Gentle Sleep Bedtime Tips

By March 26, 2015 Guest Expert, Sleep 3 Comments

Have you recently thought, “just go to bed!”?  If so, you will love this video on gentle sleep bedtime tips.

Sleep deprivation is a critical issue, impacting all aspects of life for both parents and children. Our next stop in the mission to stop the fighting, yelling, and frustration is an interview with Betsy Smith Barney, a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach who helps families get the sleep they deserve.

Betsy works with parents of children from infancy through age six on family-centered goals, such as:

  • Children learning to stay in bed all night
  • Children learning to fall back asleep when they awake during the night
  • Decreasing early-rising (waking early in the morning)

To understand why your child is having trouble falling or staying sleep, an important question to ask yourself is, “What does my child want?” Children often become accustomed to a certain type of input when falling asleep, such as being rocked, listening to music, or being in the presence of Mom or Dad. An important goal is helping a child become comfortable lying quietly in bed, “trying” to sleep, without this external input. This is an important skill for both falling asleep at bed time and falling back asleep if they awaken during the night!

One common myth is that a child who stays up later will be more tired and therefore fall asleep easier. This is not true! In reality, there is a “critical window” of time when children are most successful falling asleep. If a child misses this window, their brain starts releasing chemicals to keep them awake, which is counter-productive to sleep.

Sleep needs and bedtimes vary from child to child, but Betsy reports these averages:

When sleep is difficult, children often become anxious towards bedtimes as sleeping time nears. This anxiety is often influenced by parents’ own displays of anxiety or desperation for sleep. Consequently, dread sets in by both the parent and the child!

If you’re looking to improve your child’s sleep patterns so they (and you) are more calm, well-rested and happy, Betsy says you can expect a difference after only 12 days of sleep coaching.

Want more great tips? Be sure to watch the video interview with Betsy. Improving your family’s sleep is one critical step in rediscovering peace and happiness in your home. You can also find additional strategies to help get your child’s sleep back on track, visit Besty Smith Barney’s website: http://betsybarney.com.


  • Mary Beth says:

    Thank you Betsy. We have an intense brain 8 year old who struggles with feeling comfortable being sleepy and falling asleep ( which I just learned watching this video ). I also did the ferber cry it out method when he was 6 mo old and after watching realized that too was an Inadvertant mistake. Do you have any tips for me now that we are 8? We have a consistent bedtime time and routine already. But my little intense brain still has a hard time shutting down and sleeping his full 10-11 hours. thank you!

  • Mary Beth says:

    I posted a comment last night but do not see it here. Did I do it wrong? Please advise. Thanks!

  • Betsy says:

    Hi Mary Beth,
    I’m sorry I didn’t respond sooner!

    My training covers children age 4 months thru 6 years so I’m definitely not an expert on an 8 year old. That said, here are a few thoughts:

    -Part of the reason my training stops at age 6 is because after that, sleep issues tend to be a lot more behavioral/complicated. I would think implementing all the strategies in Sam’s program would help. For expample- not fighting fire with fire. If his brain is releasing “calming chemicals” versus “fiery chemicals” I would think that would help him wind down at bedtime.

    -A consistent bedtime routine is great! Depending on how long it is, you may need to make it longer for 2 reasons.
    1. IF you’re a working mom a longer bedtime routine can help them reconnect with mom/dad and give them some of the attention they crave or help with separation anxiety (yes, it’s still possible at that age). Think of that as a good thing if your child wants to spend more time with you.
    2. A longer bedtime routine may give him the time his body needs (physically) to unwind and prepare his brain/body for rest. Are there any sensory cravings? Physical touch may help his body prepare for sleep. You may want to do a little research on that but I would suggest massage, yoga, etc.

    -What happens as he struggles to fall asleep? Does he just lie there for a long time and then fall asleep or does he get frustrated? If so, does he ask for anything? You or your husband to go back into the room? If so, I think that goes back to behavioral.

    -Lastly, restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea tend to be under diagnosed in children. Do some research. If your child has warning signs for either go ahead and talk to your physician. Be persistent!

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