Disclaimer: The folks at Lully kindly allowed us a Sleep Guardian unit for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.
It started early for Charlotte. She didn’t sleep well as a newborn because she spent some extended time in the hospital and then came home with a little glow-worm light when her bilirubin levels just wouldn’t go down. She wanted to sleep, she would have been a great sleeper, there was just too much going on for her to get comfortable. Her sleep patterns were constantly interrupted. As the toddler years came around her sleep patterns became worse. We started seeing true night terrors. If you’re wondering what a night terror is (it’s not the same thing as a nightmare), you can find an explanation here — or you’re still not sure if your child has a night terror or something else, you can click here. She was scary and screaming during many of them. By first grade, she was having them almost daily. We began to notice that he more active she was during the day, the more her night terrors would occur. Not only are night terrors scary as a parent, they prevent children from getting the best sleep possible, which can cause fatigue and affect their whole day.
We recently discovered Lully’s Sleep Guardian (FYI: Lully is the company and Sleep Guardian is the product) and decided to give it a shot based on some other great things we’d heard.
How it Works
The Sleep Guardian is based on a tried-and-true technique called scheduled awakenings. Simply put, you wake your child 15-30 minutes before their night terrors typically occur. This interrupts the unhealthy sleep cycle and prevents night terrors. Starting back in 1988, clinical studies have shown that this method has reduced 90% of night terrors.
Sleep Guardian is a simple device that goes under your child’s mattress that vibrates fairly vigorously around the time your child should be entering into the unhealthy deep sleep that occurs before night terrors, typically 1-3 hours after the child goes to bed.
Opening, placing the unit under the mattress and plugging it in takes less than five minutes. After that, I had to download the iPhone app, set up an account and go through a series of screens to get everything up and running.
After downloading and creating an account, the phone connects to the unit via Bluetooth. Without going into details, essentially the app is used to do everything at this point: record (bedtimes, night terrors, and when Sleep Guardian is turned on), notify you when to turn the Sleep Guardian on (this was very helpful), and to actually turn the unit on. Over time, the calendar allows you to see which nights your child had night terrors and which nights he/she didn’t (blue *no night terror* vs. pink *night terror* on the calendar screenshot below). Based off of the data you record (be diligent about it), Sleep Guardian adjusts what time you should turn the unit on until it gets your child’s sleep cycle right.
Turning on Sleep Guardian does require you to be awake, which may be a downside, but at least you can do it from your phone, without having to move unless you’re out of the 32-foot Bluetooth range. The unit will vibrate for a few minutes then turn itself off. This will wake your child up and break the sleep cycle, then he/she will just roll over and go back to bed. In the settings, there’s a sensitivity level that you can change to make it vibrate enough to wake them up but light enough to avoid annoying them. This feature you have to just tweak the first few nights to get it right for your child.
Night terrors can be super scary. Kids demand weird things, scream and hit and cry excessively. They can’t really be woken up, as it can be dangerous. As Dr. Andy Rink (one of the co-founders of Lully) explained it, 90% of their brain is still asleep; it’s only the primary motor cortex (the part of the brain that controls movement and vocalization) that’s awake. Charlotte never remembers the episode, but we surely do. We never sleep well when she is awake and screaming.
The Sleep Guardian is the first proven non-medication solution to stop night terrors. This was very attractive to us because we always seek non-medicinal routes of care before choosing medication. I am thrilled we discovered and tried the Sleep Guardian. It wasn’t uncommon that Charlotte would have a night terror five out of seven nights. This little device has greatly impacted the way Charlotte sleeps and I am happy to report that after using and tweaking the Sleep Guardian’s settings for a couple months, she has only had two in the last 14 days.