September 20, 2013

My Daddy Snores, and Other Avoidable Bedtime Catastrophes

DD and SI testing out mattresses
(This is a sponsored post. I was given the book I review, but all of the opinions are my own.)

You probably don't know this, but sleep health is sort of a pet issue of mine. From the time I was about eight and a half until well into my adulthood, I suffered from severe insomnia.

And I mean SEVERE insomnia.

By the time I was ten my mother essentially gave up on forcing me to go to sleep. Eventually, she tucked me in on the couch, handed me a collection of Ray Bradbury short stories, and poured me a shot of Peach Schnapps that she directed me to, "Sip slowly." Which I did.

I think her intention was to relax me and ease me into sleep. Sadly, it didn't work.

I completely covered the wall at 16
By the time I was in high school, I had a nighttime routine. I'd lay in bed for about an hour, listening to quiet music and meditating (my father's attempts to help had been guided meditation techniques). After my CD had ended, I'd lie in the dark feeling frustrated. Then I'd get up and ransack every recycling basket in the house for magazines, catalogs, and newspapers, and cut every single eye out and tape it to my wall.

Creepy? Sure. I'm not making excuses.

After that, I'd lay down again, and switch CDs. Sometimes, I managed to fall asleep. When I didn't, I'd put on my shoes and sneak out of the house. I'd wander around the neighborhood, pilfering roses from the house at Ferdon and Granger, and leaving them on my friends' doorsteps. I walked past the frat houses, through the quiet downtown, swing on the swings at Burns Park Elementary School...

And when the sky started to get that hazy, pre-dawn look to it, I'd walk home, climb into bed, and fall asleep. Just in time to be shaken awake for school the next day.

I tell you all of this because I GET IT- sleep is important. It might sound like I was having a blast, but I suffered through my insomnia. Not sleeping? That's a big deal. Not sleeping well? It's almost as bad. Sometimes, it's worse.

A few weeks ago, I was lucky to attend a Sleepy's event, with Nancy Rothstein, Sleep Ambassador and author of "My Daddy Snores."

Nancy Rothstein has written a children's book about the importance of sleep. More importantly, she's likable book about the importance of sleep. My kids LOVE this book.
written a funny, engaging,

It's a silly tale of woe- poor Mommy can't get any sleep because Daddy snores. The illustrations are
adorable. And eventually, Mommy has HAD IT and takes Daddy to the doctor- and the doctor cures Daddy of snoring.

There are three, yes three, incredibly effective takeaways for kids from this short picture book.

1. Snoring is a curable condition, and going to a doctor can make it stop. This is great- kids have no filter, and the admonition of children is a HUGE motivator for adults. I might not be able to approach my father in law and say, "You should really see a doctor about that snoring," but my kids sure can. Because kids are awesome at just saying things like they are, as they see it.

Bouncing on beds with balloons
2. Sleep, healthy sleep, is important. It's worth fighting for, it's worth working for, and it is its own reward.

3. Going to see the doctor when something isn't quite right about your body is okay. This is a big problem in our society- this machismo regarding our health. Unless we're bleeding out of our ears, we don't want to see a doctor.

My kids love this book- and they play-act around it regularly.

"Mommy! This picture is of Johnny the Spider! His daddy snores! His daddy snores SO LOUD! They need to go to a doctor so everyone can sleep!"

It's pretty cute.

So Ms. Rothstein, the Sleep Ambassador, handed out a few spectacular tips for improving your night's sleep.

1. Turn off your devices. The light emitted by televisions, computer monitors, your phone, your kindle... those are are blue spectrum lights. Those are lights that confuse your brain about the time of day and throw off your circadian rhythm. The only color light that doesn't? Red. Which is bad news if you don't particularly like sleeping in a dark room, but great news if your kids are obsessed with pink and want a pink nightlight. That pink nightlight will be less disruptive to their sleep than a white or blue light.

2. Almond milk! That old wives tale about a glass of milk? Not so great for sleeping, as it turns out. But almonds are loaded with compounds, like theanine, that aid sleep. So replacing a pre-bedtime glass of milk with almond milk? I've been doing this at home and I can tell you- it works.

3. Bedtime music. Some music keeps you awake, and some helps you sleep. So what helps you sleep? Sounds that are somewhat unfamiliar. When your brain starts falling into familiar patterns, it wants to complete them- keeping it awake. But unfamiliar sounds... I think this is why so many lullabies are written in minor keys. We tend to associate so much of music (particularly kids' music) with major keys- those minor tones can sound discordant. And that's good- that will help them sleep. So cue up the creepy lullabies- they're better for bedtime than Twinkle Twinkle!

Baby on the move!
4. Yoga! Doing yoga before bed relaxes your mind and body, making it easier for your mind to make the transition. There is so much literature that opposes working out before bed, and there's a lot to it, but a simple, relaxing yoga routine before hitting the hay can help make the transition to unconsciousness a lot easier.

5. Consistency! It might seem like the number on the clock isn't that important, but it is. A rigid routine has lasting effects- it's almost Pavlovian. So make sure you start your bedtime routine at the same time every night.

6. Last but not least, your mattress. Ms. Rothstein pointed out that we spend a full third of our lives sleeping. So why would you choose to spend all of that time on a mattress that didn't help you sleep? People balk at dropping a few thousand dollars on a mattress (I am still balking), but she's right- you really can't put a price on high quality sleep. I could spend $2,500 on a good mattress that would keep me sleeping better for ten years, or I could spend $100 a month on the xanax that frequently helps me get to sleep, for a total of $12,000 over the same time period. That's a pretty simple cost/ benefit analysis.

With all that said, I have definitely started bugging my husband about the quality of our mattress- which is more than ten years old, crushed on one side, and has NEVER been terribly comfortable for me. So that's definitely happening in the not too distant future.

And I am taking the bedtime routine for my kids more seriously. I know the long-term consequences of poor sleep personally, and if I can help my kids avoid them?



  1. Thanks for the tips! My sleep has never been perfect; but ever since I have been pregnant this time around I have insomnia. 2 to 3 hours of sleep a night is completely normal right now; and its awful!!
    My husband has been telling me I need to turn everything off before I try to go to bed...guess I should have listened to him. (Don't tell him I said that!)

  2. I never knew almond milk would help you sleep. Good to know for when I have a sleepless night. Hope you have a great day.
    Heidi’s Wanderings

  3. Love this book! It’s a great alternative children’s book, not to mention the artwork looks fantastic.

    The bed is definitely a big factor in getting a good night’s sleep, but don’t be afraid of going to a doctor for a checkup if you think there’s a problem. And I also agree in keeping a consistent sleeping pattern. It can also help in keeping you awake at times that you should be awake, barring lack of sleep the day before, that is.

    TMJ & Sleep Therapy Center



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