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In the age of excessive on-the-go anxiety, the science is evident, if you want your mind and body to last and thrive…you’ve got to prioritise them. Healing your nervous system is an unceasing  journey, and fulfilling these 10 steps, will work towards a healthier mind and body daily. 

Nearly one in six of the world’s population suffer from neurological disorders in direct relation to the nervous system. These neurological disorders range from Parkinson’s disease to stroke, Alzheimers, Multiple Sclerosis, epilepsy, migraine, brain injury and nueroinfections. The UN World Health Organisation studies exhibit people in all countries, irrespective of age, sex, income or education, are affected by triggers in direct relation to an overactive or neglected nervous system.

The nervous system is the bodies communication centre. Originating from the brain, it controls movements, memory, feelings, automatic responses and the bodies systems and processes, including digestion, breathing and sexual development (puberty).

A vast network of nerves send electrical signals to and from other cells, glands, and muscles throughout the body, receiving information from the environment and interpreting the information to control bodily responses.

Following these 10 guided tips to healing and regulating an overactive nervous system is the first step toward a healthier you today. 

1. Meditation and breath work

It is the repeated, as well as the tried and true, magic of meditation and breath work, that can heal a range of bodily stresses and ultimately tap into the healing process of your parasympathetic nervous system. Just five minutes a day of deep breathing through your nose is clinically proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Gentle yoga, breath work and meditation classes all work to move the body out of the fight or flight stress response, instead grounding and bringing the mind back to the present moment and in turn generating a healthier nervous system. 

2. Cold water 

Opting for a cold shower or an ocean swim, will kickstart repair and healing in your body and nervous system. Cold water stimulates the immune system and activates the vagus nerve, reducing stress response. The vagus nerve is apart of the autonomic nervous system, connecting the brain to our digestive tract and working as a highway between brain and gut. 

3. Sleep

We have all been ingrained with the ineradicable importance of sleep on both our mental and physical health, and there is nothing more essential when healing and protecting the nervous system. Building and supporting a strong immune and nervous system, is directly linked to our sleep cycle. Majority of people need between 7-9 hours a night, however with statistics presenting the average person is receiving less than 7. If you struggle to get a good nights rest,  lavender diffusers, eye masks and turning screens off an hour before bed, may help to set your sleep pattern and ultimately help to heal an overactive or weakened nervous system. 

4. Limit your caffeine and alcohol Intake

Alcohol is a sedative that slows down both the central nervous system and brain processing. This effect is why people who drink may feel calmer or more relaxed. Caffeine, conversely, is a stimulant, and high doses can cause side effects like anxiety and nervousness. Consuming caffeine stimulates your central nervous system and brain to feel awake, increasing alertness and boosting brain activity. However, caffeine blocks the brain chemical adenosine, which leads to feelings of tiredness. Consumption of both substances tend to dehydrate us, heighten anxiety as well as lead to sleep and digestive issues that work against the immune and nervous system. 

5. Fruit and vegetables

A healthy diet filled with fruit and root vegetables is both nourishing and repairing to the nervous system. Foods to heal both the adrenals* and nervous system include:

Foods to support the Adrenals:

*The adrenals produce hormones that regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, stress response and other essential functions.

  • Bananas                                                                         
  • Broccoli
  • Bone Broth 
  • Cauliflower
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Kiwi
  • Orange Juice
  • Papaya
  • Turkey
  • Red Bell Peppers
  • Liver

Foods to support the Nervous System:

  • Avocados
  • Bananas 
  • Bone Broth
  • Carrots
  • Cherries
  • Coconut Water
  • Collagen 
  • Leafy Greens 
  • Orange Juice
  • Oysters
  • Salmon
  • Organ Meats
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Tropical Fruits

6. Smarter exercise 

Often when we feel stressed or our mind is running wild, we opt for cardio or high-intensity workouts to burn off steam. While this can be an option, many may find it too stimulating, and in whole, taking a greater toll on their adrenals and nervous system. Grounding exercises , such as walking, yoga and pilates may be more beneficial for somebody stuck in their fight-or-flight stress response. Remember that, stress (cortisol) is addictive, so many crave to continue their imbalance. Weightlifting is also said to be beneficial for the nervous system, offering proprioceptive input. Fast running or high impact activities such as kick-boxing continue to stimulate an overactive nervous system rather then de-regulate it.

7. Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been utilised for millennia to regulate the nervous system and treat many diseases in relation. Acupuncture points stimulate the nervous system, creating chemicals and energy that encourage a parasympathetic response throughout the body, switching on the bodies natural healing abilities. 

8. Bodywork 

Massages, chakra balancing, rolling, craniosacral therapy and reflexology are all bodywork techniques utilised to turn off your stress hormones and allow your body to relax and heal. We often need to somatically release toxic stored emotions, and bodywork allows us to do in a graceful way. These therapies have been known to help release deep trauma and tension and by doing so, the body can start to heal and recover.

9. Dance or sing it out

Trying to constantly juggle being productive, staying physically and mentally active and social, on top of work or other related stresses can be draining on our nervous system. In turn our bodies look for ways to release this built up energy and tension. You don’t have to be the next Beyonce to enjoy the healing benefits of song and dance, your body and mind will love you back equally the same. Expressive dance works to calm and regulate the nervous system, releasing and reducing stress built up in the brain and body. So the next time you are feeling overwhelmed, belt out your favourite tune in the car or expressive dance moves as an alternative therapy.

10. Play on the senses

The five senses collect information about the surrounding environment that is then interpreted by the brain. However, sometimes information overload drives our nervous system into an overactive state. De-stressing through playing on the senses allows you to de-regulate your nervous system and calm the mind back into the present moment.

1. Listen: 

Listen to relaxing music or meditative music works to calm your nervous system. inc.com‘s study article,  explains how Neuroscience says listening to a particular song reduces anxiety by up to 65 percent.

Sound therapies have been around for centuries, including in indigenous cultures, where arranged harmonies, rhythms, and bass lines were utilised to slow a listener’s heart rate, reduce blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

A list of 10 tracks by Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson “Weightless,” resulted in a striking 65 percent reduction in participants’ overall anxiety, and a 35 percent reduction in their usual physiological resting rates.

Sound therapy using Tibetan singing bowls are another option to heal through listening. Utilising a type of bell that vibrates and produces a rich, deep tone when played, the healing bowls are used to strengthen meditation, healing and spirituality.

2. Smell: 

Aromatherapy is the use of  aromatic plant extracts and essential oils for healing and cosmetic purposes. The healing benefits of aromatherapy, work to promote health and well-being. Sometimes called essential oil therapy, aromatic essential oils are used to medicinally improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. Enhances both physical and emotional health, this can be utilised through  candles and essential oils that also trigger memories and transform mood.

Aroma grounds us and make us feel more relaxed, working as a defence of healing for the nervous system. Common essential oils vary from eucalyptus, chamomile, frankincense, lemongrass, lavender and more.

3. Taste: 

A warm cup of herbal tea is the perfect taste sensation to help calm the sympathetic nervous system. Both the taste and warmth of tea as you’re holding it, and tasting the aromatic flavours, usher in feelings of comfort and relaxation.

4. Feel: 

The first sense that humans develop, also influences our decisions when we relate a texture to a believed concept. Patting animals, walking barefoot, enjoying an epsom salt bath or sitting in sunlight releases oxytocin through feeling safe and warm. Oxytocin is the brains direct antidote to the stress hormone cortisol.

5. Sight: 

Spending time in nature and focusing upon non-stimulating material help to heal and release added anxiety from the nervous system. Spend time away from any technology and instead give your eyes a break with examples of enjoying sunsets, beach time or opting for journaling or reading.

In an age inundated with supplemental stresses, the need to pay attention and care toward our nervous system is more prevalent than ever. Healing and de-regulating an overactive or impaired nervous system is an unremitting process, nevertheless, through repetition and consistency,  you can work to bring your body back to balance and help to heal an overstimulated nervous system.

 

 

Why we need our beauty sleep

Sleep is essential for healing the skin, with quality beauty sleep you will wake up looking fresh and radiant.

Beauty sleep is a must when you’re trying to look after your physical appearance including your skin. Not only is sleep important for energy levels, but it can work wonders in helping your skin appear more youthful and radiant. Sleep can also help with better skin hydration, skin wrinkling and fewer breakouts.

Sleep is a fundamental part of wellness, and it nourishes the mind, body and soul. In addition, it contributes to looking more youthful and can be a critical element of beauty.

During a good night’s sleep, your body removes toxic waste by-products that have accumulated throughout the day. Also, the body removes dead blood cells that can build up in the skin. If we don’t get enough quality sleep, we could notice skin imbalances such as dehydration, redness and wrinkles.

Specialists recommend that we should sleep seven to nine hours per night of good quality sleep. Here are a few tips and tricks you can try to achieve the deep sleep that your body craves each night. These simple beauty sleep tricks will leave your skin feeling fresh and glowing when you wake up. In addition, you will notice fewer wrinkles, a glowing complexion, brighter, less puffy eyes, healthier, fuller hair and your skincare products work better.

How to get quality beauty sleep

1.   Use a silk pillow for your skin

Switching your cotton or linen pillowcase to a silk pillowcase can make all the difference to your skin! It has been proven that sleeping with a silk pillowcase can reduce breakouts, be anti-aging, reduce sleep creases, reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Sleeping with a silk pillowcase can also leave your hair feeling hydrated. Lilysilk is an Australian brand that sells inexpensive silk pillowcases that can combat sleep-related concerns.

2.   Use a humidifier in your bedroom

Hydration is what keeps skin looking plump and fresh. But when we spend all night fast asleep, we aren’t hydrating by drinking water. As a result, your skin loses moisture and elasticity, which means it’s more likely to crack and have irritations and blemishes.

To help prevent skin dehydration, invest in a humidifier for your bedroom. Humidifiers work by taking water from a series of chambers and pushing it into the air, making that air less dry and, therefore, gentler on your skin. For the best hydration results, turn on the humidifier after you apply your nighttime serums and moisturisers.

3.   Exercise regularly

Exercise is another healthy habit that will help you get the ultimate beauty sleep. There is a mountain of research that shows physical exercise improves sleep quality.

As you can tell, the link between physical activity and sleep is well-established. Moreover, decades of research show that getting plenty of exercise is “a healthy, safe, inexpensive, and simple means of improving sleep.”

4.   Practise ways of having better dreams

Every night as we drift off to sleep, we enter the mysterious land of dreams. Psychologists explain that dreams are the processing of both our conscious and subconscious thoughts, but the phenomenon of dreaming is still somewhat unexplainable.

One thing is for sure when we have a night of pleasant dreams, it not only lifts our mood for the day ahead, but it also makes sleeping more enjoyable and relaxing.

Researchers found that participants introduced to sweet smells during the night were more likely to have positive dreams. When bad smells surrounded participants throughout the night, however, it helped to create nightmares.  Essential oils have been proven to have healing qualities that can also be used to clear negative energies and restore peace.

5.   Practise deep breathing

After a long, stressful day, you expect to fall asleep quickly. But often, a long stressful day can sometimes keep

your mind going, which in turn makes it very difficult to switch off – even when you’re exhausted. Enter the “4-7-8” method.

The “4-7-8” method is a breathing technique that slows down your thought process and relaxes your body which helps you get to sleep faster. This breathing technique slows your heart rate and allows your mind to focus on something other than what stressful events happened that day. But, unfortunately, it also increases the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream and releases harmful carbon dioxide that can be toxic to your skin.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth and keep it there throughout the exercise.
  2. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound.
  3. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose for a count of four.
  4. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  5. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound for a count of eight.
  6. That’s one cycle. Repeat steps 2-5 three more times for a total of four cycles.

6.   Keep the temperature low

At night, your body’s natural temperature declines. Therefore, keeping the temperature in your bedroom low is suitable for both your metabolism and your blood flow. This is important because improving your blood flow helps oxygenate your skin, keeping it plump and even-toned for the day ahead. Maintaining a cool temperature in your bedroom will also help reduce redness in your skin.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends keeping your bedroom between 60 and 67 degrees for an optimal night’s sleep. “Why so cold?” you may ask. Because researchers believe this range best allows your body to redirect energy that would typically be used for maintaining temperature into other repair and rejuvenation functions.

7.   Turn off electronics one hour before bed

Electronics such as tablets, laptops, smartphones, TV, and even some light bulbs (e.g. LED) emit blue light, which delays the release of melatonin and can keep you awake long into the night.

Replace bedroom light bulbs (such as LED and other energy-efficient designs) with bulbs that emit a more natural white light. This will help your brain prepare to release melatonin, which enables you to get restful beauty sleep.

8.   Try stress-reduction techniques

Stress and sleep are deeply intertwined. Studies have shown that high levels of stress can disrupt sleep. At the same time, a lack of sleep can cause stress.

Here are some techniques for reducing stress before you hit the hay:

  • Practice simple yoga poses
  • Meditate 
  • Try deep breathing exercises (see tip number six)
  • Massage your temples, forehead, and neck
  • Clear your mind of negative thoughts

Here are suggestions for other activities you can include in your bedtime routine:

  • Read a book or magazine in bed
  • Meditate or do some yoga to wind down
  • Use aromatherapy candles in the bedroom to wind down
  • Keep a journal or diary and write about your day
  • Listen to soft music
  • Take a warm shower or bath
Breaking down insomnia by looking at different types of insomniacs, what are the main causes for loss of sleep, and key tips to overcoming a series of sleepless nights.

For many, tucking themselves into bed is an exciting, if not the most exciting, part of the day. People look forward to the comfort and relaxation sleep provides. But what if sleep was something one feared? For insomniacs, the bedroom can be a constant reminder of countless sleepless nights, a place for overthinking embarrassing moments, and where one fears the prospect of losing sleep.

How common is insomnia? Can anyone be an insomniac? What is it.

Insomnia is the world’s most common sleep disorder, with 60% of Australians suffering from at least one symptom of Insomnia, occurring three to four times a week. Symptoms of insomnia are common. This might be because their causes are equally as common.

A woman sitting at the edge of her bed.

Insomnia disorder is associated to someone who has difficulties with:

  1. Falling asleep: known as onset/early insomnia.
  2. Consolidating sleep: the inability to enter a deep sleep, known as middle insomnia.
  3. Sleep duration: waking up too early and not being able to fall back asleep, known as terminal/late insomnia.

Insomniacs can experience some of these symptoms or in more extreme cases, suffer from all of them. Such symptoms  occur despite having adequate opportunity to sleep (i.e. a bedroom, the absence of daylight, a quiet space).

There are two main types of insomniacs. Firstly, those that suffer from acute insomnia disorder: this is when someone experiences symptoms of insomnia at least three or four days a week for several weeks, but never regularly over a period of three months. Secondly, is chronic insomnia disorder: when someone experiences symptoms of insomnia over a long term, lasting over the three month threshold.

What causes insomnia?

A woman lying awake.

The causes of insomnia are different for everyone but are common enough that most people can experience its symptoms at different stages and degrees throughout their lifetime. For example, according to the SHF’s report, older people will more likely have trouble maintaining sleep, whereas young adults and teenagers have more trouble falling asleep. Luckily, sleep deprivation for most people is short term, as exhaustion has a way of overpowering an overthinking mind, a sore leg, a buzzing fly, or even disruptions to our circadian rhythm (our biological clock) from things like jet lag. For insomniacs however, severe causes trump the power of exhaustion and maintain a state of wakefulness.

A woman struggling to fall asleep.

There are two main causes of insomnia:

  • Primary insomnia: when long-term medical conditions (i.e. respiratory or cardiac disorders) cause physical and mental pain by reducing the quality of life and productivity of someone. This mainly results in difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep.
  • Secondary insomnia: when psychological disturbances such as mental trauma, depression, and anxiety cause symptoms of insomnia.

Please note that this is a simplified explanation of the possible causes for insomnia and a full list of physical, cognitive, and risk factors can be found here.

So, yes. Anyone can experience symptoms of insomnia at different stages of their life, but insomniacs suffer from these symptoms on a more regular basis that calls for certain lifestyle changes to overcome them.

3 top tips to overcoming a sleepless night

Someone suffering from a restless night.

From medical to psychological tactics, there is no single cure for overcoming a sleepless night. Here are some tips on how to minimise a case of insomnia:

  1. Sleep Restriction: This is a technique involving following a strict sleep schedule and wake up time (i.e. if desired sleeping time is 8 hours and the alarm is set for 7am, the patient must go to sleep at 11 pm). More time in bed does not necessarily mean effective time falling asleep.
  2. Establishing good sleep practices before going to bed: i.e. no use of blue-light electronics, no TV directly before bed, shutting the blinds, and keeping the room at a cool temperature.
  3. Only use the bed for sleep. If one finds themselves unable to fall asleep, leave the room and tire yourself out by doing relaxing activities such as reading or writing.
Young woman fallen asleep while reading a book.

 Side note: Drugs such as melatonin can also be used to increase the chances of falling asleep. They can be however, highly addictive and can lose effect if used regularly over a certain period of time.

Tips on how to deal with an uneased newborn.

It’s very common to worry when you’re trying to soothe a crying baby, but crying is normal, in fact, it’s your baby’s way of communicating with you.

Why do babies cry?

Babies can cry for several reasons including being hungry, cold, tired or simply because they need some attention. Commonly, babies cry for around two hours every day.

In the first six months after birth, newborns will wake at night for food to stimulate growth and development. Normally they won’t sleep through the night until they’re further developed and mature.

Signs of being tried

Similarity to children and even adults, babies show sign of being tried by rubbing their eyes, yawning, grizzling, fussing, frowning and of course, crying. By responding to these signs early, it can help them to have a better and longer sleep.

How to settle them

There are many things that can help settle your baby, including:

Making sure they’re well fed and get proper sleep

The first and most important step is to make sure your baby is properly fed and well-rested. Keeping a diary or record of their eating and sleep patterns can help you with this. Newborns need lots of sleep and can get tired after only being awake for one and a half hours.

Comfort them

There are several ways you can comfort your newborn to soothe them.

  1. Hold them. Holding your baby in your arms with skin-to-skin contact can ease them back to sleep. Try using a rhythmic pattern of patting and rocking them or even softly talking to them. It isn’t until they’re further developed that babies can start self-soothing, so it’s okay to pick them up.
  2. Wrap your baby. Often, covering your child in a soft material to act like a hug can help them settle. Make sure they’re not too hot, their head isn’t covered, and their arms are above waist level before wrapping them. Please note: if your child has started showing signs of rolling over do not wrap them.

Developing a routine

In the first few months after your child’s birth, it’s crucial to be flexible and do what your baby needs.

Where possible developing somewhat of a routine such as food, play and sleep. During the day the routine could simply include:

  1. Check and change their nappy if needed.
  2. Provide your baby with a good feed to sustain them for some time.
  3. Have some playtime together and enjoy some cuddles.
  4. Put them back to sleep.

At night time, it’s important to avoid playtime and instead focus on trying to get them back to sleep.  Perhaps your routine could simply be rocking them back to sleep with a song.

Helping your baby distinguish the difference between day and night in your routine can also improve their sleep. At night time, try keeping it as dark as possible with dim lighting, soft-tones and try re-settling them as quickly as possible.

Other tips to try:

  1. A dummy: Sometimes the sucking rhythm from a dummy can help settle your baby if you’ve already fed them.
  2. A lukewarm bath: If you’re struggling to get your baby to settle, a warm, soothing bath can help them calm.

If nothing is working book an appointment with your GP or doctor to discuss possible treatments.

A sleep study done either at home, or in a dedicated sleep unit such as St John of God in Murdoch will be able to determine whether a sleep disorder is present.

Sleep disorders are common, affecting about one third of all school-aged children.

Young children’s sleep disorders will likely affect the household’s sleep quality and overall energy levels.

Lack of good quality sleep in children or adolescents may impact growth, school performance, memory, mood and behaviour.

How do I know my child has a sleep disorder?

– Difficulty settling into sleep at a reasonable bedtime

– Waking often during the night (older than two years) or excessive restlessness

– Tired upon waking

– Loud snoring, gasping or difficulty breathing

– Morning headaches

A sleep study in a dedicated sleep unit such as St John of God in Murdoch will be able to determine whether a sleep disorder is present.

What are the most common sleep disorders?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome:

Enlarged tonsils and adenoids can cause snoring or breathing difficulties by blocking airways.

An Ear Nose and Throat specialist can perform a surgical procedure to remove these.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) / Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD):

RLS describes discomfort such as tingling or prickling in the legs close to bedtime.

Movement in the legs relieves this temporarily and as such, sufferers will have an irresistible urge to move or walk.

PLMD is a similar movement of the legs but occurs during sleep.

Massaging the legs, a hot bath or an iron level test may help.

Parasomnias:

Parasomnias describe a group of psychological symptoms such as sleep walking or talking, nightmares, or sleep terrors.

This is generally not a concern unless these are a risk to the child’s safety, ongoing or very disruptive.

How much sleep do kids need?

Newborns to 3 months: 14-17 hours

Infants to 12 months: 12-15 hours

1 – 2 years: 11-14 hours

3-5 years: 10-13 hours

6-13 years: 9-11 hours

14-17 years: 8-10 hours

Top tips for kids sleep

From St John of God Murdoch Sleep Medicine and Paediatric specialist Dr Annie O’Donnell

1. Keep regular times for sleeping and waking to regulate the body’s clock

2. Create a bedtime routine that is relaxing, avoiding anything stressful

3. Make the room dark, cool and quiet. If there is noise out of your control, try white noise such as a fan or calming music

4. Invest in some supportive and comfortable bedding

5. Limit daytime naps for older children

6. Get some sunlight in the morning and avoid bright lights at night.

7. No devices or blue light within one hour of bedtime.

8. Ensure kids are getting plenty of physical activity, particularly early in the day.

9. Avoid stimulants such as sugar before bedtime.

10. Don’t let kids go to bed too full or too hungry. Keep mealtimes at least two hours before bed.

What is a sleep study?

Clinical Operations Manager from Murdoch Sleep Unit Simon Kemp said a sleep study (polysomnogram) is an overnight test that monitors sleep and breathing.

“The sleep test uses non-invasive sensors and a routine digital video correlate results with images. There are no needles and no extra medication is given.”

“Most people worry that their night’s sleep won’t be the same as at home, but a sleep unit can usually gather enough sleep data to make a diagnosis.”

Mr Kemp said patients arrive in the late afternoon with one parent or carer.

“Kids are able to bring along any personal items from home and one adult must stay with the child for the duration of the evening,” he says.

“After settling into your private room, small sensors are attached to the skin of the head, chest, finger and legs, enabling precise monitoring of your child’s sleep.”

“These are attached to state of the art equipment that monitors oxygen levels, breathing, brainwave activity, eye and leg movements and heart rate during sleep.”

“A continuous recording of your child’s sleep is created and provides a precise diagnosis of sleep disorders.”

Results of the polysomnogram are then sent to your referring doctor and a treatment plan is put in place.

You have a beautiful new baby but instead of feeling elated you are feeling exhausted, irritable with your partner and maybe even a little resentful towards your new baby. Or perhaps you have an older baby or toddler and you’ve been struggling with their sleep for a very long time.

Sleep deprivation is a serious issue for parents of babies, with recent research showing one in four new Mums are getting just three hours or less of sleep a night. What’s more, one in five admit they have experienced severe depression or post-natal depression when their babies weren’t sleeping well, according to a study by Galaxy Research.

There is an plethora of information on baby sleep and routine, and so much of it is conflicting. It’s no wonder parents are overwhelmed, confused and exhausted. Our babies are exhausted too – “caught” in the same sleep deprived cycle as their parents.

The common perception has been for a long time that baby sleep is complex. However, when we strip it all back, sleep is an inherently primal and essential human function for our babies. Our babies NEED sleep, they WANT sleep and they CAN sleep. There is no baby on this earth who hates sleep.

Here’s the thing – it is not just about the going to sleep process. That is where so much attention is focused but that is only one piece in the bigger pie. Baby sleep requires a holistic approach and all the “foundations” need to be in place before a baby will sleep well.

Here are 5 fundamental guidelines for you to implement with your baby. The key is to stay consistent at all times. If you aren’t consistent, we can’t expect consistency from your baby.

Our babies NEED sleep, they WANT sleep and they CAN sleep.

1. Establish your baby’s daytime and nighttime to be aligned with their 24-hour body clock.

This means having a consistent bed-time at night and get-up time in the morning Your baby’s circadian rhythms (and ours too as adults) is regulated by night and day. Their daytime consists of naps when they are tired, interspersed with periods of awake time. For night time, their body clock wants to be having one long continuous stretch of sleep for 12 to 13 hours (with or without feeds dependent on age). The ideal bedtime for babies is 6pm (6.30pm for toddlers), meaning their get-up time to start the day the next morning falls somewhere between 6am and 7am. Establishing these timings consistently will help your baby’s natural body clock fall into place. Be mindful also that your baby’s day naps don’t finish too late in the afternoon, otherwise this will impact the 6pm bedtime.

2. When at home, always put your baby to sleep in one location – i.e. the cot or bassinet.

Avoid putting your baby down for sleep in multiple locations throughout the house such as on a lounge, on a bed, in a pram, in a baby swing. Your baby should always sleep in their bassinet or cot for all sleeps day and night. By doing this, your baby will form a strong sleep association with their own sleep space (just as we have a consistent sleep location – i.e. our bed)

Baby sleep requires a holistic approach and all the “foundations” need to be in place before a baby will sleep well.

3. Respond to tired signs.

Learn to recognise your baby’s tired signs during the day. Common tired signs include becoming irritable / grizzly, rubbing their eyes, yawning, arm and leg movements becoming jerky and rigid. Babies tire very quickly. If they are kept up for too long, they become overtired and over-stimulated very quickly and this makes it very difficult for them to fall asleep. If this is happening every day (and so often it is) then a baby will constantly be in an overtired cycle and will never sleep well.

4.Create the optimum sleep environment

Your baby’s cot / bassinet area should be free of musical toys, hanging mobiles, play mirrors etc as these all equate to noise, colour and movement. These are strong stimuli and distractions and not conducive at all to good sleep. Don’t be lured by the promise on the packaging that they will help soothe your baby to sleep. They won’t!

Ensure a safe sleep space for your baby – so no bedding, blankets, soft toys in the cot or bassinet. Just the mattress with the fitted sheet and that is all.Make sure your baby is cool and lightly dressed in summertime and in warm/hot climates in general. Likewise, in wintertime and cooler weather (including the lead-in to winter), your baby needs to be dressed warmly and also the room temp needs to be adequately warm too.  A baby who is not warm enough won’t sleep well.

5.Help your baby to acquire the self-settling skill.

Each time you put your baby down to sleep, allow them some time and space to self-settle. Go into them as needed to provide hands on comfort (such as patting) or pick them up for a quick cuddle, but also try and stay out of the room for periods if you can, to allow them time to put themselves to sleep.

For more information on baby sleep concerns visit www.dreamstartbaby.com.au