Good sleep is the cornerstone of happiness and well-being.
Sleep is one of our most basic, fundamental human needs. When we sleep better, we ARE better. Things flow more smoothly, and everything functions at a more optimal level. We have more love to give, we are more responsive, we are happier, less depressed, less anxious, more in love with our spouses, and more engaged in our lives. Being sleep deprived takes a subtle, yet pervasive toll on our well-being. But the good news is, restoring good sleep is relatively easy and the benefits are almost immediate.
If you have a baby in your home, you were probably slammed with sudden and significant sleep deprivation. To combat this, new mamas often produce a surge of adrenaline and energy to overcompensate for the fact that your body is running on fumes. Thank goodness! But we’re wired to need more sleep than that, so over time our functioning starts to deteriorate and the sleep loss takes a toll, even if we don’t realize it.
So, yes, one important reason sleep training is crucial is because of you, mama. If your baby sleeps well, you will also get the good, restorative sleep you need. Before you feel guilty about that, remember, it’s not selfish. You’re a better version of yourself when you’re rested. And your baby benefits immensely by parents who are their best selves.
Most importantly, though, sleep training is for your baby. Your sweet little bundle of joy is actually the one who benefits the most from good sleep.
If you make a list right now of things you need to be happy, you may end up with dozens of ideas. Your little baby is far more basic. She really only needs three things to survive and thrive: food, sleep and love.
Sleep is so important because it is a time that our brains and bodies are hard at work. It serves four critical developmental roles:
Sleep Promotes Physical, Emotional, Social and Intellectual Development
- While babies are sleeping they do super important tingsl ike grow their bodies and their brains
- Sleep helps them regulate their mood and emotions
- Well-rested babies are happier and more easy going, even the “spirited” (read: difficult) ones
- Well-rested kids are smarter, learn faster and have lower rates of ADHD and learning difficulties
- Well-rested and emotionally well-regulated children fare better socially and have better relationships. I.e it’s easier to be cool and make friends when you’re not freaking out and overreacting about everything because you’re sleep deprived.
- And here’s the big one: LEARNING TO SLEEP WELL IS A SKILL THAT WILL BENEFIT YOUR CHILD FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE. Did you know that 80% of individuals with a mental health diagnosis have a co-occurring sleep problem? 80%! Missing sleep takes a toll on emotional regulation that can lead to depression, anxiety, and a whole host of other mental health issues. As a therapist, I feel called to help people restore and maintain emotional well-being in this super important (and relatively easy) way. Aside from personally benefitting from sleep training my kids, this is the reason I do baby sleep training
Attachment Based Sleep Training?
Lots of parents hesitate to let their baby cry it out because they’re afraid it will damage their relationship with the baby. These fears are misguided. You don’t have to choose a cry-it-out method… but don’t avoid it because you’re afraid it will harm your baby emotionally.
When babies vocally protest sleep, many parents get uncomfortable–they worry about their baby’s attachment. Attachment is all about being responsive to your baby’s needs. Attachment forms when your baby learns she can count on you. When she needs you, you are there. That’s how she learns that she is safe and protected in the world. It’s a trusting relationship we work on all day (and all night) long, built slowly through thousands of interactions. When it comes to sleep and attachment, we have to remember that baby’s needs and her wants are different. She does actually need to sleep, she just might not really want to right now.
Effective sleep training actually has very little to do with how much you let your baby cry when you put her in the crib. It’s about helping your child learn to self-soothe, prioritizing sleep, fostering family habits conducive to good sleep, and tuning in to your baby to respond to all of her needs and many of her wants.
That’s why I can confidently say that I help people with any parenting perspective achieve happier, longer sleep.