Lack of sleep is something new parents get prepped with long before the baby arrives. But disrupted sleep isn't something that you can truly prepare for, or imagine until you're in the thick of it, having sleepless nights, sometime for weeks, months or for some, years at a time.
Sleep can really cause problems to your mood, your health, relationships and concentration. For some people speaking to someone might be useful. Having personalised support is sometimes exactly what people need to feel confident that they are doing what they can to promote the best sleep for their baby.
We spoke to Eliza Fein from Sleep Tight about her experience and how she helps families who are looking for sleep support.
Why did you become a sleep consultant?
I am also a reflexologist and could see how the stress and anxiety caused by lack of sleep can have a negative impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of new parents.
I also had a little one who didn’t sleep until she was 2 and half so I’ve experienced the effects that lack of sleep can have on you and I wanted help other families. There are lots of simple and effective solutions to sleep problems that I wish I’d known then. But I could also have done with some moral support too!
I work with little ones from new-born up to age 6 and love
working with families and helping them to transform their lives.
What do you think new parents need to be aware of regarding sleep?
All little ones are different and it’s important to look at each little one as an individual, even when there are twins and multiples.
It’s also important to look at sleep problems holistically; could there be a health reason affecting sleep, or an environmental one, or sometimes diet and even temperature of the room can play a part.
It can be a process of elimination, to get to the bottom of why a little one won’t sleep. However, once we’ve found the cause, then we can find the solution.
On a practical note, there are a few things to look out for:
- Day time naps play a key part in night-time sleep – the more a little one sleeps during the day, the better they’ll sleep at night.
- Over tiredness is a key cause of sleep disruption.
- Is there reflux or gas causing pain and disrupting sleep?
- Is your little one just in the habit of waking up in the night?
- Is your little one able to self- sooth themselves to sleep?
- Is your little one having proper deep, restorative sleep?
What advice would you give to parents who are stressed in the middle of the night because their little ones aren’t sleeping?
Depending on the age of the child and the cause of the wake-up, often night-time waking can just be habit. But depending on the cause of the waking , there are different approaches we can take to solve the problem. Sometimes I can get a little one sleeping thought the night surprisingly quickly.
It can be very stressful and lonely when you’re awake in the middle of the night and not sure what to do. I would suggest staying calm, little ones pick up on stress, and be consistent. Consistency and routine are extremely important factors when dealing with sleep issues.
What are the different approaches you can take to sleep?
For most parents, tears can be distressing and triggering. There are lots of gentle approaches I use depending on the age of the child and type of sleep issue. I create bespoke Sleep Plans for families so that siblings, bedroom environment, work routines etc. can all be taken in to account when deciding on which approach to take.
Whichever path parents choose, the key is to stick with it! Perseverance is really important, and I’m also there to support parents when they’re on the brink of giving up. It’s quite normal for things to get worse for a day or so before they get better!
I also offer conventional sleep training. This is not a form of crying it out. It is a carefully planned and timetabled way of getting littles to sleep. It can involve a few tears but it can also work very quickly and effectively which, in the long run, benefits the little ones as well as the family.
What sorts of advice or support do you offer to families hoping to improve sleep?
Finding the cause of sleep disruption is sometimes like trying to fit lots of pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together and it can be a bit daunting.
Different elements can include:
- nap times,
- wake windows
- sleep and wake routines
- keep a food diary
- does your little one self-soothe themselves to sleep at night
- Is this a sleep regression
- Is there separation anxiety
- Check for reflux or gas
- Is there a milk-to-sleep association
I support my clients with these things.
Are there common ages when little ones struggle with sleep?
Sleep regressions can occur at any age but there are common milestones that can effect sleep and a good sleeper can suddenly become a night-waker for no apparent reason.
Growth and development can impact sleep. At 4 months and 8 months big changes can occur in the brain. 18 months is another key time when the brain goes through a major developmental stage…and sometimes separation anxiety can kick in here too.
Other causes in changing sleep patterns can be illness, teeth, travelling and changes in habits and routines. Major milestones like crawling, sitting, up, standing up and walking can seriously disrupt sleep patterns. I have solutions for all these major moments that can get littles ones sleeping again with fun, tear-free and stress-free methods!
Are there any resources you can point families to?
The NCT can be useful. There are a number of sleep advice books out there…I’ve read most of them so you don’t have to! I am happy to have a chat with anyone who is looking for some support.
How can you help – how can they get in touch with you?
Lack of sleep can be so exhausting it’s hard to think straight sometimes.
However, I work in an holistic way – looking at the bigger picture. I put emotional wellness first and then work with the family to find solutions.
If there are twins or multiples, siblings, work schedules, nursey and school runs, I will create a bespoke Sleep Plan taking everything in to account.
Everyone is different and the Sleep Plan is tailored to you. Once you have a plan, you will also then have the tools to face any possible further sleep regressions in the future.
You can find me here:
I offer different sleep packages starting at £100
Book a free Discovery Call by dropping me an email, text or whatsapp and we can fix a time…
…better sleep starts here! xx