I know this probably comes across as biased, but I am a sleep expert, after all, so it’s only natural that I’m passionate about sleep! But even still, I honestly think the best gift we can give our children is to teach them the skills to sleep well.
That means a lot more than just helping them develop the skills to sleep through the night. I’m talking about instilling a lifelong appreciation for the amazing benefits that sleeping provides.
Obviously, that doesn’t happen overnight, but you can start tonight and get to work building those sleep skills, and by the time you’re celebrating the new year, you and your entire family can be reaping the benefits of consistent, restful sleep.Rather read than watch? Click here.
– Hi, I’m Dana. You know, occasionally I get a little bit of pushback from people who tell me that sleep is not a skill and that sleep is just biological, and a baby will sleep when they need it.
And I agree that sleep is absolutely biological. We need it, it’s a necessity. Without it, we would eventually die. So for some reason, sleep is so important that evolution stops allowing it to disappear.
So I get that point. But I also believe with all of my heart that sleeping well is a skillset, and it’s one that we can teach our children. And once we’ve taught it to them, it is the gift that keeps on giving.
Let me explain a little bit more about what I mean. I want you to think about yourself for a few minutes. Hopefully, you’re a good sleeper, but there’s things that you do that make it easier for you to get to sleep every night. For example, I go to bed at pretty much the same time every night. I do a relaxing routine before I climb into bed, I take a shower, I brush my teeth, I do a little bit of reading, I light some lavender oil. And all of these strategies help me unwind and get ready for bed.
I sleep on the same side of the bed every night. I have my own pillow. I have some water beside my bedside in case I get thirsty. I’ve got earplugs on standby just in case my husband starts to snore. And all of these things make it easier for me to slide gently and easily into sleep.
If you were to come into my bedroom and totally change it and make me sleep on the other side and do all kinds of different things before I fell asleep, I would feel some anxiety around that, and I would probably have a harder time falling asleep. Even the positions that we get into at the beginning of our night where you’re relaxing is usually in a different position. Often people are lying on their backs while they relax, and then we turn into our favorite sleeping position, whatever that looks like for sleep to actually arrive.
And so if you’ve got a child who’s really heavily dependent on external things to get them to fall asleep, usually that means feeding them to sleep, rocking them to sleep, you know, driving them around until they fall asleep, all of these things become external sources. So a child never really learns what are the strategies that I need, what are the things that I need to do to get comfortable and relaxed and let sleep come? It’s almost like they’re always being tricked into sleep in a way, because you’re doing all this extra stuff to help.
And so that’s why they have night wakings because the environment’s changed. You’re not there, you’re not feeding them anymore. They wake up usually quite alarmed by the fact that they’re no longer where they were when they fell asleep. And this cycle just perpetuates. And sometimes it changes into other strategies, but it never becomes an independent skill. It never becomes a skill that they’ve mastered that helps them make that journey into sleep easily and peacefully every single night.
And so when we take away those props and we allow the child some space to investigate what are their own strategies, and yes, that does cause some upset initially because they’re not used to this yet. But once they find the things that work for them that help them fall asleep, now they’ve got it. It’s an internal skillset. And sleep, I mean, think about it. What’s more individual than sleep? Like, if you can’t sleep, there’s not a dang thing anyone else can do for you. It has to be yours to master. And so giving that gift to your child is a beautiful thing, and it’s one again that will grow with them into adulthood.
Thanks so much for watching today. Sleep well.
If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 107,000 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started – I’m looking forward to helping you!
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