As a baby sleep coach, I often get asked for advice from parents as well. Whilst you might assume that once the baby is sleeping so is the parent, unfortunately, this often isn’t the case. Here at the Sleepy Angels Consultancy, parental health and well-being is always a priority for us. In honour of the approaching Mother’s day, we have teamed up with Beatrix at The Sleep Deep Practise to offer some advice aimed at parents, carers and other adults in your little ones life. If you decide to work with Beatrix, please mention my site so that we can look into future collaborations if my readers find it beneficial.
mum that can't sleep and holds her head under the duvets.

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.

woman that cannot sleep is holding pillow looking out the window.

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.

man sleeping in bed lying on a pillow

2. Falling asleep ‘easily’

The fourth step of the 7 step process I use to help clients develop Sleep Skills for Life is learning to fall asleep easily every night.

So many people I talk to these days either overcomplicate their evening ‘routines’ or have no idea how to prepare their body and their mind physically, emotionally and mentally for going to bed and sleep itself.

As a parent you’ll hear people talk about routines for your baby, ways to soothe, ways to prepare before bedtime, keeping things as consistent as possible so that your baby or toddler can get used to what he or she is supposed to do.

But when we grow up, we seem to either forget about these things or maybe your parents have never really been able to hand these skills down to you when you were growing up.

I’ve worked with people who were always a ‘bad sleeper’ and learnt to sleep well no matter what, and I also worked with people who were always a ‘good sleeper’ and seem to have lost it for some reason.

There is no such thing as a ‘bad’ or ‘good’ sleeper, its more about whether or not you have the practical tools and techniques to teach your body and your mind to create great quality sleep. Yes, it’s more practical than scientific really.

Falling asleep easily and consistently easily comes from knowing how to prepare your body and your mind to rest physically, let go emotionally, and calm your mind so you can truly separate the daytime from the nighttime.

The rule of thumb with this one is: your bed is for intimacy and sleep only.
If you have sleep problems and you start to introduce other activities to the bed, you’re practically confusing your body and your mind about what it’s supposed to do in bed.

You may feel like you want to argue with the above, but the true reality of sleep problems I see is that the more you blur the lines between the daytime and nighttime, the less likely your body and your mind knows what the bed and the bedroom is for.

What I see with parents quite a bit is that after the breastfeeding stage is over, you find it hard to retrain yourself to create a healthy and good separation from your child or children.

You stay in mummy or daddy ‘duties’ and perhaps you forget to look after yourself well. There are many versions of this and because you love being a parent it’s really hard to learn to get back to a healthy balance that really serves you well.

It’s healthy for you to make sure you look after yourself as a human being, and it’s also an important lesson you can hand down to your little ones as they see you practice it over the years.

I know this is not easy, and I know that your first priority is to make sure your child or children are being looked after. But becoming a sleep deprived parent who never rests well doesn’t serve anyone well!

You’ll be a much better parent when you learn to look after yourself as well as teach your little ones the golden rules about these things at an early enough stage.

In return, they grow up looking after themselves too and naturally develop the idea of healthy boundaries from the get go.

mum and baby sleeping together on bed

3. Staying asleep throughout the night

The fifth step of the 7 step process I use to help clients develop Sleep Skills for Life is about helping you to stay asleep and sleep through the night without disturbances.

This is very common sleep problem at the early stages of parenthood but it doesn’t have to last a lifetime.

Of course, it starts with breastfeeding that I mentioned in the previous point. Naturally as you become a parent you end up having take turns or wake up several times a night depending on the dynamic of the family. Some parents share the duties of nighttime bottle feeding others keep to breastfeeding only.

But naturally the latter part of the pregnancy and the first few months of becoming a parent means that your sleep is going to be disturbed for various reasons.

During this time, for mums especially, it’s important to align to your baby’s rhythm and rest when the baby rests rather than push yourself through exhaustion and get busy when your baby or babies are having their daytime naps.

Of course dads often have a different role here but as a couple you can really create a much more supportive environment for both sides.

For example by putting less pressure on having the house ‘perfectly’ in order as well as getting through the sleep deprivation of the first few months. Keep things simple, share the

duties, communicate rather than blame the other for perhaps not helping out more. Remember, that you’re both in this together.

If as a mum or dad you train your body to get on with this part of the sleep deprivation over a period of months, you’re likely to train your body and your mind to not learn to rest again and it can result in longer term sleep problems even once your baby starts to sleep through the night.

When your baby is starting to sleep longer, take the time to retrain your body and your mind to extend your sleep. Yes, it’s a training type process because you need to learn to look after yourself again just like I mentioned in the previous point.

When you become a parent especially the first time, you develop the ‘parent’ part of yourself that is all about ensuring that your little one is going to be looked after and cared for in the coming years.

The responsibility and often the pressure of being a good parent can lead to lack of relaxation which then leads to less good quality sleep or even sleep problems that last months or even years.

Remember to be kind and compassionate to yourself, parenthood brings many joys but equally many pressures. And it’s up to you to learn to treat yourself in a nice way which is also a sleep skill.

Whilst you might think that being kind to yourself has little to do with sleep, but as a sleep coach staying a sleep at night is often directly related to how judgemental or critical you are of yourself when no-one is looking or listening.

Our inner talk has a lot to do with how we end up feeling during the day. You can choose to develop a kind relationship with yourself, or you can choose to develop a critical or even a perfectionist one that will most likely lead to restlessness and disturbed sleep at night.


happy family of four hugging each other

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, Your Sleep Coach

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.

“Remember to mention the Sleepy Angels Consultancy when contact Beatrix so we can continue to bring more collaborations to you in the future!”


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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
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