I will not go to sleep


If you have ever struggled with getting a child to sleep, you know how difficult it can be.

My husband and I adopted our youngest daughter when she was 11 months old. Our daughter had a difficult first year and did not learn how to sleep. But, she had taught herself many ways to stay awake.
She would keep some part of her body moving at all times such as kicking a foot or moving an arm or even a finger. If I tried to contain all of her extremities, she would roll her head or even move her face to stay awake. She was extremely sleep deprived so if I managed to hold her still for a minute, she would fall asleep instantly.

When a child gets overtired, their body releases Cortisol. Cortisol keeps the body awake. Sometimes parents say “their child got a second wind” or suddenly became very active or running around. It becomes difficult to get your child to sleep when Cortisol is running through their body trying to keep them awake.

When our daughter came to us, she had learned to only fall asleep out of total exhaustion when she could not fight sleep any longer. The problem is the body still has all that Cortisol from being overtired. A child who falls asleep from total exhaustion will have trouble staying asleep long enough to be really refreshed from the sleep. Instead the child will stay asleep through about one sleep cycle and then be awake again.


If we do not want our children to fight sleep, it is important for us to get them asleep before they are overtired. If we catch them in that sleepy time the child will be more willing to go to sleep and their body will help the process. We need to watch the clock for our little ones and learn to read their sleepy signs. Newborns can only tolerate being awake for 45 minutes to an hour. Gradually that awake time will increase as they get older.

My daughter showed me how important it is to teach our children how to sleep. It is miserable for our children and us to feel sleep deprived and exhausted.

Helping Babies Sleep


Arlene Fryling

Arlene is a registered nurse and certified sleep consultant for children 0-5 years. She has cared for premature, sick, and many healthy babies. For over 15 years she has taught expectant parents how to care for their newborns through classes teaching basic baby care, infant massage classes, and moderating support groups for new moms as they deal with parenting issues.

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