SLEEP - the one word that all new parents will think/fret/talk about more than anything else. In our final workshop of our 8 week program, we quizzed psychologist and child development specialist Cristina Delgado about all things shut-eye. Cristina runs workshops and consultations through her company Psychologically Minded, who provide evidence based interventions to help you to best support your child's development and mental wellbeing.
I find sleep fascinating, and I’ve learnt so much about it in my quest for a better night sleep for me and my family. As with the majority of babies, my son Quinn wakes in the night and needs help to get back to sleep. He is breastfed and we co-sleep or bed-share depending on how he is sleeping. There is a lot of talk between parents about ‘sleeping through the night’ but it was useful for us to find out that a stretch of 5-6 hours uninterrupted sleep is considered a good sleep. As Quinn reaches his first birthday, we are in the process of making small changes to support him to improved sleep. We have noticed the importance of getting his day naps right - if he goes to sleep overtired, he definitely wakes more. And we have moved his bedtime feed forward so that he doesn’t fall to sleep feeding, therefore starting to deal with sleep associations. Next step is to reduce the level of rocking required to get him to dreamyland… Our journey to a fuller nights sleep will be a slow one, and we are lucky that we have been able to adapt our lives and routines to be better able to manage this.
In the workshop with Cristina, it became clear from the various questions posed that every sleep situation is different. And, therefore there is no one size fits all solution and only you know what is right to do for you and your family. There are however some things to know that will help you to put the foundations in place for a good night’s sleep for everyone under your roof:
Melatonin is released from 3pm onwards, so try to have the afternoon nap finish before then - the reason being, so that there is as much of it available in the body as possible to use for bedtime.
Melatonin is at its peak at 7pm so aim for a bedtime around this time.
Overtiredness can mean that cortisol is released in the body which means more frequent waking.
A consistent routine, which includes downtime before bed, is key.
Room temperature should be between 16-20 degrees.
Cristina works with families to assess sleep issues and then to collaborate with them in finding solutions. What we love about her approach is that she works according to the parenting style of her clients. And she has a range of options available to suit various needs and budgets. You can find out more at psychologicallyminded.net
Words by Clare, inspired by a sleep workshop with Psychologically Minded.