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Podcast Episode Transcripts:
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Welcome to the kids sleep show, where we help tired parents from around the world to get their children to fall asleep independently, sleep through the night and build healthy sleep habits for life. I’m your host, Courtney Zentz. Now let’s sleep together.
thank you so much for tuning in this week on the kids sleep show, we are chatting all about whether or not your child’s hormone messengers may just be a bit off balance. And so I wanted to take some time today because I think it’s really important foundationally for you as a parent to understand all the different hormones that are a part of your child’s what we call the sleep wake cycle. Because foundationally a lot of parents come to me with challenges around early morning wakings. And your hormones are actually one of the key players in whether or not your child is gonna wake up potentially super early in the morning. And it may be that their hormones are a bit off balance. So let’s chat a little bit about four main hormones that are in your child’s body today. The first is what’s known as adenosine, we’re going to talk about that the next one we’re going to chat about is melatonin. Then we’re going to track a little bit more about adrenaline and cortisol. So what I want you to understand in today’s discussion is first and foremost, I’m not a doctor, I am simply a sleep specialist who works with families to try to help fix the challenges around sleep in your home. And that looks a little bit different for everyone. But it often starts with your body’s circadian rhythms. So typically around three or four months of age, children develop a body clock, as many of us have kind of heard it referred to that is your child’s circadian rhythm, it’s where they sleep. And as an adult, we sleep in cycles of sleep for a period of time. Based on our age, we have a different need for each age, right. And that circadian rhythm is what helps our body to know hey, it’s time to wake and be good for the day or it’s time to sleep. Because you know, for many people, it’s night, and that’s when our body needs to rest and restore and repair itself. Right? A lot is happening when our body is sleeping as the research is continuing to come out about. But that sleep wake cycle is really controlled by essentially a whole highway of hormones that are moving around your body at very specific times with a very specific purpose. Okay, so what I wanted to do today was just shine a little bit of a light on the different hormones. And again, I’m not coming at this from a medical perspective, from like a doctor’s standpoint, I’m looking more at this around helping you to understand if something may be off in your child’s sleep, it could have to do usually with timing, that is messing up the hormones. Okay, so stick with me through this episode. And we’re going to chat all about it. And the first thing we’re going to chat about is in the daytime, your body’s sleep pressure. So I like to refer to it as sleep pressure when I’m working with my clients. And sleep pressure is essentially the build up of a hormone called adenosine. So your adenosine levels are naturally are going to rise when you’re awake. So both as an adult and as a child as a baby, your body is naturally rising in the amount of adenosine that’s in the body. And then when you sleep, the level goes down. So for an adult who typically doesn’t nap anymore, right, they’re going to wake in the morning, I get up at 5am every day, right? And I go to bed at nine o’clock every night, right? So in the daytime from five o’clock up through nine o’clock at night, my adenosine levels are slowly rising. at nine o’clock, my body clock is basically like, hey, time to go to bed girlfriend. And I’ve got the right buildup of adenosine, right. And then I go to sleep, the adenosine levels slowly goes down. So over the eight hours that I sleep at night, the level goes down and then when I wake in the morning, it starts to rise again, it’s this beautiful kind of up and down motion, if you will, right in children, it looks a little different, but it functions very much similarly. So when newborns come out, right, they can only be awake about an hour or they build up too much adenosine. So what happens is they have to take a nap every typically 45 to 60 minutes, or they run the risk of becoming overtired. And we’re going to talk about that hormone in a little bit but when they have you know too much adenosine it’s basically too much sleep pressure and the body doesn’t know what to do with all that pressure. Right? So you know as a newborn you kind of sleep 45 to 60 minute awake windows between naps you know as an example for a five months The old you’re probably at about every two and a half hours between sleeps at nine months, you’re every three hours between sleeps. And that’s pretty consistent from like seven through 12 months. And then once you get over 12 months, it starts to get a little longer five or six hours, you know. And then after about three or four years of age, when you drop the nap, children are able to go that full day kind of seven to seven, without needing a nap. Because the body’s balanced out, and then their levels will function very much like an adult where over the course of a day, you know, your adenosine levels will slowly rise. So it’s a very gentle balance. And you want to make sure that the balance of the adenosine is appropriate at different parts of the day. Because if you get off, right, and your child gets too much sleep pressure or too much adenosine, right, your brain is basically going alright, well, you should be sleeping right now. But you’re not. And so you’re not for a reason, right? Many times that parents don’t realize the awake windows are so shorter that the child is super sensitive to them. And so the brain kicks in and goes, well wait a minute, if you’re not going to go to bed, then let me help you out. And it floods your body with stimulant hormone adrenaline, right? And so it basically says, alright, well, if you’re going to stay awake, like I’m going to help you. And so adrenalin is a hormone that essentially prepares your body to be more alert and awake. You know, think of it the last time I always joke with my husband, because we go to dinner. And I mean, not in the past year, but when we have right, we go out early, we’re always early people and frankly, daycare or our gym actually does a parents night out or they used to right now during this mess, but you know, they would do a parents night out and you could drop the kids at six and you had to pick them up by nine. And our kids are younger. So we kind of always shot to get back at like eight o’clock to pick them up. But we would go out right at six. So it like 601 we were walking out of the gym kid free for a little bit. And we are, you know, walking through a nice little dinner and probably by you know, 730 I’m like, gosh, I’m getting tired, like I want to go to bed. And then all of a sudden I’m like, No, we got this we can stay out a little longer. Whoo. Right like, because you get that second wind. That’s the adrenaline kicking in. Now it’s fine as an adult if I’m trying to stay out and you know, have an extra glass of wine or go for some dessert or something. But you know, as a child, it leads to typically kind of a behavior meltdown, lots more tears, because your body ends up essentially fighting your brain, your brain saying No, stay awake, and your body’s saying no man go to bed, right. So it is a very delicate balance of making sure that you understand the awake windows, so your body doesn’t fire adrenaline, because when it happens, it typically causes short naps. And it also causes multiple night wakings and early morning wakings. Right? Your body is a delicate balance of hormones. And if the hormones start to get off track, your body can’t really get into a good rhythm of that consolidated restorative and independent sleep. Right? So we talked a little bit about adenosine, those levels rise and fall. That’s your sleep pressure in the daytime. Adrenaline typically fires when you’re overtired. So if you’re overtired going into bedtime, or you’re overtired, going into a nap, adrenaline is going to fire and it’s either going to cause multiple night wakings because you have now a stimulant hormone in your body, or it’s going to cause short maps that are often disrupted, and children wake feeling a little bit groggy, agitated, and not super refreshed, right. So you know, when you’re going into bedtime, it’s important that you have a balance, right? You want to balance the last nap to bedtime window, because that’s going to really help to make sure you don’t have your body trigger into overtired, right, that the adenosine levels are right, going into bed. And then things like darkness and light are the biggest thing that help your body’s clock to regulate. Right? When it starts to get dark, your body is starting to prepare for sleep. That’s why shift workers have a really hard time kind of flipping back and forth because their body clocks can’t ever seem to regulate based on the sun. And that’s really the key driver in a lot of this. Right. So going into bed time your body begins to prepare at it’s time to go to bed right so melatonin as a lot of people I know hear about or have seen in the drugstores and stuff, right? Melatonin is actually the only hormone that is sold on the market today without a prescription hormones and messing with those hormones from a non prescription standpoint is something you have to be super careful with. Right? We’re talking about hormones here that do a lot in our body. So it is best if you’re doing something with melatonin right now, which is the pretty common, again hormone because it is available over the counter that you’re working alongside of a doctor in doing so because it can be very dangerous and it can actually do more harm than good. Sometimes it’s used as a band aid when the underlying challenge is actually what needs to be addressed. Not you know, trying to figure out from a hormonal balance standpoint what’s going on. So many tonin is the hormone that actually helps to prepare your body to sleep, it is not a sleep aid, I just want to be very clear on that, right. So it’s a hormone that helps to prepare your body to sleep. And then over the course of the night, melatonin levels will slowly begin to fall at the same time in which adrenalin and cortisol, your morning coffee will start to naturally rise. And then once you wake your adenosine kicks in, right, so as you can see, it’s this very delicate balance of hormones that are happening throughout the day throughout the overnight, and making sure right that everything stays in balance. Okay, so Melatonin is most commonly triggered by darkness and your sleep environment, which is why it’s really important to have a dark sleep environment to minimize that, you know, exposure to things like blue light, because blue light will suppress melatonin production. And to make sure that you keep your body’s circadian rhythm in a proper balance. Right. In the morning, I kind of alluded to the fact that adrenaline and cortisol are the hormones that are your coffee for the day, right? They’re the hormones that prepare your body for the day to wake up, to start firing to be alert and awake to start to process things that are coming in. Right. And so you know, it’s using that kind of adrenalin as a balance. Cortisol is typically triggered from stress, that’s your fight or flight kind of response, right? So, you know, sometimes in the day, if a child gets overtired, and then they can’t settle for a nap, and then that that fires adrenaline then fires cortisol because they’re crying, and they’re trying to go down, and it’s like their brain and body are fighting, you know, these hormones can start to flood the body. And then it really kind of screws up really this delicate balance of when things should be happening. And again, I’m not coming at this from a pediatric doctor standpoint, I’m coming at this from, you know, the realm of sleep and how important it is to make sure that you’re keeping your children in a routine that is structured and consistent. You’re watching they’re awake windows, you’re managing the ideal day for them, which is typically sleeping about 11 or 12 hours overnight, and then napping appropriately based on their needs throughout the day, to ensure that our body is balanced, right. our body’s hormones are basically like chemical messages in the blood. And hormones control many of our body’s processes, including the growth, development, reproduction, and response to stress, hormones manage our metabolism or sleep, our energy balance, right. So it’s just really important that you’re understanding not only for your own benefit, but also for them. What the right balance is to get them the right amount of sleep in the day and overnight, so they’re waking, feeling restored and refreshed. If you are struggling with getting your child into a consistent routine with figuring out why things are a mess and why naps are short, and why there’s a million overnight wakings or false starts at bedtime, right? I absolutely encourage you to join my free Facebook group. It’s called slumbers Made Simple. Every week, I’m out there doing free trainings, I’m always out there answering questions. And more importantly, I’m there to help you to figure out what’s going on.
I do offer private Skype consultations. I have a company, right I use that company to support families, but not everybody’s there yet. And that’s totally fine. I always encourage people to come out to my free sleep group and to join the conversation there and get the support or even just the education around things to understand if what is happening in your home is working, or if it may be time for a change. So I encourage you to join us out there. I hope that this particular episode was informative for you around hormones that are in your body, and why that may be causing things like early morning wakings or trouble settling at bedtime, short naps, right all of the above. But if you’re struggling, it’s time to reach out for help get yourself sleep, get your child the right amount of sleep, and wake up and feel refreshed every day to give it your all. I hope you have a beautiful rest of the day. Thanks for tuning in. Hold on one more thing before you go. As a valued listener of the kids sleep show. I want to help you build a great sleeper not just in the times you’re listening to the show. But all day every day. Every week of the year. I have a new Facebook group called slumber Made Simple. It’s a place to gather with other parents looking for sleep support, laughs and the latest in sleep research to build a family that is rested and at their best day in and day out. If you want to be part of the community where you can get free sleep support, weekly training sessions, unbelievable content and so much more. Head on over to tiny transitions.com forward slash community that’s tiny transition stuff comm forward slash community or head over to Facebook and search slumber Made Simple. drop me a note and let me know when you join. I can’t wait to see you there.