What is a sleep consultant?
Are you curious about how you can help your child achieve consistent, consolidated and restorative sleep? Sleep Consultants are a wonderful resource for families to help them achieve the sleep they deserve
As soon as you announce that you are expecting, you will undoubtedly be bombarded with advice on the best swaddles, the best strollers, high chairs, cribs, bassinets, nursing accessories, bottles and so on. The topic of discussion that usually follows right after your birth announcement is your child’s sleep (or lack of). I’m sure we’ve all heard the line, “sleep now because you won’t sleep for the next 18 years!”. You will encounter many thoughts, feelings, advice (solicited and unsolicited) and heated debates around the topic of children’ sleep. And it’s no wonder. Sleep is important for their health and development as well as the health and emotional well-being of the whole family.
So what if you’ve read EVERY book on sleep and tried EVERY recommended tip or method, yet nothing has worked. You might well ask ‘what’s sleep consultant going to do?’ A good question. Sleep consultants are there to act as cheerleaders, supporters and educators. They can work with you in a variety of ways, depending on your family’s needs: from a brief phone conversation or email consultation to chat about minor transitions, to working in-person or remotely via phone/Skype/FaceTime for a one to two-week period as they guide and support your family while your child is learning their new sleep skill.
A sleep consultant’s main purpose however is to educate families on sleep hygiene, the biological needs of sleep, safe sleep practices, to review the timing of night/day sleeps while offering support and guidance. For example, did you know that there is very precise biological timing with sleep (aka circadian rhythms) and we want to make sure a child is sleeping within their optimal biological sleep rhythms, based off their age, so it’s easier for their brain to be able to fall asleep and stay asleep.
A sleep consultant will also assess the sleep environment of your child’s room and make recommendations to promote sleep. For melatonin production to be optimal, we want the room to be cool, between 68-72 degrees, and dark. Black out shades are perfect for making a room as dark as possible. Depending on the child’s age, they will have a separate sleep area such as a crib, bed, bassinet, side sleeper, etc. If your child is older and has a night light, you want to ensure that the light is red, yellow or orange which helps in the production of melatonin. We want to avoid blue or green night lights as they suppress melatonin. It’s also important to add a white noise machine as part of the child’s sleep routine and environment. For younger children, it reminds them of the womb and blocks out disruptive noises. There are so many variables to look at which will be unique to each family.
The method that a sleep consultant uses should also closely align with your family’s parenting philosophy and lifestyle. So it’s important to have an open discussion about any boundaries or requirements before they begin. As a sleep consultant, I support my families with multiple methods. Parenting is not a one size fits all approach and neither is sleep. I chat in depth with my families on the various sleep methods available to them, while answering any questions they may have. Before the consult is complete, both parents should be comfortable and confident with the method they choose.
As in anything in life, things don’t always go as planned so the two weeks of support after the consult is critical to sleep success. We need to be able to have flexibility, especially the first week, as your kiddo is learning their new skill so that we give them the opportunity to do that.
If you are struggling with your child’s sleep, which we all do at one point in our little ones early years, you will want to do your research on the sleep consultants in your area. Be sure they are Certified as a Sleep Consultant, research the program they were certified with and check out the reviews and testimonials on their business pages such as Facebook, their website, Google Reviews and Yelp.
If I may be of service to your family on your sleep journey, feel free to visit www.RestToYourNest.com to book a complimentary 15 minute sleep evaluation. Cheers to sleep!