I read Sleepless in America:Is your child Misbehaving or Missing Sleep by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka when I was pregnant, really enjoyed the tone of the book and felt like its advice was very practical and helpful.
I know that sleep is essential for my healthy functioning and I also knew that new parents traditionally don’t get much. Apparently American parents get the least sleep in the world but I also have read that French children start sleeping ‘through the night’ , i.e for five hour stretches by three months, and I was very determined that I would at least aim for that. We hit the three month mark this month and I realized that although I remembered the outline of the book I did not remember the specifics so when I finally had a chance to go to the library I checked it out again to see if it could help. It really has.
I like how the author really talks about how to get kids enough sleep in practical terms. It focuses mainly on parents with older children, but the advice works for infants as well. And she has a chapter about infants that I recommend be read after the other stuff because it only tweaks the information to fit infants, it’s not a stand alone that completely covers the topic.
Her take is that a lot of bad behavior in children is because they don’t get enough sleep. Without sleep children can’t maintain their self control very well. She also talks about how children won’t appear to be sleep deprived because they don’t get sleepy they get wired, and misbehave.
After she talks about why children really need sleep and why they fight it, she then reminds parents that while you can help children sleep you can’t force them to. She goes through a lot of the ways that parents can ‘read’ their children’s cues to better know when their child needs sleep. This was very helpful for me. She also addresses how to encourage sleep by starting routines and how much sleep children need. I was so surprised by how much sleep infants need at first and a little shocked when I had my own how easy it was for them not to get enough.
I made a little chart to see how much sleep my baby was getting and just the act of keeping track has really encouraged me to get her down more and notice how much better she dose when she gets enough sleep. She’s calmer and more interested in the world and she fusses a lot less which is really helpful for a very sleep deprived parent. I’ve even gotten a bit more sleep. Not enough by any means but some.
All in all I would recommend this for anyone who would like to get more sleep, as the advice is useful for everyone not just children. I would also recommend having it on hand before having a child, I am seriously considering buying a copy so I can refer to it when sleep isn’t happening.