Whether you’re a brand new mom or a seasoned one, sleep is something we all crave. The months shortly after having a baby are the worst for sleep deprivation and there’s usually no avoiding it. But once you’ve got baby into a good routine and you’ve settled into motherhood a bit better, you can start to focus on how to reclaim all your lost hours of sleep.
Mom of two and freelance writer, Lisa Smalls, shares some tips on how to reclaim your sleep after having a baby.
Having a new baby will be one of the greatest feelings in your life, however, that thrill can be quickly replaced with the fatigue, lack of focus, anxiety and an increased temper all due to sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is acquiring fewer than the seven-plus recommended hours of sleep each night. While newborn babies can sleep 16 to 20 hours each day, those hours are stretched into bursts which are often inconveniently disturbed when the parent is trying to sleep.
On average, a mother in the first three months after having a baby can lose between one and two hours of sleep each night and for both parents they can experience sleep deprivation for up to six years after the birth. While some people can get an adequate amount of sleep at six hours, most need between seven and nine, so those critical couple hours of loss after childbirth can make a big impact on your quality of sleep, especially considering the hours you do get are broken up into two-hour segments dictated by the baby’s fits.
Your body requires not only that you receive seven hours, but also that those hours are subsequent to each other and they are quality sleep. Sleep is the way your body processes thoughts, emotions, memories and helps your body relax and repair. Without consistent sleep your body does not have the ability to process and file all of your information or process it correctly. This leads to a haze during the day resulting in fatigue, lack of focus, lack of motivation, mood swings and anxiety. In turn, these symptoms lead to additional insomnia. So, when your baby is sleeping at night, you may not be able to. It is a vicious cycle.
As your baby ages, additional challenges such as potty training, nightmares, and the concerns of your growing toddler and an active imagination result in sleep deprivation. Though the sleep deprivation you will likely experience as your child ages may not be as complicated as those first few months, it also provides the same symptoms.
So, what can a parent (especially a mother) do to reclaim sleep after giving birth? Here are five tips.
Create a routine for you and the baby
Okay, to be fair your baby is probably not going to pay attention to a routine in the beginning. But, with practice and commitment a routine can help your baby sleep in longer bouts and learn to sleep so that after four months your baby may actually sleep through the entire night. Routine is good and setting a sleep routine such as bath, reading, cuddling, and sleep will be a great payback for the future.
This is such an important factor in helping you sleep that you should keep a sign on your refrigerator as a reminder. After having a baby friends and family will practically tackle each other to offer help and cuddle with that little cutie. But, parents are often unwilling to accept the help. This may be from guilt or simply because it is difficult allowing someone else (including mom) to watch your baby without you there. But, whether someone offers to watch your baby a couple hours, help with the chores, or just hang out to give you a little break, it all pays off.
Keep the baby near you (but not in your bed)
A nursery is great, but it might be better after the six-month mark. In those first months your baby will wake up every couple hours and one way to miss out on sleep is that long walk to the nursery to feed. SIDS is a serious concern and one of the biggest no-no’s is letting your newborn sleep in bed with you. So, whether you have a crib or bassinet in the room keeping your baby close will help you feed without too much hassle.
Don’t worry about the dishes
Having a baby does not mean you have lost your old life, but it does mean you need to adjust going forward. That might mean that if you were emphatic about getting all the chores done and having a spotless house, those chores just might have to wait until you are having a nice relaxing day as the kids play with the grandparents. This does not mean you should live like a hoarder but prioritizing your sleep over missing a night of sweeping the floor, means you should really get your zzz’s.
Lisa is a mom of two and freelance writer from North Carolina. She regularly writes for the sleep health website Mattress Advisor, which has taught her so much about the importance of sleep (especially as a working mom). When she isn’t working on commissions, she loves connecting, encouraging and learning with other parents through her writing.
Snoring is one of the worst enemies of a good night’s sleep, whether it’s you or your partner who’s to blame.
Recently, my husband and I had the chance to try out the new Hupnos anti-snoring mask, which combines technology with a sleep mask to help solve the snoring problem for good.
I’ve been married 10 years and my husband has always been a snorer. In his case, it’s caused by a combination of allergies and other sinus problems, but there are several different causes of snoring. He’s tried various remedies over the years, including strips, nose and mouth pieces, sinus medications, herbal remedies and even surgery to correct a deviated septum.
Here’s what our experience with the Hupnos anti-snoring mask was like.
Hupnos is a sleep mask, just like one you would wear to block out light while you sleep. It connects to an app via Bluetooth which analyzes your snoring to try to figure out what is causing it. The app tracks and records your snoring, head position and breathing throughout the night. After using it for a few nights in a row, you will be able to see a trend to determine whether or not the anti-snoring mask is working for you.
You can also change the settings so that the mask will intervene in the middle of the night if you are snoring. Similar to when I punch my husband in the arm when he’s snoring, but slightly more delicate. The mask will either vibrate if your head position is causing snoring, or it will shoot out a tiny puff of air pressure if your breathing is to blame.
The sleep mask looks modern and high-tech. Upon first impression, it reminded me more of virtual reality goggles than a traditional sleep mask.
The mask is covered in a trendy heather gray and black microfiber fabric, so it’s silky soft but also lightweight with a bit of stretch. It has an extra layer of foam padding across the top and bottom of the mask so that it rests comfortably against the cheeks and forehead.
To keep it on, the mask has a wide, stretchy microfiber strap that attaches with Velcro on both sides. The very back of the strap is split to make it easier to adjust for the right fit.
My husband has a shaved head, so hair was not an issue for him, but I was worried about how the mask and Velcro would work with long hair, so I tried it myself. Thankfully the Velcro closures did not disturb my hair in any way, or make it uncomfortable to sleep. But I did find that the straps moved around quite often and slipped out of position on my head.
The part that was really different and almost a bit intimidating was the nose piece. On the inside of the mask, there is a soft, black, silicone piece that you fit your nose onto. Underneath are two “fan like” valves that remind me of something Darth Vadar would have worn.
The entire nose piece is attached by one snap on either side and can be removed and taken apart for cleaning. At first, it seemed as though it was all going to fall apart after the first night but it’s actually much more sturdy that we thought.
With the mask comes a small card with some instructions and a paperclip. The paperclip is used to initialize the mask. You only need to do this one time when you first get it. And then you need to plug it in and charge it.
I never would have thought by looking at the sleep mask that it contained the ability to “charge.” It doesn’t look bulky or electronic or as though it even contains batteries. There are no exposed wires or buttons of any kind. It actually took me a while to locate the USB port (which is slightly hidden on the bottom left side of the nose piece FYI). Once it’s plugged in, a little red light comes on, which will turn green when it’s fully charged. And that’s how you know that it does, in fact, contain some technology.
Wearing the sleep mask throughout the entire night is probably the one thing that most people will struggle to adjust to. It might be especially foreign to someone who’s never worn an eye mask, CPAP machine or another anti-snoring device to sleep.
In order to get a good feel of what it was like, I did try the mask myself for a few nights.
Both my husband and I agreed that the mask, itself, was fairly comfortable once you got it on. The silicone nose piece fit us each properly (and we have very different sized noses) and didn’t feel like it was restricting breathing. The straps didn’t dig in or itch. And the microfiber padding provided a nice cushion on the forehead.
I personally did not like the two harder plastic pieces on either side of the silicone nose piece that slightly pushed into my cheeks. They didn’t hurt but I was constantly aware that they were there, which got annoying after a while. My husband didn’t seem bothered by them.
Due to the product being brand new and the combination of fabrics used, he did complain about the smell. I suppose when something is so close to your nose, the smell is magnified. But I simply added a couple drops of essential oils to the outside of the sleep mask and problem solved (bonus – it helps induce sleep!)
We both found that the mask did tend to slip out of position throughout the night as we slept. I found it even more frustrating because, like I said, I’m a stomach sleeper, so it was near impossible for me to find a comfortable sleeping position while wearing the mask. My husband is a hardcore back sleeper (hence the snoring) but he still found that it slipped off the back of his head.
As soon as you create your account and log in, there’s a big timer that says start. In the top right, next to the icon of the sleep mask, it should show whether or not your sleep mask is connected to Bluetooth. If it’s not, you can test your mask in the settings.
In the top left of the record screen, you can change the mode that the mask operates in.
It defaults to Easy Mode, which just means the mask and app will record your sleep patterns but not apply any intervention to stop you from snoring.
By switching it to Basic Mode, the mask will vibrate slightly when your head position is causing snoring and it will emit air pressure if your breathing is causing snoring.
In Advanced Mode, you can adjust the vibration level (if you find the buzzing is waking you up) as well as change your default head angle and disable or adjust the air pressure. And finally, you can adjust the delay time to start the recording (because not everyone falls asleep in 20 minutes).
Before you hit start, you also have the option to add in any factors or remedies that may affect your snoring that night. For example, if you were drinking heavily or have a cold, or if you took some sleeping pills or applied some essential oils. These are purely for tracking purposes so when you review your results, you’ll be able to see how they affected you.
Once you wake up and hit stop on your recording, you’ll be able to review your results for the night. You can listen to the recorded audio of your snoring and see how many times the Hupnos anti-snoring mask had to buzz you to change position or apply air pressure.
Using the anti-snoring mask on a regular basis over the course of a week or more will give you information in the trends section so that you can keep track of whether your snoring has improved over time.
It’s a really cool gadget with a big claim. I believe that the vibrations and air pressure of the Hupnos sleep mask COULD subconsciously train your body to sleep in the optimal position to eliminate snoring permanently. I also think that the app’s various methods of recording and tracking your sleep and snoring patterns is a great way to improve sleep overall.
However, it would take some self-discipline and effort on the part of the wearer, as the sleep mask does not do all of the work for you.It does take some time to get used to wearing the mask and you would have to wear it consistently every night in order to see real improvements.
The constant vibrating and puffs of air pressure are also not for everyone. A lighter sleeper might find them too bothersome. Those suffering from anxiety may also find the sleep mask to be too restricting to wear, or dislike the sensation of being buzzed without any control. And stomach or side sleepers may have a hard time getting comfortable while wearing the mask.
But if you’re serious about training your body to stop snoring, and willing to put in the effort to make it work, then the Hupnos high-tech anti-snoring mask is definitely worth a try!
Moms who are sleep deprived are normally less than enthusiastic about celebrating holidays and special events.
You can make them special by getting her a gift that will help beat sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can cause physical and mental problems for mothers, whether it’s caused by a new baby, postpartum depression, anxiety, or just the normal duties of motherhood. These specially selected gift ideas for the sleep deprived mom are sure to make a difference for her.
If a mom in your life is suffering from sleep deprivation, consider one of these gift ideas to help her get a better night’s rest.
A New Mattress
Go big or go home, am I right? Nothing says sleep like a brand new comfortable mattress. But this can be a tough one to give as a gift. It’s a really personal purchase that normally requires a person to try out several different ones before buying.
But times are changing. No longer do you need to go into a showroom and lie down on several different mattresses that all feel the same. You don’t need to spend a fortune or commit to an expensive purchase that you can’t return.
Mattress manufactures have gotten smarter. They’ve created beds that conform to fit us, rather than force us to choose one among many. And instead of putting all their effort into designing an entire line of different mattresses, they’ve combined their efforts into designing one perfect mattress. And because of this – they guarantee that it will be the best mattress you’ve ever had. They’ll even refund you up to a year after your purchase if you’re not happy.
With free shipping and that kind of promise, this mattress tops my list as the #1 perfect gift for the sleep deprived mom.
If you haven’t already heard, weighted blankets are the newest all-natural cure for anxiety and insomnia.
There’s not much to them. They’re blankets filled with beads or pellets and come in a variety of different exteriors such as cotton, flannel, fleece or microfiber. The idea is that using one to sleep will embrace the body in a state of continuous, light pressure, which can stimulate the nervous system and help fight insomnia. The benefits are similar to that of a deep tissue massage.
There are tons of companies selling weighting blankets now, and you can even DIY one. But if you’re looking for gift ideas for the sleep deprived mom, then consider a weighted blanket that gives a little deeper.
Weighting Comfortsis a company that sells weighted blankets made by international refugees. They’ve partnered with the non-profit organization Sew for Hope to have their blankets made. So you can rest assured that when you purchase one of these weighted blankets, you are also contributing to the future and well being of others. What could be a more perfect holiday gift than that?
CBD oil is still a bit of a controversial product, mostly because of it’s association with cannabis. But CBD products from reputable companies are produced from the hemp plant, and not the marijuana plant, so it contains zero amounts of THC – which is the stuff that causes a high.
Similar to other all-natural essential oils, CBD offers a ton of benefits to those suffering from pain or anxiety. It comes in a variety of different options, from oils to edibles.
Comfortable sleepwear is a mom’s best friend… even if she’s not getting much sleep. One of the best gift ideas for the sleep deprived mom, whether she’s newly postpartum, a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, is something comfortable she can slip into at bedtime.
While this may not be true for all women, many find sleeping with pajama pants on difficult after having a baby. Whether it’s from a c-section scar, stretch marks or extra weight around the middle, our bodies change postpartum. A nightgown is much more comfortable for that reason.
One of my favorite places to shop for clothing, including sleepwear, is on Zulily. You can find pieces of great quality for a good deal and the selection is far greater than what you could find in a crowded mall.
Forget bath bombs. Moms rarely have time for a shower, never mind a bath. Instead, opt for shower steamers this year so that she can still get in all the relaxing spa-like benefits of a shower, without the time consuming restraints of a bath.
Hot showers before bed are a great way to wind down and can help ease symptoms of anxiety and insomnia for a better night’s sleep. Add in some sleep-inducing essential oils and they make a great gift or stocking stuffer.
This list of gift ideas would not be complete without some essential oils. The benefits of essential oils for sleep and relaxation are some that I can personally vouch for. A variety of essential oils is one of the top gift ideas for the sleep deprived mom.
For mothers who are sleep deprived, self care can make a huge difference in their overall mood and quality of life. Granted, it’s not always an easy thing to fit in. With the use of a diffuser, moms can benefit from the healing power of essential oils quickly and effortlessly.
The age old practice of reading in bed is still a good one. Except that now, we scroll on our phones, thinking that it has the same effect. News flash – it’s not even close!
The bright light of the screen plus the negative effects of comparing ourselves to our social media friends means even worse consequences for the already sleep deprived mother.
So buy her a book.An actual paper book with a positive and interesting topic, such as The Sleep Revolution from Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post. Not only will she be able to focus her brain on something useful, but she’ll learn all kinds of brilliant information about sleep and how important it is.
You know what suffers the most due to sleep deprivation? The eyes. The windows to our souls can be bloodshot, dry and puffy when we don’t get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can also cause headaches, migraines and sinus problems.
And how do you treat all those different problems? Heat is great for headaches and sinus problems, but cold is better for redness and puffiness.
White noise is a useful way to drown out an overactive brain. Many new mothers can’t fall asleep because they’re always listening to hear the baby cry. Or perhaps it’s the anxious or intrusive thoughts that are filling her head at night.
A white noise machine is a great tool for helping to reduce stress and drown out background noises so she get better sleep.
This Sleep Therapy Machine from HoMedics is actually a bit more than your average sound machine. It has a patent-pending deep sleep therapy program that uses a specific combination of sounds to keep you sleeping all night long.
Okay, first off, hydration… super important for everyone, especially the sleep deprived. I don’t think I even need to go into detail about drinking enough water, because we all know it’s important.
But THIS water bottle is extra special. It combines the important hydration factor with the healing power of gemstones such as amethyst and quartz. It’s said that immersing gemstones in water can actually increase their potency and charge the water with negative ions to boost serotonin.
Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t – but isn’t this the most beautiful water bottle you’ve ever seen? Of all the gift ideas for the sleep deprived mom, this is one of the most beautiful AND useful.
Tea makes a great gift for the sleep deprived mom. It’s important to choose an herbal, non-caffeinated one, but the varieties are basically endless. A tea that contains Valerian Root will help to induce sleep naturally. You can also go with the ever popular Chamomile tea.
You can find tea and mug gift sets almost everywhere, probably because they make such great gifts. But the trick to making it a special, personalized gift is to choose the perfect mug.
Our skin truly suffers when we don’t get enough sleep. And moms are infamous for not having a proper skin care routine, so a set of skin care products will be a welcome gift for the sleep deprived mom.
The TOHI starter kit comes with a muscle rub, cleanser and lotions for the face and body – but most importantly, it comes with the amazing Night’s Rest lotion. This hand and body lotion contains some of the best essential oils for promoting sleep, as well as ingredients to hydrate and moisturize the skin. It’s one step up from your average skin care routine, and it will encourage her to practice regular self care.
What sleep deprived mom wouldn’t love a spa day this winter? Make it easy on yourself and on her by getting her a SpaFinder gift card. She can choose from thousands of locations, book exactly which treatments she wants and it never, ever expires so she can procrastinate it until the kids are in college – but it will still be waiting for her…
P.S. You can buy one online and print or e-mail it so it’s the perfect last-minute gift!
Pure, undisturbed sleep is one of the best gift ideas for the sleep deprived mom any time of the year. So take the kids out for the day and just let her sleep. It’s amazing what an extra 8 hours of sleep can do to improve our moods and help us function better. For more information on the dangers of sleep deprivation for new moms, check out some of these posts.
The postpartum period is often synonymous with sleep deprivation…
But it’s usually caused by a hungry newborn.
If that baby isn’t causing all kinds of sleep disturbances and mom stillisn’t sleeping, then it could be a case of postpartum anxiety insomnia. Many mothers find themselves unable to sleep due to racing thoughts, unreasonable worries, and the inability to calm their body and mind at night.
Postpartum anxiety is a common condition that can affect a mother’s life in several different ways. She may experience social anxiety and avoid leaving the house or interacting with others. Anxiety can also manifest as anger and cause postpartum rage. Often, mothers experience a combination of postpartum depression and anxiety. But sleep deprivation can exacerbate all of these symptoms and cause even worse ones. There are several ways to treat postpartum anxiety insomnia naturally and stop things from getting out of control.
Here are 15 ways to get a better night’s sleep for moms who are suffering from postpartum anxiety insomnia.
1. Create a Routine
Just like sleep training children, a bedtime routine is important for encouraging proper sleep. Going to bed at the same time each night and performing a few routine tasks will help train your brain and body to know when it’s time to go to sleep. Rewiring the brain altogether is one of the best ways to help fight off postpartum anxiety insomnia.
Keep in mind that it may take a while for your body to adjust to the routine. Depending on how bad your postpartum anxiety is, it could take months before you can regularly get a good night’s sleep. And since postpartum anxiety can be a life-long battle, you should be prepared to make your bedtime routine permanent.
Social media is a huge contributor to postpartum anxiety insomnia. Scrolling through Facebook or watching Netflix before bed will only fuel your racing brain with more needless worries and thoughts. Make a plan to unplug from technology at least 1 hour before bed. Turn off the TV and switch your phone to Do Not Disturb mode so that notifications aren’t disturbing you in the middle of the night.
But if the thought of “working out” is causing you even more anxiety, then save it for the morning instead. You can still get a serotonin boost by doing a few simple stretches. Stretch your neck and shoulders, bend over and touch your toes or sit against a wall for a few seconds. Postpartum anxiety causes a lot of tension in the muscles and stretching those out before bed will help you feel more relaxed.
4. Take a Hot Shower
A hot shower is a great way to calm down before bed. The steam and heat combined with the gentle massage of the water beating down will relax the muscles and help open up the lungs. A massaging shower head is a bonus but not necessary. This can be especially welcome if you’re feeling over touched at the end of the day.
Don’t feel obligated to do anything else except just stand under the water and enjoy it. A hot bath can work in the same way, if you have the time. Throw in some Epsom salts for an added boost of magnesium to help relax sore muscles, fight off depression and induce sleep.
5. Sip Some Tea
There are several herbal teas that can help fight postpartum anxiety insomnia.Chamomile and Valerian Root are the most popular bedtime teas and for good reason. Green tea, ginger tea and other blends are all great too! Experiment with different flavors and combinations to find out what works. Even some plain hot water with a slice of lemon will help you detox before bed. As long as it’s hot and caffeine-free, it will help to calm and soothe your body from the inside.
Meditation is not for everyone. But if you’re dealing with a case of postpartum anxiety insomnia, it might help to try to cleanse your brain of the millions of thoughts floating around in there.
There are actually a few different ways to meditate. You can try using a guided meditation app to help you get started. It’s also easy to practice self-guided meditation by setting a timer for a few minutes and sitting quietly as you work on eliminating all the thoughts from your brain. Meditating before bed is a way to manage your anxiety before your head hits the pillow, so that once it does – you will actually be able to sleep.
7. Invest in a Good Mattress
Sometimes it’s not the postpartum anxiety alone that is causing insomnia. A good night’s sleep begins with comfort and your mattress has a lot to do with it. But mattress shopping can be really tricky (I know this because I used to sell them for a living!) Lying down on a mattress in a showroom for a few minutes is very different than sleeping on it all night long. You can try several different ones but eventually they all start to feel the same. And then, once you get that mattress home with you – what happens if you don’t like it after a few nights – or worse, after a few months?
The key to making an important purchase such as a mattress is to look for one that will guarantee you a good night’s sleep. Unlike big box stores, mattress companies that sell their products directly will offer a better satisfaction guarantee and stand behind their product. The Nectar mattress, for example, offers a lifetime warranty, free shipping and is the only one I have seen that offers a free trial for an entire year!
Weighted blankets are all the rage right now. They have proven benefits to reduce symptoms of anxiety and help improve sleep. The best part is, they’re a simple tool that doesn’t require anything other than just cuddling up and getting comfortable.
The simple science behind a weighted blanket is that it creates a sensation of safety, similar to being hugged or held. The heavier the blanket, the more it stimulates your skin and sends messages to your brain that you are safe and protected. This allows the brain to stop worrying and rest for a while.
Consider purchasing one through Weighted Comforts. Not only do they offer a wide variety at competitive prices, but they’re also sewn by refugees living in the U.S.
9. Grow a potted plant
There are several plants that encourage a proper sleep environment. Having a potted plant on your nightstand or anywhere in your bedroom can purify the air and rid it of any toxins or negative energy. Some plants with scented flowers, such as lavender and jasmine, can actually induce sleep. This is a beautiful and easy way to encourage your mind to feel at ease enough to sleep.
Don’t feel intimidated if you don’t have much of a green thumb. Start with one plant and research it to find out how to take care of it. Many houseplants are low maintenance, so as long as you don’t completely neglect them, they will thrive. Be warned though, growing houseplants can become a very addicting hobby…
10. Start sniffing
Using scents is an easy way to transition the brain into a relaxed state.The National Sleep Foundation even suggests using scents to help you get a better night’s sleep. In order to battle a case of postpartum anxiety insomnia, you should consider everything that you are inhaling in your bedroom – from dust and allergens that could be trapped in your carpet or mattress, to the fabric softener you use on your sheets.
There are several different ways to incorporate scents to help your mind and body relax so that you can not only fall asleep… but stay asleep! Scents that are good for relaxation and inducing sleep include Lavender, Vetiver, Cedarwood, Valerian and Frankincense, but the list goes on. You can try these in an essential oil(either a roll-on or in a diffuser), a linen spray, candles or scented satchets. You can even purchase Lavender-scented fabric softener to use on your sheets!
11. Try some background noise
One of the biggest problems with postpartum anxiety insomnia is the brain being unable to stop spiraling at nighttime. Something worth trying is distracting the brain through the use of background noise, such as gentle instrumental music or white noise like rain sounds. You could purchase a sound machine, but there are also several white noise playlists on Spotify. There are even apps that you can download that have a large selection of different sounds as well as other sleep aid features.
12. Don’t be afraid of the dark
Our brains are hardwired to associate sleep with darkness. With postpartum anxiety insomnia, it’s easy to look around the room and find a hundred other things to worry or think about. Reduce the amount of outside stimulation by making your bedroom completely dark. You can install blackout blinds or wear a sleep mask. Eliminate anything that your eyes can focus on, so cover up the blinking light on the TV and turn your digital clock around. If you start to feel anxious in the darkness, remind yourself that you can turn on a light whenever you want to, and that you are in complete control.
13. Keep a bedside journal
It’s true that we often think of the most important (or completely unimportant) things while we’re lying in bed. The thought of possibly forgetting about it in the morning can cause a certain level of anxiety and disrupt our sleep.
Writing in a journal or worry workbook before bed can help to eliminate some of the extra thoughts in our heads, but often we have a brainstorm as we’re lying in bed trying to fall asleep. So keep a journal or notepad and pen beside your bed so that when these seemingly important thoughts come to mind in the middle of the night, we can write them down, go back to sleep and know they will be there in the morning.
14. Increase melatonin levels
Melatonin is a sleep-regulating hormone that is naturally produced by our bodies. For a woman with postpartum anxiety, those hormone levels could be out of balance causing the insomnia. While melatonin supplements are readily available, they run the risk of causing side effects, just as with any other drug. They could also cause problems if a mother is on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds or breastfeeding. If you plan to start a melatonin supplement for postpartum anxiety insomnia, always check with your doctor first. However, there are ways of increasing your melatonin production naturally.
A lot of it has to do with diet. Foods that are rich in magnesium can help your body produce more melatonin. Pineapples, oranges, bananas and tart cherries are also rich in natural melatonin and make great bedtime snacks.
Sleep deprivation can have a dreadful impact on a new mom’s mental health.
This is why sleep for new moms is just as important as it is for new babies. Between round the clock feedings and pain from postpartum recovery, sleep for new moms may seem impossible and often, it is. But when you consider the detrimental effects it could have on a woman’s mental health, then sacrificing other things in an effort to improve sleep for new moms is worth it.
This guest post from writer, Sarah Cummings, details some adjustments that can be made to make sure that new moms are getting the sleep they desperately need.
*This post may contain affiliate links. This is a guest post and all advice and opinions are those of the author.
Sleep is a necessity and we have to get enough to function properly. This is something parents will be praying they can achieve when the newborn arrives on the scene!
New parents are more than likely going to lose sleep with the change in sleep patterns and disturbances in the night, etc. However, with the right structure and routines in place, you can ensure that as a new mom you’re enjoying the best sleep you can in both the short-term and in the long-run.
How much sleep is enough?
The National Sleep Foundation states that newborn babies should sleep between 12 and 18 hours each day, whereas the average adult needs to accumulate between seven and nine hours each evening.
This might seem like an unattainable number as a new parent, but this is the recommended daily amount to function normally, so it’s best to get the good measures in place as soon as you can so that you can all enjoy sound slumber!
You can simply start by following these top tips on the best bedtime habits that will help you and baby:
Re-associate yourself with sleep and know its worth
Remember the days when you used to wake up feeling fresh as a daisy? Yeah, well, those days might have changed a little now that you have a little one in the house, but that’s not to say that you can’t get close to it with the right ideas in place.
You know when you’ve had a good sleep because everything you do seem like much less effort and you have the energy to deal with what life throws at you.
It’s important to bear in mind that there’s not a healthy way of replacing sleep; there’s only so manychamomile teas you can have before bed! The benefits of sleep are there for all to see, and one of your first jobs should be to remove the thought process that cutting out anything other than what you need to be healthy is acceptable.
So, while you’re teaching your baby the good habits of restful sleep, you should be endorsing and reiterating this with yourself too. Ensure that you practice what you preach and you will see the upside to being well-rested. It might be easier said than done, but practice makes perfect.
Create a bedtime routine to look forward to
Okay, so, bedtime is a really good way for both you and your baby to start to take things down a few notches. After the hectic day you’ve been having, now start thinking about the things you need to do to send the right signals to the brain that sleep is on the horizon.
A good thing to do to help you relax and have baby unwind too is to set aside some time in which you relax together in a tranquil environment. Young children certainly need this type of thing in their lives and you’ll be able to indulge too.
You know when your little one is tired andready for bed, and this might not have been your bedtime a few years ago, but it might as well be now, so, go with it because you’re going to be waking up earlier than before anyway. Sleep is vital, so get what you can; you never know, your precious one might even give you those hallowed seven hours!
Sleep when your baby sleeps
As we mentioned, if you take the gift your child gives you to sleep, grab it with both hands. Any experienced parent will confirm with you that the key to fending off postpartum sleep deprivation is to get some shut-eye when your baby dozes off.
If your baby takes a nap, put everything else on hold and take a well-earned nap too. there’s nothing that can’t wait, apart from a waking baby that needs attention, of course.
Lack of sleep can bring on changes in your mood, and new moms are often at risk of what’s known as baby blues or the more serious postpartum depression. If you are feeling some of these symptoms, we advise you to seek the advice of your doctor so that you can deal with the problem before it gets any worse.
Hello! My name’s Sarah Cummings. I’ve been involved in writing informative and helpful guides for the last five years now. Originally, my passion to help others was the overriding factor to become a writer, but now I feel like I’m learning more everyday too!
My love of exercise has always been a big part of how I lead my life, and I find it helps with lots of things, including sleep. I’m an advocator of promoting sleep and how it can be the difference between living a good, fulfilled life and an unhappy one.
I have had the good fortune to have a long and spiritual background in yoga too, and I feel as though this pairs perfectly with my passion for healthy eating and leading an active lifestyle.
I enjoy learning and coming up with new ways to develop my writing so that I can help others to grow and learn too. When I have a spare morning, you can catch me gazing at sunrises from different places on the planet!
If there’s one thing that many parents dread doing, it’s having to deal with the stress of sleep training.
Sleep training is such an ambiguous term – what exactly is “sleep training” anyway? It’s basically any method you use to help your child learn to go to sleep on their own (note that I wrote “on their own” and not “alone”). It’s most often associated with babies, but the reality is – the stress of sleep training never truly ends…
You start by sleep training a newborn, and then you have to do it again after that baby starts teething. Then you move your toddler out of a crib and have to help them sleep in a big kid bed. Perhaps you move and have to teach your child to sleep in a new bedroom. Or you go on vacation, and when you get back, your child has forgotten how to sleep on their own and you have to start all over again!
Sleep training is not a one-time thing you need to teach your child. Unlike teaching them how to write their name or ride a bike – sleep training is something you will have to do over and over again, in several different ways and for several different reasons. So there’s no point in trying to avoid it.
There are, however, ways and reasons to avoid the stress of sleep training. The number one reason being the effect it has on a mother’s mental health.
To Sleep Train… Or Not To Sleep Train?
That is the question but there actually isn’t one right answer. Many parents sleep train without even realizing that’s what they’re doing. (Hint: simply following a bedtime routine is sleep training!) Sleep is a natural part of life, and sleep training means helping baby to do that. The obvious goal of sleep training is to have baby sleep through the night. But sometimes, the stress of sleep training is just too much to consider doing.
Pros of Sleep Training:
Reduces the negative effects of sleep deprivation (for both mom and baby)
Creates a predictable routine
Helps baby adjust to life outside of the womb
Develops good sleep habits early
Cons of Sleep Training:
It’s hard to get right
Requires a lot of patience and persistence
Increases mom’s stress level
Limits the amount of time mom and baby spend together
Is difficult to do while room/bed sharing
Sleep Training vs. No Sleep Training
Sleep training can cause stress and anxiety, but so can sleep deprivation.
A strict routine can make mom feel depressed and imprisoned but no routine at all can be overwhelming.
Having baby sleep in their own bed can be good for a mom who needs space but sleeping with baby can create a stronger bond.
Reduce The Anxiety
Just the idea of sleep training is enough to cause anxiety for moms. Many moms worry about how to do it properly and fear the thought of their babies crying for hours on end. There’s really no way to know in advance how a baby will handle sleep training. You will also find a lot of conflicting information and advice about sleep training. Reading about how excessive crying can cause brain damage will definitely cause a high level of stress for a mom who is considering sleep training their baby.
One of the best ways to avoid the stress of sleep training is to change your perspective on it. Having a positive attitude towards sleep training will help you to be more successful and reduce stress on yourself and baby.
Concentrate on the five senses. Make it a point to incorporate a calming activity for each of the senses into the bedtime routine. It’s a great way to send signals to the brain that it’s time to go to sleep. Calming each of the senses will help baby to relax, which will make sleep training so much easier. It will also help to reduce mom’s anxiety and stress level, making her feel more confident at bedtime.
If the idea of sleep training is causing a lot of anxiety, then it might be a good idea to speak to an online therapist before beginning. They can help you to change your thought process and will be available for you to speak to if you feel overly stressed once you’ve started. Having a plan in place to handle your stress is a great way to manage any mental health problems that might arise.
Another way to eliminate the stress of sleep training is to make sure that you are using the right method. Taking advice from other parents is a guaranteed way to use the wrong method. All babies are different and using tricks and tips that worked wonders for your friend’s baby, or even for one of your previous children, doesn’t mean it will work this time. Using a method that isn’t the right fit for your child will surely end in failure, which can lead to stress, anxiety and depression.
Find the Right Sleep Training Method
When I use the term sleep training, the brain automatically creates an image of a screaming baby in their crib and a sobbing mother on the other side of the door.
Sleep training has come a long way, and that is no longer the norm. Training does not have to be synonymous with crying. Since crying is baby’s primary way of communicating – sleep training is about learning to understand their cries, as opposed to ignoring them.
Sleep training methods can range from gentle to more extreme and which one to use will depend on the personalities of each baby and mom. It’s important to use a method and level of intensity that you’re comfortable with.
Some common sleep training methods include (but are not limited to):
Fading Method(Intensity Level: Low)
This is a very calm and gradual method of sleep training. Baby can be rocked or nursed to sleep or whatever else they’re used to. Slowly, over a few days or even weeks, the length of time they are rocked or nursed is reduced. Eventually, baby becomes less dependent on it.
Chair Method(Intensity Level: Low)
This is another calm method of sleep training that involves keeping a chair beside baby’s crib and staying in the room until they fall asleep, but without holding, rocking or talking to them. Each night, the chair is moved further away from baby’s crib, until it no longer needs to be in the room at all.
Pick Up, Put Down Method(Intensity Level: Low)
This method is one where the parent is not in the room with the baby. It involves putting baby into the crib, soothing them and then leaving the room. If baby cries, then you would go into the room, pick them up and soothe them, and then put them back down again and walk out. This would continue on and on as many times as needed until baby is asleep for the night.
Sometimes crying is unavoidable when it comes to sleep training. The controlled crying method includes putting baby to sleep in their crib while they are drowsy and then checking on them at regular intervals if they start to cry. In this more intense method, the intervals between checks start around 2 minutes and then 5 and then 10 and gradually get longer and longer.
Cry it Out/Extinction/Ferber Method(Intensity Level: High)
This is a very intense method of sleep training, but the claims are that it is the “quickest” way to sleep train a baby. This method involves putting baby in their crib while they are drowsy and then leaving the room but NOT returning to check on them for any reason. Parents often watch or listen on a baby monitor to make sure everything is alright. It sounds cruel and harsh, and is often a last resort.
If you’re unsure of which method to use, then you could consider getting a personalized sleep consultation from sites like The Baby Sleep Site. After answering an interview about your routine, habits and family life, a professional will provide you with a plan based on your specific answers. This is something I have personally done, and would definitely recommend for avoiding the stress of sleep training. You can read about my experience here.
The Danger of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation is the norm among parents of young kids and there’s almost no avoiding it. The quest for more sleep is a main reason why parents choose to start sleep training. But despite being a parental rite of passage, sleep deprivation is known for causing all kinds of mental and physical health challenges.
Common effects of sleep deprivation
Irritability and moodiness
Lack of focus and concentration
Lowered metabolism and energy levels
Headaches and vision problems
Weakened immune system
Excessive sleep deprivation can also cause fits of rage, depression, anxiety, compulsive behavior, intrusive thoughts and even hallucinations. It’s been linked to bigger health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. For a mother in the postpartum period, sleep deprivation can exacerbate symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety. It makes it harder to deal with all the physical and emotional changes happening in her body.
Putting off sleep training or avoiding doing it isn’t a great way to avoid the stress. Eventually, some type of bedtime routine will need to be established and so the earlier good sleep habits can be taught, the easier it will be. Another worry about delayed sleep training is the concern for mom’s mental health. Sleep deprivation can cause all kinds of mental and physical problems, especially for a postpartum mom, who’s hormones are in a delicate state. Allowing mom and baby to get a good night’s rest is the best plan and it all begins with avoiding the stress of sleep training.
Sleep training is one of those tough parts of parenthood. You either get it right or you struggle with sleep deprivation for many, many years.
Years ago, when I started researching sleep training for my first baby, there was so much conflicting information. I had no idea which method would work and so I resorted to good, old “trial and error.” Thankfully he was a pretty easy going kid who took to it wonderfully, unlike my second child. In an effort to avoid the stress of sleep training, I’ve started looking into sleep training consultants for advice with my third baby.
Sleep consultation sites like The Baby Sleep Site usually offer wide varieties of different options based on your sleep training needs, which can get really overwhelming (especially when you’re a sleep deprived parent who has no idea where to begin). And the last thing any parent wants to do is shell out money for a service that they’re not convinced is not going to be worth it.
Yes, it costs money. But for as little as $12/month – you have a valuable source of resources and information available at your fingertips. The Members Area comes loaded with e-books, articles, quizzes, downloadable worksheets and even a chat room.
One of my favorite features is the tele-seminars. They’re about half an hour long so you can listen to one while you’re cooking dinner or folding a load of laundry – perfect for busy moms who don’t have time to read through tons of articles!
Another great feature as a member is the custom schedule maker – which you can use as often as you need to as your baby grows.
The Members Area is a great tool for a parent who is just beginning to struggle with sleep training and needs some guidance on where to start.
But what if you need even more help?
What if you’ve read all the e-books and changed around your baby’s schedule 15 times just to try to make it work but they’re still not sleeping through the night?
It goes without saying that all babies are different, and some are definitely harder to figure out than others. That’s where the sleep experts come in. They’ve dealt with babies of all different temperaments and preferences before. Even a mother of three has only ever had to handle sleep training three kids – but sleep experts have handled sleep training thousands of them.
They offer both phone and e-mail consultation, depending on which you prefer. E-mail is a great option for busy moms but sometimes it really helps to speak to someone one-on-one. (They also offer an express sleep plan if you’re desperate for a good night’s sleep.)
The best part is, as a Member, you get a 20% discount towards the consultation package of your choice!
You can get more info about the other package options here but the difference is basically how many follow up e-mails you get (i.e. how much “time” you want to purchase.)
Beginning the consultation process is very simple but I would recommend setting aside enough time, free of distractions to complete the sleep history. It might also help to write down any notes about your child’s specific areas that you want to work on, what their schedule is like, and how they’ve responded to sleep training in the past.
Once you have an idea of what you need work on, you submit a sleep history assessment via the Help Desk. The questions are pretty straightforward and there are several places to elaborate further on what is happening specifically with your child.
It took me approximately 15 minutes to complete the assessment.
Prior to submitting your sleep history, there is an estimated chart of how long it will take to receive a response.
I submitted my sleep history on a Friday after 5 PM EST and received my personalized sleep plan on Monday morning!
The Personalized Sleep Plan
As a “researcher” myself, I didn’t have extremely high hopes for the personalized sleep plan. I felt as though I had read enough books and blogs, all of which had the same info, that there wouldn’t be much in the personalized sleep plan that I didn’t already know. (In the sleep history assessment, you have the option to select the level of detail you would like. I, of course, selected the highest level.)
I will admit that, upon receiving my personalized sleep plan, it exceeded my expectations. The key reason being – it’s personalized! I didn’t appreciate exactly what that meant until I received the sleep plan back from Nicole Johnson and her team of experts.
Let me highlight my favorite parts so that you can see what I mean:
Specific needs for my child based on the information I included in the assessment. For example, how much she should be sleeping or eating or napping based not just on her age but also on her temperament and history.
Daytime and nighttime routines based on her sleeping arrangements since my toddler and five year old currently share a bedroom.
A personalized mantra about my specific sleep training goals that I can repeat to myself on those rough, sleepless nights.
The day to day plan with precise steps to take each day, including how and what to prepare for before beginning the plan. (See image below)
All of these different things stood out to me in the personalized sleep plan. When I was doing my own research on sleep training, then it was up to me to create a plan based on what I learned and I truly had no idea if it was going to work for my child or not. Upon reading this personalized sleep plan, I found myself pretty confident that I could easily incorporate these changes, and more importantly, that my daughter would be comfortable with them.
The personalized sleep plan included actionable steps for me to take to correct my child’s sleeping problems, based on a number of different factors that I hadn’t even considered.
I still have my three follow up e-mails to use, which are good for 6 months. So as I incorporate these recommended changes to her schedule and bedtime routine, I will have help waiting if I encounter any problems.
Knowing that I have an expert in my corner has absolutely saved my sanity! I regret that I didn’t choose a sleep training expert when my second child was younger and I was battling such extreme postpartum depression. Perhaps it could have reduced the amount of stress and sleep deprivation I was experiencing then. But now, as a busy mother of three, sleep training is no longer an issue I need to stress about, thanks to The Baby Sleep Site.
How much does it cost?
The largest obstacle I would see to most parents hiring a sleep consultant would likely be the cost associated. For this, it all comes down to priorities and how important the sleep is to you. In my case, sleep deprivation is a big trigger of postpartum depression relapses, and so I can’t afford to lose that war.
It’s important to keep in mind that what you are paying for is the time and service of a professional. I’m pretty sure I’ve paid the guy who fertilizes my lawn in the summer more money and that hasn’t gotten me very far in life.
So when I take all these things into consideration, the cost of a professional sleep consultant is worth it, in my opinion.
With all of the horror stories floating around out there, it’s hard not to… Sleep training isn’t easy. As a parent, it’s one of the first opportunities to teach a child how to do something on their own, so it’s a task riddled with pressure, questions and self-doubt. If sleep training feels like the right decision for your family, then there’s no need to fear it. A positive sleep training experience is entirely possible.
Here are some tips for a positive sleep training experience.
1. Make the bedroom a sanctuary
“Go to your room” is something I heard a thousand times growing up as a kid, and I’m guilty of saying it to my older children now. But when it comes to sleep training, the bedroom should never be used as a place for punishment to avoid associating it with something negative. Designate a different room or area for time-outs. The bedroom should be a safe and comfortable place.
Before (and throughout) the sleep training process, spend plenty of time in the baby’s room playing or reading books and never force baby to stay in their crib or their room if they clearly don’t want to.
The more comfortable baby is in their room, the less they will dread it at bedtime.
2. Start early
Babies are actually born with naturally good sleep habits. They sleep when they feel tired and don’t know any different. Sleep training a younger baby can make for a positive sleep training experience. While young babies don’t sleep for long stretches, they do normally fall asleep on their own without much of a struggle.
Encourage that behavior – because the ability to fall asleep without help is the KEY to sleep training!
3. Conduct trial runs at nap time
While daytime sleep should be different from nighttime sleep, naps are a good way to get a feel for what sleep training will be like. The daytime is much less intimidating to begin sleep training. Both parent and baby will be somewhat more well rested than at the end of the day and there’s not as much pressure to get it right since naps are much shorter sleep periods.
While there’s no need to perform an entire bedtime routine at nap time, the key things to practice will be putting baby to sleep in the same place where they’ll be sleeping at night, and putting baby down while they are drowsy but not actually asleep.
If you can successfully get baby to go down for a nap on their own, then you’ll have a lot more confidence moving onto to bedtime.
4. Choose a realistic bedtime routine
Obviously sleep training involves some level of sacrifice, at least at first. But that doesn’t mean you should be wearing yourself out every night with baths and massages and stories and missing out on your social life. A bedtime routine doesn’t need to be elaborate.
Consistency is the key to a good bedtime routine so keep it simple and achievable. It could be the simple task of changing into pajamas and reading a special book. Or maybe there’s a lullaby you like to sing. Even a special stuffed animal or blanket that’s reserved specifically for bedtime can do the trick. Diffusing some calming essential oils around bedtime can also help to calm the minds of both parent and child. Try to find one thing that soothes and calms each of the five senses. These simple habits, when done consistently, will give your baby the signal that it’s bedtime, no matter where you are or what time it is.
Having the option to be flexible in your baby’s bedtime routine will keep you from resenting the task altogether.
5. Eliminate the pressure
There is SO much pressure on parents to get sleep training just right. A common question new parents often hear is “is the baby sleeping through the night yet?” implying that something is wrong if they aren’t.
And if that wasn’t pressure enough, there’s also so much contradictory information about sleep training. Everyone has a method that they promise is the BEST and you always seem to be on the wrong side of the cry-it-out vs no-cry-it-out debate.
Accepting that all babies are different and sleep training is not a competition, or even a milestone, will help to take some of the pressure out of it. Sleep training will only be successful if both parent and baby are ready, and not because another baby who’s the same age or weight (even a sibling) was ready. Whatever method you choose to sleep train your baby should be the one that works for your baby and your family and no one else’s.
Remember that sleep training is not an all or nothing situation. It’s perfectly fine to take a break and try again another time.
6. Ask for help
Sleep training is not for everyone. Some babies have a much harder time sleeping than others and it can lead to a very unpleasant experience. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re struggling with it.
While it’s great to have your spouse or partner around to tag team during those late nights, a friend to talk to (especially another mom who’s been there and done that) can do wonders for building up your confidence.
If the sleep deprivation is really getting to you and you’ve tried every method of sleep training without success, it could be time to call in an expert.
Sleepwalking can be a frightening episode for parents of young children.
When my second child started sleepwalking at 3 years old, it was a night I will never forget. I had heard stories about an aunt who had to be locked inside her bedroom at night due to her wild sleepwalking episodes, but never imagined that I would get to witness this phenomenon first hand.
Of course, like any good mother, I immediately panicked and started researching what this meant for her. I am happy to report that it’s simply a phase many children go through and while it can be incredibly creepy – it won’t last forever…
Here is some information for parents of a sleepwalking child.
1. What is Sleepwalking?
It sounds scarier than it is. The medical term for sleepwalking is somnambulism which basically means that a person moves around or performs activities as if they were awake but they are, in fact, asleep.
For more detailed medical information on the definition, symptoms and causes of sleepwalking please visit WebMD or Mayo Clinic.
2. Understand the Sleep Cycle
To truly understand when and how sleepwalking occurs, you must understand the sleep cycle.
There sleep cycle consists of 4 stages of sleep plus the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage. Sleepwalking occurs just after stage 4 when a person is transitioning from a deep sleep to the lighter REM sleep and they get stuck halfway.
Every night we go through several sleep cycles each one is an average of 90 minutes but it varies depending on age. Young babies can go through a full sleep cycle every 45 minutes which explains why they wake more often.
So while most sleepwalking occurs within the first 1 – 2 hours after your child goes to sleep – it can also occur at any time of the night depending on their sleep cycle.
3. It is Hereditary
I cursed my sleepwalking aunt – or rather, she cursed us. It is 10 times more likely that a child will be prone to sleepwalking if it runs in their family.
However, just because a family member was a sleepwalker doesn’t mean your child will be. Out of my three children, only one is a sleepwalker (so far…)
4. It’s not just “walking”
Sleepwalking does not always manifest itself as a person wandering around while fully asleep. In young children, they may only sit up in bed and look around or move their hands (super creepy to watch on a video baby monitor by the way)
Sleep talking is sleepwalking’s less offensive cousin and usually occurs in the same manner. But not everyone who sleep talks sleep walks and vice versa.
If your child is prone to sleep talking, it might be an early warning sign of sleep walking OR sleep talking may be the extent of their night time extra-curricular activities.
In my experience with my daughter she had exhibited many cases of sleep talking prior to the first time I ever caught her sleepwalking. Her sleepwalking episodes have ranged from getting out of bed and wandering around, to full out tantrums throwing stuffed animals around her bedroom.
If you’re concerned about keeping an eye on them at nighttime, then a baby monitor is a good idea to have. You can find the top three baby monitors from Reviews.com and/or you can download the Baby Monitor 3G app if you have two compatible devices – a great option for travelling!
5. The Powerful Subconscious Mind
I was always bewildered by the fact that my 3 year old daughter could manage to climb out of bed, walk down the hallway in the pitch black without bumping into anything, open the bedroom door and come over to my side of the bed (where she proceeded to stand there and say absolutely nothing until I opened my eyes because I could feel her breath on my face).
The subconscious brain is powerful and the things it stores within it are endless. I’m certain my daughter could navigate our entire house while she was sleepwalking. It’s also quite impressive that her subconscious brain has learned the floor plan of the three different houses that we’ve lived in.
6. Sleepwalking Triggers
While a person might be prone to sleepwalking because of their genetics – there are also many environmental/psychological factors that can affect them as well.
Illness/Fever – this was a big trigger for my daughter. We were pretty much guaranteed an eventful night when she was fighting a fever.
Lack of Sleep
A full bladder
7. Sleepwalking or just walking?
My daughter is infamous for her bedtime stalling routines. She’s never been a “good” sleeper and has woken regularly throughout the night since she was born (thankfully NOW she knows how to go back to sleep on her own but the first 3 years were rough).
The first time I found her sleepwalking I had no idea that’s what she was doing. I assumed she was up because she had a bad dream or needed another drink of water or trip to the bathroom. It wasn’t until I saw the glazed look on her face and couldn’t get a response from her that I realized what was happening.
For the past couple years, every time she gets out of bed at night I wonder if she’s really awake and there are many times when it’s still hard to tell.
Ways to tell if someone is sleepwalking:
They don’t respond when you speak to them
They don’t make eye contact with you, even if their eyes are open
They seem disoriented or confused
They may be saying things that don’t make any sense or just mumbling words
8. Reaction vs. Overreaction
The number one thing you will hear about sleepwalkers is DON’T WAKE THEM UP!If you realize that your child is sleepwalking, the best thing to do is to guide them gently back to bed (you may have to do it several times).
While it can be incredibly freaky to open your eyes and see your half-asleep child staring at you in the darkness – restrain yourself from screaming!
Waking up someone who is sleepwalking could cause them unnecessary stress. They will be in a disoriented state and the confusion could cause them more harm than good.
They won’t remember anything in the morning and it’s best if you keep quiet about it unless they ask. Knowing about their sleepwalking habit could give a child insecurities at night time, they may become fearful to go to sleep or be alone.
9. They will outgrow it
As tiny brains grow and develop they will learn how to handle their sleep cycles better. They may go months or years without an episode only to have one set off by one of their triggers but it doesn’t mean there is anything psychologically wrong with them, or that you need to worry.
Children often outgrow sleepwalking before they hit puberty. Some people have sleepwalking episodes their entire lives, and if it becomes a problem as they get older, it’s worth discussing with a doctor.
10. Protect them
If you discover that your child is sleepwalking – all you really need to do is to protect them. Make sure their bedroom is safe (no bunk beds, floor is cleared of toys, etc). Lock the outside doors and/or windows and utilize baby gates near stairs if necessary. If you are concerned about your child opening doors and walking around while sleepwalking you can get a door sensor that chimes when a door is opened.
Don’t over-think the things they do while sleepwalking. While they are acting on subconscious it is normal for children to use bad language, urinate or do something else out of character while in this state.
We’ve all heard of people revealing secrets in their sleep – but the dream world is mysterious place and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
If your child is having more and more frequent episodes, try to keep a log of what foods they’re eating, activities they’ve been doing or medications they’re taking to try to determine a trigger.
And of course, speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.
There’s a parenting image we need to get out of our minds – it’s that one where the parent puts the sleeping baby down in the crib and then does some elaborate dance to make it out of the bedroom without making a sound so baby doesn’t wake up…
The trick to sleep training is that it isn’t a trick.
In my personal experience, teaching a child how to go to sleep on their own is just as important as teaching them all the other basic life skills like brushing their teeth or tying their shoes.
Ideally children should learn to be independent sleepers and not need to rely on rocking, shushing or cuddling.
Leaving a baby to figure it out and cry themselves to sleep doesn’t teach them anything.
Part Two of the Sleep Training Guide is aimed at babies over 6 months old who tend to be more curious about the world around them and try to test their limits. Here are my best tips and advice for dealing with sleep regression, bedtime barriers, and staying positive throughout the sleep training process.
*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. ** Furthermore, I am not a sleep training expert, just a mother who’s been there and lived to the tell the tale.
Between 4 – 6 months babies go through their first major sleep regression (and roughly every 3 months after that until they graduate from high school).
It may be related to new teeth, illness, change in environment or routine – or it could be caused by absolutely no reason whatsoever.
Trying to sleep train during a sleep regression is like taking one step forward and two steps back, so my advice would be to wait until the sleep regression is over and baby is back to their normal routine to start any major sleep training.
Check out this post from shrewdmommy.com for more information on sleep regression.
A Fuller Stomach
6 months marks the big achievement of solid foods!!! While your baby will be eating an array of new foods, keep in mind that they will still be very dependent on milk for the next few months so don’t expect a “fuller stomach” to suddenly help them sleep longer at night.
Adding new foods to your baby’s diet can also cause changes in their activity levels and bowel habits which could alter your routine as well.
Your baby will be much more efficient at eating and may not need that middle of the night feeding anymore.
An Overactive Brain
Baby is discovering so many new things and will be much more active during the day. They will learn to (if they haven’t already) fight sleep in order to stay awake and play longer.
Over and under stimulation can affect how your baby sleeps at night.
Unlike newborns who can sleep in any conditions, older babies tend to wake easier and may be particular about where and when they sleep.
Distractions can work for you here. Try a projection night light, sound machine, stuffed animal, blanket, book or anything that will take your child’s mind off the fact that they are deliberately fighting sleep. Try not to cuddle, rock or feed baby to sleep. The idea is that it should be something that can soothe them when you are not around.
The older your baby gets, the less sleep they will need during the day. Make sure that they have been awake for at least 2 hours before bedtime (and longer as they get older).
It’s important to give them enough stimulation and exercise throughout the day (fresh air always works wonders to help children sleep better).
You can spread out their naps during the day but you don’t want your child to be overtired. An overtired child is a cranky child and a cranky child is an uncooperative child. And trust me, you’re going to need their full co-operation at bedtime!
The Bedtime Protest
You want your baby to watch you leave the room and be OK with it. You can give baby a little rub on the belly and say good night and then walk out of the room.
Do not try to sneak out of the room. We don’t want to trick baby into going to sleep on their own. And the last thing we want is for them to suddenly realize that we’ve left them and then freak out.
Do not feel sorry for them because they are alone. Sleep is a natural part of life and their bodies know this. They will follow your lead so if you seem stressed or feel sorry for them they will sense that.
If they instantly start to cry,wait a minute or two to see if they settle down on their own.
If their cry intensifies, then go back into the room and assure them that you are there and that it’s bedtime. Try not to pick baby up right away, instead try another distraction.
If they seem very distraught and upset then pick them up, console them and once they are calm you can try again. You want to make sure that both you and baby are calm when you put them to bed. If you have to, nurse them again or read a short book but don’t force them to stay in their crib if they clearly don’t want to.
If you and/or baby start to feel overly stressed out by this routine then try again another night. We don’t want either of you to associate any negative feelings with bedtime. If this has gone on for 2 or 3 nights in a row then take a week off and try again.
Night Time Waking
If baby wakes up in the middle of the night – wait 1 -2 minutes and really listen to their cry before going to them.
If they are just fussing and still sound half asleep, continue waiting.
If they suddenly let out one loud cry or scream, wait a few seconds to hear if more follows.
If their cry starts to escalate then go in and reassure them, offer a distraction and leave the room again.
If they seem very distraught and upset, then pick them up, console them (feed them if necessary) and once they are calm you can try again.
The listening and waiting can be key to helping your baby go back to sleep on their own. Oftentimes babies cry in their sleep. I remember many nights where I lay in bed listening to my baby’s cry on the monitor, finally deciding to get up and go to them and as soon as I put my hand on their bedroom doorknob they went back to sleep. I learned to wait an extra 30 seconds the next time.
You can find the top three baby monitors from Reviews.com and/or you can download the Baby Monitor 3G app if you have two compatible devices – a great option for travelling!
Bedtime battles can be so frustrating. Staying positive is so important, but it’s easier said than done. If babies and kids sense frustration or negativity at bedtime they will think of it as something to fear and they will fight you every time.
Consistency is key. Sticking to a bedtime routine means baby will know what to expect and when. Eventually, it won’t be so scary anymore – it will just be something that’s done every night.
Don’t pressure yourself if it isn’t working. Stress and sleep deprivation make for a bad combo. Take some time away from sleep training to get your positive energy back.
Sites like The Baby Sleep Site offer personalized sleep plans designed specifically for your child and focused on the areas that you need help with. Even if you choose not to purchase a sleep plan, you can become a member and access tons of great tools and resources available in their Members Area. Read my review of The Baby Sleep Site to get a sneak peek at what’s included in the Members Area and find out more information about their consultation packages..