The "Too Long in Bed Problem"

Ferber believes that many children spend much of their time in bed not sleeping but instead playing, looking around, or thinking. He says this often happens because parents don't realize their children are actually awake, they have higher than normal expectations for their children's sleep or they assume that all their children should be
going to bed at the same time when, in fact, they may all have different sleep requirements and therefore need different bedtimes and waketime lengths .

Having your child in bed longer than they need to be may result in them either not being able to go to sleep at bedtime, waking up during the night for long stretches, waking up early in the morning or sleeping for long stretches at night (12 hours or so) but then not being able to take naps during the day. Some children can also experience fear associated with their imagination. As they sit in bed for long lengths of time awake they start to imagine scary things about the things around them or even life in general.

Some parents prefer to keep their child in his bed when he "should be sleeping" but isn't. This can happen when
  • a child is overtired but still isn't falling asleep because he just wants to play
  • a child is still working on learning to fall asleep on his own
  • a child who takes short naps. Many parents will leave their child in his bed for the desired length of the nap or slightly shorter than the desired length. They do this in hopes that the child will extend the nap or to prevent the child from getting overtired. Time spent in bed, even when awake, is less stimulating than time spent playing in a stimulating environment.

I've noticed both my boys playing when I thought they were asleep.  I've heard from several other people that they found out their child was doing this once they bought a video monitor. I still don't agree with Ferber's sleep averages though since I have talked with people that have added up their children's sleep (and used a video monitor for reference) and the average has still been significantly higher than Ferber's listed averages.

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