The Hidden Airway Epidemic

By Jennifer Blunston, PhD, Cert. BBM, PTS

The first 1000 days of life are crucial in terms of setting the stage for optimal health and growth of our children. Identification and prevention of sleep disordered breathing is therefore key to help give babies the best chance to flourish— to transform into adults with healthy jaws, healthy airways, and restorative sleep patterns. For these conditions to be met, we need to look at how children are breathing.

Nasal breathing with the tongue resting against the roof of the mouth is a crucial component to the proper growth and development of a child’s jaw and airway.  In the beginning of life, breast feeding not only promotes the proper position of the tongue against the palate, and initiates correct swallowing patterns, but also helps the baby maintain nasal breathing.  The tongue’s pressure against the palate, with lips lightly closed, drives the growth of the face, jaws and airway in a forward direction. This essentially shapes the palate into a broad u-shape and creates a strong jaw, a wide straight smile, and a healthy airway.   With poor tongue function, we can expect to see a flatter and narrow face, crooked teeth and a smaller airway. So what causes low tongue posture and mouth breathing in infants & children? The growth and development of a child’s face, jaws and teeth are determined not only by genetic factors, but by maladaptive habits and environmental factors.  Extended bottle or pacifier use, thumb, blanket or finger sucking, allergens, pollutants, and nasal congestion can all cause mouth breathing in a child.

If a child mouth breathes or has a tongue which is tethered to the floor due to a tongue-tie, a high arched and narrow palate can develop. The one thing we should remember is that the roof our mouth is the base of our sinuses.  So the problem gets further compounded because the child now feels like its difficult to breathe through the nose and thus keeps breathing through the mouth!  On average, we swallow over 1000 times per day.  Proper swallowing with the tongue against the palate promotes a pumping action that releases sinus congestion as well as fluid in the inner ear. Therefore a low tongue resting posture may cause a baby to experience feeding issues, breathing issues, disturbed sleep, speech and articulation issues, and ear, sinus or eye infections. In addition, most of us think that digestion begins in the gut, but it actually begins in the mouth. The peristaltic wave actually starts with proper tongue mobility and an effective swallow.  Tongue-tied kids who are swallowing incorrectly are often sympathetic dominant, our stuck in “fight or flight” mode, and can often hold tension or stress in the body. This results in a decrease in gastrointestinal motility and the development of possible gut issues, such as gas and constipation.   If we release the tongue tie, and tension, these children can tap into their parasympathetic system or “rest and digest state” and begin to relax the body.

Once your child gets older, you may notice them having chewing and swallowing difficulties. Chewing wholesome, natural, hard foods is essential to the development of wider jaws and faces. Unfortunately, modern society has advocated the use of soft, mushy baby food and processed foods that lack texture which has eliminated the need for proficient chewing and swallowing.  Even when children do not have teeth yet, the gums can be used to masticate small bits of solid foods like apples, peaches, cooked squashes or carrots, and meats. Not only will this baby-led weaning promote fine motor skills but also encourage healthy eating of foods with a variety of textures.  By simply chewing harder foods, the muscles in the face are able to work and get stronger. This will promote the development of a healthy bite and airway. So the next time you are shopping, maybe reconsider the yogurt and apple sauce pouches! (1)

A low tongue posture can result in the back of the tongue falling into the airway as the baby or child sleeps, potentially causing sleep disturbances or sleep apnea.  In 2016, the American Academy of Physiological Medicine and Dentistry called overlooked sleep disorders in children a “hidden airway epidemic.” In addition, between 25-50% of pre-schoolers exhibiting sleep problems, also have behavioural issues. A six year study of over 11,000 children by Dr. Karen Bonuck at Albert Einstein College of Medicine revealed that children with sleep disordered breathing (SDB), such as snoring or sleep apnea, are twice as likely to develop behavioural difficulties like hyperactivity, emotional symptoms, and aggressiveness. (2)  Sleep not only promotes physical restoration of the body, but promotes the proper neurological development of the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain responsible for attention, focus, memory, behavioural control, and learning.

Many parents are unaware of how their child truly sleeps. Become “Sleep Detectives” and simply watch and listen while your child is sleeping at night. Common red flags that may suggest improper tongue position and sleep disordered breathing include the following:

  • Audible breathing
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Open mouth posture/ dry lips/ drooling
  • Snoring
  • Cessation of breath or gasping for air
  • Restless Sleep or frequent night time awakenings
  • Night terrors or sleep walking
  • Grinding teeth (Nocturnal Bruxism)
  • Frequent bed-wetting past the age of 5 years old
  • Hyperextension of the neck while asleep
  • Poor school performance or behavioural issues
  • Persistent dark circles under the eyes
  • Hyponasal speech as if the child has a cold
  • Asthma/Allergies/Eczema
  • Constipation

You may ask… What can I do if my child has one or several of these symptoms?  Speak to your pediatrician and get a referral to an otolaryngologist (ENT) who can assess the health of the child’s airway. In addition, orthodontic intervention may be needed to expand the palate and give the tongue enough room to rest on the roof of the mouth. Further, consult an orofacial myofunctional therapist (OMT) who is knowledgeable about myofunctional disorders who can assess your child’s tongue posture, swallowing and breathing to determine if therapy is required to help restore nasal breathing and function to the tongue and airway muscles. Research is demonstrating that the re-education of these muscles is a crucial component to treating pediatric sleep disordered breathing. (3) Prevention, recognition, and treatment of sleep breathing disorders can truly impact not only the quality of a child’s sleep, but their behavioural, cognitive and social development as well. Be an advocate for your child’s oral health and their airway health—this is truly the foundation of their wellness.


(1) Rapley, G, Murkett, T. Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide-How to Introduce Solid Foods and Help Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater. New York, NY; 2019.

(2) Bonuck, K. et al. Sleep-Disordered Breathing in a Population-Based Cohort: Behavioral Outcomes at 4 and 7 Years. Pediatrics 2012; 129(4): 857-865.

(3) Guillmenault, C. et al. Critical role of myofascial reeducation in pediatric sleep-disordered breathing.Sleep Med. 2013; 14(6): 518-525.

For the past 6 years Jennifer Blunston, BSc. PhD. has helped clients achieve better overall health as an orofacial myofunctional therapist—an emerging field in health care. Based out of Calgary, Alberta, Jennifer enjoys educating her clients on how proper nasal breathing, and palatal tongue rest posture can help balance the nervous system, optimize our physiology, and promote physical recovery and wellness. She works with a wide range of clients including children who have adopted improper breathing or swallowing habits, to adults who are undergoing treatment for sleep apnea or TMJ therapy. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys spinning, walking with her two dogs, and travelling with her husband and two children—exploring the world one country at a time!

“Many of my clients seek treatment to alleviate facial pain and headaches, improve their fitness, prevent orthodontic relapse, and manage stress levels. My passion is working with clients who suffer from disordered breathing, jaw pain, or anxiety. We all deserve to breathe better, sleep better and feel better!” states Jennifer.

Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Science at St. Francis Xavier University, and a Doctorate degree in organic chemistry at the University of Alberta. Jennifer has completed continuing education in the field of orofacial myofunctional therapy with the Academy of Orofacial
Myofunctional Therapy, and trained at the Coulson Institute in Denver, Colorado. She is also certified as a personal training specialist, and as a certified instructor in the Buteyko breathing method. To learn more about Jennifer you can visit her website at or follow her on Instagram @myofunctional_fitness.

Top 10 Tips for Starting Daycare

Starting childcare is an inevitable choice for most families, and it can be daunting for both parents and their little one – preparation is key.

Here are my top 10 tips for starting childcare:

Number 1 – RESEARCH
Finding childcare that feels right for you, your little one, and their personality can be a challenging prospect, especially when you are trying to find one that has availability for the days you need, in the required area and ticks all your boxes.

  • Try visiting a couple of centres in your area, either close to home, or close to work, or both.
  • Have conversations with the carers, visit the rooms, and prepare questions to ask
    questions any concerns that you have

By visiting the childcare centres, you will get a feel for them, the staff, how they are run, and
whether you think they will be a good fit for you and your family.

Number 2 – Arrange play dates
Once you have selected a childcare centre, arrange to have some “play dates” before your child starts. Most centres will be happy to facilitate visits for families before starting childcare. You can request more if needed, and most childcare centres are pretty flexible.

Playdates before official start dates are when you stay with your child in the room to be immersed in the environment they will be joining. I suggest arranging a few playdates a couple of weeks before the planned attendance begins and between 930 and 11 am or after 2 pm. These times are generally when the children are doing activities, making it less stressful for your child and the staff for you to be there at that time.

Between 930 and 11 is when the children are usually doing planned activities. Coming at this time will allow you to see what your child will be involved in while attending childcare. The later afternoon time is usually free play. This can let your child explore their new environment freely and help them become comfortable with the other children staff and centre before starting childcare.

Number 3 – Have a transition comforter.
Having a favourite item that represents home can help your baby as they transition into childcare. I recommend having a “Lovie” (with a back up spare) and introducing the lovey, long before childcare.  The intention is that this will be a toy from home which goes to childcare with them to offer comfort and familiarity in their new environment to help them feel more comfortable.

Number 4 – Teach self-settling before starting childcare.
I know that this seems obvious, but many children start childcare that cannot self-settle yet. They may only fall asleep on the breast, in arms or in a carrier and have not been taught how to self settle before attending childcare. It’s not fair on your child the childcare staff or you. It can be stressful knowing that you’re dropping your child to childcare when they don’t know how to settle any other way but at the breast. Your baby then has to learn a new way of settling in a strange environment, which can cause more anxiety and make the transition into daycare take longer. It is also more stressful for the carers who have more than one baby to care for and get to sleep. If you can start teaching self-settling in the months leading up to beginning childcare, it will help with their transition.

Number 5 – Be prepared for illness.
If possible, try to avoid starting your child in late autumn or winter where colds and flu are more frequent.

Younger children, especially babies and toddlers who are constantly putting their hands in their mouth, sharing items and crawling around floors, are so much more susceptible to illness, particularly at this time of year.

If attendance begins around this time, you might like to consider giving your child a probiotic and multivitamin to help boost their immune system.

Number 6 – Label everything.
Anything that goes to childcare that is not labelled do not expect it to return home. I don’t mean that negatively, but I know from working in childcare that with so many children and so many loose containers, bottles, and clothing items, it is challenging to find the owner of that item if it does not have a label.

Number 7 – Have a childcare wardrobe.
If there is an item of clothing that you do not want to come home dirty, with paint stains or minor rips in it, do not send it to childcare.

Childcare is messy, and they are there to have fun, explore, and not worry about the clothing they are wearing. Again, the childcare staff do not have the time to make sure that your little ones pretty dress doesn’t get paint on it, although they will do their best with paint smocks to protect clothing. It is undoubtedly best to make sure that you have an at-home wardrobe and the childcare wardrobe (hand me downs are perfect for childcare!).

Number 8 – Drop and run  
When you drop your child off at childcare, try to drop and run, don’t linger. I know this sounds mean, but if your little one is anxious as you’re dropping them off,  your lingering may cause that anxiousness to build and grow and make it harder for them to transition during the drop off time.  Talk to the childcare centre staff and make sure that your hand your little one over to a preferred career when you arrive to ensure they feel as comfortable as they can. Usually, the carers in your child’s room will take special attention and care for newer children and all children at the drop off times, so it is good to get to know them so they, in turn, get to know you.

Number 9 –  Be prepared at home
After a long day of childcare, the last thing that you need to be doing is rushing home after pick up, rushing through dinner and then rushing through your bath and bedtime routine. Try and be organised with a couple of quick, easy, reheatable dinners so that when you come home from childcare, you can take about 15-20 minutes to reconnect with your little one before the evening rush.

Options could be sitting on the sofa, playing on the floor, or taking a blanket out onto the lawn. Childcare and the long day can be stressful for both you and your little one. Take this short time out before rushing into your evening routine to reconnect and relax. It will help avoid overtiredness and over stimulation at the end of the day and fill their emotional cup with mummy and daddy love.

And finally, number 10 trust.
Trust that there is a transition, and over the first couple of weeks, your babies routine is likely to be disrupted, they are likely to be overtired, the childcare staff are not always going to get it right.

Trust that they, as childcare staff, are doing this job because they love it and because they love working with children. They are doing their utmost, and they are doing their very best to make sure that your child and all the other children in their care are getting the best quality care they can give. And while your little one is transitioning, they are doing their best to support them through that.

Hi, I’m Elaine Harvey, wife, mum, and the founder of Lullababy SOS. I’m an Early Childhood Educator and a Certified Paediatric Sleep Consultant.

Elaine helps mums and dads with all things baby and Toddler related with a special focus on sleep, settling and routine. She started out as a Night Nanny and Maternity Nurse in London 20 years ago, and after moving to Australia 2007 she established Lullababy SOS to help parents who were struggling with knowing how to help their babies and toddlers with their sleep and routine. Elaine’s approach is not based on the standard settling methods but focus’ more on helping parents understand their child’s needs, sleep science, routine structure and what they the parents may be doing to help or hinder progress. Elaine’s goal is the help parents know that you are not alone; you’re not supposed to have all the answers and you’re not supposed to know how to manage every situation every day.

A Twirl for Technology

As you know we are in a time where we have access to fabulous gadgets and tools to help us manage our time, money, financing, efficiency, etc. I don?t know about you, but I personally have all the techy gadgets: iPad, iPhone, macair book, ,imac, ipod. Basically I am one big apple! However, I know I am not using these gadgets most effectively to maximize my time, business planning, etc. There are just too many fabulous resources and new apps coming out everyday for me to keep up with! I have downloaded highly effective apps (or at least I’ve been told they are) but like many, I get overwhelmed and am often reluctant to try new things – even ones that are supposed to help me improve or get on track. When I came across Digitwirl I not only envied Carley for having the world’s second greatest job, but I was instantly able to relate to her time saving and organizing tech tools since I’m a huge fan of using what works to best help me manage everyday life. Being a stay-at-home mom and wife as well as running a business and consulting, it takes a lot of juggling, many sticky notes, and constant reminders that ?ding ding? on my phone! Being a sleep consultant also has me printing and wasting paper like a mad woman! Questionnaires, tracking, sleep plans, notes…you know the drill!

Running a business also creates all sorts of paper clutter from receipts. I love using Carley?s recommendation – the ?Lemon.? All of my receipts in one place! Heaven! My accountant will love me too!

Another app that helps you save time by managing financial statements, account numbers and receipts ALL IN ONE PLACE without the paper clutter is called Manilla. It reminds you of when bills are due and you can pay them right online. Never miss a payment date and never forget a password. You can also go back and look at old statements and receipts as well.

Anyway, I encourage all of you tech savvy, business and task-juggling super consultants to check out Digitwirl and Carley?s tips and videos. She makes things super easy to understand and you can pick and choose what is right for you. She has done all the work to make sure these are tried-and-true and won’t be a waste of time for you! Her clips are short and sweet (exactly what I like). Hopefully you’ll find some apps and tips that help you maximize and organize your life and business.

Janey Reilly is Founder & Principal of WeeSleep, a leading global professional baby and toddler sleep consultancy based in Ontario. Prior to launching her WeeSleep practice, Janey worked in marketing and sales for leading companies such as Disney Online Studios, Sparkling Hill Resort, and Intrawest.

Weighted Blankets – The Low Down

The popularity of weighted blankest has increased in the last couple of years. However,  these blankets have been around for quite some time, especially in the Occupational Therapy field.

What is a weighted blanket?

It is pretty much exactly what it says.  It is a blanket that is filled with something (usually plastic pellets) designed to make the blanket heavier to give a sense of deep pressure. It is like a hug you can take with you and have all the time.

Benefits of a weighted blanket

Who wouldn?t like sleeping in a permanent hug?  The ?hug? gives feelings of safety, relaxation, and comfort based on the principles of Deep Touch Pressure or Deep Pressure Stimulation.

Weighted blankets are effective as a calming tool, helping children to relax or sleep. These heavier blankets are especially beneficial for children with SPD, ADHD and those who are on the Autistic Spectrum.

They are especially beneficial to restless sleepers.  The calming pressure helps to reduce cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone, and in turn boosts the production of serotonin, the hormone that makes us happy. Other benefits include:

  • Lowers levels of stress and anxiety
  • Eases Restless legs
  • Improves sensory processing disorder
  • Improves sleep, especially insomnia.
  • Improves focus, especially for those who have ADHD
  • Hugs you without having to ask or needing another person

Are they safe to use?

The most important part when it comes to safety is to choose an appropriate-sized weighted blanket.? This is not a one-size-fits-all product, especially when it comes to children. Weighted blankets should be chosen according to the individual?s weight and age. The weight should be about 10% of the user’s body weight.? Weighted blankets can pose a choking hazard to very young children if the pellets fall out of the blanket. It?s sensible to select good quality blankets and check that the seams are secure.

Because the blankets are custom-made for the individual according to their weight, it is said that even babies could use it. HOWEVER, The American Academy of Pediatrician?s (AAP) sleep safe recommendations for children include not using blankets (any blankets) with children under one-year-old because they pose a risk of strangulation and increase the risk of SIDS.  Weighted blankets are no exception to this.

Disadvantages of Weighted blanket

In this heat who wants to be sleeping with a permanent hug? Especially for those with claustrophobia, sleep apnea, asthma, and blood pressure problems, the weighted blanket can feel suffocating.

Weighted blankets are expensive since they are custom made.

The fact remains that many medical professionals from around the world agree that deep pressure stimulation helps to relax and soothe the human body, which makes weighted blankets an option to consider.


Jolandi traded the corporate hustle-and-bustle for motherhood and became a stay-at-home mom. She is married to a German and the family speaks three languages at home. After having baby number two, she thought she knew it all!

Jolandi?s journey with Good Night started with her being a client. The baby-mom-sleep-struggle ignited her passion for sleep and her purpose became clear. After joining Good Night as a consultant in 2014, her passion grew with each family she assisted. Now, Jolandi?s helped over 700 families herself and Good Night and her team over 6500, and she believes sleep is the fundamental building block of healthy living. She considers the education around better sleep as a passion rather than a job.

In 2016 she joined the management team and a year later she became owner. With each role she?s taken on, she?s felt the difference she was making to assist families during their own struggles. She continues to feel the passion as for her, Good Night is an extension of who she is.

Jolandi currently assists Good Night consultants in bettering their offering and makes sure that each client receives the best service they deserve. She continues to see clients personally. ?It is still my main passion and I don?t want to lose that part of what I love! We have a responsibility towards our clients, the parents and the baby and I take this responsibility very seriously.?

Breastfeeding & Sleep: You Can Have Both!

Many expectant moms fear that if they choose to continue breastfeeding their baby, then that means they won?t see a decent night?s sleep for a few years. This is simply not true! Yes, it?s true that babies enjoy eating and sleeping, and that they often go hand-in-hand: baby nurses, then baby sleeps. Feeding your baby is relaxing, and it definitely makes them sleepy, especially at night. Breast milk contains melatonin at night, so your body is actually helping to make your newborn sleepy during the night, so everyone can get back to sleep quickly!

Sleep Props

Almost all babies will fall asleep during a feed if you let them, so it?s completely normal. And when you?ve just given birth, you?re beyond happy to have a peaceful, sleeping baby, so you?re definitely not going to ?rock that boat?! While babies are very good at nursing-to-sleep, it doesn?t mean that?s the only way they can get to sleep. When babies are born, they pretty much have a ?clean slate? when it comes to learning. Every hour and minute that goes by, you are teaching your baby. You teach her how to latch properly if she can?t figure it out, you teach him the difference between night and day, you teach her about her new bedtime routine, and you teach him how to fall asleep (either with or without help).

If you only ever feed baby to sleep, then that?s all they will ever know. You can?t expect baby to just know how to do it without any props (ie feeding, patting, rocking, bouncing, baby equipment, etc), if you?ve never given them the chance to try it. If you can allow your newborn to fall asleep in their crib or without being held (even just once in a while), then you will easily teach your baby how to do this moving forward.

Too often parents wait until their babies are over 6 months old before they even begin to think about this possibility. Believe me, it?s much harder to teach this once the baby is older and used to their current routine. However, if you can teach this to your baby early on (before the 4th month), then you have a much better chance of avoiding the dreaded ?4 month regression? and having a baby sleeping through the night on their own by 4 months (you can check out my blog on ?The Truth About Age Regressions? if you?re not familiar with this time frame).

I know this is possible, because it?s exactly what I did with my exclusively breastfed son. It took me until my 4th child to finally be successful at breastfeeding. I gave up too quickly with my first baby who had latch issues, and I had more latch and prematurity issues with my twins (though I did pump for a few months with them). It would appear that the 4th time was the charm for me! I admit I fed him to sleep for the first 3 months (this was before my sleep and breastfeeding trainings), and everything was great. I would nurse him, he would fall asleep, and I would transfer him to his crib. But then in the 4th month, I saw it happening again.

I could no longer put him down in his crib already asleep, because he would wake up on the transfer and I had to start over nursing or pat his bottom to sleep. I vividly and quickly remembered the struggle of sleep training my twins at almost 7 months, and I really didn?t want to repeat that. I decided then and there that I would make a few changes and no longer feed him until he was fully asleep. Thankfully, I caught him in enough time, because he didn?t fight me much and did great very quickly. Our breastfeeding journey continued for many months after that, with him also sleeping through the night. A win-win for both of us!

Transfer the Calories

I now have the awesome job of helping other moms achieve this same success. Many new moms are worried that they could lose their milk supply or dry up altogether. It?s certainly a very real and valid concern! If you simply cut night feeds without doing anything else differently, then yes, your supply is going to take a dip. The trick is that you want to make sure that you?re not just cutting those nighttime calories, but that you?re transferring those calories to the daytime. 

Your body is going to produce milk based on supply and demand. If you cut the demand out overnight, then there will be less supply overall. However, if you cut it out overnight, but add in another session or two during the day, then you?ve just moved them and your body will continue producing as usual. After about a week, your body will adjust from being so full at night, so don?t panic if you notice an unwanted fullness overnight. Know that your supply is still there, but it?s just there during the day! And if you?re concerned about it, you can always pump before you go to bed for a little extra.

Another bonus of not feeding your baby to sleep is that you?ll be keeping baby awake during the feed. If baby?s awake, then they will eat more. Oftentimes, babies will ?snack and snooze? all day and night, meaning they will nurse a little, then sleep a little, then nurse a little more, and so on. When you allow this, you can be feeding many times a day and still be concerned that your little one isn?t eating enough. You?ll notice this type of ?snacking and snoozing? if you?re feeding before naps or around sleep times; however, if you feed baby after a nap, they will stay awake and be ready to eat a full meal. They will also be upright for a while, which is much better for their digestion, and of course they?ll be falling asleep without this prop too!

Summary of Breastfeeding & Getting Good Sleep

So yes, you can breastfeed your baby until whatever age you?re comfortable with and still have a child who sleeps independently through the night too! The vast majority of my clients are moms who are breastfeeding and wish to continue on that journey, while also being able to get better sleep for their entire family. I?m happy to report that they are all still happily nursing their children once we?ve finished working together! This is true of mothers of newborns or younger babies under a year old.

For families with older breastfeeding children (ie over 1 year old), many moms are frustrated with the lack of sleep and are wanting to give up breastfeeding altogether when we first start. I always encourage these moms to hold off on making that decision until after we?ve night weaned and mom can think more clearly about her choice. In the majority of these cases, the moms decide to continue their breastfeeding journey after all. The lack of sleep they experienced is what drove them to want to be done, but once they began sleeping well again, they would see that they really did enjoy that bonding time with their toddlers and most would end up continuing with daytime nursing only. So be sure you?re making this big decision once you?re feeling better and are well-rested!

*If you have any concerns about your milk supply or whether or not your child is getting enough breast milk, please contact your local lactation consultant/counselor or your child?s pediatrician. You should also check with the pediatrician before starting any sleep training program, especially if there is a age, weight, or medical concern.

The Sleeptastic Solutions mission is to educate adults and children on the importance of sleep, nutrition, breastfeeding, exercise, good parenting practices, and overall good health. I work closely with families to provide holistic, gentle solutions to common issues with my one-on-one private packages, as well as offering online courses for those who don?t need as much support. Free initial calls are always available to talk about your unique situation, so contact me today to set it up!

Tips for Working from Home

It is no secret that a global pandemic is affecting just about every single aspect of normal life across the world.  One of the biggest challenges comes for parents of young children who now suddenly cannot leave their homes much at all.  That means school is cancelled for the foreseeable future.  There are no more outings to burn energy at indoor playgrounds, parks, pools, or children?s museums.  Even simple changes in scenery to visit others or go to grocery store are limited or impossible during this crisis, which means our houses are likely messier and louder, but they do not have to be full of chaos or lack productivity. 

If you are like millions of other parents who are adjusting to the work-from-home life for the weeks {or date we say, months} ahead, you have likely already tried many strategies to ensure your children will stay quiet while you have to take calls, jump on a Zoom meeting, etc., but sometimes even good old fashioned bribery does not prevent a little one from interrupting important virtual conferences.  As a business owner, operating from an office in my home for over five years, there are some tried and true methods that can make this necessary transition more manageable for adults and children alike!  Allow me to share my top 8 tips.

1. Do not underestimate the power of connection.?

I?m not talking about your internet connection…  Sure, that is important.  However, another connection that can make or break the success of the day is the connection you have with each of your children.  From both research and experience, I have learned that it is absolutely vital to begin the day with some meaningful connection.  This may seem trivial, but I promise it makes a massive difference in your productivity and kids? willingness to comply.  When circumstances allow, devoting 10-15 minutes of one-on-one time with toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children can set your entire day up for success.  When your little ones have their developmental needs for connection met before they are asked to play independently while parents work, their compliance grows exponentially.  A small investment in time up front can pay you back in dividends throughout the work day.  When your children know they can count on this daily time together, they are able to be more patient during work times.  That interaction gives your little ones something to look forward to everyday!

2. Prepare snacks in advance.

As you metaphorically fill your children?s cups with the emotional connection each day, go ahead and literally fill their cups too.  Fill up water bottles, and provide a snack box ahead of time for children to access without interrupting the necessary adult work time.  Explain the expectations for snacks (when, how many, what about when they?re gone, etc.) ahead of time.

3. Actually, prepare more than just snacks?

Let?s be real? In parenting, we need a lot more than merely snacks prepared.  The more you can get done in advance, the smoother your day will be.  For younger children, laying their clothes out the night before allows them to be independent in the mornings.  Discuss the morning routines in detail.   Depending on the ages of your children, have sensory bags, quiet activities, crafts, games, Legos, Playdoh, podcasts, etc. ready to go for when you need the guarantee that they will be engaged.  Reserve screen time for specific parts of the day, or use it to incorporate special activities, like FaceTiming family members, having a Zoom playdate with a friend, checking out the countless free academic resources available during this time, etc.  Structuring some intentional parts of the day will make it more manageable for the entire family.   

4. Establish realistic expectations of yourself and your kids.

Even when meeting your children?s physical and emotional needs first, do not plan to work for long periods of time with no breaks, particularly if your children are young.When children are home, outside of their typical routines and away from friends, they will still need some interaction to meet their needs for socialization.For most young children, that interaction can only come from the adults they live with and each other as siblings.When we acknowledge that even children who play very well independently still need frequent supervision, it allows us to keep realistic expectations for the amount of time we are able to work at once (at least while the children are awake).During this transition, it is safe to assume that you will have to catch up on some work at least part of the evening after your children are in bed.When you set expectations, communicate them in a very clear, child-friendly manner.As you expect follow through from your children, also model that by following through for them.Further, leaders and managers are well-aware that your children?s schools and daycare centers are closed.Keep in mind that everyone is dealing with the same challenges right now, so there should be some leeway.Set reasonable expectations on your response time to work-related tasks, and do not over-commit, and in the same way, set guidelines for the kids that are attainable.For example, for children that are old enough to handle some daytime responsibilities, asking them to clean up one activity before moving to the next can help everyone feel less overwhelmed as the day goes on.

5. Start small.

In accordance with avoiding unrealistic expectations, do not plan to have a 1.5-hour conference call in perfect silence if you?re ?on duty? with your kids.Instead, prep the children as best as you can.If you are the only adult home, start with short calls that your children can see beginning and ending more quickly.Discuss problem-solving strategies beforehand, if an issue arises while you?re on the phone call, and allow older children to present ideas on how to troubleshoot until Mommy or Daddy is available again.When a call or other obligation is over, be very attentive to the children, giving lots of praise for their efforts in not interrupting.Not everything will go smoothly everyday, but when it does, celebrate those wins!Motivate your children to continue those helpful decisions.Gratitude and positive reinforcement goes a long way.The idea of ?starting small? is particular applicable to independent play.Play is a foundational component of connection for young children, so watching your children play and playing with your children should both be a part of the day before expecting them to play freely on their own.When establishing expectations of playing independently, do not assume an hour is reasonable on the first day; instead, welcome even ten solid minutes!For older children, having them construct their own to-do lists before free choice time arrives prevents them from interrupting you repeatedly to ask what they should do next.

6. Designate a work space.

It is much easier for children to understand that a parent is working if there is a space set aside for that work to take place.Depending on the age of the children, many can even be taught simple expectations, such as ?if the office door is shut, it means I?m on the phone, so don?t come in for a non-emergency.?For school-aged children, they often enjoy setting up their own ?office spaces? too, as they prepare to complete virtual schooling, etc.Younger children like to play ?imaginary work? at times too, so they can also be included.You can allow everyone in the family to choose a space of his/her own.If the parent working from home is the only supervision for young children, obviously this space is going to need to be nearby instead of secluded, but establishing some sort of professional space to work will help everyone differentiate work time.Having spaces for work and spaces for play helps cabin fever from setting in too quickly (though it is bound to happen in a scenario like this one).It is a healthy thing for every family member to have a little space, so when young children nap, teach older child to have independent play.Everyone needs a little time to breathe, adults included.

7.?If possible, trade shifts.

For many families all over the world, both parents are working from home during this crisis, so if that is the case for you, take advantage of the ability to trade off.Each adult needs time to concentrate uninterrupted, so taking care of the most important work during those hours makes for a much more effective work day.Routine work that is less stressful when interrupted can be worked on as needed, even when your children are around.It?s a partnership between spouses to ensure that both adults are able to work and that the kids are being stimulated adequately.This requires planning and lots of communication.It helps tremendously to designate specific parts of the day to family and other chunks of the day to focused work time, even if the hours are not as traditional as they are in the office setting.Of course, in the absence of additional childcare, this can be much more difficult for parents of babies and toddlers, but even if half the day goes according to plan, it is often better than you would be doing otherwise!If your home doesn?t allow separate quiet spaces away from the children while your spouse is ?on duty,? don?t be afraid to embrace good weather if the setting allows.Being outside affects our moods positively, so taking a walk with your headset in is not a bad place to think and discuss.

8. Forgive the friction.?

Surrounding yourself by the same people 24 hours a day and 7 days a week is not always easy.Thankfully, since your partner and children are likely people you enjoy, it won?t always be difficult either.Some days, there will be more enjoyable moments than challenging ones, and other days, the opposite will be true.That is okay.Expect siblings to argue.Give your children space apart from one another each day to try to avoid the ?I?m totally sick of you!? feelings, and teach them how to problem-solve together.If they are old enough to understand, give your kids permission to disagree and express their feelings, but show them how to do so respectfully and productively.The financial stress of this situation, feelings of cabin fever, fear of the virus itself, and exhaustion of parenting while working is bound to cause some challenges in your relationship too.Feelings of anxiety and boredom with no escape from each other can be really tough.Listen to your partner well so that you both have an opportunity to be heard as you cope through an unprecedented time.Focus on appreciation for what is getting done well instead of emphasizing what is not getting done.If you make a heart of grace and forgiveness your goal during the quarantine, your time at home will be much smoother.

Remember, as isolating as this situation can feel as we navigate fear and anxieties, none of us are alone in facing challenges during this time.  As you strive to tackle this trial as best as possible, we hope you will do so feeling rested, supported, and capable.  When we look back on this time in history a decade or two from now, there are a lot of things we – as adults – will remember, but for our children, one of the main things they will remember is the time they spent with us.  While work is necessary, working from home is certainly a blessing for those of us who are able to (in lieu of not being able to continue working at all in this season).  Amongst all of the tough stuff you will inevitably face in this ?new work environment,? do you best to find a few bright spots in your week ? moments that you hope will turn into simple memories your children cherish for a lifetime!  We are here for you!

Katie Pitts is the owner/founder of a pediatric & adult sleep consulting company.  She has been helping families sleep through the night for over 5 years and have helped almost 3,000 families.  Sleep Wise makes up a team of 38 women who are experienced, well-educated and who want to see your child ? and you ? succeed and be #restedasamother. 





Stay Healthy During COVID-19

Sadly COVID-19 has affected all of us, some worse than others. Praying for all those families who have lost jobs, lost money, had delays, had friends or family infected with the disease, and simply have had their lives flipped upside down.


As a Nurse Practitioner, I strongly agree with adhering to the recommendations by the CDC. Here are some steps to protect yourself and your family:

1.  Clean your hands often

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds – after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

2.  Avoid crowds and close contact with people who are sick or if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.

3.  Stock up on supplies to have at home

  • Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
  • Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.

4. Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, phones, remote controls, tablets and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water then disinfect.

5.  Stay in touch with loved ones and friends via phone or email.

6.  Take care of the emotional health of your family

  • Talk to your children about the outbreak, stay calm and reassure them that they are safe
  • Remember our children are watching us on how we respond to stress and uncertainty
  • Let?s show our children resilience and not panic

7.  Launder items including washable plush toys as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer?s instructions. 

  • If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people?s items.

8.  If someone is sick in your home, have a designated bedroom and bathroom for them to use. 

  • If a separate bathroom is not available, it should be cleaned and disinfected after each use.

9.  If you are pregnant, take the same precautions as outlined above to avoid infection

  • The CDC does not know at this time if COVID-19 would cause problems during pregnancy or affect the health of the baby after birth.

10. Boost your immune system 

  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables 
  • Drink lots of water 
  • Get enough SLEEP and rest
  • Limit stress 
  • Exercise

For all of you that are feeling anxious and fearful about being quarantined at home, get outside and get some fresh air. It is amazing what exercise can do for your brain, stress and SLEEP!

  • Go for a walk, take a hike, do yoga and take some deep breaths- we will get though this! 
  • Limit social media
  • Limit googling 

We are so very thankful for all the medical professionals, grocery store employees, delivery drivers and everyone else who is working together to fight this disease. 

Please reach out if you have any questions, the SleepShop Team is here for support during this time of unrest and uncertainty. Remember to stay informed and be safe! 

With over 14 years of nursing experience in Women?s Health and as a certified pediatric sleep consultant, Colleen has a passion for working with mothers and their new babies, and helping other family members adjust to their new roles.

After graduating from Villanova University with a degree in Nursing, Colleen moved back to Southern California and worked as a Registered Nurse at the prestigious Baby-Friendly Hoag Hospital ? Newport Beach, in Mother-Baby. While at Hoag, she took lactation training courses to obtain expertise in helping mothers with all kinds of breastfeeding challenges. After working 5 years in the hospital, Colleen received her Master?s Degree in Nursing from California State University, Fullerton and became a Board Certified Nurse Practitioner in Women?s Health. Over the past 7 ? years, while raising 3 young boys, she has worked at Obria Medical clinics (formerly called Birth Choice) as a Women?s Health Nurse Practitioner. Here she gained valuable experience caring for prenatal-antepartum and postpartum patients, STD prevention and treatment, gynecological examination and family planning, and she obtained skilled expertise in obstetrical ultrasound.

With all her nursing experience and personal experience, Colleen has learned that a mother?s plan doesn?t always match up with a baby?s plan and sleep plays a vital role for everyone in the family. She offers a calming, supportive and patient personality and is ready to help families bond with their new baby.

How Sleep Can Help Your Survive “Coronavirus” Season Better

Flu season! And now ?Coronavirus season?.

The whole world is going a bit nuts over this new virus. And I get it, it?s scary.

Apart from the typical hygiene recommendations and not getting in touch with infected persons or better avoiding big crowds at all, what else can you do to improve the odds of staying healthy?

Well, did sleep cross your mind? Yes, you heard me. Something as (apparently) passive as sleep can be your best bet.

Because sleep is a natural immune booster. A consistent good night?s sleep is a great way to improve your immunity and help your body to fight against bacterias, diseases and yes ? viruses!

What do people instinctively do when they feel sick? They sleep!

When you have a cold, what do you do? Have a hot bowl of homemade chicken soup and have a good long nap or night sleep.

You see, sleep and health are pretty connected.

Obviously, if you sleep more than you need, this will not prevent you from getting sick. But on the contrary, if you sleep less than you need, this for sure will have a negative effect on your immune system and therefore makes you more vulnerable to catch a cold or worse.

Studies show that people who don?t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.

But why is that? Why is sleep so important for our immune system? First things first. Let talk quickly about the immune systems.

Our Immune System

The immune system has three primary jobs:

  • To identify pathogens, or disease-causing germs, and remove them from the body. These include viruses, parasites, bacteria or fungi.
  • Spot and neutralize harmful substances that come from outside the body.
  • Fight major changes within the body, like cancer cells

If toxins, bacteria, parasites, viruses or other foreign substances enter your body, your immune systems gets activated and starts to produce antibodies or cells specifically developed to fight the intruder.  Once these antibodies are produced, the immune system will keep a file and use it again if it ever runs into the same issue; this is why you typically only fight chickenpox once in your life.

Now back to the question, how sleep can boost your immune system.


When you sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines.

They have two important jobs to do:

  • Promoting communication between cells
  • Directing cells to head towards infections and counteract the issue

Some cytokines can even help you to sleep better. Other cytokines have a protective effect on your immune system by helping it to fight inflammation, including inflammation due to infection. They are like the first responders and help your immune system to understand what?s going on and respond to the threat quickly.  Without enough sleep, you may not have enough cytokines to keep you from getting sick.

T Cells

T cells are white blood cells which are very important for the correct functioning of our immune system.

Sleep is boosting the production of these T cells. Their job is to attack and destroy viruses and other intruders.

A good night?s sleep ensures the correct production of T cells and helps them to be at the top of their game. Which means to be as quick, as responsive and as efficient at their job as they possibly could be.

And who wouldn?t want to have the best and biggest army of little T cells by their side while being in the middle of flu season and now on top of it dealing with coronavirus as well?

A recent study showed that if you are sleep deprived (even if it?s only short term) your T cell production is quite lower and they are not working as effectively and efficiently as they could have otherwise.

If you are sleep deprived, you have a four times higher risk to catch a cold

A new study led by a UC San Francisco sleep researchers ?found that people who sleep six hours a night or less are four times more likely to catch a cold when exposed to the virus, compared to those who spend more than seven hours a night in slumberland.?

One of the researchers and lead author of the study, Aric Prather, Ph.D., said the following:

?Short sleep was more important than any other factor in predicting subjects? likelihood of catching a cold. It didn?t matter how old people were, their stress levels, their race, education or income. It didn?t matter if they were a smoker. With all those things taken into account, statistically sleep still carried the day.?

Poor sleep reduces the effectiveness of vaccines

And here is another study done by UCSF about how sleep loss reduces the effectiveness and

therefore the protectiveness of vaccines.

In a nutshell, this is what the researcher found:

?The researchers found that people who slept fewer than six hours on average per night were far less likely to mount antibody responses to the vaccine and thus were far more likely (11.5 times) to be unprotected by the vaccine than people who slept more than seven hours on average.?

If you went through the trouble of getting your flu shot or any other vaccinations, then please, don?t skimp on sleep. If you do, then what?s the point of getting a vaccination in the first place, right?

So, your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases.

How can you help your body out?

  • Go to bed early

Give yourself the number of hours your body needs to sleep. Even 30 min or an hour less every night is a big deal. Because your body will store this lost sleep on a virtual sleep debt bank account. The more accumulated sleep debt the weaker your body and therefore your immune system will be.

  • Have good sleep hygiene

Not only quantity is important but also quality. Avoid any stimulants or external factors that will cause bad quality sleep. E.g. don?t drink caffeine too late in the day, avoid alcohol too close to bedtime, don?t use devices which are emitting blue light at least one hour before your bedtime, etc.

Well, the above mentioned is pretty much common sense, isn?t it? But to be honest, are we always aware of hour habits and prioritize sleep?

  • Give yourself a break ? take a nap!

If you couldn?t get your required amount of sleep during the night. Try to help your body out by napping during the day. Taking two naps that are no longer than 30 minutes each ?one in the morning and one in the afternoon?has been shown to help decrease stress and offset the negative effects that sleep deprivation has on the immune system. If that is not possible, try to have at least one 20min power nap during your lunch break.

What else can you do to stay healthy?

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap or use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid close contact with obviously sick people
  • Talk to your doctor if an annual flu shot may be a good option for you
  • Stay at home or work from home when you are sick
  • Sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue and throw it away immediately
  • Disinfect objects you and others frequently use
  • Stay hydrated, drink frequently water or even better hot herbal teas
  • Strengthen your immune system (apart from sleeping). You might use some vitamins or other supplements to support your system. If possible go out to breathe in some fresh air and get some sunlight.

I wish you all to stay safe and healthy ? and have a good night?s sleep!

My name is Jessica Rojas, and I am a trained and certified sleep coach helping little ones and big ones to fix their sleep problems. I am German and live with my husband and two sons in Barcelona, Spain. I speak English, Spanish, and German. I am certified in adult sleep coaching through: ?Sleep Like A Boss? by Christine Hansen, ?Health-Sleep Coach? by Prof. Amman-Jensen, and ?Solve your sleep? by Dana Obleman. Further certifications include: Pediatric sleep consultant by Dana Obleman ?Sleep Sense Program” and Parenting coach by John Rosemond.

Reclaim Your Bed and Rekindle the Spark just in Time for Valentines Day

Here we are, it?s 2:00 am and suddenly you feel the tap of a tiny finger on your shoulder, ?mom, can I come in?? Out of sheer exhaustion and for a lack of knowing what else to do, you now have a tiny toddler that has invaded your sleep sanctuary.

  • It?s causing a strain on your marriage 
  • They are not sleeping well and ninja kicked you in the face 4 times last night alone
  • You clocked a solid 5 hours total of sleep, if you were lucky
  • Everyone is on edge
  • Naps are a mess the next day and overtired is in overdrive
  • And let?s face it, the last time you were intimate was.? a long time ago. 

Does this sound about right? 

I can?t tell you how many parents I meet at my son?s school who tell me their kids sleep in their beds with them. For some of them, it works! For many, they just don?t know how to stop it so some sleep is better than 37 trips walking them back to their room every night because they are scared of a bug, they heard a noise or they wanted to ensure they let you know they just peed and flushed. 

How Do I Get My Child to Sleep Through the Night? 

I am going to cover that first and then, we are going to create an amazing sleep sanctuary that will have you and your partner begging to hit those sheets. 

First Things First – Reclaim Your Bed

Children are creatures of habit. They are testing boundaries in this big new world and if there are no consequences for their actions, do they really know it?s wrong? They want to snuggle, your bed is soft and cozy and you are letting them in there, so why not ask, right? 

My husband, for 10 years has rubbed my head to fall asleep. He started when we were dating and still at night I ask him too. He does it happily but if I miss the window and he?s already turned over, all I need to do is a solid 12 seconds of whining, he begrudgingly complies and I pass out. (I am like a toddler in this regard I suppose.) This example is to highlight that I know, if I push the boundary, he will do it. When I travel across the country to work with families around sleep, I don?t even think about a head rub…ever. 

You have to set a boundary and stick to it. Tell your child that as of today, they are no longer welcome in your bed and stick to it the whole night. When they wake, they go back to their room, explain it?s time to sleep and if they escalate, you consequence the behavior. Just like anything, wrong choices have consequences, right choices have rewards. Many people have used reward charts in the past and I even do with some children I support. I have also found that ?dollars? work wonders too. They start the night with a certain amount, then any time they make the wrong choice and try to come in, you consequence by taking a dollar. At the end of the week, they get to trade in those dollars for something they want. I had a recent client tell her son that the dollars would help pay for the bunk bed he wanted. Stick to the boundary you set and in 3-5 days, kids realize that boundary isn?t moving. 

Also, ensure they are setup for success – meaning that if they typically want a drink, need a tissue or are cold, you have everything already there, so that those excuses are no longer options. In toddlers and school-aged children, these actions provide attention. Good and bad attention is just that, attention. Even the head rub at 4 am is something, and they will take you up on it. You have to make the results something they no longer crave, so that when they wake, they know the results won?t be worth the effort and they go straight back to sleep. 

Ok, so now that you have a game plan to get them out of your room, some terrific support content and a start date, what are you going to do to ensure your space gets that re-kindling it deserves? 

Reignite the Spark

Start with the air, I love a diffuser of lavender, I often set it about an hour before bed, so that when we walk in, it?s calming to the senses straight away. 

Make a new rule, no devices in the bedroom. Keep your phones downstairs, tablets in the desk and grab a good old fashion paper book?..GASP, I know. Blue light from these devices is a stimulant to our brains, and frankly, a time sink of endless scrolling next to our partner, instead of being actively engaged with them or what has happened in their day. We have lost communication with our partners to devices. 

Get some new sheets, especially this winter, I love flannel sheets and I secretly hide a heating pad under my sheet, so when I get in it is nice and warm. Spend the money on good sheets, you sleep in them every night. 

Just chat, ask them what they found to be the best part of their day. Ask them something silly, or for a stupid fact, like if you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? (For me, it?s watermelon, in case you were curious.) Just communicating and laughing is a great way to reconnect with your partner, laughter really is the best medicine. 

Grab some massage oil, light a few candles and enjoy each other’s company. Offer up a nice relaxing massage, enjoying the silence of the moment and the connection you have with them. Who knows, with that toddler no longer in your bed, you may just find the time to make another sweet little human to build your life with – crazy things happen for the better when you sleep.

Parenting is hard, we all do our best each day to have kind children, a happy family and a balanced work – life. It?s not that easy being pulled in 100 directions every day, but it is important that you pause and remember where it all started and how you can savor those sweet moments together for a long time to come.

Courtney Zentz is a multi-award winning entrepreneur, pediatric sleep specialist, and parenting expert for the next generation around the world today. She is on a mission to change the way the world views sleep and provide accessible resources for all families to build healthy sleep habits in their home. As a Pediatric Sleep Specialist, Lactation Counselor, Postpartum Doula, and founder of Tiny Transitions, Courtney partners with companies, families, and postpartum organizations from around the world to teach healthy, sleep habits to infants, children, and adults. Through the use of her unique Slumber Made Simple? approach, she builds healthy sleepers for life and empowers her clients to be the best they can be every day. Named by Tuck as a Top 200 Sleep Professional in the United States, Courtney is a 4x “Best of Philadelphia” Sleep Consultant and frequent contributor to Fatherly, Yahoo, Thrive Global, Romper, Parentology, The Sleep Sense Show, and Bustle among others. Courtney hosts The Kids Sleep Show, launching this month on iTunes and is a frequent guest with companies like SlumberPod? and The Magic Sleep Suit? Company. Courtney resides in West Chester, PA, with her husband Adam and two children, Max and Sovella, and has always felt passionate about making sleep & healthy living a priority in her family’s life. Follow along with Courtney on Instagram or in her private Facebook Group, Slumber MadeSimple, where she hosts weekly Q&A?s, training?s and shares great advice on sleep.

Sleep: The Ultimate Form of Self Care

The benefits of sleep are incredibly long term and far reaching, not just the obvious day to day grumpiness we feel ourselves and may see in our children if they have not slept well! We all feel the benefits of a good night?s sleep but the benefits really do go so much further than day to day zing!

Although this blog post is nowhere near long enough to set out all the amazing benefits of sleep there are a number of great books on the market that do this in much more detail (I particularly recommend Adriana Huffington?s The Sleep Revolution or Dr Matthew Walker?s Why We Sleep), but let?s talk about the benefits of this ?wonder drug?.

I suspect most people feel sleep is pretty straight forward so you might be surprised to learn that sleep is still a bit of a mystery, a little like the ocean. We know some information, but there is still a huge amount we do not know and it is a relatively ?new? area of research. From an evolutionary perspective, the fact that we fall into a near unconscious state for a third of our day, every day doesn?t seem to make much sense but we know sleep plays a vital role in relation to our health and well-being.

Relationships and emotional well-being

We know if we don?t get enough sleep we feel a little less ?emotionally robust? and unable to deal with personal relationships. Added to this, if your children are the reason you don?t sleep well, not getting enough sleep can also have a negative impact on your relationship with your children. We have worked with a number of parents who?ve said they even started to feel resentful of their toddlers and older children as they had no time with their partners or alone on an evening.

If you can?t spend time alone with your partner for extended periods of time, either on an evening or been sharing a bed (not through choice) this really can have a knock-on effect on your relationship with your partner ? not spending time together, sleeping in separate beds and we all know lack of sleep can make us more irritable, further exacerbating the situation.

When we don?t get enough sleep, we?re likely to get short-tempered and irritable, which just makes everything worse. A study from the University of Pennsylvania showed that subjects who experienced even partial sleep deprivation reported feelings of stress, anger, sadness, and mental exhaustion. (2) An even more recent, 2019 study, by researchers at the University of California Berkley found poor sleep can increase an individual?s emotional stress levels by up to a third. Dr Matthew Walker said ?without sleep, it is almost as if the brain is too heavy on the emotional accelerator pedal, without enough brake.?

Dr Eti Ben Simon, of the Centre for Human Sleep Science for the university and lead author of the study, stated that the study ?suggests insufficient sleep amplifies levels of anxiety and, conversely, that deep sleep helps reduce such stress?. This truly is a must for basic self-care and so necessary in our busy and hectic every day lives!

Health and physical well-being

So we can see how getting enough sleep is essential to learning and emotional well-being, but what about the more tangible benefits? Dr Matthew Walker (in his book) states that he had thought good nutrition, exercise and sleep were the three foundations of health. Following all the research he did for his book he now believes that sleep is the foundation, without which we cannot build solid good health.

People who regularly get between 7-9 hours of sleep experience significantly lower rates of obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, infections, depression, diabetes, inflammation, hypertension, heart disease, heart attacks, and heart failure. They also report better performance at work and take fewer sick days than people who typically sleep less than 7 hours a night. (3)

Lack of sleep is so detrimental to your health that even a few hours less sleep a night, for just a few days, will have a visible impact on your skin. In 2016, Dr Guy Meadows carried out a study ?The Impact of Sleep on Skin? (involving Jodi Kidd) and found that for adults, 5 nights of 25% less sleep (6hrs not 8hrs) leads to:

  • Double the amount of fine lines and wrinkles
  • 75% more brown spots in the form of dark circles and the effects would worsen if lack of sleep continued

Even if you were not convinced of it?s wonder powers before this study, this alone is enough to ensure a good nights sleep! It will save a fortune in makeup!

Sleep does not need to disappear once you have children

So, there?s no question that sleep is an essential part of a healthy, happy lifestyle and this does not need to change when you have a baby.

I am constantly amazed by the updates I read on social media, or just hear from parents,? I was up three times or five times? or ?I barely slept last night? and this is almost been accepted as the norm if you have children, or parents are made to feel guilty if they want more sleep (and more sleep for their little one)

There seems to be a commonly held belief that parents should expect to sacrifice their sleep for at least a few years, and that ?being exhausted? is simply part and parcel of having children. In my experience this is one of the most problematic myths about parenthood and one of the biggest sabotages of self care.Of course, in the newborn days your little one is unlikely to sleep 12 hours overnight but there is no reason that, once they are old enough to have a full tummy, they should not sleep all night ? even waking for a feed or two is a world away from waking hour and needing help to get back to sleep.

The fact is, your baby needs sleep even more than you do. Your little one?s body may look calm while they sleep, but behind the scenes there?s a lot of vital work going on. Growth hormones are being secreted to help your little one gain weight and grow, cytokines are being produced to fight off infections and produce antibodies, and many other intricate systems are at work laying the foundations for growth and development. They will continue to do so throughout adolescence, too, provided they?re given the opportunity.

Your little one can be taught the skills they need to settle and sleep well, helping them to enjoy the many important benefits of sleep ? and allowing them to establish a healthy sleep routine for the rest of their lives. Guiding little ones towards great sleep habits really is the best skill you can teach your children and something which will give them the best chance to reach their full potential as they get older.

Jenna Wilson is a mum of 3 children and the founder of Little Dreams Consulting Ltd. She qualified with Sleep Sense in 2016 and the Children?s Sleep Charity in December 2016. She worked for over a decade as a specialist childcare solicitor before changing careers, describing her job as ?something I am incredibly passionate about – I wanted to be able to share my knowledge and expertise with other families, allowing them to get a better night?s sleep and start enjoying the time they spend together?

If your little one is not sleeping well and you want to help them to sleep well and reap all the benefits good sleep brings just book a free 15 minute chat to talk about working together or visit for more information.