Some of you may have been following along my journey as a Mom, and if so, you have seen my struggles with lack of sleep with my son.
Jackson was not a good sleeper for 2 years! Myself, my husband, and Jackson were completely sleep deprived.
I was finally at my wits’ end when I decided to hire a sleep consultant. I reached out to Shana Brandes who helped our family immensely. All we really needed was some coaching and to know exactly what to do with Jackson without second guessing ourselves.
It took 3-4 nights which was considered pretty short but as she explained it…he was ready for it.
Since this experience, getting more sleep, feeling happier, and having a well rested and content family I wanted to make it my mission to share the importance of sleep with all the moms out there who maybe in the same situation I was.
So I asked Shana to for her expert advice and here’s what she has to say;
One of the number one topics moms are obsessed with is sleep: not getting it, other people getting more of it, and wondering when our babies will just figure out how to sleep so we can too.
There’s so much information to wade through and guilt to endure in our quest to figure this sleep thing out. As mothers, we are wired to respond to our baby’s cries and this is an important biological fact. Newborns need 24/7care. Feeding, soothing, changing, it is non-stop caring. You do whatever you can to survive those first 4 months. It is a beautiful time of bonding, attachment and getting to know this new human you created. We come up with creative ways to get our babies to sleep as we know those overtired cries so well.
This obsession we have with sleep is so important because, well, sleep is SO important.
All children need adequate, restorative sleep for brain development, cell repair, growth, to help keep their immune systems strong, and to help them consolidate their memories and new skills they are constantly learning. Sleep helps children regulate their moods, recover faster from illness and take in more of the world around them.
As parents, having a child is probably the first time we have realized how important sleep is to our own well-being because “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Sleep is important for adults and especially new mothers. Parenting is not for the weak and quality sleep is key in helping us cope and survive some challenging and amazing times as new parents. Mothers in particular, who typically suffer the most sleep deprivation, are shown in numerous research studies to be at higher risk of suffering from postpartum depression. Walking through days feeling foggy and exhausted is sometimes written off as the price to pay for having a baby but when sleep deprivation is chronic we need to be concerned and proactive.
As someone who is immersed in sleep research, sleep books and all things sleep, I can tell you there are so many amazing benefits of putting sleep as a top priority in your family’s life. As a mother, you are the captain of the ship. Putting yourself first means your whole crew will benefit. Whether you are trying to feel more positive about yourself physically and lose that baby weight, get a promotion at work, or simply being more present in your family’s life, making sleep a priority will make everything more successful.
When a baby learns to sleep, the whole family feels the benefits. Teaching a baby to consolidate sleep and get long restful periods of restorative sleep helps them in every way. Studies have shown that attachment actually increases when parents help teach their baby to sleep better. Mothers in particular, feel more patient and babies are more calm, both able to enjoy each other more when well-rested which leads to more attachment behaviours.
Here are my Recommended Guideline of sleep hours for all ages:
I am a sleep consultant and I really believe in the benefits of teaching your baby to sleep! I know it can be controversial to say the words “sleep training” but it doesn’t just mean let your baby cry alone in their room to learn to sleep. With the knowledge of sleep science, having the right environment and an actual plan, you can successfully help your baby learn to sleep and everyone reaps the benefits. It is not for everyone and your should never feel pressured to sleep train but if you have been thinking about it and really trying to make sleep a priority here are some tips to help you get started:
- Make two lists for yourself: why sleep is so good for my baby and why more sleep would be so beneficial for ME. Seeing positive reasons for more sleep and personal goals written down is a powerful tool to help motivate for change.
- Be honest and open with your partner and family about your own sleep needs. We can’t all function well on little to no sleep forever. It is not biologically possible or even healthy. Some of us need more sleep than others and this is normal and okay to say out loud.
- While you are contemplating change see if you can carve out a little more sleep for yourself. Can you go to bed even an hour earlier than you are now? Sure you might miss an episode on Netflix but getting extra sleep can add up to make a huge difference throughout the week. An extra hour of sleep a night per week adds up to an extra night of sleep per week!
- Read some sleep books. Check a few out of the library and read the ones that speak to your family’s philosophy and your baby’s temperament. Be wary of any book, blog, or well meaning friend that make you feel selfish for wanting to get more sleep. There is nothing selfish about wanting to teach your child a lifelong skill that benefits their brain, IQ, growth, development, temperament, and health.
- Consider hiring a sleep consultant. Make sure they are certified from a reputable institution. I became certified through the Family Sleep Institute which is an evidence based sleep course requiring over 250 hours of study and continuing education. A good sleep consultant will create a plan with you that aligns with your family’s goals and comfort. Most importantly, a consultant holds you accountable to making positive changes. They are with you every step of the way and are there to support you no matter how many doubts or questions you have.
Shana Brandes is a certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, RN specializing in sexual and reproductive health, and a proud mom to 3 very active boys. She is the owner of Shluff Sleep Consulting and she absolutely loves working with parents to make sleep a priority and a reality for their families. You can find her at: https://www.facebook.com/shulffsleep/ or firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you’re a new mom or a mom who’s a little overwhelmed and busy (what mom isn’t?) I have a FREE Busy Mom Meal Plan for you – CLICK HERE TO GET YOU FREE COPY 🙂
Your friend and coach,