“I am jolted awake. I wait a heartbeat to get my bearings, and then realize what woke me up. It’s Delainy, talking in her sleep again, which I can hear, clear as day, because Delainy is sleeping in a closet in our bedroom, on a cot. But I am the mom here. I know Delainy is scared to sleep in her own room, and I have to admit, this is better than her tossing and turning and kicking the bejesus out of me when she slept in our bed. But something has to change. I can’t spend another two years waking up every other hour because I hear her toss and I turn. I have got to figure out what’s wrong with my daughter’s sleep so I can get some of my own.” – Chelsea, mom
Sleep Couldn’t Be the Issue…Could It?
Chelsea and her husband Johan had been watching Delainy start acting out over the past couple of years. Her teachers were saying that she was having trouble focusing in school and staring off into space. She’d gone from a generally moody five-year-old to throwing unanticipated temper tantrums at home. They knew something was wrong, so they met with Delainy’s pediatrician, who suggested the issue could be stemming from her diet and possibly sleep. They knew it must be her diet, since Delainy was getting plenty of sleep each night. Plus, Chelsea asked her all the time if she was tired, and Delainy always said no…but she did have dark purple circles under her eyes a lot.
The pediatrician ran blood tests and found that Delainy was deficient in zinc and iron, so they started her on supplements immediately. They also made some changes to her diet, but Chelsea and Johan were not seeing the improvements she had hoped for in Delainy’s behavior and mood. Then, Chelsea’s “mother’s intuition” started to tingle: “At that point, I knew there was something wrong with her sleep. It had seemed silly when the doctor originally suggested the idea, but after a couple of months, I just knew he was right.” – Chelsea, mom
A Sleep Lab? No Way!
The pediatrician suggested that they take Delainy to the nearby University of Colorado to get a sleep study for Delainy, where she would spend a night in their facility, attached to a bunch of wires and electrodes, while sleep technicians would observe and identify any areas of concern in Delainy’s sleep. However, that was not going to happen.
“There was just no way that Delainy was going to do that. To be by herself in a strange bed with strange people watching? Never gonna happen.” – Chelsea, mom
Shortly after, Chelsea heard about Knit. Knit is the only sleep improvement program for kids that provides comparable insights to those from a sleep lab. During the analysis, Knit gathers data about a child’s sleep patterns and possible breathing disturbances. After the assessment period, board-certified experts in sleep medicine review the insights produced by the sophisticated neural network to draw conclusions about the child’s sleep health and make actionable recommendations to improve. Knit gathers all of this data from the comfort of home with state-of-the-art camera vision technology that doesn’t require wires or wearables.
“I jumped at the chance to try Knit. I was so worried about Delainy’s sleep and didn’t feel like I had any viable options to see whether my worry was valid or not.” – Chelsea, mom
Chelsea was a little concerned about how Delainy would feel having a camera in her room, so she was very honest with her about why it was so important: “I told her that I’m worried about her sleep. I’m worried about her behavior during the day. I’m worried about her being able to learn at school.” Turns out, Chelsea’s concern about the camera was unnecessary. Delainy loved the Knit camera! When she spent a night at her grandmother’s house, Delainy would always ask, “But will the camera miss me?” She wanted to watch the videos of herself waking up during the night because she thought they were so funny. Her engagement in the process took it as far away from clinical or scary as possible, and more closely to magical.
I Knew I Was Right!
When Chelsea opened up Delainy’s sleep report, she let out a breath that she hadn’t even realized she’d been holding.
“It confirmed what I had worried about but hadn’t really believed. There were tons of areas where we could improve her sleep, and it was the motivation we needed to get on it so we could improve her daytimes.” – Chelsea, mom
There were a few areas where Chelsea and Johan were able to make immediate adjustments to Delainy’s sleep environment and rituals that could make a world of difference. First, Delainy was too hot every night, but she had never said anything. The temperature sensor on the Knit camera jump-started the conversation, and Chelsea was quickly able to replace Delainy’s bedding and blankets with cooler options.
Second, Delainy’s screen time habits were now impossible to ignore. She didn’t have a terrible routine – but she would occasionally watch a TV show before bed, or wake up early on the weekends to sneak one in before the day started. The report spelled out why both of those screen-related behaviors were bad for her sleep.
- Blue light just before bed throws off our internal circadian rhythm so your body isn’t aware that it’s supposed to start producing melatonin in preparation for sleep.
- Delainy really needed every minute of sleep she could get, so waking up early because of the temptation of the screen was detrimental to her overall sleep health.
Making Changes and Seeing Improvements
Since receiving the report, Chelsea and Johan have made some major changes to Delainy’s sleep environment, routine and habits:
- Delainy now sleeps in a regular bed in her own room
- Her blankets are lighter and she has a down comforter that’s thinner
- She has a nightlight in her room
- Her bedtime has moved to 7pm so she’s asleep by 7:30pm
These changes have produced some amazing results. For the first time ever, Delainy is sleeping through the entire night, in her own bed. She no longer comes into her parents’ room during the night, meaning Chelsea and Johan are getting better sleep as well. Additionally, Delainy has been eating more, which could be due to the fact that she’s better rested, and an improved diet could be contributing to her better sleep. Finally, Chelsea admits that Delainy is still a dramatic five-year-old girl, but the tantrums that were obviously because of poor sleep quality have gone away.
Keeping the Momentum Going
With the dramatic changes they’ve seen, Chelsea and Johan plan to continue to make changes and adjustments to the inputs to Delainy’s sleep over which they have control, such as adding a humidifier to Delainy’s room over the winter, and track her continued progress with the ongoing Knit service. With Knit, they are easily able to check on Delainy’s sleep quality and trends in the app, and will receive a data-rich updated report comparing the before and after of their changes, so they can definitively see that they’re on the right track.
After they’ve made all of the at-home adjustments they can, they will reevaluate Delainy’s sleep health and daytime mood and behavior to determine if there is still significant room for improvement. At that point, they may visit an allergist or sleep specialist to go even further down the path to perfect sleep health.
“I’m so happy now that all of my concerns have been validated. I just had an intuition that sleep was the issue, and it’s a huge weight off my shoulders that I have the data and proof I need to make others believe it.” – Chelsea, mom
Passing the Insights Along to Other Parents
If kids are starting to display attention span or behavioral problems, one of the first places parents should look is sleep.
“I think a lot of kids have interrupted or bad sleep and parents just don’t understand that it’s related to behavioral issues. I want to help get the word out that parents should pay attention, and that Knit is way to get the information they need.” – Chelsea, mom
To help our kids thrive academically, emotionally and behaviorally, we need to start paying attention to their sleep.