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Sleep Consultation

If you are reading this page, you are likely looking for a solution to your nighttime woes.  True sleep disorders are rare, but many parents struggle with getting enough sleep due to their children fighting bedtime or waking frequently at night.  Perhaps your baby is a cat-napper who only takes 30-60 minute naps and wakes up grumpy and still tired? 
Sleep disturbances exist in many forms and occur in over 25% of all children and adolescents.  Often parents start to feel very hopeless and depressed, and will question everything they do, wondering if they are ‘incapable’ or somehow doing something wrong.  As confidence in their parenting abilities begins to decrease, sleeping conditions often worsen and the whole problem spirals downward.  The first year of life is filled with so many changes for babies, and is such a time of rapid growth, that sleep often seems like an impossibility.
 


How I Differ From A Sleep Trainer:

Improving naps and setting bedtime limits in a gentle, positive way helps infants and children develop healthy sleep habits while viewing sleep as a happy, peaceful time.  Unlike sleep trainers who use cry-it-out methods, I believe you should never force a child into going to sleep or let them cry until they simply shut down.  Through education, counseling, and positive support and guidance, I can help you learn how to work with your child and their natural, biological rhythms to reach their optimal potential.

My Objective:

My objective is to educate you on what is normal for your child’s developmental stage and to help you set realistic goals toward maximizing your sleep and your child’s.


My Philosophy:
 

Babies and children need to sleep, and they need to sleep a lot, in order for their bodies and brains to grow.  They also need to trust their caregivers and feel safe in order to do so.  Responsiveness is the key to a healthy parent-child relationship and provides a wonderful foundation for children to grow and thrive upon.

Consultations:

If you are concerned about your child's sleep problems, we can set up a consult that will allow me to get to know you and your situation.  I will develop a customized approach to help support and guide you through the process of improving your baby's sleep habits.  All information is evidence-based and research proven and I use only gentle methods designed to protect the trust and bond you and your baby/child have developed.


My Methods:

I do not subscribe to any one type of method.  I believe that each family is unique and has unique situations that must be respected in all their complexities.  My goal is to help your family improve your sleep through education and simple behavioral interventions, while not jeopardizing the bond you have with your baby. 

 I will:

  • Ask for a detailed description of what you see as the problem
  • Obtain the details of your daytime and nighttime sleep routines
  • Ask about feeding and sleeping arrangements that you employ with your baby
  • Never use a cry-it-out (CIO) method as research has shown it to be harmful to your baby’s brain development and your growing bond.   Click here for research on CIO
  • Come up with a detailed plan that is customized to your situation
  • Keep in contact with you as detailed in your specific package to see how things are going
  • Be available by phone or email to answer any questions you may have
  • Be available for scheduled in-person consults

Background: 

Sleep disruptions exist in many forms and, like everything else in life, there is no “miracle cure” and no quick fix.  There are, however, many ways to deal with these  issues, often by making small, simple changes in your daily (and nightly) routine.   Also, by arming yourself with information on what it really means to “sleep like a baby”, you will learn the tools, and gain the resources, to make changes in a positive way instead of forcing changes with a power struggle that will ultimately threaten the trust and bond you and your baby have developed.

When to hire a sleep consultant:

Oftentimes, babies do not have a 'sleep problem', but their parents certainly have a problem with how they sleep!  Education and realistic expectations are key to getting a better night's sleep and listed below are some common situations that respond well to simple behavioral interventions.

  • Fights going to sleep—parents often feel like they are ‘battling’ to get their child down to sleep
  • Sleep associations—learn which ones are negative and which ones are positive and how to get your child to sleep without relying on them (or you) at every single waking. 
  • Wakes up frequently at night
  • Has their days and nights mixed up—frequent in newborns
  • Prolonged night wakings
  • Seems overtired and cranky during the day; in older children, may exhibit signs of hyperactivity/ADHD or poor academic performance
  • Won’t nap during the day, or only does so for short periods; in children older than 6 years, napping is a 'red flag' that sleep deprivation may be present

As mentioned before, there is often no quick fix for sleep problems, but by carefully evaluating your situation, you can often come up with simple ways to make big changes in your baby’s sleep habits.  However, you must remember that parenting simply comes with a healthy dose of fatigue no matter how much your child sleeps.  Balancing childrearing, work, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc etc etc is just plain tiring! 


Why to Hire a Sleep Consultant:

  • 25% of all kids experience a sleep disturbance (SD), although that number can be as high as 50% as reported by parents
  • Nightwakings are one of the most common sleep complaints
    • Occurs in 25-50% of 6-12 month olds and 30% of 1 year olds
    • Does not resolve with age in 15-20% of 1-3 year olds
    • Nightwakings are usually due to problematic sleep associations
  • Insufficient or disturbed sleep is a major contributor to mood, behavior, academic, social, and health problems
  • SD are very common
    • Snoring occurs in 3-12% of children
    • Obstructive sleep apnea (partial or complete cessation of breathing during sleep) occurs in at least 1-3% of children
  • Childhood sleep disturbances are often chronic
    • Some may resolve with age—Rhythmic Movement Disorders such as headrolling, bodyrolling and bodyrocking are usually harmless self-soothing behaviors (in developmentally normal children); 2/3 of 9 month olds engage in some type of rhythmic movement; at 18 months less than ½ still do, and only 8% do by 4 years of age.
  • Pediatric sleep disturbances are highly treatable, usually through behavioral interventions
    • Results include marked improvements in mood, behavior, attention, and academic performance (in older children); often parents did not even realize the effects of disturbed sleep were so pervasive
  • SD are preventable using good sleep hygiene (bedtime, and bedtime routines)
  • SD can have a major impact on the entire family
  • SD are one of the most common parental complaints
    • 25% of pediatrician visits between 6 months and 4 years experienced sleep problems brought to their attention
    • Sleep issues rank as the 5th leading parental concern after illness, feeding, behavior, and physical abnormalities
  • Sleep is necessary for children’s optimal functioning
    • Symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be present.  In one estimate, up to 50% of children diagnosed with ADHD were found to actually have sleep problems as the cause of their behavioral difficulties.
    • Snoring in children can be a major factor in sleep disturbances and should always be evaluated by a doctor.
  • Disrupted sleep exacerbates nearly all medical, psychiatric,  developmental, and psychosocial conditions

References:

Pantley, E.: The No-Cry Sleep Solution.  New York, McGraw-Hill, 2002.

Gordon, J.: Good Nights.  New York, St. Martin's Griffin, 2002.

Mindell, J., Owens, J.: A Clinical Guide to Pediatric Sleep: Diagnosis and Management of Sleep Problems.  Philadelphia, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2003.

Pantley, E.: The No-Cry Nap Solution.  New York, McGraw-Hill, 2009.

Sears, William, et al: The Baby Sleep Book.

Sears, W., Sears, M.: The Attachment Parenting Book.

 

 




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