Two weeks ago I had a coffee & chat with busy mum & business owner Lise-Marie du Preez of https://www.foundsleepconsultancy.com/ . Lise-Marie hosted her first sleep seminar at Cocoon Childcare and I was delighted to be a sponsor & provide some of our gorgeous gift boxes as giveaway prizes. Below is a little about what Lise-Marie does and also a few photos from the seminar.
FOUND Sleep Journey
Family Health and your Child’s Sleep Cycles
My journey to FOUND Sleep started originally when I became a mother. I found myself sleep deprived and to my wits end. It became so severe that I could hardly string a sentence together, never mind looking after two babies. That was when I realised how important support is around managing children’s sleep behaviours to take control of my own health and wellbeing.
I decided to give up a secure corporate career in Dublin at a luxury brand company to dedicate my time to my two beautiful young children. Instinctively, I researched everything on child development and infant sleep behaviours to make sense why some children, like my own, were not sleeping well. My decision to do a Bachelors of Science in Psychology supported my vision to understand the mother and child bond and the significant role parents’ play in a child’s social and behavioural learning. But what intrigued me the most was how behaviours can be influenced to support better health and wellbeing...
Of course the most important factors when it comes to our children’s health are a healthy, balanced, varied diet, along with an active lifestyle, which is essential to their well-being. But sleep is, if not equally as important, a very close contender. Sleep is so often taken for granted and not honoured as a vital part of our biological needs.
My mission became to promote healthy sleep behaviours and to support and educate parents on how to guide their children to establish good sleep routines. I specialised in sleep science and behaviours and qualified as a paediatric sleep consultant, certified by the world renowned Sleep SenseTM training in the US. This certification is recognised and accredited by the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants and the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants.
So to get back to answering my own question on why some children are not great sleepers... Well, I found endless reasons why, but similar to my experience as a mum, I found the most common concern parents have, was why their child is a ‘light sleeper’. They would often explain how their baby is easily woken up, and when they do, he or she is exceedingly difficult to get back to sleep. They cannot understand how one minute their child would be fast asleep and then the second they put them into the cot, they would be wide awake... Some would say that their child would wake up every time they would walk past the bedroom door... Why does this happen?
So first of all, let me dispel a little myth.
All babies are light sleepers, and all babies are heavy sleepers. So, for that matter, are all adults.
We all go from light sleep to heavy sleep and back again several times a night. Some babies spend more time in light sleep stages before slipping into deeper sleep, and some go from light sleep to deep sleep in almost no time at all, but everyone goes through these cycles every time they shut their eyes.
The truly restorative sleep, the stuff that does us the most good, is the NREM or “deep” sleep that we get in the middle of the cycles. That’s why some people can get by on less sleep than others, because they get more NREM sleep than those of us who spend more time in light sleep stages.
So when someone claims that their baby is a light sleeper, what they probably mean is that their baby tends to spend more time in light sleep than deep sleep, because that’s the easiest stage to wake up from. It’s when we dream and are more aware of our surroundings, so external noises tend to wake us up easier.
Babies also have shorter cycles than adults, and therefore spend nearly twice as much time in light stages of sleep than grown-ups. So if you’re finding that your baby is prone to waking up a lot, it’s partly a matter of inconvenient timing.
So what can you do about it? How can you teach a baby to spend more time in deep sleep?
Well, sadly you can’t really... But what you can do is teach them to fall back to sleep on their own when they wake up. It’s a wonderful gift to give them, and it will benefit your entire family for years to come.
There are a lot of elements to supporting a baby to fall asleep independently, but the single most important one is the elimination of sleep props/ or external dependencies associated to make sleep come. By that, I mean anything that baby uses to help them fall asleep that they can’t provide on their own.
Pacifiers, rocking motions, and feeding are all good examples of sleep props. If baby needs a car ride to fall asleep, then they’re going to need another car ride when they wake up again at the end of the next sleep cycle. If they get rocked to sleep, they learn to rely on that motion as part of the process, so once they wake up at night, they’re stuck that way until you come in and help them get back to sleep.
This is often accompanied by a bunch of crying and fussing in order to get your attention, which wakes them up even further and requires more soothing to get them settled.
However, the babies that people refer to as “good sleepers” have the same sleep cycles as the ones who wake up crying. They’ve just gotten the hang of falling asleep on their own, so they wake up, squirm around a little, maybe babble to themselves for a bit, and then go happily back to sleep.
So although you can’t stop your little one from waking up at night, you can absolutely guide them to find sleep again independently. Once you do, you and baby can both look forward to full nights of deep, rejuvenating, uninterrupted sleep.
FOUND Sleep makes for healthy children, happy parents and functional families.
Lise-Marie du Preez
BSc (Hon) Psych. MSc (Health) Psych
Paediatric Sleep Consultant