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What Could Be Preventing Sleep Success

on Wed, 06/05/2013 - 00:45

I have worked with a number of parents who found me after they tried every sleep training method that exists.   You name it, they had read about it, highlighted what was relevant to their child, and implemented what they understood with commitment and vigor. Unfortunately, these tired parents did not get their hoped for results.   Eventually, these families found their way to me exhausted and very frustrated that their child was still having sleep issues.  Sleep success was finally achieved when parents combined their dedication to help their child, with the guidance and collaboration of a Sleep Coach.  Why didn’t it work for these families before coming to me?   I've observed some common themes that prevented families from attaining success prior to getting the help of a Sleep Coach.

If you feel you have put in a lot of effort in sleep training your child, and it didn’t work, read on and see if one these factors might be getting in your way.

*First, and foremost, rule out any underlying medical issue that could be contributing to your child’s sleep disruption*.
3 Factors That Can Affect Sleep Training Success
1. Not Trying for Long Enough
Typically, after families embark on formal sleep training, children start sleeping through the night in 7-10 days. However, these numbers are not set in stone. How long it takes to see success is different for every family.  Sometimes families don’t try for long enough. They may give up after days of implementing their sleep plan and switch to another method too quickly. In my experience working with families, there is a range of how long it takes. In some families a child has slept through the night in just three days. Other families did not see full results until several weeks later. The reasons are varied. The age and temperament of a child has a strong influence on how long things will take. In general, older toddlers and preschoolers take longer to start showing signs of success. Children who are more alert generally take longer to learn how to improve their sleep. If you are going to start a sleep training method, give it at least two consecutive weeks and take into consideration your child’s age and temperament. Also, make sure there are no other major events or changes going on in your child’s life during that block of time.
2. Trading One "Sleep Crutch" for Another
A “sleep crutch” is something children depend on to fall asleep that prevents them from using their own self -soothing skills. So, if a child cannot fall asleep without a parent feeding him to sleep, the feeding becomes a crutch. When a child uses his own self -soothing skills to fall asleep he does not need to rely on a crutch. I have worked with parents who expressed that they had been utterly consistent and had  broken the dependency on their child’s sleep crutch.  However, there were still sleep issues. I worked with a family who weaned their child off of nursing but did not see much change in the child’s sleep patterns. After closely working together, I came to the realization that nursing had been replaced with a new crutch of patting to sleep. Removing this second crutch helped the family achieve sleep success.  When sleep training your child, you can offer comfort and soothing. However, it is important to find just the right balance between helping your child and forming a new dependency.  When you decide to remove a sleep crutch, make sure to pay close attention to avoiding the start of a new crutch.  Allow your child the time and the opportunity to form his own self-soothing skills.
3. Not Understanding the Method
In a sleep deprived state, most people cannot fully comprehend or remember all aspects of what they have read. I have found that some parents feel like they fully understand their chosen sleep training method. However, often, there has been some nuance they missed, or something that was misinterpreted in their understanding of a book. These misunderstandings have thwarted their attempts at sleep success. Although no method can be followed with perfection, there are some factors that if misunderstood, make it difficult to improve your child’s sleep habits. It would be best to try one method at a time. See if the method fits your parenting philosophy and your child’s temperament. Give yourself time to fully read and understand the given method before starting sleep training. Many parents are in such a state of desperation to get some sleep, they do not devote the time or attention to fully understanding what sleep training entails. Successfully implementing a sleep training method can be challenging given the state of exhaustion most parents feel. It would be beneficial to consult with a Sleep Coach to make sure you are on the right track.