Axelrod learned in which parents’ brains — mostly moms — are wired to care for a young child. Nighttime noises, tame or savage, will jolt many of us awake. Even when the baby is usually capable of self-soothing. Even when we are so, so tired.
although if we let our instinct to care for our young children reign supreme, along with get no sleep as a result, nobody wins. “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” the old saying goes; along with sleep-deprived mamas are not happy.
“I wanted to be happy, along with I need sleep to make me happy,” Axelrod said. “So I said, how do I make This kind of happen?”
Axelrod spoke to CNN about how to maximize everyone’s sleep, by the baby years on. She also had a few thoughts about which pandemic habits might be getting within the way of a Great night’s sleep, along with which ones, surprisingly, are not.
This kind of conversation has been edited along with condensed for clarity.
CNN: Humans instinctively respond to light along with get sleep cues by natural along with artificial light. What should parents use for light to signal “sleepy time” to their kids?
Sofia Axelrod: The light bulb went off in my head, pardon the pun — This kind of’s intended — when I was working within the lab with fruit flies. When we want to test their sleep without waking them up, we use a red flashlight. Every different type of light wakes them up.
I was pregnant, along with I realized in which the same is usually 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 actual red light, so shop carefully) along with began using This kind of during nighttime feeds when my baby was born, along with This kind of worked. The baby wouldn’t get the signal by the red light in which This kind of’s time to wake up.
CNN: How does light signal to the brain in which This kind of’s time to sleep or time to wake up?
Axelrod: We have these special cells within the back of our eyes in which have special light receptors. So whenever you’re exposed to light, within the morning or the evening, they signal to your body in which This kind of’s time to be awake. They reset your body clock.
You can use light to help train your body in which This kind of is usually bedtime, along with This kind of is usually morning time.
CNN: Can introducing red light along with limiting overall light exposure help older kids fall asleep more quickly at night?
Axelrod: Yes. We actually have a red light in our living room in which we put on an hour before bedtime.
CNN: Can dimming lights within the evening help get us to sleep?
Axelrod: Yes, though This kind of’s definitely important to be consistent with timing. We need to work with our inner clock. Also, turn the red light on or dim the lights an hour before bedtime. This kind of is usually how long This kind of takes for the sleep hormone in which is usually dependent on light to be released.
CNN: Though no matter how careful we are with lights, babies will still cry in their cribs. What’s your take on sleep training?
Axelrod: Honestly, I regret calling This kind of “sleep training” within the book because those two words have such a negative connotation. in which said, there are longitudinal studies showing in which allowing your child to cry a little along with learn to self-soothe has no detrimental effects.
I recommend a middle ground. Suppress your mom guilt along with let them cry for 0 seconds before you go in. The research is usually crystal clear — even just 0 seconds will teach them to fall asleep.
People don’t realize This kind of, although babies are not born knowing how to fall asleep. This kind of’s our job to teach them.
CNN: What do you think about co-sleeping?
Axelrod: This kind of is usually a very personal decision. although the research has shown in which if you are within the same bed as your child, This kind of’s much harder to create in which short delay between when the baby wakes up along with the parent soothes the baby, along with the delay is usually important for learning how to self-soothe.
If a parent thinks they need in which closeness, then go for This kind of. although the research does show in which kids who co-sleep take longer to learn to sleep through the night.
CNN: What about naps? Last year my son took a mandtatory nap at his preschool, along with then was staying up past 10 p.m. every night. Should we never wake a sleeping child?
Axelrod: I had in which exact experience at my child’s day care. I tried my best to use my credentials to get them to change their policy so naps weren’t required, although This kind of didn’t work, along with I ended up having my nanny go early to pick up my daughter so she wouldn’t nap there. This kind of was either in which or let her sleep there along with have her go to sleep at midnight.
Science is usually very clear on This kind of point: Daytime naps control toddler sleep. Control! Kids only need so much sleep in a day. If your kid isn’t going to bed at night, cut in which nap. Either make This kind of shorter or cut This kind of altogether.
CNN: There seems to be a critical mass of people who believe in which This kind of’s better for kids to go to sleep early. although some kids are night owls. Are they OK?
Axelrod: This kind of is usually so politicized — in which somehow people who go to bed late along with wake up late are still considered lazy. although there is usually a genetic basis for circadian rhythms. One out of 100 people have a mutation in their clock genes in which alter their day length, along with as a result they go to sleep later. This kind of’s not detrimental, along with nothing is usually wrong as long as they are getting enough overall sleep.
CNN: Many families are a bit off their sleep schedules during the pandemic along with going to bed later. So they’ll be fine?
Axelrod: This kind of doesn’t matter if you go to bed later. What does matter is usually day-to-day variation. I don’t recommend doing something different over the weekend than during the week or when you are on vacation. Your circadian clock responds to time cues, along with This kind of helps regulate everything, by when you go to sleep to when you are ready for lunch. You want to keep This kind of regular.
CNN: What about television at night? I’ve heard in which you need to stay far away by all things backlit within the evening. although sometimes 30 minutes of TV helps us settle down.
Axelrod: Screens can be fine at night. Just try to dim This kind of as much as possible, along with generally try to avoid them an hour before bedtime. Though people do have different sensitivity to light. Some of us might be fine watching them right before bed without any decrease of our melatonin production or impact on our sleep overall.
CNN: Any solutions for Covid anxiety-related nightmares or wake-ups in our kids?
Axelrod: This kind of’s important to remember in which our kids are sensitive to what is usually going on, along with they may not know This kind of or even show This kind of. This kind of depends on the age, although overall This kind of’s important to shield our kids by our anxieties along with the news to some degree so they can sleep.
There is usually a strong correlation between not getting enough sleep along with depression, along with so the sleep deprivation can end up doing them feel even worse if This kind of continues. Parents need to try to provide the comfort their kids need, so the kids’ anxieties don’t take over along with keep everyone by sleeping well.
Elissa Strauss is usually a regular contributor to CNN, where she writes about the politics along with culture of parenthood.