It’s the most wonderful time of the year… wait a minute… I think we are getting mixed up with Christmas. It is the G E R M I E S T time of the year… which we can all agree is less then wonderful. 

If you are like us, we have been on a germ roller coaster since the end of October… and man are we ready to get off this ride. We know, we know… germs are unavoidable so we continue to truck through and focus on getting our kids the SLEEP they need, to help set their immune system up with the best possible chance of warding off the next set of germs coming their way. 

So, the next big question is “how do I navigate and support my children’s independent sleep through germ season?” 

Supporting independent sleep through germ season can sometimes feel like a tricky obstacle course to navigate… which can have us feeling like we are going to unravel all our hard work. Our children tend to be a bit more needy when they aren’t well and a bit more restless at night especially when fighting off a cough, fever or when they are very congested. 

Fear not, although we are juggling a lot of variables during this time, there are some simple things we can do to help our children’s sleep stay on track (for the most part). 

Always Consult Your Doctor

If your child is sick, it is always best to get a doctor’s opinion first, to ensure they are safe and cared for in a medical sense. This often helps put our minds at ease, when we are responding to our children’s needs, especially at night time. 

Sleep is one of the best medicines (along with what your doctor recommends) so if your child has strong sleep skills, they will likely still be sleeping fairly well considering their illness.  

Rest is Best. 

Often offering our children the ability to relax and sleep as much as they need is just what they need (but often not all they need). This may look like naps on the couch while cuddling with mom or dad (and that is ok!). 

It may not be what your usually do but when our children are sick, we make concessions so they feel comfortable, safe and supported, which helps them heal. 

Set Them Up For Comfort. 

Even when our children are sick, it is important to keep with your normal bedtime routine (if they are very ill, this may just be a condensed version based on what they can tolerate).  

An earlier bedtime may be helpful when our kids are not feeling well to ensure they get the rest they need. 

It is also important to set their rooms up for success to support them overnight. They may need the support of a humidifier in their bedroom to help with congestion or to have their pillows propped up slightly (if they are of the age to use a pillow), to help reduce coughing etc. 

And yes, you guessed it! Extra check ins may happen and this is also ok and normal too. When our kids aren’t well, they may need our reassurance when working on resettling. 

Let’s Go Camping? 

If your child is very sick and you need to be with them, that is perfectly fine, however it is best to camp out in their room on a portable bed (like an air mattress). 

Why… you may ask? By doing it this way it is less confusing for our children when we go to them rather than when we bring them into our bed. It is a lot easier for us to leave when they are feeling better than for us to get them out of our bed… because who doesn’t love being with their parents… do I hear sleepover party?! 

So, What We Are Saying… 

To summarize, the main changes we should make when our children are sick is to: 

  • Medicate as directed; 
  • Offer extra love and comfort; 
  • Offer lots of opportunities for rest; 
  • Provide your child with the same structure around sleep as you always have; 

Be Sure To Remember… 

For children who are already independent sleepers; sleep should help improve their healing time as they sleep through their illness and get the rest their bodies need. 

A general rule of thumb is that it takes “three” days to form a habit, so if your child is sick and you have had to modify the rules slightly, just be aware of how long you have been bending the rules, and try to get back on track as soon as possible. 

Get Well Soon! 

We hope you and your family are staying healthy (or as healthy as you can be) during this germ season and are feeling well soon! If after a period of illness, your child’s sleep does not return to where it should be, be sure to reach out! We can help you get their sleep back on track.