- Elizabeth Green
6 Signs It’s Time for Sleep Support
Imagine you are starting your day, after a night of getting awakened 4-6 times during the night. Don’t need to imagine it? This is your reality? You’ve come to the right blog.
Young children wake throughout the night, and often want some help getting back to sleep. This is normal behavior, but when it happens night after night, and the frequency is more than once or twice, it can take a toll on our ability to function during the day.
I know it can be hard to reach out for support when you feel like you should be able to figure out how to help your child sleep through the night. There can be a lot of judgement of ourselves when our kids struggle with sleep. But this kind of thinking gets in the way of being able to determine if support is needed, and then getting that support.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, or defeat. It is a sign that you recognize that parenting can be challenging, and it can go more easily with information, suggestions, and someone you can talk to about what is happening with your child’s sleep.
Here are some scenarios that could go better with some sleep support:
1. You are exhausted beyond your ability to cope. You are tired and snappy all the time, and feel like you are dragging through your day.
2. You aren’t enjoying your child(ren) during the day. I don’t mean you have to enjoy them all the time, but if you are so tired you can’t find any time where you are enjoying your interaction with them, it’s time to ask for support.
3. You are holding your baby in your arms all night long, either propped up in bed, or worse, in an armchair. This is not a safe situation, and you are not getting the kind of sleep you need to function well.
4. You are waking more than 3 times a night to soothe your baby who is older than 3 months. Newborns need your attention and feeding during the night, but if your baby is older than 3 months, and still waking more than 3 times a night, and you have been attending to them every time they wake and your sleep is so fragmented you are not getting enough consecutive hours of sleep, it’s time to get some support. (If your child is ill they will need more support. That’s a different situation than what I am describing above.)
5. You are up for more time than it takes to feed your baby and put them back down. If you are rocking or bouncing your baby back to sleep multiple times a night, it’s time to make a change.
6. Your toddler wakes multiple times a night and comes to your room, and you have to take them back to their room and lay down with them until they go back to sleep, or sit in the room until they settle back.
Encouraging your child to find their own way back to sleep when they wake is not about letting them cry hysterically alone in their room. It’s about knowing that they are capable of this skill, and can learn what to do to settle themselves. It’s about knowing how important it is for you to get enough sleep too.
Of course there will be times when you need to attend to your child throughout the night. If they are sick, or have a growth spurt, or developmental leap, or are teething, or hurting in some way, these are all times when you will be up at night. But if you are up too many nights in a row and for weeks and months on end it can take a toll on your health and well being.
For those of you who are very independent and don't like to ask for help, it can be tough to accept that support is needed. If you can, reframe it so it feels less about giving up and more about reaching out. We are stronger when we accept our limits and are proactive in getting our needs met. It will ultimately mean your child’s needs are met too.
There is a lot of information out there in the world of sleep, and it can be confusing trying to figure out what will work best for you and your child. That’s where working with a sleep consultant can be so helpful. Don’t wait until you are so exhausted you can’t function. Reach out for support and climb out of that sleep deficit hole. I’m happy to be a part of your sleep support team!