The Benefits of Sleep Training
Christine Brown | Sep 21, 2023
Sleep training has become a popular and controversial topic in recent years – hello, TikTok, and Instagram! There are many opinions on the subject, some rooted in science and fact, and others rooted in fear and shaming. Here is a great post on debunking sleep training myths that address some of those opinions. As a sleep consultant, I am (obviously) very pro-sleep training and can tell you that it completely changed my life. That’s why I’m going to be sharing the benefits of sleep training with you in today’s post.
I am not here to convince you to sleep train your child. In fact, I want you to choose to do whatever works best for your family! Being a parent is difficult enough without all the judgment. However, if you have stumbled upon this blog post, you are likely researching whether or not sleep training is right for you.
The greatest benefit of sleep training is, you guessed it, MORE SLEEP! What does this translate to?
Benefits of Sleep Training for the Child
Giving your child the gift of being able to self-soothe can be helpful in numerous situations. The most obvious is during sleep periods. When a child can soothe themselves, they wake briefly in the night and put themselves right back to sleep without calling out for help, thus allowing them to sleep for longer.
Self-soothing skills are also beneficial for a baby to self-regulate and calm themselves when they are feeling frustrated. These skills can be a lifesaver when your baby turns into a toddler and preschooler and starts having opinions and big feelings!
The importance of healthy sleep in children cannot be overstated. Sleep is a biological need and is as necessary as the food you eat to fuel your body and mind. As pediatric sleep pioneer, Dr. Marc Weissbluth states in his book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, “Sleep is the power source that keeps your mind alert and calm.”
- Sleep helps to regulate temperament, so well-rested children are more adaptable, cooperative, and calmer than their overtired peers.
- When children get less sleep, they are at a higher risk for attention and behavioral problems. Sleep deprivation can mimic ADHD.
- As overtired children grow older, there is an increased risk for anxiety and depression.
- Chronic sleep loss in adolescents is a risk factor for substance abuse and mental health problems, as well as more immediate problems such as car crashes and sports injuries.
- Sleep also affects little ones’ cognitive functions. Healthy sleep can enhance brain maturation and aid in overall development.
- The central purpose of sleep is to prune information from the brain that is not needed, so positive sleep helps with the consolidation of memories and new learning.
- When children sleep, their bodies make HGH (human growth hormone) which helps their bodies grow, and aids in repairing muscle, tissue and bone.
- When our little ones are not meeting their sleep needs their immune systems are suppressed, making them more likely to catch a virus they are exposed to. Adequate, restorative sleep is vital for our immune systems to function properly!
- Lack of sleep may carry future cardiovascular risks in the form of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Benefits of Sleep Training for the Family
There is a reason being a parent is synonymous with being overtired; it is completely exhausting! However, when parents sleep better, the whole family benefits.
Providing sleep interventions to infants has been shown to lower symptoms of maternal depression, especially for already depressed mothers. It makes sense, right?! When mom gets more sleep, she feels better, has more energy, and is less likely to get sick – therefore, giving her the capacity to take on the day with a baby or toddler (or both)!
The same is true for any caregiver of a baby. Parents need consolidated sleep overnight for many reasons, including increased energy levels, mental health and mood stability, better cognitive performance, and increased immunity.
You can’t pour from an empty cup, so if your cup feels empty, I highly recommend teaching your little one healthy sleep habits!
Some families worry that sleep training may limit daily schedules and life events. However, after sleep training, your child will have the ability to put themselves to sleep in different environments and with various caregivers.
What does this mean? Hello again, date nights! Now, grandparents/babysitters can put your child to bed without you needing to be there. Welcome back, late dinners at friends’ houses! Now, you can put your little one in a pack and play and they will fall asleep independently.
Did your little one skip a nap because you were out enjoying your life? No problem! They can catch up on that sleep with an early bedtime and will get consolidated sleep through the night (now that they are independent sleepers).
One of the challenging parts of becoming a parent is losing quality time with your spouse/partner and yourself (self-care)! I remember worrying that I would never have time to spend with my husband since I always went to bed when the baby did. I also had to do a lot of contact naps, which took away my ability to get anything done.
This all changed with sleep training! As soon as we built healthy sleep habits for our son, we got our evenings back together again. We used a much earlier bedtime than before and knew that he would consistently fall asleep AND stay asleep, allowing us to enjoy quality time with one another.
After sleep training, naps became consistent and I could rely on the time I had each day to do things for myself and get things done around the house. It is incredible what you can do with your time when you know your little one will fall asleep and stay asleep for a longer period.
Think You Are Ready to Sleep Train?
Now you know more about the benefits of sleep training, are you ready to teach your little one to be a healthy sleeper? Reach out HERE and we can help!