If you’ve been following me, you’ve heard how sleep training can transform your sleep and give your family the restorative shut eye it needs. But actually doing it, that’s nerve-racking. So, I understand if you’re on the fence about sleep training.
Sleep is vital for your family and research shows that it is essential for your child’s development. But the whole sleep training process can seem daunting. Can your child really fall asleep on their own? Will there be a lot of crying and frustration? Will I miss the snuggles, even the middle of the night ones? Am I doing the right thing?
I hear you. These are common questions with families that have started working with Tender Transitions Sleep Coaching. They enter the process with anxiety but know that they have a problem and they’re committed to finding a solution.
Is It Safe For My Child?
Even though all the research and evidence shows that sleep training is a safe, effective process, you may still have questions about how it will personally affect your child. All this evidence can’t completely remove concerns that you might be doing something wrong.
Is your maternal instinct overpowering your decision to move forward? Are you subconsciously aware of an underlying threat?
The truth is this uneasiness comes from a natural response to sleep deprivation and your child’s cries.
Emotional Well-Being and Sleep Deprivation
I am sure you’ve noticed, but when you lack sleep, you’re not your best emotionally. Your child isn’t sleeping, you’re not sleeping, you’re running on empty and that disrupts your whole emotional well-being.
Why is this?
When you’re sleep deprived, a part of your brain called the amygdala is stimulated. The amygdala controls the processing of memory, decision-making and your emotional responses. And here’s the important part – when you’re sleep deprived it causes you to become overreactive to negative stimuli.
Have you just broken down and cried because you think you’re a complete failure as a mother over something that in hindsight isn’t huge? Sleep deprivation leads to fragility, frustration, emotional imbalance, and anxiety.
No wonder you’re feeling anxious about trying sleep training.
What About The Crying?
Crying is the other major concern that causes anxiety for parents who are considering sleep training.
Will your child cry while you’re teaching them independent sleep skills? Probably. Your child isn’t going to like the new rules and routines at bedtime.
New routines, like the first day of preschool, or changes in activities, like leaving the park, are often met with cries. You know that your child is not in danger or genuine distress, but he or she will cry and your heart may even crack a little.
Let’s look at why these cries cause anxiety.
According to the research by Dr. David Poeppel, a Professor of Psychology & Neural Science at NYU, a crying baby emits a noise with an “amplitude modulation rate”. In other words, the loudness of the sound changes similar to car alarms or police sirens. A regular speaking voice modulates between 4 or 5 times per second compared to 100 times for a crying baby.
This change in sound levels triggers activity in the amygdala. Yup, the emotional response center again.
Understanding Your Triggers
Understanding your natural reaction to crying and sleep deprivation, and ultimately understanding where your anxiety is coming from, will help you make better, thoughtful decisions.
Knowing the science behind our emotion also helps us realize that your brain can play tricks on you. That it can increase your emotional responses during sleep deprivation. That it can make you think that your child is in desperate need and requires an immediate response. It tricks your brain so that you’re incapable of putting the long-term solution of sleep in the forefront.
So what can you do? How do you deal with this natural, anxious response?
- Remind yourself about your emotional triggers.
- Practice meditation or deep breathing exercises to calm your nerves.
- Get help and accountability when you need it.
We’d love to help you! You can be reassured that we’ve helped many families move past the anxiety and get the sleep that they need. A sleep coach can help you and your child take the steps toward independent sleep. Want to know more about how we can help? Book a free ‘Let’s Get Acquainted’ call.