As a sleep consultant (and mama), I’ve heard A LOT of questionable sleep advice. While most people are well meaning and usually coming from a good place, some common sleep advice is simply not true and quite frankly, it’s not helpful for exhausted parents. In this blog I am going to bust 5 common sleep myths parents often hear.
Myth #1: Keeping my child awake during the day will help them sleep at night.
FACT: Skipping out on day sleep is one of the quickest ways for your child to become overtired. Once your child is overtired, their body begins to produce cortisol (the hormone that keeps the body awake). This will make it much more difficult for your child to fall asleep AND stay asleep. Day sleep and night sleep play hand-in-hand. A child getting adequate day sleep, will also sleep well at night. Your child will have more consolidated AND restorative sleep when following an age appropriate schedules and getting in bed before becoming overtired.
Myth #2: Sleeping through the night means my child will never have night wakings again.
FACT: Nobody sleeps through the night! Every human has partial wakings throughout the night as we transition through phases in the sleep cycle – we just don’t remember the majority of them. Children are no exception. The purpose of partial wakings is to readjust the body and check the environment. These wakings are brief and normal. When you hear your child stirring, practice pausing before going into check. This will help you differentiate between a partial waking and a true waking. A child without independent sleep skills is more likely to wake during these partial wakings because they are not able to link together their sleep cycles without some sort of assistance (like feeding, rocking, a pacifier, a parents presence, etc). An child with independent sleep skills, may wake occasionally, but will know how to put themselves back to sleep and link those cycles together without assistance.
Myth #3: You should never wake a sleeping baby.
FACT: We want to preserve night sleep over day sleep because night sleep is the most restorative as the brain sorts through all the experiences from the day. If your child is sleeping longer than what is appropriate for their age, you may need to cap a nap to protect the night sleep. Just as being overtired affects night sleep, so does being UNDERtired. If your child is getting too much day sleep this could also impact night sleep, leading to more frequent night wakings or difficulty falling asleep. Not sure what is age appropriate for your little one, check out this post.
Myth #4 : My baby is not sleeping well because of teething.
FACT: Teething may cause pain 2-3 days before the tooth erupts from the gums, but generally once the tooth pushes through the pain subsides. If teething pain does disrupt sleep, it will only last 2-3 days, not for weeks or months on end. Any sleep disruptions longer than 1 week are not due to teething, but likely due to other underlying factors, like nap deprivation, inconsistent sleep schedules, or fragmented night sleep. If you suspect your child is teething, the best thing you can do is stay the course! Avoid creating new habits or associations that could impact sleep by maintaining your normal routines and schedules.
Myth #5: Sleep training means my child will have to “Cry It Out.”
FACT: While yes, the cry it out method (also known as extinction method) is a valid option for sleep training, it is not the only option. In order to truly implement the cry it out method, parents must lay their child down and only respond to needs, not protests. The fact of the matter is most parents are not able to follow through with this because it is difficult to hear their child cry and that is okay. Sleep training is so much more than the method you choose. Here at Guiding Star Sleep, I teach methods with more parental involvement like interval checks or stay-in-the-room. Additionally, I look at all factors that could be affecting your child’s sleep like age-appropriate sleep schedules, the sleep environment, sleep routines, and associations – all are equally important pieces of the “sleep puzzle” that will get your child healthy, more restorative sleep.
The truth is, no matter what method you choose, there will be crying; there will be protest because change is hard. And that is okay, too. I provide you with a plan and action steps to help you support your child through this big change (and I support you every step of the way).
Whether you have been struggling with sleep for some time or simply need help through a transition, I am here for you! Let’s connect and get your family the sleep you deserve.