Why a Sleep Consultant Can Be Beneficial
Hiring a sleep consultant can seem like a luxury to most. Believe it or not, pediatric sleep has a science to it, same as adult sleep. Did you know that your child and even you go through multiple sleep cycles throughout the night? Sleep cycles are how we switch from a lighter stage of sleep to a heavier stage of sleep. Each time you switch between a sleep cycle you briefly wake up and then switch to the next sleep cycle. Adults are less aware of this brief wake up because we already have the tools to put ourselves back to sleep. We know we went to sleep in our bed and we know we are still there when we briefly wake. This is why it’s important babies know where they are to begin with before they go to sleep.
If your baby will only go back to sleep with rocking or feeding, it is because they are used to you doing that. If you rock a baby to sleep and then put them in the crib once they are asleep, they will wake up at that sleep cycle switch and need you again. They will not be aware of the surroundings this time so they will cry out for you to come rock them to sleep again. If a child is not able to fall asleep on their own there are multiple sleep cycles a night and therefore multiple times a night they will call out for you. This kind of aiding to sleep is what are known as sleep props or sleep associations. Either way your child is being “trained” to need you for sleep or they’re being trained to soothe themselves. So how do you want them to fall asleep each time?
The truth is, sleep is not something most parents are taught about in depth when they bring a baby home. There is a very real and complicated science to sleep. Your child’s schedule is another important factor. Even if your child is an independent sleeper, if the schedule is off it can be hard for your child to fall or stay asleep. Think of it this way. If an adult takes a nap in the day you will have a harder time going to sleep and staying asleep at night. That’s why scientists say not to take a nap longer than 20 minutes. Totally easier said than done, I know.
Consultants are trained to know all of the science behind sleep, the schedules for each age and the methods that work for each temperament. Sleep consultants take the guesswork out for you. There are many books these days that claim to get your baby sleeping in a matter of days. However, the books can not make adjustments for you depending on your situation when something isn’t working. This is why consultants offer support for weeks at a time. Sleep schedules, routines and methods are not one size fits all. So there is no shame at all if you feel you are at your wits end with your child’s sleep. Sleep patterns change, regressions happen. There is also no shame if you are perfectly happy with the way things are. My job is only to change what you don’t like anymore.