facebook twitter blog Pinterest

Get a Good Flight’s Sleep the Next Time You Travel

November 6, 2019 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Nilong Vyas, MD

For many people, getting sound sleep on an airplane flight is as elusive as seeing a unicorn. For this reason, airlines have spent millions of dollars developing their on-flight sleep environments to help their passengers get some shut-eye on long flights. Still, many passengers turn to medications because they’re available over the counter and are considered an easy fix. However, with a little planning before your flight, it’s possible to have a “good flight’s sleep” without turning to a pill.

First, it’s important to do your research and determine how many time zones you’ll be traveling through and what the time will be when you arrive at your destination. Plan to either sleep or be awake at your destination based on its time zone. For example, when traveling east to India from the United States, many flights arrive during the new country’s morning time. In this case, it’s important to sleep on the flight so you can be awake “with the natives” upon landing. In order to do that, provide yourself with the most ideal sleep environment possible. You may have to go to sleep before your body is ready to sleep. In that scenario, bring along a great eye mask that doesn’t allow any light to enter your eyes and is soft to wear and doesn’t get caught in your hair. Find a great set of noise-canceling headphones because they will drown out the excess noise that is common on planes and will also allow you to listen to quiet music, white noise, or guided meditation through your phone or device to help lull you to sleep. Finally, pack your favorite pj’s and a warm shawl or blanket and make sure to change into them once you board the plane. Being comfortable and at a comfortable temperature will help you get to sleep.

Even if you are unable to fall asleep on the plane, try to rest during the flight. Stay away from alcoholic beverages and drink plenty of water instead to stay hydrated. Finally, limit electronics because the blue light they emit from their screens will stimulate your retinas and cause wakefulness.

When you arrive at your destination, if it’s daytime, make sure that you get lots of light stimulation, either from sunlight or artificial light. This will keep your body from producing sleep-inducing melatonin. Try not to nap during the day, and get to sleep that night at a reasonable time (when the “natives” would be sleeping), which will get your sleep cycle back on track.

Happy sleep and safe travels!

About the Author: Nilong Vyas, MD, is a mom of two children and the founder and owner of Sleepless in NOLA sleep consulting, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Sleep Better, Starting Tonight

October 22, 2019 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Nilong Vyas, MD

In our hard-driving culture, sleep is often seen as a sign of weakness, and some people even brag about how little sleep they get each night as if it’s a badge of honor. Yet there is no question that we need adequate sleep to perform at our best. What’s more, lack of sleep increases the risk of chronic diseases such as dementia and heart disease.

Even if you’re convinced of the benefits of a good night’s slumber, you might still find yourself struggling to fall asleep—and waking up feeling tired and groggy the next morning. If getting a restful night’s sleep has been a challenge for you, try the following tips.

  • Evaluate your bedroom. Create a cool, comfortable, and dark sleep environment that is free of clutter and noise.
  • Eliminate caffeine after noon, if possible.
  • Turn off all screens at least an hour before bedtime. If that is not possible, use a blue light filter device on your screen to diminish the blue light emitted. Blue light can stimulate your retinas and cause wakefulness.
  • If you’re having difficulty sleeping, don’t try to force yourself to fall asleep. It is best to get out of bed, move around, and journal or read a book. Then try to get back to sleep once you’re feeling sleepy again. This process may take up to an hour and a half.
  • Aim for achieving seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
  • Finally, prioritize sleep just as you would nutrition and exercise. The overall health impacts are truly great.

About the Author: Nilong Vyas, MD, is a mom of two children and the founder and owner of Sleepless in NOLA sleep consulting, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

What Your Sleep Position Says about You

September 24, 2019 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Nilong Vyas, MD

Sleep is essential not only for healthy development but also for the maintenance of health. Most people are not getting enough sleep as it is, so in my opinion, any sleep position that allows you to get adequate sleep is the ideal position for you. If a particular position isn’t allowing for good-quality, restful sleep, then you should seek out a better position. Or if you are waking in pain or experiencing cramping in
an extremity such as an arm or leg after a full night’s sleep, it’s time to evaluate your sleep position.

What’s the absolute best sleep position? Unfortunately, research to answer this question reveals contradictory information, and the benefits of certain positions vary based on what is going on with an individual. For example, if you’re experiencing neck pain, back sleeping may help to eliminate that issue. However, if you suffer from sleep apnea, back sleeping is not helpful and can even be harmful. But most often, it has been shown that sleeping on your left side in the fetal position is the ideal sleeping position for most people. When you sleep on
your left side, it allows your body’s organs to better eliminate the waste in the intestines as well as promotes better blood flow through the major blood vessel in the body, the vena cava. This is also a good position if you suffer from neck pain or snore. Further, even though the body looks symmetrical on the outside, this isn’t the case on the inside. The heart, spleen, and stomach are all on the left side of the body, and because the aorta (the main blood vessel of the heart) arches over the left side of the heart, sleeping on your left side eliminates the possible congestion that can be created by sleeping on your right side. So sleeping on the left is better for your heart. Finally, sleeping on your left side levels off the acidic juices in your stomach and prevents the potential for reflux that can happen if you are a stomach sleeper.

Interestingly, your preferred sleep position can say a lot about your personality type. Stomach sleepers are known to be playful and free-spirited, but they can also experience chronic neck and back pain from this position, so they might want to consider a side-lying position. Back sleepers tend to be the strong and silent type, but as they get older, they may have difficulties with snoring or sleep apnea. However, back sleeping does help those with reflux and helps maintain the neutrality of the spine. The fetal position sleeper is known to be soft on the inside and hard on the outside. This may be the perfect “balance” of personality as it has been shown to be the best sleeping position for most people.

So what personality trait are you, and what sleep position do you fall into? And would you be willing to try it a different way tonight? If so, you may wake up feeling like a whole new person.

About the Author: Nilong Vyas, MD, is a mom of two children and the founder and owner of Sleepless in NOLA sleep consulting, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Sleepless in Seattle? Or Philadelphia? Or New York?

January 23, 2019 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Nilong Vyas, MD

Here’s how to solve sleep problems while traveling.

Insomnia can be a critical issue when traveling, when you need to be somewhere important and need to be rested; or mentally prepared for a meeting at work the next day. Most people reach for the quick fix of an over the counter pill such as melatonin, ZzzQuil, or prescription medications like Ambien. These remedies work, but they have many negative side effects, including dependence on these meds in order to be capable of falling asleep.

Melatonin works well. It’s useful when traveling across time zones to help you increase the amount of natural melatonin that is released in the body based on its circadian rhythm that may be out of sync since landing in a new time zone. It helps with sleep initiation (as one is falling asleep) but not the continuation of sleep (keeping one sleeping through the night). That is when a medicine such as ZzzQuil can be beneficial because it can help with the initiation of sleep and also maintenance of sleep. Like melatonin, Ambien helps you get to sleep but not necessarily stay asleep if awoken in the middle of the night.

The active ingredient in ZzzQuil is diphenhydramine HCl, an antihistamine whose side effect is to cause sleepiness. But there are multiple inactive ingredients such as various artificial color combinations, high fructose corn syrup, and alcohol. Melatonin pills mostly have melatonin unless it is a flavored tablet with other additives such as lavender or mint. Ambien (active substance zolpidem tartrate), however, has lots of additional additives such as colloidal silicon dioxide, hypromellose, microcrystalline cellulose, and polyethylene glycol, to name a few. These may cause sensitivity or reaction in some in addition to not fully assisting in fixing the insomnia.

My preference, as a sleep consultant, is to advise the use of non-consumable sleep aids that don’t have a risk of dependency such as blackout curtains, sound machines, blue-light restriction devices, and a soothing sleep environment. These tools can be used anywhere and everywhere to allow one to fall asleep easier by creating a proper environment for sleep. If there are situations in which these tools are not available or accessible, it is fine to use a medicinal sleep aid as long as it is used for a very short period of time (over the course of a weekend of travel). Also, if having a bout of insomnia that is atypical, using one of the medicinal sleep aids described above is acceptable, again for a short period of time.

When good sleep habits are not used and one comes to rely on medicinal sleep aids, the dependency grows and it is then hard to go back to simple sleep aids such as good sleep hygiene.

About the author: Nilong Vyas, MD, is the president and CEO of Sleepless in NOLA, in New Orleans.

Catching up on Sleep, Can it be Done?

January 16, 2019 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Nilong Vyas, MD

There is controversy on whether sleep debt can be repaid or not by ‘catching up on sleep.’ Some believe that one cannot catch up on sleep, once it’s lost, it’s lost. Others believe it’s possible to regain those lost hours if done correctly.

Sleep is oftentimes seen as a luxury that can be fulfilled if and when time allows as there is generally ‘more important things to do.’ However, we are learning from ongoing sleep research that sleep is as essential as eating, breathing, and exercise. It is during sleep that the body, mostly the brain, cleans itself and rids itself of toxins and waste byproducts. When sleep is put on the backburner and cut short, those processes don’t reach completion and can cause serious medical problems down the road.

Many people probably stayed up way past their normal bedtime for NYE. Most of those people, including myself, slept-in the following morning. Although it feels good to do this because one feels better rested, the potential downside is created when bedtime rolls around that night. If one slept-in till noon after a night of partying, it will be more difficult for the body to go to sleep at the normal bedtime that night thus causing the body to stay awake a little later than usual. The next day, when having to set that alarm for 6 a.m. in order to go to work, it will prove to be difficult and again the body will be forced to wake before it is ready to do so. That night, it may be easier for the body to go to sleep secondary to the irregular schedule from the last couple of days. However, it is when those signals are not listened to or responded to and the body is kept awake that the sleep debt can no longer be made up. In order to make up that sleep debt, it is advised to go to bed at an earlier time the night after partying, wake at the normal time of waking and again get to bed at an earlier time than usual or on time. The hours of lost sleep may not entirely be ‘made up’ but the benefits will prevail because of the routine that will be established. When the body catches up on sleep, it can resume its normal functions of cleaning and maintaining homeostasis.

The three things that can happen to one’s body when catching up on sleep can be positive or negative: 1. The body rejuvenates itself and cleans up the waste byproducts thus having a more efficient working system because it repays the debt that was acquired during the week; 2. The body gets put into an irregular daily schedule that causes a misfiring of the chemical and hormonal cycles that becomes hard to recover from leading to more fatigue secondary to acquiring sleep debt during the week and sleeping in on the weekend; 3: there is an increase in memory function and elasticity of the brain once the sleep debt is caught up. The key to not having to make up the sleep is to not create the sleep debt, to begin with. Of course, there will be those moments like New Year’s Eve that will call for a break in the normal sleep routine, but if those nights of sleep deprivation are kept to a minimum, ‘sleeping-in’ won’t have to be called in to recover from that loss.


Weird Things that Happen While You Sleep

November 26, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

By Nilong Vyas,  MD

During sleep, the body goes through multiple transitions and ‘duties’ while it extricates cells which have gone rogue and ‘cleans house.’ While the body may seem to be ‘sleeping,’ a term that is synonymous with lying still and resting, the actual body has other things on its mind! 

Some people, as they are falling asleep, experience an involuntary jerking motion (hypnagogic jerk or sleep myoclonus, medically speaking). There are multiple theories as to why this occurs in 70-80% of people as they are falling asleep and all of them are completely normal and not worrisome unless it creates anxiety or prevents one from sleeping deeply. Myoclonus may be a symptom in more complex sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome and may require treatment by a medical professional. However, the predominant occurrences are completely normal and of no concern. One theory states that the jerks are due to a primate reflex that is still present to this day as a protective measure in case the body (in its primate state) needs to be protected from falling out of a tree as it’s falling asleep. Another theory exists that as the body is transitioning from alertness to sleep, the nerves can ‘misfire’ and cause the body to jerk. Sometimes this causes wakefulness for its host but most of the time, sleep surpasses it.

For others, their teeth grind while they are sleeping. This is medically termed bruxism. It is estimated that 8% of adults and 33% of kids grind their teeth at night. More often than not, bruxism is not harmful and can be considered normal but it can eventually lead to dental damage, facial pain, and disturbed sleep if it occurs on a regular basis. If this occurs, a teeth guard made by a dentist is helpful. Also, decreasing stress in one’s life and improving sleep hygiene (getting adequate and good quality sleep by improving the sleep environment) is also helpful in eliminating or decreasing episodes of bruxism. 

Sleep paralysis is a ‘condition’ that can occur when one is waking up. When sleeping, the muscles relax in a paralytic type state. However, upon waking, it is required to come out of that state and move freely. If experiencing sleep paralysis, it causes an inability to move arms, legs, body, and head even though you are awake and aware of what’s happening. It can be quite frightening until it ends in a few minutes or seconds. Sleep paralysis can appear in the teen years or in the 20s and 30s. It is not a serious medical risk unless it occurs so frequently and creates anxiety around sleep and thus diminishes the quality of sleep. 

So much is being discovered about sleep on a daily basis as more research is being conducted. If you experience some of these ‘conditions,’ although they can be normal if they are affecting the quality of your sleep, the length or restfulness of sleep, then it is worth discussing it with your health care provider. One thing that can be done before seeking medical help is to improve your sleep hygiene. This specifically means getting to sleep at an appropriate time that is almost the same every night, waking up at a similar time every morning, setting up a proper environment for sleep that is relaxing and comfortable, and decreasing substances used to get to sleep or eliminating substances that prohibit sleep (alcohol). 

Of course, if you need personalized information for your specific issue or condition, contact us at www.sleeplessinnola.com for a free 20-minute consultation.

About the author: Dr. Vyas is a mom of two children and the founder and owner of Sleepless in NOLA sleep consulting, in New Orleans, LA.

Does Students’ Sleep Suffer

October 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Student SleepBy Nilong Vyas, MD

Students have so much on their plates these days and a lot more distractions that keep them occupied. So what is the thing that gets put on the back burner after school work, social ‘work’ and social media? SLEEP!! They ‘borrow’ from sleep to ‘pay’ the fun things in their lives. Plus, because they are off at college, they no longer have the nagging effects of their parent’s voices saying, ‘GO TO BED!!”.

There is plenty of research showing the importance of good sleep and sleep hygiene and a direct negative relation to bad habits in these areas and their grades. Without adequate sleep, not only are their grades affected and thus potential future success but it also affects their long-term (and short-term memory), their physical health and wellbeing as well as their ability to concentrate and focus.

Now that they are adults, whatever habits they create now since they are self-sufficient, they will keep through adulthood. In order to avoid the need for sleep aids in their 40’s, it’s best to establish those good sleep habits now.

Since students were used to having someone dictate when they have to go to sleep, now in college, it is imperative for them to figure to how to force those parameters onto themselves. They must make sleep a priority. One way to do this is to set timers for themselves (on their smart devices) that remind them when it should be time to wind down and start thinking about sleep. They can set a timer to remind them they have 20 min or so to finish up whatever they are working on. Then another timer to get themselves ready for bed (self-care—brushing teeth and washing face, changing into PJs, etc). And another timer for when they should get into bed and be trying to fall asleep (after reading a book, etc). They should have all electronic devices on night mode at this point (at the first timer) so as not to disturb their overnight sleep waves and hormones.

Putting this regimen into practice will allow them to improve their sleep quality and duration and allow them to be more efficient as well as earn better grades and be potentially more successful in life. #winning.


About the author: Dr. Vyas is a mom of two children and the founder and owner of Sleepless in NOLA sleep consulting, in New Orleans, LA.

Signs Your Child May Need “Sleep Training” {aka Parent Training}

August 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Nilong Parikh Vyas, MD, MPH

Signs Your Child May Need Sleep Training: A Pediatrician’s Tale

Having a baby was one of the most wonderful, emotionally satisfying and beautiful things that has ever happened to me. After the initial exhilaration wore off and we finally got to take our bundle of joy home, it suddenly hit us: now what do we do? The reality was that – as amazing as it all was – I had no idea what to do. Combine that with the exhaustion from lack of sleep and, well, it was a bit overwhelming. Then came all the well intended advice from friends and family…

“You will be so exhausted but because you love your baby so much, you’ll somehow get through it.”

“You will want to hold that baby in your arms all day, everyday, and never put him down,”

“It’s the best thing that has ever happened to you so just deal with all the hard stuff!”

“You can sleep, shower and eat – when the baby sleeps.”

Granted, some of those things turned out to be true, but for me it was hard. Really, REALLY hard. I was not just physically exhausted but emotionally as well. I loved this baby; I really wanted this baby. I wanted to spend every waking moment with this baby, but wait … did I really? I was beyond tired, and it proved to be much more difficult than I expected. I thought that I was well-qualified for motherhood because I had loved (and was good at) all my baby-sitting jobs growing up. Moreover, I was a trained pediatrician. But I quickly realized that neither the universe nor pediatric residency prepared me for the hardest job of them all: motherhood.

My bundle of joy was 4 months old, super cranky and so was the rest of my family. He was cranky when I held him and even crankier when I put him down. He would fall asleep in my arms, but as soon as I would put him down, he would wake up, cry, and the process would start all over again. I would get him to sleep, walk out of the room, the floorboards would creak and he would be up again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

I had to do something for the sake of my child and my own sanity…

The Solution: Sleep Training (aka Parent Training)

The one common thread through all the books I read on the topic of sleep was that I needed to follow my baby’s cues and let him guide me (instead of the other way around). I had to figure out what he was trying to tell me that I couldn’t hear, couldn’t judge or wasn’t listening to properly. As I watched him more closely, I noticed a pattern emerging. I monitored his sleep cues, as well as his hunger cues, trying my best not to confuse the two. I noticed that when I followed his sleepy cues, he would sleep. When I followed his hunger cues (and fed him only when I saw those), he ate better, which led him to sleep better, which led him to be happier. A less cranky baby led to a less cranky mommy. Common sense, right? But oh so hard to decipher when you’re in the thick of infant sleep deprivation, adjusting to motherhood and possibly returning to work on top of it all.

As I made this change, my son’s sleep cycles and feeding cycles became more predictable and so did my own life. Granted, I had many friends and family that told me they were “anti-schedule.” They said things like, “let the baby decide when he’s hungry and sleepy, and do not put him on a schedule. Let him sleep when he wants to and feed when he wants to.” Was putting him on a “schedule” going against nature and doing something wrong for my baby?

I soon realized that I was indeed following nature (my baby’s cues), and a schedule was emerging on its own, with only a minimal amount of input from me. This wasn’t MY schedule; it was my baby’s schedule. Then, I knew with confidence that I was doing the right thing. Not only did I notice a palpable increase in both mine and my baby’s overall happiness, I also noticed significant jumps in his development. I had the baby that everyone noted “you are so lucky to have such a sweet, happy and alert baby. He is so easy but wait until you have the next one!” Well, guess what? I did have that next one, and I put the same principles into play. And what do you know? I got really lucky. TWICE!!

Note to all: luck had nothing to do with it!

So What Is Involved With Sleep Training?

Many people think that sleep training is harmful to your child, that it involves leaving your child to cry for hours on end and that it’s akin to cruel and unusual punishment. What terrible parent would have a baby just to torment that child into fitting into their lifestyle and schedule? NO ONE!!

Sleep training is not the best term. It should more appropriately be called sleep adjustment, sleep tolerance, sleep associations, or my personal favorite: Parent Training. Just call it anything BUT sleep training. Parent training means that you are training yourself, as a parent, to learn what the baby is trying to tell you. In fact, you don’t have to do any of the hard work: just figure out your baby’s cues, and they will lead you. If you do that, the rest is easy and falls into place. It’s a matter of assessing his/her needs and putting in the necessary steps to fulfill those needs. In the process, he learns to soothe himself. You have to establish routine and consistency, and everyone can at least agree that a child needs that to grow and meet their milestones to reach their full potential.

If a child is not well-rested, it can lead to numerous problems throughout his lifetime. In the short term, sleep deprived children can be slow to meet developmental milestones. Of course kids will ultimately learn to walk, talk, read and write, but it’s more likely to happen readily and without much challenge if the child has had adequate sleep. A well-rested child is emotionally stable, more capable of dealing with the world around her and more willingly redirected. Lastly,a well-rested child yields a well-rested adult, which in turn allows you to be at your best when interacting with your child.

So how do you know if your family may benefit from parent training?

What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation?

  • Your child usually cries when you put them down to sleep
  • You have to lay with your baby for them to fall asleep
  • Your child falls asleep every time they are in the car
  • She is difficult to soothe and put to sleep
  • She is a perpetual ‘catnapper’
  • Multiple things have to be done to get her to sleep including continuous rocking, feeding, bouncing, walking, etc
  • Your child will fall asleep when you are holding her and wake moments after she is put down, even when you thought she was ‘fast asleep’
  • She cries even when you are rocking her
  • She takes longer and longer to fall asleep in your arms. This is mostly because children get distrustful when they fall asleep one place and wake up in another. Imagine if you fell asleep on the sofa and ended up in your bed – it would be very confusing for you! For the child, falling asleep in your arms then waking in their crib is more than a little disconcerting
  • If your child has been deemed ‘very active, hyper, can’t stop, always on the go, and doesn’t need much sleep’. Hint: ALL children need sleep and plenty of it

If you said yes to any of the above statements, it’s likely that your child suffers from sleep deprivation. It is one thing if you want to go to sleep with your child at 7:00 pm and want to lay with them in their bed, but if you are doing it because you have to – because it’s the only way they will get to sleep – then it’s a problem.

Every new parent wants to rock their child and have them fall asleep on their chest; that is the most precious feeling in the world. It is an entirely different story when that HAS to be the norm, rather than it being a special occasion. Everyone in the household needs good, quality sleep. Period. End of story. And it’s not great if it only happens occasionally; it NEEDS to happen Every.Single.Night!

If you rock or nurse your child to sleep and they stay asleep through the night, then there is no need to change a thing. If your child is happy, and you are happy, I’m happy. A lot of moms say “my baby only wakes up, feeds and goes right back to sleep, we don’t have any sleep problems at all.” That may be okay for you, and it seems to be okay for the baby. But while she is feeding, her brain is working, telling the organs to start working. The stomach is working, the gut is working … the pancreas, liver and kidneys, all working to process that meal she has in the middle of the night. That means her body is not resting, her organs are not regenerating and healing themselves as they are required to do during sleep. And even though mothers say they are sleeping through their infants nursing all night, there is a part of your brain that is awake throughout the process because you need to know at all times where you are in relation to your baby and where your baby is in relation to you. You are not going into a deep slumber as you should to regenerate yourself. But again, if you are happy and your baby is happy, I’m happy. I am mainly advising that if you wish for your child to sleep through the night and it’s developmentally safe and appropriate, it is indeed possible.

Preventing the Sleep Deprived Child

To prevent a sleep deprived child, parents and caregivers should follow these guidelines:

  • DO put your child to sleep following her natural sleep cues
  • DO put her to sleep drowsy but awake
  • DO maintain consistency and sense of routine as children thrive and depend on this
  • DO what feels right for you and your family and DO trust your gut
  • DO NOT let your baby fall asleep in one place and then move her somewhere else
  • DO NOT turn on TV or engage her at night if she wakes up
  • DO NOT think that this is just a phase and they will eventually become good sleepers. Remember, good sleepers as infants make good sleepers as adults

Go the F*#@ to Sleep

January 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

by Mommy MD Guide Cheryl Wu, MD

My son, like most children his age, makes delaying going to bed an Olympic event. He’s persistent, untiring, incredibly creative, and keeps the prize squarely in his mind’s eye: going to sleep as late as humanly possible. He will delay everything. He will beg to play downstairs a little while longer. He will make sure to stack his train tracks just SO when it’s time to clean up. He will take forever to go upstairs (he is likely the inventor of the world’s most varied footsteps climbing a 26-step staircase). He will find every excuse to not go in the bath (it’s too cold, it’s too hot, it’s not enough water, it’s too much water, he needs two washcloths, he needs more bath salt). He’ll run around naked after his bath. He’ll pick out four books to read and insist on reading them in a certain order. Then after lights out, he’ll ask me to tell him more stories. Then when I tell him (often repeatedly) that he needs to go to sleep, he tells me, “Mommy, it’s so hard to go to sleep!” as he gets into various yoga headstand positions. Koi, in short, embodies the opposite of sleep. The bedtime routine works out beautifully in my household—he knows EXACTLY what comes next, so he knows that he can delay bedtime by a significant amount of time if he delays each step just enough to not get him in trouble.

So the other night, after I finally got Koi to turn off the lights (I’m not allowed to turn off the lights in my own house), after reading him two books, one of them twice, he begged me to tell him a story. Now, when I tell my son stories, he imagines himself right into them; he tells Goldilocks to not break the chair, Cinderella to run fast when the clock strikes 12 (in my version, when she gets to the castle, she decides marriage is not for her and enrolls instead in grad school to get her PhD), and the Ugly Duckling that he’s beautiful on the inside. It’s really pretty endearing. It’s the development of a human mind and its vast capacity for imagination, blossoming before my very eyes. I know I need to nurture that, but not at freaking 10 to 9.

So that night, I said to Koi, “What story do you want to hear?” He, of course, didn’t miss a beat; “What stories do you have?” I said, “Well, the only story I have is a boring one—you get that or nothing.” He thought about it and decided that a boring story is better than none at all. So I started telling him this entirely made-up story:

“A mouse was really, really hungry, and he’s craving rice. He found this enormous warehouse full of grains of rice. He was super excited and got to work. He went into the house, took a grain of rice, brought it outside, and put it in a pile. He then went back into the house, took a grain of rice, brought it outside, and put it in a pile. He then went back into the house, took a grain of rice, brought it outside, and put it in a pile.”

After about the sixth repeat, Koi exclaimed somewhat giddily, “Wow, that’s a lot of rice!” I said, “Yeah, this mouse was really, really hungry. So…he went back into the house, took a grain of rice, brought it outside, and put it in a pile. He went back into the house, took a grain of rice, brought it outside, and put it in a pile. He then went right back in the house, took a grain of rice, brought it outside, and put it in a pile.”

Koi stopped me again, “It’s the same thing over and over, Mom!” I said, “Well, there’s a LOT of rice in the big warehouse. So he went back into the house, took a grain of rice…” Koi interrupted me again, “Mommy I think the owner just came back, and he’s really mad when he saw the mouse, and yelled, ‘Why are you stealing my rice?’”

I said, “No, the owner’s on a month-long sabbatical in Europe with his family. He just left two days ago, so he won’t be back for another 28 days. So the mouse went back into the house, took a grain of rice, brought it outside, and put it in a pile. He then went back in the house, took a grain of rice, brought it outside, and put it in a pile. He then went back…”

Koi stopped me yet again (I mean, can a mom finish telling a story around here?), and said, “Mommy, there are all these people walking by, and they can see the mouse taking the rice!” I said, “Nah, this little mouse is pretty smart—he made sure to use the side door, and the pile was out back, so there are very few people walking around, and they can’t see him anyway because it’s getting dark. So…the little mouse went back into the house, took a grain of rice, brought it outside, and put it in a pile. He then went back in the house, took a grain of…”

Koi was now yelling, “Mom! This is so boring! Why does he need so much rice? The pile must be so big now!” I said, “Well, you wanted to hear a story; winter’s coming up, so he needs to store up a lot of rice. And besides, grains of rice are so small that it’s not that big a pile yet. Wait, let me tell you what happens next: the mouse went back in the house, took a grain of rice, brought it outside, and put it in a pile. THEN, [acting like it was a turning point in the story] he went back in the house, took a grain of rice, brought it….”

Koi started to beg, “Mommy don’t you have ANOTHER story? What about the Big Bad Wolf? Isn’t he hungry? He’s gonna come and eat the mouse!” I said, “No, he just had Little Red Riding Hood at grandma’s house—he’s good for a while, man. So the mouse went back in the house, took another grain of rice, brought it outside, and put it in a pile…”

At this point, Koi finally gave up and groaned. “I don’t want to hear about the mouse anymore!” I said, “Oh, so you want to go to sleep now?” “But it’s so haaaaarrrrd to go to sleep!!! [extreme whining]” “Ok, so the mouse went back in the house, took a grain of rice, brought it outside…” “Ok Mommy, I’ll go to sleep now.”

Score: Mom. I actually did a victory dance in my head.

Advice to parents—you can use this story, or any variation thereof, if you have one of these children. Basically, find a super-boring story line, and repeat the same four lines over and over and over again. Set it up so it makes sense that you’re repeating the same four lines: scooping water from the ocean with a spoon works well, as does counting blades of grass on a mountain. Make it with a bit of rhythm, so at least it’s fun for you to say.

Now, if you know how to get my kid in the bathtub in under a minute, please let me know. Til next time, everyone.

Sleep Much?

April 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Julie Davidson

by Julie Davidson

I recall before having kids so many people would say things to the effect of, “Enjoy those quiet nights of sound sleep. They’ll end.”  Ahhhh…the sounds of unsolicited advice.

But it’s kind of true. Be honest. How much really good sleep have you had since you had kids? And this doesn’t include the ones you’ve had after having a glass of wine before bed. When I think back to before I had children, I remember staying up late. I’m talking way after the ten o’clock news. Just because I could. And then I’d sleep in until noon. Again, because I could.

Pregnancy and all of its discomfort has a way of bringing on the beginning of interrupted sleep. That bump on the front side makes for some rather uncomfortable sleeping solutions. Your back is sore, and you fidget back and forth from side to side. And even once you do find a comfortable position, thanks in part to your unborn child squishing what once seemed like a normal bladder, you spend much of the night making trips to the bathroom.

When the newborn arrives, sleep really becomes a precious commodity. You’ll never convince me that it’s normal to be woken up to a screaming voice every two to three hours for a few months. I understand it’s necessary and part of the cycle, but I gotta be honest, it scared the junk out of me. My baby was so angelic when he was asleep, but then, without notice, he’d wake up and cry until his face was three shades different from his own and the vein on his forehead would pop out. Hey, I like a midnight snack every now and then, but if I pulled that scenario, I’d be locked up.

So at some point you probably realized that it would be good for you and your family if you could get more sleep. But how? Your body and the kids seem to be in cahoots to keep you sleep deprived. You’re on call. All night. Every night. And even when a frightened voice doesn’t call out to you in the middle of the night because of a bad dream, your body magically just wakes up. For no reason at all.

Have you tried a Mom’s night away? It doesn’t have to be out of town or at a fancy hotel. Think “slumber party for moms.” Consider going just yourself overnight somewhere that no one will scare the living daylight out of you as they stand over your bed at 5:00 in the morning looking for breakfast. It’s likely the only thing someone will yell out in the middle of the night is, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

Next Page »

The information on MommyMDGuides.com is not intended to replace the diagnosis, treatment, and services of a physician. Always consult your physician or child care expert if you have any questions concerning your family's health. For severe or life-threatening conditions, seek immediate medical attention.