Should you encourage your child to fall asleep and stay asleep in a silent environment? Do you tiptoe round after bedtime? How much noise is too much? Can noise help my child to sleep?
There are many reasons a small child could be fussy or unable to sleep, including illness, over-stimulation, or something as simple as either too much noise or too little noise. Before altering their sleeping environment, take a moment to evaluate just why they have been fussy or upset at bedtime.
Some noises can be comforting to your child lying awake at bedtime. It serves as reassurance that you are still there. But, sudden, unusual or sharp noises can disturb sleep. Things like changes in the weather, a neighbour’s new puppy continually barking, the central heating switching on ,a loud car stereo blaring, or a bright street light can all contribute to changing your child’s otherwise familiar and comfortable sleeping environment. If after evaluating, you discover that there has been an environmental change that has occurred, but are out of your control, you might consider creating some ‘white noise’ in their environment to help drown out these unpleasant and loud sleep disruptors.
Noises that are repetitive and almost monotonous sounding are known as ‘white noise’ – noise that is occurring constantly, and, as a result, we’ve ‘tuned it out.’ There are many items in our house that create white noise that we might not even realize – our air conditioners, vacuum cleaners, clothes dryers, or fans all create white noise as they operate. Other things such as running water, an analogue clock with a ticking second hand, or a fish aquarium also create white noise. These noises might actually help ‘drown out’ the disruptive external noises that are keeping your child, and thereby you, from a good night’s sleep.
Another option might be to run a favorite lullaby on continuous play in their bedroom. Soothing, classical music even works well. Many children’s retailers now stock ‘white noise’ CD’s too. There are many options out there for newborns and toddlers alike in the music department of your favourite store. You could even put together a special mix just from mommy and daddy on your personal computer. Better yet, put together a recording of mommy and daddy’s soft, soothing and gentle voices, and your little one will be back in dreamland before you know it.
When my daughter was small, I used a ‘white noise’ CD at nap time and bedtime. It became an important part of her sleep routine and is still a favourite part of getting into bed. The particular CD I used, lulled her off to sleep with recordings of everyday items which create noise. The noises became softer and softer towards the end of the CD eventually becoming silent and switching off. Later we changed to a lullaby CD and now use a variety of story CD’s. My daughter now puts in requests for the CD’s she feels like listening to! It is no longer a sleep aid, but a relaxing and soothing part of her winding down process at the end of a busy day. As with my daughter, I am sure that your child will eventually outgrow the need for these sleep aids and become able to put themselves back to sleep after awakening due to loud sleep disruptors.
So all that remains is for you to experiment with different noises to see what works for your family. Happy napping!
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