Welcome, right now:
Are you tired, feeling guilty, and not sure how to help you or your child sleep?
Are you struggling with bedtimes and sleep right now?
What do all families have in common when they come to a sleep consultation?
- All of you have read lots on the internet, books and have tried sleep training and failed.
- Many of you may have bedtimes that are more than an hour long in duration.?
- You are missing time together as a couple.
- Some of you will have tried for three days and then given up.
- Has this resulted in you feeling guilty and made your child a little more resistant?
You are in the right place. I offer gentle evidenced based sleep advice for parents and children from 7 months to -13 years of age. I specialise in children who suffer from anxiety. Be a proactive parent, help your family now with some evidenced-based advice and information on sleep.
What signs and symptoms to look for if your child is sleep deprived?
Remember your child can’t judge if they sleep deprived, they need your help!
Why is Sleep so Important?:
Sleep is one of the mainstays of living a healthy successful life and is one of the biggest challenges for parents. Actually, we don’t really know why we sleep but scientist Rebecca Reh at Harvard University notes four possible reasons:
- Recovery – rest for the body, cell growth, housekeeping for body
- Protection – keeping quiet and still reduces risk from predators
- Energy regulation – use less energy when asleep
- Memory consolidation – formation of long-term memories and learning.
- Growth Hormone is stimulated ( yep, sleep helps children to grow)
Why can it be so tricky getting my baby/toddler sleep, a bit of the science
Babies are not born with a 24-hour wake/sleep cycle ( Circadian Rhythm) It can take up to six months. It is really important that you try to help your baby develop the right cues for sleep.
Here is a great tip from Gwen Dewar Parenting Science to help your baby/child now ( a great Website)
Studies show that babies adapt more quickly when parents provide them with the right “zeitgebers,” or environmental cues about the time of day (Custodio et al 2007; Lohr et al 1999; Tsai et al 2012). Expose your baby to natural daylight, and involve your baby in the stimulating hustle and bustle of your daytime activities. When evening falls, protect your baby from exposure to artificial lighting. ( Remove lights on the blue spectrum, replace with lights on the red/Amber Spectrum).
I offer sleep consultations from 7 months to -13 Years and workshops below.
Reasons your baby may not sleep:
Parental Stress: Picking up on Mommy and Daddy stress, your child may be picking up on your stress or low mood and may need more reassurance at night, ( the sleep state is a long time to be away from mummy and daddy if the day has been fraught)
- Inability to self-soothe: Often, babies will fall asleep easily when held, rocked, etc by their parents, but wake up right away when set down. Babies may still be learning to self-soothe.
- Daytime and nighttime reversal: As young babies have not yet developed circadian rhythms, they may not have night and day straight yet. Some get them mixed up, sleeping all day and then wanting to stay up at night.
- Sleep regressions: During certain periods of development, babies may be especially sleep-challenged. As they develop motor skills, grow teeth, or learn new things, they may have more trouble sleeping.
- Nighttime feedings: Most babies won’t sleep through the night until they are six months or older. Very young babies will need multiple night feedings — exhausting, but necessary. One to two-night feedings are normal for most babies, but three or more may be excessive.
- Nighttime stimulation: While feeding or changing your baby at night, they can get stimulated. This may make them more fully awake and cause difficulties falling back asleep. Parents should take care to avoid fully rousing babies in the night.
- Separation anxiety: Young children can develop separation anxiety, often expressed as a need for one or both parents at night. This is normal and they should grow out of it but if this is not the case then do contact me.
Common Sleep Problems I work with preschoolers to age 12:
Here is a free sleep talk, I offered for parents in Lockdown
I see many parents who struggle to help their children with anxiety and nighttime fears. Fears and worries are very common at night. It is normal for children to feel scared about monsters, ghosts, the dark, noises, and intruders. Before the age of six children struggle to distinguish between fact and fantasy. These fears are very real to them and until you recognise and address the fears, the sleep training ( relearning) will be ineffective.
In addition, children who suffer from daytime anxieties—about school, separation from parents, or other concerns—are more likely to fear the dark and fear sleeping alone (Gregory and Eley 2005). If you help your child with daytime worries then it is likely that their sleep will improve. ( Gwen Dewar Parenting Science)
With regard to anxiety, Sleep is a very strange phenomenon. In western society, children sleep in isolation. This means they are away from us for a very long time. Sometimes it not only our children who can be anxious, but you can also be too. You may fear something may happen to our child during sleep. Reflect on how bedtimes and separations were negotiated in your childhood. Was there death or accident in the family? Do you notice, you hold on and feel unable to let go.
Helping your child sleep in their own bed.
Moving children from cot to bed or from co-sleeping to their bedroom can be problematic. I always feel that it is important to do small stages gently and include your child in the process.
Often parents struggle with a consistent bedtime routine, it should be very simple and 40 minutes maximum.
Resisting going to bed.
If your child is suffering from anxiety, they are likely to resist going to bed, stall or alternatively seem “wired”. They may beg for a snack and want another story, they may even have a meltdown or tantrum. Be consistent, you will need to manage the ” fears” in order to for the sleep training ( relearning) to be effective. This is where most parents go wrong.
Self-regulation ( self-soothing) is the capacity to manage your emotions and behaviour in accordance with the demands of the situation. It includes being able to read others’ emotions and have the capacity to calm/self soothe when you get upset or be flexible to a change in an expectation or routine. Children are not born with the capacity, it is something that they develop over time. “Letting go into sleep” is one of the first regulations. I see many parents whose 6-year-old who need mummy or daddy to sit, stroke, or be there with them whilst they go off. It’s really hard for everyone and cuts into the evening for couples.
Waking up in the night.
It is a myth that we or children do not wake in the night, we all do. Some children wake due to anxiety, nightmares, or other issues. If your baby or child can self-soothe, then it will be easier for them to return to sleep.
How do you work?
Sometimes one consultation with me will be enough to get you or your child on the right track. But these things can take time, especially if your child cannot self-soothe, is anxious or there is a history of trauma.
What happens in a consultation?
Step one – consultation
Prior to a session, if possible, I will request a sleep diary of at least three days. This will include details of naps and feeds. My focus is on gentle strategies in combination with building strong and secure attachments. It’s vital your child learns to self-soothe. My strategies are not about disguised controlled crying. I find a successful outcome is one that the family feels comfortable with and then this makes it easier and safe for your child. Please note I cannot diagnose medical disorders, you may need other treatment from your GP or Pediatrician
Step two – Consultation and design of the sleep plan
We meet or talk via the telephone or Zoom. I take a full history, birth, developmental, what’s worked or not. We agree with a plan that is tailored to your family’s needs. It’s vital that whatever your child’s age, they learn to self soothe, manage their anxiety, and then sleep training is more likely to be effective. Often parents do not attend to these needs first.
Step three – follow-up
Depending on which option you choose, face to face in the clinic, Zoom, or telephone follow-up will either be included as part of your cost or you can pay as you go. A gentle approach can take longer, so this is important to consider if you want to choose to work with me.
- A one-off consultation ( face to face in the clinic, telephone or Zoom) for an hour and a half – £110 ( paid in advance via PayPal, it is not refundable but happy to rearrange if you give me 48 hours notice)
- For talks within your company or a group ( please contact me for fees)
- Further Sessions are at the hourly rate or you can book six for £375
I can provide a free 10-minute call to discuss your issues, which can be booked in advance
Contact me if you would like to book a sleep consultation.