These sleep tips for parents of kids with special needs come from 2 similar and challenging personal experiences. The first was the four years my husband and I put in after our son with complex medical needs was born in 1982. The second was a week of 24/7 grandma duty with our 3-year-old grandson who is not a good sleeper in 2018. These 9 sleep tips for parents will, I hope, keep you from total exhaustion.
Tip #1: Tag Team
Alternate nights for spouses to handle feedings, diaper changes, bathroom breaks, night terrors, and whatever else disturbs sleep. Or have one spouse take the first four hours of the night, with the other spouse taking the last four.
Tip #2: Train Others
You know the good friends and family members who say they want to help out? Offer to train several of them for night duty. If they say yes, train them thoroughly, tidy the guest bedroom, create a schedule, and get a good night’s sleep while they care for your child.
Tip #3: Establish a Routine
Predictable routines make kids feel safe. Therefore, do your best to establish a consistent evening routine for kids with special needs and their typical siblings. The sense of safety will lead to fewer sleep disturbances and sounder sleep for all.
Tip #4: Limit Caffeine
If you can’t cut out caffeine, limit how much you consume in beverages like tea, coffee, and soft drinks. Also limit chocolate. It’s a bummer, but so is lack of sleep.
Tip #5: Use Earplugs
Foam earplugs are cheap and effective. Buy a bunch and use them whenever you are not on night duty. What you can’t hear won’t wake you, and you don’t need to hear everything when someone trustworthy is caring for your child.
Tip #6: Invest in White Noise
Create a white noise play list, purchase a white noise CD, or create it the old-fashioned way by turning on a fan. White noise combined with earplugs will keep night noises far, far from your slumber.
Tip #7: Keep the Bathroom Light Off
When you get up in the night to do your business, leave the bathroom light off so your body won’t start waking up. Trust me, this works.
Tip #9: Turn Off the Screen
A screen’s blue glow messes with the hormones that prepare our bodies for sleep. That’s why sleep experts suggest adults and kids turn off screens 1 to 2 hours before bedtime. What to do during that time instead? Read a book.
Tip #8: Pray
When you are awakened in the night and can’t fall back to sleep, start praying. Ask God to guide your thoughts to what’s good, lovely, excellent, and sleep-inducing. If that doesn’t work, pray for family members, friends, and whoever comes to mind.
What are your best sleep tips? Leave them in the comment box.
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