Creating a Perfect Sleep Environment
Setting the Stage for a Great Night’s Sleep
If you’re not sure how much your sleep environment affects you, try sleeping with the lights on. Without a blanket. On the floor.
Creating an ideal sleep environment for your baby will go a long way in helping them to sleep well at night. This is something that I see parents underestimate, all the time. Many people don’t realize how our environment affects us in any setting that we’re in.
Think about the environment of a corporate office. If the desks were replaced with couches and employees came to work in yoga pants, the vibe would not be the same. Going to a spa for a facial and massage wouldn’t be relaxing with rock music blaring from the speakers.
In every setting, environment sets the tone and sends a message to your subconscious mind of what is going to occur. Environments teach us what to expect and how to behave.Creating an ideal sleep environment will teach your baby to expect sleep and help them to sleep better at night and nap better during the day.
So, what makes for the perfect sleep environment?
1. Keep it Dark. The first step to encourage sleep is to keep it dark. Really dark. As in, as dark as possible. As in, that cute little nightlight with the sweet owl-face on it? Throw it out. The slightest bit of light reduces melatonin levels in the human brain – and without melatonin, nobody’s sleeping.
Don’t worry about leaving your baby in a dark room. Babies are not afraid of the dark. They’ve spent their entire existence in your dark, dark womb with no owl-face nightlight. The darker the room, the better they’ll sleep.
Blackout curtains are a huge help in keeping your baby’s room dark. This product will do an even better job than blackout curtains and is very easy to pop onto the windows of your nursery.
2. Turn on the White Noise. White noise is great for baby sleep. It mimics the constant rush of sound that your baby heard in your womb, such as your heartbeat, blood flow, and your breath. It also has the huge advantage of blocking out outside sounds that occur in your home as your baby sleeps, such as a phone ringing, a vacuum cleaner running, or your spotify playlist. As adults, we may naturally tune out these sounds but they can be very disturbing to your baby’s sleep.
Because sleep works in cycles, your baby actually wakes up many times throughout the night and remains in a semi-aroused state while transitioning to the next sleep cycle. White noise helps transition to the next sleep cycle without being fully aroused.
Can your baby become dependent on white noise? Yes, it’s possible. I personally need white noise to sleep at night, as well as a pillow and a blanket, and a bed. I put white noise in the same category as other sleep essentials. I don’t know any parents who are concerned that their baby will become addicted to a blanket, and I see white noise in a similar vein. It’s a great tool to help sleep. It doesn’t bother anyone else, is easily portable for travel and doesn’t require a parent to be involved in it throughout the night.
We all have things that we depend on to sleep. Don’t believe me? Try sleeping on the floor. We all have items and elements that help us sleep better (earplugs, anyone?) and as long as they are not detrimental to sleep and are not safety hazards, I would not be concerned.
This white noise machine is the one I use and love. Here is a more affordable option as well.
3. Keep Your Baby’s Crib Bare. For the first year, your baby’s should be completely bare, according to the safety guidelines published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. If you want to use a bumper to prevent your baby’s arms or legs from getting stuck in between the crib slats, make sure to use a breathable mesh bumper. Babies under one year of age should not have blankets in their crib – a sleep sack is a great alternative that can keep your baby warm and swaddled at the same time. Sleep positioners and wedges are dangerous. Just plain unsafe. They do not prevent SIDS and actually pose an entrapment and suffocation risk to babies. Don’t use them.
4. A Video Monitor can be helpful if you want the extra security of being able to check on your baby without going in. Of course, if you ever suspect an emergency of any kind, you should always go into your baby immediately.
It doesn’t take a lot of work to create the perfect sleep environment for your baby. A dark room, white noise, a bare crib and an (optional) video monitor are all you need. Just a few elements that will make a huge difference in your baby’s sleep. Try it for yourself and watch your baby’s sleep improve!
If you know any sleep-deprived and exhausted moms in your life, please share this article with them. It may be the first step they take towards better sleep for their family!