sophia Accelrod: The light bulb went off in my head, pardon the punishment – that’s the intention – when I was working in the lab with fruit flies. When we want to test their sleep without waking them, we use a red flashlight. Every other type of light awakens them.

I was pregnant, and realized that the same is true for humans. We are largely insensitive to red light. So I bought a red light bulb (ed. Note: not all red light bulbs are real red lights, so shop carefully) and started using it during the nighttime feed when my baby was born, and it worked. did. The red light will not indicate to the child that it is time to wake him up.

CNN: How does light signal to the brain whether it is bedtime or waking time?

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Axelrod: Behind our eyes are these specialized cells that have special light receptors. So whenever you are exposed to light, in the morning or evening, they signal to your body that it is time to wake up. They reset your body clock.

You can use light to train your body that it is bedtime, and it is morning.

CNN: Can introducing older lights and limiting overall light exposure help older children fall asleep early at night?

Axelrod: Yes. There is actually a red light in our living room which we put an hour before bedtime.

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CNN: Can reducing light in the evening help us sleep?

Axelrod: Yes, however, it is really important to be consistent with time. We need to work with our internal clock. Also, turn on the red light an hour before bedtime or turn off the light. How long does it take for a sleep hormone that is dependent on light to be released.

CNN: Although no matter how careful we are with the light, the children will cry in their crawling. What do you think about sleep training?

Axelrod: Honestly, I regret calling it “sleep training” in the book because those two words carry such a negative connotation. That said, there are longitudinal studies showing that there is no detrimental effect on your child learning to cry a little and calm himself.

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I suggest a middle ground. Suppress your mother’s guilt and let them cry for 90 seconds before going inside. The research is crystal clear – even just 90 seconds will teach them to fall asleep.

People do not realize it, but children do not know how to sleep. It is our job to teach them.

CNN: What do you think about co-sleeping?

Axelrod: This is a very personal decision. But research has shown that if you are in the same bed as your child, it is much harder to make that when the child wakes up and the parents wake up the child, and delay is important to learning how to self-soak. .

If a parent feels that they need that closeness, then go for it. But research suggests that co-sleeping children take longer to learn to sleep at night.

CNN: What about nap? Last year my son took a mandatory nap at his preschool, and then woke up at 10 every night. Should we never wake up a sleeping child?

Axelrod: I had that exact experience in my child’s day care. I did my best to change my policy to use my credentials so that the nap didn’t come, but it didn’t work, and I ended up going to my granny early to pick up my daughter so she could get there. do not blink . It was either or let him sleep there and go to sleep at midnight.

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The science is very clear at this point: the time of day controls the sleep of a child. Control! Children only need so much sleep in a day. If your child is not going to bed at night, then cut that nap. Either cut it short or cut it completely.

CNN: There seems to be a critical mass of people who believe that it is better for children to sleep early. But some children are night owls. Is that ok

Axelrod: It is so political – that somehow people sleeping late and waking up late are still considered lazy. But there is a genetic basis for the circadian rhythm. One out of 100 people have a mutation in their clock gene that changes their day length, and they subsequently fall asleep later. This is not harmful, and nothing is wrong as long as they are getting enough overall sleep.

CNN: Many families move slightly out of their sleep schedule during the epidemic and later go to bed. So will they be okay?

Axelrod: It doesn’t matter if you go to bed later. What is the difference from day to day. I do not recommend doing anything different during the week or when you are on vacation, on weekends. Your circadian clock responds to time signals, and it helps to regulate everything, when you go to sleep when you are ready for lunch. You want to keep it regular.

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CNN: What about television at night? I heard that you need to stay away from all things backlit in the evening. But sometimes 30 minutes of TV helps us to settle down.

Axelrod: Screens can be fixed at night. Just try to reduce it as much as possible, and usually try to avoid them an hour before bedtime. Although people have different sensitivity to light. Some of us may be able to see them just before bed without a reduction in our melatonin production or effects on our sleep.

CNN: Any solution for our kids to worry about Kovid anxiety-related nightmares or waking up?

Axelrod: It is important to remember that our children are sensitive to what they are doing, and they may not know it or even show it. It depends on age, but overall it is important to shield our children from our concerns and to some extent the news so that they can sleep.

There is a strong correlation between not getting enough sleep and depression, and therefore lack of sleep can make them feel worse if it continues. Parents need to make an effort to provide comfort to their children, so children’s worries don’t end and prevent everyone from sleeping well.

Alyssa Strauss Is a regular contributor to CNN, where she writes about politics and the culture of fatherhood.