Tips From the Sleep Consultant: Coping with Anxiety

My last couple of sleep coach blogs, focusing on parent to parent straight talk, were well received, so I’m here again to share some tips from a sleep consultant. Today I’m going to talk about anxiety. Every new parent’s been there – your baby’s behavior doesn’t match what the parenting books tell you, so a lingering suspicion begins to form in the back of your mind. This can be caused by anything from a missed milestone to, you guessed it, poor sleep. Here are a few ways to channel inner peace and cope with the anxiety that comes with parenting.

Do I or don’t I?

While you may feel like you’re on an island, I would say that the vast majority of new parents contacting me about baby sleep training are riddled with anxiety. Their baby isn’t napping, or they struggle to get their baby to sleep at night, or they struggle with a baby who doesn’t sleep through the night. Whatever the cause, most parents have a second sense telling them that something’s off.

Looking for information about baby sleep training is like taking a trip down the rabbit hole, with conflicting information everywhere and absolutely nothing working. I know what you’re encountering because I had the same experience when I was a new mom, desperately trying to help my daughter sleep. The driving forces behind my becoming a sleep consultant were the anxiety and frustration I suffered trying to figure it all out – and I didn’t want other new parents to go through the same experience.

So, you’re obviously scouring the internet and flipping through baby sleep books for a solution, which means you already know that you need help. I’m definitely biased, but you really can help ease your anxiety by contacting a sleep consultant and getting a feel for the sleep training process. One of the first things I tell prospective clients – because almost every new parent asks – is that no, I don’t make babies cry it out, but yes, there will likely be some crying.

It’s a natural physiological response

Many new moms panic when they feel the first fingers of anxiety starting to claw at them. The frightened reaction makes sense, but many moms don’t know that they’re wired to respond this way as a built-in biological alarm to keep their baby safe. Pair this response with the hormone drops in new moms’ bodies and a severe lack of sleep, and you get a bonafide fight or flight response replete with heightened feelings of anxiety. 

Simply put, you are programmed to respond to your baby’s cry, whether you like it or not. Half the battle is understanding that your response is normal. The other struggle is where I come in as a sleep consultant. Continual sleep deprivation will make you more sensitive and open to feelings of increased anxiety. So, those middle-of-the-night wakings your baby is experiencing aren’t helping your mental state. But would if I told you I could help your baby get at least six hours of unbroken sleep, potentially even double that amount? 

Fuel in the tank

My role in helping new parents goes far beyond helping a baby develop healthy sleep habits. When a baby sleeps well (aka through the night), new parents sleep well. More sleep for parents allows them to fuel their sleep tanks. And more sleep in the tank means, yep, you guessed it, better mental health and fewer middle-of-the-night wakings that trigger anxiety. 

So, if your anxiety levels are reaching all-time highs because your baby’s not sleeping, give me a call. I’ve helped hundreds of families develop healthy sleep routines.

Split Nights with Twins

Split Nights with Twins

This blog is for all of my twin parents. One baby is a lot to handle in the early months, but multiply that, and you’ve got your hands full. So, what do you do when your darlings start experience split nights? Well, apart from panicking or losing your mind, consider using some of the strategies below.

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Parents and Sleep: Why the Holidays Aren’t Always Full of R&R

If you watch Saturday Night Live (SNL), you likely remember the brilliant skit from last year, featuring Matt Damon and Cecily Strong, called, “Best Christmas Ever.” The SNL skit features two tired parents sitting down on Christmas night, enjoying a glass of wine and recapping the day’s events. From the early wakeup to hosting family, they recap the day fondly, despite it being hellish and stressful. The skit is funny because so many American parents can relate. Let’s take a look at why parents don’t sleep over the holidays and how to avoid slumber pitfalls.

Holiday cheer

It’s a well-known fact that those who do imbibe tend to ramp up their alcohol consumption between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. Unsurprisingly, alcohol.org lists holidays that fall between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve as three of the top ten times of drinking throughout the year, in terms of consumption.

While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a couple of drinks over the holidays, especially when celebratory get-togethers abound, the real sacrifice is a good night’s sleep. Why some adults may equate consuming alcoholic beverages with socializing and relaxation, the reality is that those beverages aren’t doing them any favors in the sleep department. Simply put, consuming alcohol before bedtime disrupts sleep.

You sleep how you eat

Cookies, pies, stuffing, mashed potatoes, fat-laden dips — from parties to heavy meals, many Americans indulge over the holidays. Just as alcohol consumption before bed disrupts sleep, eating heavy, rich foods — and eating late — can be a GI disaster when it comes time to sleep. In fact, many of the foods commonly served and consumed over the holidays — low in fiber and high in fat and sugar — are the perfect recipe for a disastrous night of sleep.

Think about the number of meals and parties you attend each holiday season — how many of them offer food? What you eat affects how you sleep, and food choices you made at an afternoon get together can come back to haunt you when it’s time to get some zzzzzs. If you want to feel rested over the holidays, try not to overindulge or stray from your normal diet too much.

And then there’s the stress of it all

Parents find themselves juggling to get everything done even outside of the holiday season, so when the holidays come around, stress mounts. Buying gifts, planning dinners, hosting friends and family — there aren’t enough hours to get it all done! And when time runs short for holiday preparations, parents often dip into the overnight hours. Protect your sleep, fellow parents — you need it!

With a reported third of Americans reporting stress levels on the rise over the holidays, it’s no wonder we don’t feel rested! So, instead of succumbing to the stresses of the season, arm yourself with tools to fight holiday stress. Practice the self-care we often speak of, but rarely follow through with — there’s no better time than now.

Instead of staying up all night to assemble that Barbie Dream House, remember that your own sweet dreams are what will help you make it through the craziness of the holidays. Wishing you a wonderfully restful holiday season, fellow parents — you’ve got this!

Don’t Begin Sleep Training for Little Ones on Holiday

If you need sleep training for your toddler or infant sleep training, the holidays may not be the best time to start. It’s hard enough keeping up with all the festivities let alone learning how to sleep train a baby. You and your precious one will both be tuckered out and you may be setting yourself up for failure. You’re better off waiting until the celebrations are over and then looking for a sleep coach for your baby.

More of My Favorite Things: A Sleep Gift Guide

While you won’t find me frolicking in a dirndl dress in the Alps, I am singing the praises of some of my favorite sleep-related things. Perhaps the number one concern with new parents, and certainly one of the most contentious new parent topics, babies and sleep are big business. From a thousand-dollar bassinet — that boasts the ability to sleep train your baby — to melatonin, desperate parents turn to these gadgets for the promise of help.

Unfortunately, I’m the bearer of bad news. Most of the baby sleep products on the market — including the two above — are gimmicky or promote lousy sleep habits, which you want to avoid. However, there are some sleep products that I swear by and recommend to my clients — take a look:

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Expect the Unexpected: Traveling with Young Children

Today’s blog is a guest blog by Lauren Stevens, a client of mine more than SIX years ago! She recently embarked on a two-week European vacation with her husband and six-year-old son. Lauren’s here today to share how hopping continents and time zones went and how she handled major changes in her son’s typically consistent bedtime routine.

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Snoring, Mouth Breathing…and Sleep

There is almost nothing more adorable than a conked-out baby, arms splayed around their head, gently snuffling away in slumber, right? The term, “sleep like a baby,” captures the peaceful, relaxed nature of babies sleeping, and it’s the type of sleep that a lot of adults aspire to achieve. However, those cute baby snores–and mouth breathing–can be signs that something else is afoot; something that can be preventing your little one from getting the healthy, restorative sleep they need.

The
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How to Get Your Toddler to Stay in Their Bedroom (All Night)

It seems just yesterday that your baby finally learned to sleep through the night, and you were off-the-hook for night-wakings every two hours. Once your baby was sleeping 10-12 hours each night, you started to relax a little more in the evenings, relishing the alone time with your partner, or just taking in the extra hours of calm you now had. And then, just as you’re settling in to watch the latest episode of This Is Us, your toddler materializes at the side of the couch. What are they doing up? Ugh.

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What You Eat Can Affect Your Sleep

While I am a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, specializing in the sleep habits of babies and young children, I also want the parents I work with to get healthy sleep — a well-rested family is a happy family! So, from time to time I like to cover topics addressing self-care for parents, which is as important as healthy sleep for your children.

Did you know that what you eat can affect your sleep?

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Bypass the Baby Gear

If you follow any parenting sites or skimmed over headlines last month, you likely saw reports about the massive recall for Fisher-Price’s Rock ‘N Play Sleeper. Enormous in scale, the Sleeper recall includes all models from the product’s inception in 2009. Sadly, the Rock ‘N Play is attributed to more than 30 infant deaths. After much thought, I decided now was as good a time as any to talk about the billion-dollar baby industry that continually markets items to sleep-deprived parents, promising to help their babies sleep…and how you don’t need any of them to have a well-rested baby (and self).

bypass the baby gear
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