Are you tired, feeling guilty and not sure how to help you or your child sleep? You are in the right place. I offer gentle evidenced based sleep advice for parents and children from 7 months -13 years of age. Be a proactive parent, help your family now with some evidenced-based advice and information on sleep.
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.
How do we sleep?
There are two systems a 24-hour cycle called a circadian rhythm and the Homeostatic sleep drive. They work together: We are not born with circadian rhythm so our sleep cycle develops:
- It is controlled by Melatonin
- Melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep
- Melatonin production depends on the light
- Exposing eyes to light during the day especially the morning increases melatonin at night
- Exposing eyes to the light in the evening decreases melatonin
Homeostatic Sleep Drive
Although it has a complicated name, it is easy to understand. The longer you stay awake, the sleepier you are. Sleep drive essentially is your likelihood of falling asleep at a given time. Interestingly, this phenomenon is caused by the gradual accumulation of a neurotransmitter called adenosine during the day which is gradually reduced during sleep.
Reference: Craig Campari MD Proven Advice for Better Sleep for Parents and Children
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). So 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).
For more tips for babies, go to my blog https://bristolchildparentsupport.co.uk/helpful-tips-to-help-you-and-your-baby-have-a-good-nights-sleep/
What does a Regular Sleep Routine Look like?
It can take time for you to develop a regular routine but keep going and as your baby matures into a toddler, a good bedtime routine should not take longer than 35 minutes and be simply:
What you 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!
- Lack of energy, fatigue
- Compromised immune system, they are always getting infections
- Weight gain
- Slow and impaired reactions
- Cranky, bad moods, up and down moods
- Impaired social interactions
- Difficulty learning new concepts
- Short attention span
- Impaired abstract thinking
- Lack of desire to play, especially with new and challenging toys
- Hitting out
- Really hard to wake up in the mornings. Dropping off to sleep in car journeys
- Looking spaced out,
- Not moving or cannot stop moving, very agitated!
Common Sleep Problems for Babies from Tuck:
- 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.
If you feel that your baby’s sleep is a problem, contact me for a consultation from 7 months ( I do not work with babies younger than this and I do not promote them crying it out! I use slow and gentle strategies that may take longer. I help with:
- Helping you to teach your baby to self-soothe
- How to help your baby to go to sleep on his own without rocking, movement or feeding or staying with them until they fall asleep.
- Establishing naps and a routine
- Attachment issues
Common Sleep Problems I work with preschoolers to age 12:
- Sleep resistance: Toddlers and preschoolers may move slowly through the bedtime routine, they start to have their minds and want to be independent so make many requests to make bedtime take longer, or flat out refuse to get in bed and go to sleep. It’s important to be firm but gentle with young children who resist regular bedtimes. >>> click here for more tips, check out my fee download 10 Must Do’s For Healthy Sleep Routine (2)
- Inability to Self Soothe: Your child cannot get off to sleep without you. I see many parents whose children who at 10 and older need their parents to sit/lie with them and sleep with them.
- Nighttime fears: Children can’t distinguish between fact or fantasy until approximately ages 6-8. They may be scared about burglars, fires, or even monsters in the closet. Children often show anxiety through physical symptoms such as tummy aches or headaches. They ask for extra hugs, cry when you leave, or refuse to sleep alone. Help to manage the worry monster and what would help them to feel safe.
- Nightmares and Night terrors: Studies show that as many as 40% of children between the ages of 5-12 experience occasional nightmares, and night terrors, more disturbing types of episodes, are seen in up to 4% of children in that age category. Nightmares can begin as early as two years, but they typically peak in frequency a few years later. In children who do experience nightmares, they sometimes happen on a weekly basis. So, restless sleep from scary dreams is quite natural in childhood. Both nightmares and night terrors can be frightening, but there are distinct differences between the two. Nightmares are simply scary dreams which typically occur during a light stage of sleep. Children experiencing a nightmare will often call out for their parents or will get out of bed to go to them. Usually, the child is able to recall the dream, which gives parents the opportunity to help calm the child’s fears. Night terrors, on the other hand, are experienced in NREM, your child may appear frightened and disoriented, but is probably still asleep. It’s frightening as your child may scream Upon awakening, a child usually cannot recall experiencing a night terror.
- Snoring and Sleep Apnea: Children with Sleep Apnea will stop breathing several times during the night, waking to continue breathing. This can keep them from getting important deep sleep. Sleep Apnea in children can be triggered by chronic sinus infections, obesity, and the most likely cause is oversized tonsils or adenoids. Do take your child to your GP and asked to be referred to a Specialist.
- Anxiety: Children do get anxious and even though they are not working or have a mortgage like us, they are still learning to regulate. For more ideas go to Anxiety, sign symptoms, and support.
- Trauma: life events such as bereavement, divorce, and abuse. Sudden changes in a child’s life can impact on their sleep
- Nighttime fears and anxiety
- Helping your child sleep in their own bed,
- Establishing a bedtime routine
- Teaching them to self-soothe
- Waking up in the night
- Resisting going to bed.
Common Traps parents fall into!
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 an hour long and 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 feel a bit more resistant?
So it’s not too late, stop feeling guilty, help you and your family have a goods night sleep contact me for a consultation:
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 or if you have a long-standing issue.
- A one-off consultation ( face to face in the clinic, telephone) for an hour and a half with an emailed tailored sleep plan – £95 and follow up email for two weeks ( 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)
- A sleep package, this is for families who need lots of empowerment and a one off may not suffice ( face to face, telephone) which includes an hour and a half consultation, tailored sleep plan, email support and follow-up for six hourly sessions face to face or by telephone – £375.
I can provide a free 10-minute call to discuss your issues, which must be booked in advance.
What happens in a consultation?
Step one – consultation
Prior to a session, 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.
Step two – Consultation and design of the sleep plan
We meet or talk on the telephone and I take a full history and then following this email you the plan that is tailored to your family’s needs.
Step three – follow-up
Depending on which option you choose, face to face in the clinic, email 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.
Contact me if you would like to book a sleep consultation.