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The “80/20 Sleep Rule” To A Balanced Life

As a Child Sleep Consultant, I often get the question, “How and when can I have more flexibility with our schedule and still protect my child’s sleep?” This is a common concern for most parents due to the demands of work and/or activities. I get it! Life is hectic at times, and it can be hard to do it “all”. But, it’s possible to keep everyone well rested and still live an active lifestyle.

However, first we need to ensure your little one is getting the quality sleep they need on a consistent bases (before you can have wiggle room with their schedule). This means, your child needs to be well rested before you can alter their schedule. The amount of sleep your child needs depends on your their age.  For example: 0-1 years old needs 16-14 hours, 2-5 years old needs 13-10 hours of sleep. Remember, sleep equals sleep. If your baby is well rested, they tend to sleep better and get longer stretches of sleep. And when your child is well rested, they adapt to change such as missing a nap a lot easier.

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When I work with families, I help parents improve their child’s sleep prior to introducing flexibility in their child’s schedule. I typically recommend that they block off at least 2-3 weeks to dedicate to improving their child’s sleep. It takes time and a consistent schedule, bedtime routine, and sleep environment to establish better sleep habits. Each kiddo is unique and some might need more sleep than others take. But, once they are consistently sleeping you can start to have a little flexibility with your schedule. So, what does that look like?

The “80/20 Sleep Rule”

Basically, the “80/20 Rule” of sleep is when you stick with your normal routine and schedule 80% of the time. However, the remaining 20% allows you to be flexible while still respecting the boundaries of healthy sleep for your child. This means that you can have a late night or a nap-on-the-go here and there. But, anytime they have to miss any sleep (a nap), I recommend pushing earlier bedtime.  An earlier bedtime will allow you to enjoy an activity during the day while keeping your kids well rested.

When I tell people to push earlier bedtime, I often get the question, “what do you mean by earlier bedtime?”. I recommend watching your child’s sleepy cues to help you know what time is best. Keep in mind, 15-30 minutes earlier can impact your child’s sleep. However, in a situation where they missed a nap, had a shorter nap, or a nap-on-the-go, they may need up to an hour or more earlier. Each child is different and each situation is different. So, just remember to watch your little one(s) closely that evening and plan ahead for an earlier bedtime.

I know what you’re thinking, and yes…it is that easy! When you implement this approach to your hectic schedule, you will still protect your family’s sleep and have the flexibility your life needs.  The “80/20 Rule” gives you permission to schedule in a little fun without complete meltdowns. So, go forth and enjoy a day on the go. You deserve it!

Alicia Karl
Alicia Karl
Alicia Karl is a Certified Child Sleep Consultant with Good Night Sleep Site. She helps families worldwide, better understand sleep and educates parents on how to become a well-rested family. She was born and raised in the Kansas City, Missouri area. As most of Kansas City, Alicia loves her local sports teams the Royals and the Kansas City Chiefs. She is a mother of two wonderful kids, a wife to a hard-working husband, and lives in the country with two dogs, a cat, and several chickens. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, being active outdoors, reading, and becoming an active member in her small town of Kearney, Missouri. You will often find, Alicia, holding Sleep Clinics at the local branches of the Mid-Continent Public Libraries or attending several of the local Kansas City Baby Expos. She also provides her community and followers with several on-line Sleep Clinics and sleep tips on all her social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). During her clinics, Alicia will help answer your sleep questions ranging from short naps, bedtime battles, sleep regressions, nap transitions, crib climbing, and so much more. Alicia graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and an emphasis in Communications and Human Resources. She also received a certificate from Missouri State University in Conflict Resolution, and years later, a certificate for a Child Sleep Consultant from The Family Sleep Institute. Alicia has a passion for helping people find solutions that improve their life, health, and mental well-being. She believes her education, experience, and background help her better support her clients. After spending three years as a Good Night Sleep Site Sleep Consultant and being a mom of two, Alicia, knows what it is like to struggle with sleep; and how it impacts your family as a whole. As a Sleep Consultant, clients will often say, “my child was a great sleeper and all of a sudden it changed.” This was true for her son as well. Alicia quickly learned that as a parent you don’t have all the answers and it is okay to ask for help. In fact, she became a sleep consultant after connecting with a consultant about her son’s sudden sleep struggles. It was in that moment her love for all things sleep was realized. Alicia’s goal is to not only educate parent’s about sleep, but to help them become the sleep expert for their child. She helps guide and support parent’s through the process to finding solutions for their family's sleep challenges. Alicia knows each family and child are different. This unique approach helps her create a personalized sleep plain to fit each family’s needs, and get the most from their journey to better sleep.
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