We’ve been concerned lately because our youngest, Andrew has been consistently waking up VERY early. This usually makes him a little tired and unruly throughout the day. Not only that, since he sleeps in the same room with Caleb, he would wake Caleb up, too – usually asking for assistance in logging him on to the computer. This has definitely been affecting Caleb’s mood as well. There are plenty of studies that show problems related to lack of sleep for children. (A few links below for anyone interested.)
At first, we tried to address this issue with a simple fix – No computers in the morning. That didn’t work. Andrew would wake up Caleb and ask him to do other things like play with legos or play games. We had to take some drastic measures… Tenille’s solution was to separate the boys and have them sleep in their own rooms with strict instructions to Andrew that he is not to enter Caleb’s room. I was a little sad that they would be separated, but with his crack of dawn habits, it had to be done. I felt a little bad because this solution works for Caleb, but it doesn’t help Andrew get any more sleep.
After some discussion, we devised a plan. We would set an alarm for Andrew and tell him that he can not get out of bed until the alarm goes off. At first, we proposed just giving him a clock, but I thought that the effort of trying to read a clock and determine if it’s time to get up or not would definitely wake him up. The point was to try and see if we can keep him sleeping longer. With the alarm, perhaps we could re-program him subconsciously so that he would become dependent on hearing on the alarm to wake up.
At first, we would set the alarm early, so that he would wake up to it. Then, little by little, we would set the alarm later and later… in hopes that his moldable, little brain will become dependent on hearing the alarm…
Yesterday was day 1 of the experiment. Andrew usually has been waking up between 6:30 and 7. I set the alarm at 7am and gave Andrew instructions that he was not to leave the bed until the alarm went off. If he was able to do this, I would find a special treat for him. I showed him how to turn off the alarm and left the room. He seemed pretty motivated by the treat, so I had high hopes.
The next morning, I heard the alarm clock ringing. About a minute later, I heard it turn off. I was excited to see if it worked. I got out of bed to go ask Andrew if he was able to stay in bed until the alarm clock. When I opened his door, he had crawled back into bed and was fast asleep.
Not what I expected… But, there’s something magical about an alarm clock that makes you want to keep sleeping. Maybe, it’s that little sense of defiance in us. You can’t tell me when to wake up! I’ll wake up when I’m good and ready. I should have known that this would have worked well for Andrew. Between the two boys, Andrew is definitely the more “defiant” one. Defiant may perhaps be too strong of a word. “Independent” might be more appropriate. He likes to find his own way. Sometimes that’s not good, but independence is also a virtue. I would imagine that most of the great entrepreneurs, explorers, inventors have an independent streak. Confidence that they could do things better than those before them.
Anyway, Andrew was not going to let an alarm tell him when to wake up. He ended up sleeping for another 30 minutes then came into my room. I told him good job on his sleeping and we talked about what kind of special treat he would get. I offered him a strawberry smoothie. To which his response was, “What else could I get?” In the end, he opted for a box of apple juice. He’s a boy who knows what he wants.
The alarm is set for 7:20 tomorrow morning. We’ll see how the experiment plays out.