The Covid 19 sleep regression is real! Being stuck quarantining 24/7 for months on end during a pandemic is something none of us have ever experienced, could prepare for in advance, or know the emotional and physical toll it would take on us. So, while we parents are struggling with this new way of life, it is no wonder our kids are struggling as well, and this is coming out in their day to day behavior which includes their sleep. If you have been following me over on Instagram, you will have noticed that my son has been struggling with his sleep during this time and it came to the point where I had to sleep train him. We are all struggling with these challenges!
Why regressions are happening.
The first step in being able to address this Covid 19 sleep regressions is to know why they are happening for our kids.
- Kids are feeling anxiety due to Covid 19 and quarantining for months on end. Regressions also happen due to stress and trauma. Kids can pick up on our anxiety as well, which heightens their feelings.
- Changes in routines can impact sleep patterns – whether it be suddenly no longer going to school or just having their general day to day schedule change. This can include sleep because maybe their sleep times are later or their wake-up time too.
- Less time outside can mean less tiredness at sleep times as well as impact circadian rhythms. Kids are getting less sunlight which is an important trigger for our biological sleep rhythms.
- More screen time, especially closer to sleep times can inhibit the production of much-needed melatonin.
Strategies to address the Covid 19 sleep regression.
Knowing why our kids are having sleep regression helps us have insight into what we need to do to fix their sleep challenges and get them back on track. Our action plan will include a mixture of helping them cope with their stress and anxiety, behavior strategies, and sleep strategies. I will go over the main recommendations, but you can pick the ones that make sense for your kids.
- Give your kids strategies to manage their anxiety. Sit down and talk to them about what is worrying them. Let them know what you do when you feel worried. This helps them know they aren’t alone and also gives them insight into strategies they can use.
- Explain what is happening in an age-appropriate manner. You can learn more about talking to your kids about Covid 19 here.
- Limit their exposure to news and keep conversations about your worries and anxieties to when your kids are in bed asleep.
- Role model calm. Kids pick up on our anxiety.
- Address any changes you have made with sleep schedules and routines. You may have become lax with these things but tightening up routines and schedule will help.
- Bring back nap time if you’ve had nap resistance (for toddler 3.5 and below). This can prevent over tiredness which helps lessen night time sleep struggles. For an older toddler quiet time can also help to rest their bodies and help them cope with their day.
- If you stopped doing a bedtime routine bring it back. They provide great sleep cues to help aid in falling asleep.
- Prioritize outside play when possible. I know this can be a difficult one right now but outside play can be especially important in the first hour or two after waking up. The sunlight helps reset the circadian rhythm. And what’s even better, the streets and open spaces can be less busy because it is so early!
- Limit screen time close to nap and bedtime.
If doing all these things didn’t fix the sleep regression than it may be time to consider sleep training. If you need help with this process, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We can either have a 30-minute sleep strategy session where I give you the tools you need, and you work on sleep alone or I can support you through the process with a 1 week or 2-week support package.
And if you are interested, please head over to my Instagram account because I’ll be sharing this week some insight into Tate’s regression – why it happened, the sleep training methods I considered, and what makes sleep training an 8-year-old different. I’d love to see you over there!