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Making the Most of Your Own Sleep Space

Let’s face it. We focus a lot here on getting the babies and the toddlers sleeping. But, sometimes after we’ve worked together, baby is sleeping and parents still are not! Why is this? Well.. many different reasons, to be exact. One of the main ones being – they haven’t slept in 5, 6, 24, 36 months, and their body has forgotten how. If your child has just begun sleeping through the night, give yourself some grace and know that it will take time for everyone to adjust to the new sleep routine, and begin sleeping well.

But, let’s also take a look at our own bedrooms and see if there are any improvements that could be made.

I, for one.. Am a “terrible” sleeper. Which is one of the BIG reasons why I got into this field in the first place. So keeping my bedroom a “sleep sanctuary” is definitely at the top of my list. Here are a few things that I have considered in creating my sleep space. And, I do feel many of them have helped.

  • Make the Bedroom DARK. AS. NIGHT.

Light is the single most important environmental factor impacting your sleep. This can be from any source of light – computer, phone ding, but also the biggest one often ignored is our bedroom windows. Light streaming in from the street through your crappy bedroom blinds is going to keep you up people! When your environment is bright, your melatonin levels remain low. Darkness helps your body secrete this sleep hormone. In my opinion, great blackout curtains are a worthwhile investment for every room in your home. But, if this is not possible because you have just spent every last dollar on your nursery.. A good sleep mask will definitely also help in a pinch.

  • Your room is for sleep (and maybe sex.. But.. you are parents so.. you might be too tired for that.. :D)

Don’t make your bedroom an entertainment space. If you are using your room to watch TV right before bed, or play video games – this is going to impact your sleep. If your body and mind equate your bedroom with excitement, it will be really hard for your body to settle down and prepare to transition to sleep.

  • Calm, neutral wall colours make a difference.

Now, most grown adults don’t have their room painted bright red, pink or orange. But, if you do – this could be affecting your sleep as well. These colours are associated with anger, and panic. Not exactly how you want to be feeling when you enter your sleep space. Cooler calmer colours on the walls. Think light greys and pastels, really do help transform your space into one of calm solitude and rest.

  • Clear Out the Clutter

Your room furniture should definitely take “feng shui” into consideration. Creating a good flow in the bedroom is really important. And if your bedroom is cluttered, you are going to find yourself distracted before drifting off to sleep. Thinking about piles that need to be moved, or laundry that needs to be folded, will distract the mind and cause a bit of unnecessary stress right before sleep. Definitely take some time and clear the clutter out of your bedroom. Your body and mind will thank you. Channel your inner “Marie Kondo” who is all the rage right now! ha.

  • Remove Some of the Noise

Did you know that your brain actually processes noises in your sleep? This is the exact reason your baby crying in the night jolts you out of bed like nobodies business. Try to reduce the noises in your bedroom.

Personally, we sleep with a white noise machine. I know people think these are just for kiddos. But, if you live in a busy metropolitan area or tight community like we do.. A good white noise machine that produces relaxing sounds can help create great ambiance and encourage you to fall asleep faster. Another suggestion is just to use ear plugs. I have not found too many that are optimal in comfort for me.. But everyone’s ears are different!

Don’t worry that you won’t hear the baby. Trust me – you will. And if you’re really nervous just make sure that the ear plugs you are using have a noise reduction rating of 32 decibels or less.

  • Invest in the Bed

You know you spend ⅓ of your life in that thing right? Make sure you’ve got a comfortable cozy mattress, and great bedding too. Sliding into nice clean sheets is an amazing feeling! Find sheets that are natural, breathable, and of a decent thread count. Your pillow will make a difference too! We so rarely try out our bed or bedding for longer than 30 seconds before purchasing. (Mattress stores are kind of an embarrassing place to hang out for prolonged periods of time). But, make choosing your bed and bedding a high priority. You really do spend a great amount of time here.

Of course I could go on and on and on. But, I hope this helps you look for a few simple and easy changes you might be able to make to begin getting a better night’s sleep in the very near future.

XO

Lara

Thank you to the amazing Stacie-Lynn Photography for the use of this beautiful photo seen here of this adorable family. She really is the best!

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Can you give me an example, Lara?

Tonight I got asked a question.. And it really sparked a little something in me.

I’m not sure why.

Maybe because this is my passion. Maybe because this is my life’s work.

Maybe it is because every day I seek to refine my skills to ensure every family who comes under my wing has a slightly easier transition from “no sleep” to “sleep” than those who walked before them. (I literally try to get better at my job every.single.day because.. This is me. I like my work. I’m a self proclaimed “people pleaser”, a “perfectionist”, and all around “sleep wizard”). And I don’t want to just walk around calling myself a sleep wizard. I literally want to BE ONE.  

But I keep getting asked for free advice. I know. You’re not shocked. And neither am I.. but here is the thing. I can’t give it to you.. I really wish I could.. But I just can’t. And here’s why..

I don’t know you yet.

^^ Yup. That is pretty much the only reason why.

I’m not trying to be greedy. I’m not trying to hold every ounce of sleep knowledge inside my brain only to be shared with the parents who can afford to hire me.

It is literally because I don’t know you from Adam. I don’t know what good advice is for your family. What advice will help you, and not send your anxiety spiralling, and what advice is healthy for you or your child.

People often ask me.. Can you give me an example of something we might do if we worked together? Sure.. I can give you an example. That is no problem. How about I put them all here for you in a blog post? Which.. I am about to do a few minutes from now.

But funny story.. There are literally 924 combinations of things I “might” tell you to do to get your child sleeping. Want to know how I know this? Let me explain.. It is a bit of a story. Probably not highest on my priority management list this week, but one I feel like telling tonight after a long day with my children, and a couple of glasses of wine.

So here is the confession.

I hate writing sleep plans.

I know, probably not what you really want to hear from a business owner who gets babies to sleep for a living. But, I just can’t sit down, know exactly what it is I want to say for that particular family, and hammer it out with great ambition. And trust me – you other sleep coaches out there.. I know a lot of ya’ll are hitting copy paste like nobody’s business when you write your sleep plans.. And you are probably wondering how on earth I get babies sleeping without them (the answer – technology.. But I will save that for another blog post.. Or.. my future training program.. Wink wink.. Nudge nudge).

But for me, until I see a baby in action. Until I really know the family from the inside out. I can’t really write a sleep plan.

And even then, I find myself reorganizing and rejigging the plan leftways, backward, and sideways.. And before you know it, we are on a completely different plan than we started with because I now know YOUR baby. I now know the strategies that are going to work BEST for your family.

Earlier this year I set out to try and solve this problem of not really loving writing sleep plans. I poured over my options..

Maybe someone could write these for me? Maybe a robot could do it? Is there an app I could plug the information into and bada bing bada boom, a new sleep plan would be created? And in anticipation of finding just that.. I started to write.

Off the top of my head one night I wrote out all of the different approaches I *might* tell a family to use at bedtime. Everything from nursing their baby to sleep, to sitting beside the crib holding their baby’s hand, and everything in-between.

And guess what – there were 12 different ways I might suggest a family helps their baby go to bed at bedtime. This didn’t include the videos I send showing you how to actually succeed at rocking a 6 month old to sleep in your arms, or the one that shows how I would pat and shush a 10 month old on the bum to go to sleep. Those also all exist, and they are sent to my clients’ inboxes every day as they are needed. So yeah – if you consider the weird way I might tell you to blink your eyes, or hold your elbow.. There are probably more than 12 combinations here.  

Then I started to write out the middle of the night responses.. To which there were 11. Sure I might say, dreamfeed your baby at such and such a time, and then 4 hours later we are going to feed them again.. At every night waking in between you are going to do x, y, z in the soothing department.. But the thing is, until I have really worked with your baby – I don’t know where the best time in the night is for them to be fed. I don’t know if “dreamfeeding” your baby is the best option, or if the latching struggles you have experienced in breastfeeding might actually be aggravated by such a sleepy feed.

We have to talk it out. You tell me what you are comfortable with – what you think you can be successful with – and then I go in my brain and open the tab that I think might work and say, “how about tonight you try this…”. There are a lot of tabs in my brain, and it is likely that I have one I can open that will help you feel successful.

I believe when it comes to families and sleep, that they will be the MOST successful in making sleep changes, when they use the strategies that they feel calm, cool, and collected in. Which is why I create our action steps DURING our consultation, and every day thereafter in custom emails to your inbox.

Okay Lara so… 12 x 11.. That is 132 different combinations. We get it. But where do the other 792 different combinations come from?

Well friends.. That is timing. Scheduling. Based on your baby’s developmental age and stage, their unique sleep totals day-to-day, and what I have observed of them in the app you are using to track their sleep.. there are 7 different timelines I am most likely to use for the babies in my care.

These are starting off points, and they tend to change and shift ever so slightly after..

You guessed it..

Me getting to know your baby! Ha.

So the next time you ask me… is there any advice you can share with us right now? Or, do you know the reason why my 15 month old is waking up so much in the night? Or, can you give me an example of some of the methods we might use in working together?

You now know why these are hard questions for me to answer.

I know you probably think I am holding back advice because I want you to hire me.

I do want you to hire me. That is kind of not a secret..

But, when you do hire me I want to assure you I am giving you the best of the best of me. The solutions that are TRULY customized to you, and more than you can google. I want them to be safe for you, and your baby. I want them to honour your breastfeeding relationship, your attachment, your fears and anxiety, your unique experiences with parenting, postpartum depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, or other traumas.

I am not giving you Sleep Plan A or Sleep Plan B.

And now you know why they cost an additional $125. (I actually suggest they are a worthy purchase AFTER we are done.. To collect everything we did in one, easy to read place, so that you have it as a future reference point and guide, and therefore, never find yourself in an argument with your spouse at 3:30 am trying to remember what Lara said).

Examples of things we might do if we worked together include:

  • Nursing your baby to sleep

  • Rocking your baby to sleep

  • Holding your baby to sleep

  • Patting your baby to sleep

  • Bouncing your baby to sleep

  • Wearing your baby to sleep

  • Side jiggling your baby to sleep

  • Holding your baby’s hand until they fall asleep

  • Laying beside your baby until they fall asleep

  • Holding your hand across their belly like a seat belt until they fall asleep

  • Shushing loudly in your baby’s ear

  • Singing to your baby

  • Humming to your baby

  • Sitting silently with your baby

  • Talking to your baby

  • Playing with your toddler for 3 – 7 days in play therapy before starting any kind of sleep work

  • Setting up new expectations for your toddler through family meetings, social stories, and role playing

  • Moving yourself further away from your child at bedtime

  • Moving yourself closer to your child at bedtime

  • Responding to all night wakings with feeding

  • Responding to no night wakings with feeding

  • Responding to some night wakings with rocking back to sleep, while holding back to sleep at others

  • Co-sleeping all night, and weaning of nighttime feeding

  • Co-sleeping for half the night, and crib sleep for the other

^^ I think you get the point here.

There are literally so many different things I do in my work with families… which makes this work immensely satisfying, so interesting, and incredibly gratifying for me.

I will support you with all of the above. As parents you are going to know you have been seen, and heard.. And that your child has been very much seen and heard as well, and that we are a TEAM in this. There is no “I” in team. I just felt like saying that.

Thanks for listening.

XO

Lara