I also learned that all the things I gleaned from this experience could be applied to my preschooler and even to myself.
So here is a list of 5 basic things I learned that help a lot:
- Dimming the lighting one hour before bedtime and not allowing any energetic activities in that time leading up to bed.
- For the sensitive (which my youngest is), no TV (or computer time) 3 hours before bedtime: It tricks the brain into thinking it's full daylight, instead of time for the melatonin level to start increasing.
- Exercising! Daytime exercise can make a big difference--even for a little toddler--but it should be finished about 3 hours before bedtime.
- Keeping a consistent wake time is just as important as keeping a consistent bedtime--even on the weekends. (This one was so hard for me to learn because there's something in me that protests against waking a sleeping child! And though my older child doesn't need this, my younger one did for a long time because if I let her sleep in too long in the morning she didn't want to nap later, and then she was too overtired to sleep well at night.)
- "Sleep begets sleep." I can't emphasize this enough, as I've seen it over and over again. Until recently, if my youngest took a good nap during the day, she would sleep much better at night, so that nap was crucial for keeping us on track.