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Brigitte Langevin is a sleep specialist. She is a speaker and author whose goal is to improve the quality of sleep and understand dreams. She is the author of several books on the subject. Helping my child sleep provides a great deal of information for parents. She is a dynamic person who is much sought-after for her humour and ability to make theoretical and scientific concepts accessible to all. Nights are more satisfying so performances during the day are improved thanks to her help!

 

Son wakes up at midnight

 

Question:

I am the mother of an 11 month old boy who wakes up around midnight every night. He falls asleep on his own when I put him down for the night, but when he wakes up at midnight he does not go back to sleep. He cries and is very upset. He is unable to fall asleep again on his own. He wants me to hold him. This happens every night. I am exhausted so he often ends up in our bed. Because of this, we sleep very poorly. We are unhappy with the situation. Do you have any advice to help us find serenity and enjoy sleeping once again?

 

Answer:
The fact that your son wakes up every night at about the same time indicates that the problem may be conditioned insomnia. For some reason, your baby uses a brief cycle of wakening (which we all have) to wake up completely and to request your presence. Since the first time (and he may have had a nightmare that time) you responded to his cries and comforted him (which was fine by the way), he now wants to take advantage of this time with you every night. He uses his brief cycle of wakening to wake up completely every night, whether he has a bad dream or not.


I fully understand your need to sleep. Bringing him to your bed allows the entire family to go back to sleep. However, the situation will not improve if you continue to act this way. Children have gone from waking up once to several times per night in order to join their parents in their bed.


You must adopt a strategy which consists of not bringing him to your bed. Warn him. Tell him what you expect of him. He will understand. The next night, when he wakes up and calls for you, you may go to him and lay him back down in his crib. You must be firm and say: Go to sleep, it is night-time. I will see you in the morning. Return to your bed. If he continues to cry, you may go see him only one more time. Repeat the same words. The following night, go see him only once. Avoid going to see him altogether on the subsequent nights. Since the benefit has ceased, he will cry less each night and eventually, he will stop waking up. The process should not take more than 3 or 4 nights if you stop going to see him and are capable of living with his anger.


If you are worried about letting him cry or if you are not firmly determined to succeed, do not begin this strategy. Backing down once you have begun or looking at your watch and telling yourself you will go get him in twenty or thirty minutes if he is still crying will give your baby confirmation that it is worth crying for a long period of time, that his parents will eventually give in. To love your child is to teach him autonomy...even at his young age.

 

Brigitte Langevin, author
Speaker and teacher


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