So you've all heard the myth, "never wake a sleeping baby" - this myth has been passed on from one generation to the next.
We want to encourage your baby or toddler to take good naps, get the right amount of sleep during the day and to sleep well overnight. We also want to ensure that your baby or toddler settles easily at bedtime - this is why I recommend waking your sleeping baby or toddler (even though they do look so cute and it is peaceful!)
THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT
There are two natural rhythms that work together to get us sleeping. These are the circadian rhythm (our body clock) and sleep-wake homeostasis.
Sleep-wake homeostasis is an internal system that operates as a timer generating sleep drive or sleep urge or sleep pressure (whatever you want to call it) and it also regulates sleep intensity. When we sleep this pressure goes down and when we are awake it slowly increases.
The Circadian Rhythm is our 24 hour biological clock that is entrained or set by sleep, food and light. This is so important as it can influence sleep wake cycles, hormone release, eating habits and digestion, body temperature and other important bodily functions.
If your baby is not waking and napping at consistent times (and at the right times) each day they can feel jetlagged because what their internal body clock is telling them to do is not in working in conjunction with the external clock. The circadian rhythm tells our bodies what the optimum time to sleep is.
If sleep-wake homeostasis does not match our baby's circadian rhythm, settling our babies to sleep is going to be a real battle. Naps are not great and neither is night time sleep.
We want your baby to sleep at a time that their sleep pressure or urge is the highest and that it meets the circadian rhythm at the time that is telling our baby to "go to sleep." Settling our babies will be so easy if this happens.
SO NOW YOU KNOW ALL THIS, WHAT CAN YOU DO YOU ASK?
Limit your baby's sleep after 3pm. If you have a toddler, limit their sleep after 2.30pm. In the evening around bedtime, melatonin levels are rising and cortisol levels along with body temperature are dropping. This is our circadian rhythm saying, "now is the prime time to go to sleep."
If your baby or toddler had a long nap and their sleep drive or pressure is low they will be grumpy and unsettled. We want our internal systems to meet at the same point so that our babies are easy to settle to sleep and so that they sleep well.
Our baby's have biological sleep windows during the times where their circadian rhythm is telling them, "go to sleep." If there is no sleep drive or not enough sleep pressure they'll be hard to settle, they will catnap and they won't take good naps.
When I work with you I work to create the BEST SITUATION POSSIBLE for your child backed by scientific evidence. I work with your child's internal systems, not against them so that sleep can be restorative and of good quality. All that equals a happy, rested child and a happy family!
If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to read more:
Learn more about napping and what not to do!
I dreaded nap time and bedtime – I would rock my baby to sleep and sometimes this would take me 45 minutes to an hour and then I would get a 20 to 30 minute nap. So not fun right? I remember the anxiety I felt around that 20 minute mark when I was just praying that this was going to be the day that he had a 2 hour sleep. I wanted some TIME TO MYSELF so badly! Motherhood is exhausting…and no one can tell you how exhausting until you are in the thick of it.
Lauryn recommended some changes that we could make to my son’s nursery and to his routine. She can us an incredibly detailed (21 page long) sleep plan that contained everything we needed to do and some sleep training techniques that would suit us a family. We got to choose which technique we were comfortable with, which was amazing! Taking ownership of what we were doing was such an important part of the process for me. Lauryn also gave me some great resources, such as a nutrition guide and access to an online sleep log so that she could see what was happening and suggest changes or give us feedback and tips.
Sleep training let me give my son the gift of good, healthy sleep habits that would last through childhood and hopefully a lifetime.
When my hubby and I decide to have another child, I know that I will be asking Lauryn for help again and this time it will be a lot sooner than 9 months. One thing I learnt when working with Lauryn was that I did not have to go it alone – her support and her genuine care was fundamental for me
I am so grateful to Lauryn for her help and support. Waking up refreshed every morning to my son’s beautiful face is such a gift in itself. We are all rested, happy and ready to face our day of activities and playdates! Oh…and I get a two hour siesta in the middle of the day when he sleeps! It is AMAZING!!
Lauryn Stanlake - Infant and Child Sleep Consultant
Early Morning Waking