Did you know that your baby will NEVER, EVER sleep through the night?
And, you don't either!
I'm sure those two sentences are confusing because I'm always telling you that I can get your baby sleeping through the night in a few short days, which is true so stick with me.
Anyone who isn't heavily sedated at bedtime will wake up many times each night.
You won't wake because you had too much caffeine, had a stressful day, didn't exercise, or any of the other things that can keep us up at night.
These wakeups are a normal and a natural part of our sleep cycle.
If you think about your sleep for a minute, you can start to see that we cycle through sleep many times each night. Even if you can't put a name on it, I'm sure you've felt the difference between being woken up from being in light sleep or deep sleep.
When we fall asleep, we spend some time in a light stage of sleep and progress into a deep sleep. We hang out there for a while and then slowly emerge into a light stage. It's during this light phase of sleep that there's a good chance we'll wake up, even if it's brief.
Amazing, right? You fall asleep at 10 pm (not me, I go to bed much earlier, LOL), hit deep sleep by about 11 pm and hang out there until you slowly come to the surface in the morning...
Except, this entire process only takes about 90 minutes!
That's right! The entire human sleep cycle only takes about 90-110 minutes.
The good news is that for us adults, this entire process repeats itself all night long fairly easily. We might wake for 1-2 minutes and fall immediately back to sleep, or we might not even wake at all.
In a perfect night's sleep, this happens 5-6 times in a row. We get a restful, rejuvenating sleep, and we enjoy the benefits of it throughout the day.
Are you wondering what this has to do with our children?
Babies, even though they need a lot more sleep than adults, actually have a shorter sleep cycle.
Infants go from very light sleep to deep sleep and back again in 50 minutes!
I think it's safe to say that the term "sleep like a baby" came from someone that was misinformed.
These sleep cycles are where sleep training becomes essential for your baby.
My plans don't teach your baby to stay asleep or spend more time in deep sleep.
What they do is teach your baby to fall asleep without "help" from anything external, and when they "wake up" between a sleep cycle we help your baby accept these as no big deal and get right back to sleep.
When a baby wakes multiple times each night, it's between sleep cycles and how they put those sleep cycles together depends on how they fell asleep at bedtime.
If you "help" a baby to sleep and they come to the surface between sleep cycles, they're going to wonder where you are and who or what is going to "help" them back to sleep.
Once a baby has learned to fall asleep independently, their brain will signal them to go back to sleep between sleep cycles, and that's precisely what will happen!
That's the heart of what I teach babies every day!
Sleep training is important for parents to understand for a few reasons.
We're not altering your baby's natural sleep. We're merely giving them the skills to put themselves back to sleep after a sleep cycle.
And, now you know this happens all night long with their short sleep cycles.
I hear from critics sometimes that babies are supposed to wake up at night.
That, my friends, is 100% true! Just like us, babies are designed to wake at night. The truth is it would take some powerful sedatives to stop a baby from waking in the night.
However, you can teach a baby to stay calm, understand they know what to do between sleep cycles, and peacefully go back to sleep without your "help".
Sleep training will not put your child at an increased risk for SIDS, alter their natural sleep, or damage them in any way. You don't have to believe me; I have the full support of the American Academy of Pediatrics to back me up. ;)
What sleep training will do is ensure that your baby AND you get the rest you need to be the happiest and healthiest people.
So, your baby is going to wake multiple times each night for the rest of their lives. Teach them the skills they need to get back to sleep without "help" from you, and it'll seem as though they're sleeping through the night.
Imagine a full night's sleep for the entire family!
Wondering how to get your baby sleeping “through” the night?
The 7 Sleep Tips For Sleeping Through The Night are a great place to start.
I can remember so clearly the day I gave birth to my first child. His entrance (butt first!) was quite an exciting one! I was over-whelmed with feelings of love and gratitude for this little being.
Cut to a few minutes later and it seemed I was inundated with advice, suggestions, and way too much information about babies!
I'm sure this was all with the best of intentions but it was definitely too much. I heard so many times, "You should", "I used to", and "you better". There should be a number like "bajillion" to measure the number of suggestions new moms receive in their first year of motherhood.
Of course, I still have those feelings of love & gratitude, and I'm still getting the recommendations.
This mom gig is no joke! It's full time, no matter if you stay-at-home or work. We have access to SO much information about our children. And, much of it's conflicting.
I think when it comes to kids the discussion is even more heated than politics for it's sheer divisiveness and claiming opinion as fact!
Today, I thought I'd focus on my area of expertise, sleep, and try to dispel some of the myths I've seen on mom forums and FB groups.
1. Too much daytime sleep will keep a baby up at night
This is very unlikely, except in the most extreme cases such as your baby is sleeping ALL day and up ALL night. Otherwise, I wouldn't concern yourself with your baby's nap length.
Newborns need a ton of sleep and can only handle about 45 minutes of awake time. This is a staggering fact that I was unaware of until I taught my older son to be a great sleeper at 8 weeks.
Up until about 6 months old your little one shouldn't be awake more than 2-2.5 hours at a time.
What keeps babies awake more than anything at night is being over-tired. It's a common misconception that a tired baby will sleep better at night. An over-tired baby has missed the "tired" window and their body has started overcompensating so baby becomes almost hyper.
A baby who's gotten good daytime sleep is much less likely to miss the "tired" window.
There's quite a lot of variations in naps for a baby depending on their age. But, up to that 6-month mark it's normal for a baby to be sleeping about 4-5 hours a day plus 11-12 hours at night. So, if your baby is within those guidelines, let them sleep!
2. Sleeping isn't something you can teach a baby
This is my favorite!
Teaching babies to sleep is my passion and I see it happen EVERYDAY, yet people still debate whether you can teach a baby to sleep.
Teaching a baby to fall asleep independently means they'll be able keep putting themselves back to sleep between sleep cycles all night long.
You see, we all wake multiple times per night between sleep cycles.
If a baby is a "bad sleeper", this baby isn't in need of less sleep or a "light" sleeper as I hear so often. They're just dependent on outside "props" to get to sleep AND stay asleep.
Once your baby has learned to fall asleep independently and put themselves back to sleep between sleep cycles, you've cracked the "secret" to "sleeping through the night".
3. Babies should naturally dictate their sleep schedule
The notion that infant physiology is flawless and programmed to regulate a new baby's schedule is pretty comical if you ask me.
Mother Nature doesn't provide us with a "ready to sleep" baby.
Our babies need a lot of care and help in their development and their sleep cycles are no exception.
If a baby misses their natural sleep cycle by as little as 30 minutes, cortisol can spike which causes an energy surge and things can quickly spiral out of control.
As much as everyone wishes babies would just fall asleep when they're tired, it often doesn't work that way.
I'm not saying you should respond to their tired cues but don't rely on them exclusively either.
4. Sleep training is stressful for babies and will affect the parent-child bond
No way! And, this isn't just my opinion. It's also the opinion of The American Academy of Pediatrics, which is the gold standard in our country for baby health information.
According to a 2016 study by 8 of their top researchers, sleep training, "provides significant sleep benefits above control, yet conveys no adverse stress responses or long-term effects on parent-child attachment or child emotions or behavior".
Let's just say they didn't leave a lot of room for debate on this one!
5. Babies aren't "designed" to sleep through the night
Let's put aside our religious beliefs for a minute and I think we can all agree that, even if babies were "designed", whoever did this design left plenty of room for upgrades!
I think it's safe to say that trusting your baby's physiology to dictate everything from their sleep schedule, to their eating habits, behavior or just about anything would be a recipe for disaster.
Will your baby eat 3 pounds of candy? Surely not.
Will they if you don't intervene. Yes, it's quite possible!
Is your baby able to avoid predators?
If so, nobody told my children, who would've happily hugged a moutain lion if it approached them.
My point is that our little ones need our expertise and parenting skills to guide them through their childhood, and probably long after that!
Sleep for our babies is no exception to where guidance from us is often needed.
There are some babies out there that are better sleepers than others for sure. But, don't believe people when they tell you to let a baby dictate their own schedule.
I could go on and on about misconceptions about babies and their sleep, but these are the ones that really stand out to me and are most important for getting the facts straight.
There are endless social media posts and websites that claim to be factual regardless of their accuracy or any scientific evidence.
Trusting sources like the American Academy of Pediatrics, Britain’s National Health Service, Canada’s Hospital for Sick Children, the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization, and the like are excellent sources of information you can feel confident about using to answer questions about your baby’s health.
Want more information about the importance of sleep? Great, because I can talk about that ALL day ;)
Want to teach your little one to be a great sleeper?
Book a free discovery call with me today.
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I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Well, the results are in, and it doesn’t look good.
If you’ve been struggling with long-term chronic sleep issues, this might just be the information you need to face the problem and make some changes.
Millions of people in the US alone live with insomnia, and many just learn to suck it up and try to get through their days even though they’re exhausted most of the time.
It’s common for stressed and overworked people to believe that if they work until 3 a.m. and get up for a meeting at 6 a.m. they can always just sleep well the next night and it will all balance out.
Fair enough—Sleep researchers used to believe that sleep debt could be repaired by having a good night's sleep, but new studies are showing that this might not be the case after all. In fact, quite the opposite.
Chronic sleep deprivation is now being linked to potential brain damage.
Sounds scary, but it’s true. A study in the Journal of Neuroscience revealed that staying awake too long actually destroys brain cells in mice, which means it could do the same in humans.
Researchers studied neural activity in mice by putting them on rotating sleep schedules that included regular rest, short periods of wakefulness and extended periods without sleep.
They were trying to mimic a human shift worker's sleep routine, and what they discovered is that those extended periods without sleep actually led to impaired neurological cell function and the death of brain cells in the mice.
After each sleep period, researchers looked for evidence of damage to the brain and decreased the ability to function, focusing on the area of the brain known as the locus coeruleus (LC). LC neurons help regulate our arousal, wakefulness, memory, attention, emotions and cognitive function.
What the researchers found was that after long periods of sleeplessness, there were changes to this part of the brain. The mice could cope well with short-term sleep loss, but chronic and severe sleeplessness caused diminished function and the eventual loss of brain cells.
I know what you’re thinking: But those are mice, not people! True enough. Our brains do work differently, but scientists believe this is an important discovery and could relate to humans as well.
But just to convince you, even more, another study based in Sweden looked into the effects of one single night of sleep deprivation on healthy young men.
They discovered that one night of sleep loss caused the blood concentration in the young men’s brain cells to rise by 20 percent—levels that can indicate neural damage.
These studies that are surfacing, along with many more, are troubling new evidence that supports the idea that sleep issues are not to be put on the back burner or just endured.
You don’t need to live your life in fear if you have one night of tossing and turning. But if you’re getting three or four hours of sleep a night, it might be time to deal with it once and for all so you can ensure a better quality of life and a healthier future.
If you're not sleeping well, book a FREE discovery call with me today so I can help.
You can do that here:
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I look forward to hearing from you and helping, however, I can.
I LOVE traveling. We've been so many places with our children over the years.
One thing I've learned is that traveling with a baby NEVER goes as planned!
Another thing I've learned is that traveling with a great sleeper makes it SO much easier.
Normally, after 1 night both of my kiddos adjust to a new environment and sleep amazing, just like at home.
With the holidays fast approaching I thought it would be a good idea to remind parents of some travel tips to remember when you are traveling with little ones.
Gone are the days when you can travel carefree and only take into consideration yourself and maybe your partner.
When planning a family vacation with a little one, it's important to thing about how your travel plans will affect their sleep.
You'll enjoy your holiday much more if you plan your trip in a way that honors your child's sleep with as little disruption as possible to their schedule.
If you do this then your baby will get the rest she needs to be happy and alert for your adventure- which means mom and dad will be happier, too!
Here are some tips to help your baby gets the sleep he needs during your holiday travels:
Tip 1: Don’t over-schedule
One of the biggest mistakes parents make, they try to do just as much as they did in their "child-free" days.
When you travel with a baby, it's a good idea to not go hiking in the morning, snorkeling in the early afternoon, parasailing in the late afternoon, and go on a late night dinner cruise.
It's a much better idea to slow down and ensure your baby is getting regular naps and early bedtimes, similar to your schedule at home.
Tip 2: Be consistent with naps and bedtime
Try to stick to your baby's sleep schedule as much as possible.
An occasional stroller nap or late bedtime probably won't do too much harm provided your baby is well-rested. But, if you start doing this everyday, your going to have a very cranky baby and you'll be headed for a meltdown.
Tip 3: Be patient as your baby acclimatizes to the new environment
You might have the best sleeper at home but, when you're in a new environment it can be an adjustment for everyone. It's normal for kiddos to have trouble falling asleep in the first few days and even test the boundaries around sleep when traveling.
It's important to keep expectations the same even when at Grandma's house!
Be consistent and your child will adjust to the new environment quickly.
Tip 4. Make sure you bring your child’s sleeping toy and/or blanket
If your baby has a lovey or favorite blanket, make sure you bring it. This little bit of comfort and familiarity will go a long way to help baby feel safe and fall asleep easier. Forget it at your peril!
Tip 5. If you’re not a co-sleeping family, don’t start now
Another big mistake parents make is they decide it's easier to bedshare when they're traveling. Even a few nights of this and your baby will decide this is the preferred way of sleeping.
You'll have a huge problem on your hands when you get home and try to put baby back into a crib!
The good news is, most hotels have a crib you can use or rent. You could also take your portable playpen along and use that as a crib.
Traveling can be challenging with kids.
But, I can gurantee that you'll enjoy your travels MUCH more if your baby is already a great sleeper.
If your baby is having trouble falling asleep at bedtime and not staying asleep all night long, nows the time to teach your baby to be a great sleeper.
My clients tell me over and over that they should've hired me sooner!
Book a totally FREE discovery call with me today.
Together, we’ll get your baby sleeping through the night in a few short nights!
Here's to a well-rested family,
If you struggle with your weight and wish you could lose a few (or many) pounds, you’re not alone.
According to a National Health and Nutritional Examination survey in the US, more than 2 in 3 adults are overweight or obese, more than 1 in 3 adults are obese, and more than 1 in 20 adults have extreme obesity.
Those are pretty staggering figures!
Trying to lose weight can be a frustrating battle, and many people will try anything they can get their hands on, including appetite suppressants and nutritional supplements.
There are countless philosophies and diets out there: carb-free, gluten-free, paleo and vegan, to name a few. Lots of people adopt a new diet and exercise regime all gung-ho, and 100% committed only to give up two weeks later when they don’t notice any difference in their waistline.
However, what if your inability to lose weight isn’t because you’re lazy or not committed enough? What if it’s actually because of insomnia or poor sleep habits?
According to the Centre for Disease Control, there is research to support the idea that lack of sleep results in metabolic changes that could be linked to excess body weight.
One study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that middle-aged women with sleep disorders are more likely to have weight issues than other women who get a good nights’ sleep.
Michael Breus, Ph.D., author of Beauty Sleep, says, “It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly.”
Two hormones are secreted at night while we sleep that are specifically related to weight loss. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when to eat.
When you’re sleep-deprived, your ghrelin levels are elevated, which makes you hungrier and far more likely to reach for the late-night snacks.
Leptin is the hormone that tells you when you’re full and lets you know you should stop eating, so if you aren’t sleeping well, you have less leptin.
This, combined with the fact that your metabolism slows down when you don’t get enough sleep, seems to point to the issue many people have: they might be exercising and trying to eat right, but if they aren’t sleeping well, it’s an uphill battle.
If you have been struggling with your weight and you haven’t been getting an average of 8 hours of sleep a night, it might be time to look at your sleep habits and see what you can do to improve them.
Just trying to tackle the weight gain while you continue to sleep 5-6 hours a night or toss and turn and wake up frequently isn’t going to do the trick.
It’s time to focus on sleep first, and you might just be amazed to see how many other parts of your life improve once you start
getting the rest your body needs.
You will feel less stressed, have more energy to exercise and your hormones will be balanced and will stop telling you to eat when you don’t need to.
Sounds like a win-win to me☺
Are you getting 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night?
If not, be sure to check out The 5-Sleep Tips To Solve Your Sleep Tonight
Or, better yet, book a totally FREE discovery call with me today so together, we can improve your sleep.
Here’s to a well-rested you,
If you’re anything like me, you respect someone who can put their money where their mouth is.
Instead of me talking about Sleep Solutions today, I wanted to let the results do the talking.
Check out Christine's results, an amazing mom, RN, and all around awesome person.
And she’s not the only one. Check out Audrey's results, a super busy mom to adorable 13 month old twin boys:
These moms are proof that:
So please, do me a favor...
Don’t keep waiting for your baby to magically become a good sleeper.
Prioritize a clear, consistent plan that will help your baby sleep well- forever.
Book a call with me today for the health and happiness of your entire family.
Book A Call
Here's to a well-rested family,
I have to say I do love fall! It's my very favorite season.
The cooler weather.
The beautiful fall colors.
The smell of pumpkin bread baking.
All things that make me happy!
But, as a sleep consultant, there's one thing I hate about fall...when we have to change the clocks!
Although this time change isn't as terrible for our bodies as when Daylight Saving Time begins in the spring, it's still hard on all of us and even affects our health.
Here's some tips to help ease the pain with your little ones!
Daylight savings ends in the fall season each year. This year it ends November 4th.
It will be time to “fall back” the clocks. It can be a dreaded time for parents of young children because with this, comes an adjustment that does not happen immediately.
This is because children tend to be more structured in their bedtime and wake up around the same time each morning and that is why people usually can see a greater effect on children when the time changes.
However there are some things you can do to help make the transition to the new time go a little smoother. My recommendation is to leave your clocks alone Saturday night.
Wake up Sunday morning, have breakfast, then go around your house and change your clocks. Psychologically, it will feel much better for everyone if you wait until Sunday morning to change the time.
My best advice for children to help them with the change is to split the difference with the old time and the new time. How does that work?
School Age Children
If you have a child that does not nap and normally goes to bed at 7:00 pm, you would put him to bed at 6:30 pm on Sunday night, the first night of the time change.
Do this for 3 nights, putting him to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal, then on the 4th night put him to bed at the normal time, 7:00 pm or whatever is normal bedtime for your child.
If you have a toddler ages one and older, on Sunday the first day of the time change, you would put him down for his first nap 30 minutes earlier than normal. So if he naps usually at 9:30 am put him down at 9:00 am.
You would do the same with the afternoon nap if he takes an afternoon nap.
For bedtime, if his normal bedtime is 7:00 pm, you would put him down at 6:30 pm. Do this for 3 nights after the time change and then on the 4th night, put him to bed at 7:00 pm and on 5th day move nap times back to normal time.
So if your child naps at 9:30 am put him down at 9:30 am and so on with the rest of the day.
If you have a baby and his bedtime and naps have become predictable (usually over 6 months old) meaning he is always going to bed around the same time each day.
For example if bedtime is normally 7:00 pm move bedtime 15 minutes later each night until you reach the normal time again. So the first night you would put him down at 6:15 pm, the second night 6:30 pm, and so on.
On the fourth night you should be back to 7:00 pm Do the same thing for naps. Start 45 minutes earlier than normal and move them 15 minutes later each day.
So if morning nap is at 9:00 am normally, start with 8:15 am on Sunday, 8:30 am on Monday, 8:45 am on Tuesday and then 9:00 am on Wednesday.
Do the same for the afternoon nap.
If their bedtime and nap times are not predictable (0-6 months old) simply jump to the new time Sunday night as if you were traveling to a new time zone and use their wake time window (awake time between sleep periods) as your guide.
A great thing about this time change is that there are more hours of darkness which helps make this transition a little easier.
If your child wakes up too early, walk them back to their room and tell them it’s not time to get up yet.
If your child wakes up too early and is in a crib, be sure to help his body understand it isn’t morning time by keeping him in his crib in the dark room until normal wake time.
Note for Toddlers/School-aged children
If you have a toddler or an older child who relies on a clock to know when their “morning time” has arrived, set the clock one half hour ahead of the new time so that it reads 7:00 am at the new time of 6:30 am.
Allow your child to wake a bit earlier than normal (they will think it is 7:00 am according to the clock but it will be 6:30 am, new time).
This will only be temporary as your child adjusts to wake at their usual 7:00 am time after about one or two weeks.
It may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep, this is normal, since the time is different initially they might seem tired earlier.
It usually takes about a week for children and babies to completely adjust to the new time, some children it can take up to a month.
Is your little one having trouble sleeping and it has nothing to do with the upcoming time change?
I'd love to help! Book a FREE discovery call with me today.
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Here's to an easy adjustment to the time change,
What a week!
Congratulations to those who took action and have gotten your babies sleeping through the night!
Thanks to those of you who took action and have gotten your babies sleeping well this week.
I'm always so inspired by you and all of your hard work to get your family the rest they need.
The world needs more people like you who are willing to do what it takes and say yes to a well-rested family.
It’s Inspring. YOU ARE INSPIRING.
Today I celebrate you by congratulating you on your success with your customized Sleep Solutions plan.
Sleep Solutions IS different.
Are you thinking, “Ok JoAnna, just how is Sleep Solutions so different?”
Results - No book. No Google search. No DIY for your baby's sleep is going to have your baby sleeping in a few short days.
Support - 3 weeks of expert sleep coaching so that you know exactly what to do every day of your plan.
Attention - You have daily access to me so that you get all of your questions answered and you never have to wonder if you're doing it right. I overdeliver like no one else and your results are proof of that attention to you and your baby.
Lasting - Teaching your child to sleep well is a gift that keeps on giving for their entire life.
So for those of you who have been waiting to teach your baby to sleep through the night, it's your time.
Book a complimentary discovery call.
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I believe in you and I believe in rest for your entire family!
Have questions about Sleep Solutions?
Simply respond to this email.
I look forward to hearing from you and helping, however, I can.
It's October which means breast cancer awareness month.
My beautiful, amazing mom is a two time breast cancer survivor so this month is especially meaningful for me.
I'm keenly aware that breast cancer is a hideous beast and many families aren't as fortunate as ours.
She's the beauty in the picture above with my younger son, Colby.
I don't think she'll ever know how much I love her.
She's such an inspriration and guiding force in my life.
I'm eternally grateful to be her daughter and this week's newsletter is for her!
I know, I’ve said it a million times—and those experts keep backing me up! Sleep is critical to our health and well-being.
If we suffer from insomnia we know without even having to read about it that it leads to irritability, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and memory loss as well as a host of other issues.
If you don’t sleep well, you will be far more likely to snap at your kids when they drop their clothes on the floor or at your spouse for forgetting to buy apples. You will also be more likely to forget where you put your keys and might even blank out when you’re trying to do a presentation at work.
How many of us have stood in the pasta aisle of the grocery store in a sleepless haze, suddenly clueless about why we went down there…did we need sauce? Noodles? Parmesan?
It can be easy to brush these things aside as minor annoyances if we’re intent on keeping our busy life going at breakneck speed and not making enough time for sleep.
But now, more and more studies are finding that there might be long-lasting benefits to getting the average seven to eight hours of sleep we need every night: reduced chance of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, just to name a few.
And if that isn’t enough to convince you, there is a new study that shows that sleeping well can even improve your chances of breast cancer survival.
Dr. Amanda Phipps, along with other researchers, has discovered a link between women who died of breast cancer and poor sleep habits pre-diagnosis.
She used data from approximately 7,500 Women’s Health Initiative study participants who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and found that the women who slept less than five hours a night (which constitutes fairly severe sleep deprivation) before their diagnosis had about one and a half times the increased risk of dying from their disease compared to women with breast cancer who said they slept the recommended amount of sleep a night.
They didn’t collect sleep data from women after their diagnosis, because the stress of having cancer and going through treatment can cause sleep issues.
According to the Huffington Post, another study found that women at high risk of breast cancer had a shifted cortisol cycle.
Cortisol is a hormone that helps regulate the immune system and has an effect on cells that help fight cancer. It usually reaches peak levels at dawn and then declines during the day, so it can be disrupted if a person isn’t sleeping well.
Melatonin, which is also used by the brain while we sleep, is an anti-oxidant that can help prevent damage to DNA that can lead to cancer. It also slows production of oestrogen, which can encourage cancerous breast and ovarian cancers to keep dividing.
So there you have it; even more reason to start getting to the bottom of why you aren’t sleeping well.
Developing new sleep habits could change your whole life by making you healthier and happier. And in some cases, it could even save your life.
Worried about your sleep? Check out.
5 Sleep Tips To Improve Your Sleep Tonight
Here's to a healthy family,
This might be the most common question I'm asked by new parents when they come to me for help with their little one's sleep.
Is it teething? Is it regression? Are they too hot? Too cold? Are they hungry? Are they over-tired? The list goes on and on for the reasons parents give me behind their baby's wake-ups.
The truth is, it could be any of these things or even a combination of them.
Baby's sleep is actually quite complicated and it's often hard to know exactly why a baby is waking.
Babies go through significant changes and just when they've gotten on developmental milestone under control, there's another one upon them!
There are some things you can control.
If your baby’s too hot, you can make it cooler.
If your child's teething, some children's Tylenol will do the trick, at least for a while.
Those are the simple fixes to a child's poor sleep. The main reason most people really struggle to get their babies sleeping well is that there are many issues that aren't so obvious and truly don't have an easy solution.
Imagine this scenario: An 12-month-old child gets a lot of fresh air and sunlight each day, takes long, restful naps, then bedtime comes and they don't seem tired and want to play. Bedtime becomes a battle and baby gets upset when told it's time for bed. When they finally fall asleep, they wake multiple times per night and never sleep past 5 am.
So what’s the issue? Is baby sleeping too much in the day?
That would seem reasonable. If we, as grown-ups, got 3 hours of sleep during the day, then we'd probably have a rough time falling asleep at bedtime and staying asleep all night long.
But, with babies, it's almost always the opposite. This baby is clearly over-tired and needs more sleep, not less.
So we can understand why this is the case, we need to know a little bit about how sleep works.
A few hours before we wake up our bodies begin to secrete a hormone called cortisol. If you've done any reading on the internet about babies and sleep, this word often causes parents to freak out a bit! Not to worry, this is actually a good thing and totally normal at this stage of sleep.
Cortisol is a hormone responsible to help us in times of stress to elevate heart rate and stimulate the nervous system.
In case, you know, you're being chased by a bear!
But, in the early morning, it's doing its job to wake us up. It's known as mother nature's caffeine!
So, if cortisol is our morning cup of joe then melatonin is our evening glass of wine. When the sun goes down, our bodies begin to produce an amazing, sleep-inducing hormone which helps us know it's time for bed and helps keep us asleep all night long. Then, the whole process starts over again- every single day!
Just a side note: Melatonin production is increased and starts even earlier in the evening if we awaken to some good, bright sunlight.
Our bodies are amazing but, this system of hormone production isn't perfect and it can be easily confused. So, with the cutie baby, we talked about above, here's what's happening.
Baby is sleeping well during the day, which is great, and she's getting sunlight to help her with her melatonin production in the evening. But, what's with so much energy right before bed?
When melatonin production starts in the evening, there's a small window of time when baby's body is expecting it to go to sleep. If you miss this window, the brain decides something isn't right, baby can't sleep (maybe a bear!). If baby's got to be awake then a shot of cortisol should really help keep her awake for whatever she needs to do to survive.
Baby's system begins producing cortisol and then she's wide awake. Long, story short, baby missed the sleep "window" and she's going to struggle to get to sleep. This can be confusing because her behavior doesn't lead you to believe she's tired at all!
Back to the dreaded 3 am wake up.....
This is exactly what's happening. Let's assume a baby's circadian rhythm is scheduled for a 6 am wake up so her body starts producing cortisol 3 hours before this and melatonin production has stopped. Baby comes to the end of a sleep cycle around 3 am and she's "slightly awake" and now that's combined with some stimulating cortisol.
If you combine the wake-up, the cortisol and lack of good sleep skills, you've got a recipe for disaster. Simply put, baby's going to have a REALLY hard time going back to sleep without quite a bit of help from mom or dad.
You're probably wondering about now...How do I fix this?
You can help your baby's natural hormone production schedule by ensuring they're getting enough natural light during the day. This will help with melatonin production at night and therefore help with sleep.
You want to make sure that baby's room is as dark as possible. Dimming the lights around the house in the evening about an hour before bed will simulate the sunset and help with cueing melatonin production.
Try to Avoid any screen time an hour before bed, preferably longer. These devices emit a geyser of blue light, which will increase cortisol production at the time when you're trying to eliminate it.
The number one thing you can do to help your baby sleep through the night is to teach her independent sleep skills and get her on a predictable schedule.
Because you're never going to eliminate night time wake ups. We all wake in the night every night. As grown-ups, we have the ability to recognize that it's night time and we should go right back to sleep. Most of the time we don't even remember waking between sleep cycles when we wake in the morning.
We can't prevent a baby from waking in the night, but we can safely teach baby to recognize that she's awake, she's safe, still tired, and can get back to sleep without our help.
You can find more information about how to teach your little one to stop waking at 3 am by downloading The 7 Best Sleep Tips guide.
I made light of it earlier but, you should always check to make sure there are no bears in baby's room. A growling bear could set anyone's sleep habits back. LOL
Here's to a well-rested family,
Jo Anna Inks
I help tired, frustrated parents get their babies sleeping through the night and napping well so everyone in the family can get the rest they so desperately need!