So how can parents develop these sleep skills?
Becoming a parent even from the moment you find out that you’re pregnant influences your and your partner’s sleep in so many ways.
The excitement, the nervousness, the morning sickness, your growing belly, the aches and pains through to all the joys and tribulations even after your baby is born is such a big part of your sleep changes. During this equally exciting and often worrisome time especially if you’re becoming a parent for the first time parent’s sleep gets worse and of course it does.
In my practice I see various combinations of sleep problems and even long term insomnia that started before parenthood does.
But it doesn’t have to be a daunting and struggle-some time for many years, while you just ‘get on with’ the sleep deprivation that comes with having a baby and the first months of your time as a parent.
I’m sure you read plenty of articles, headlines and suggestions on how to improve your sleep or even overcome your sleep problems no mater what stage in your life you are at. Countless articles offer often scary headlines telling us how important sleep is and why it’s crucial that we get enough quality and quantity of sleep every night.
But if you even tried to put in place those secrets, hacks, tips and advice after struggling with sleep problems or even insomnia for a while, you know very well that the general tips and advice doesn’t really work and at best deliver inconsistent results.
Firstly there is no such thing as ‘5 tips to perfect sleep’ or ‘secrets to sleeping like a baby’ (first of all which baby, right…?).
Secondly no 5 thing works for everyone with every type of sleep problem.
So in today’s article, let’s talk about sleeping well consistently in a more practical way focusing on specifically on the time of your life when you are about to become a parent.
No matter what your current situation with sleep, there is always room for improvement and an opportunity to develop practical sleep skills that guarantee great quality sleep consistently for many years to come. Even I learn things about my sleep as I go through life, and I overcome my serious insomnia about 12 years ago now.
But first of all let’s be diligent about this: please make sure that you don’t simply self diagnose and jump into conclusions about your sleep problems. A misguided self diagnosis almost always leads to longer struggle. Simply because without having a proper sleep assessment, you’ll likely to miss the true root cause of your problems. Unfortunately, I’ve seen so many of these examples over the last 8 years of working with adults with long term sleep problems and insomnia.
Please note that naturally any medical conditions diagnosed or not yet diagnosed can influence your ability to sleep well, which is why I always encourage people to seek an assessment if their sleep problems have been there for a number of weeks or even months.
3 Sleep Skills for new parents that help both your little one’s and your sleep
1. Self-awareness is absolute gold
Step one of the 7 step process that I use to help clients develop Sleep Skills for Life is self assessment mostly through self-awareness. I teach people how to understand what’s happening with your sleep in a practical way that’s actually helpful.
The first conversation I always have with clients is about the importance of true and practical self awareness. Knowing what helps and hinders your ability to sleep in a tangible way will always help you to make more informed decisions about choosing the appropriate treatment plan or action plan.
Let’s say you’re a thinker type person. Most likely you end up spending a lot of time either problem solving what may happen when your baby arrives or even worrying about version of scenarios that may or may not unfold in the future. (There are plenty of other versions of thinker types, these are just two examples).
Using superficial sleep tips or advice like lotions, potions and gadgets won’t even begin to influence your sleep in a positive way. Simply because your sleep problems are caused by internal thinking and your mind running away with you, rather than physical things that might be soothed by external things.
The skill of self awareness in this case is about becoming crystal clear on what your mind is thinking about (positive or negative things) that stops you being able to relax and let go. I use this with my clients all the time, and training yourself to differentiate what truly helps and hinders your sleep starts here.
When you become practically self-aware of what influences your sleep, you will always be able to be proactive about each of your life stages including when you baby or babies arrive. You’ll know that you’re likely to perhaps worry about things, or overthink by exploring so many of the pros and cons of a situation.
I’ve seen the power of this over an over again in my work. True, personalised, practical and effective sleep skills gives you the superpower of knowing how to keep your sleep in a great place, no matter what happens.
Now that we’ve gone through these 3 areas (3 out of 7 areas) that I work with to help you develop great Sleep Skills for Life, it’s time for the action part.
Take one of these and spend some time looking at how it shows up in your life as a parent or soon to be parent. Take stock of how well you sleep and what could be the first step for you.
Remember that developing great sleep takes time, patience and work. It’s not a magical, overnight quick fix!
Throughout all my work I see the power of all these 3 things we discussed today, one step at a time everyone I worked with who persisted with the actual work overcome their long-term and often serious sleep problems.
Which means that unless there is a medical reason that your body can’t create healthy sleep, it’s completely possible for you to do it too.
As a sleep coach I’ve seen so many examples of what’s possible even when someone almost lost hope that they’ll ever be able to sleep well again.
Sleeping well is a lot more practical than people think. Your body and your mind can be retrained, your behaviour, mindset and therefore the outcomes can be improved.
With that in mind, I wish you all the very best with becoming and being a parent!
Beatrix is a sleep coach, professional speaker, the author of The Sleep Deep Method® and the creator of the Sleep Skills for Life Programme.
Having struggled with insomnia and burning herself out in her mid-twenties, she spent the last 12 years researching sleep and learning that in order for us to sleep well at night, we need to look much deeper than just how tired we are and the number of hours we sleep.
She believes that sleeping well at night is a set of practical skills that we can all develop which is why she has launched the Sleep Skills For Life Programme to help and support more people to finally overcome their insomnia and sleep problems in the coming years.
Sleep Deep Method® Sleep Assessment tool will help you to asses your sleep. Start your assessment here.
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For more advice on how to help your baby sleep and find a baby sleep solution that works for you and your family, you can check out our 1 : 1 consultation services or our new baby sleep guides which come with free access to my Sleepy Village Facebook community for easy access to get your questions answered.
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