Sleep should be a priority.
We need to do what we can to get better sleep for our children and ourselves. We need to smarten up and understand the damage that chronic sleep issues can have on our families. It’s a no brainer.
Myth: sleep training harmful.
There is no evidence that sleep training has any negative short term or long term effects on children.
Any crying involved with sleep training can be classed as a ‘tolerable stress response’. The American Academy of Paediatrics states that a tolerable stress response in a loving and supportive environment is actually a positive influence on a child’s development. It helps the child learn, grow and adapt. Apart from sleep training, another example of a tolerable stress response is when a child attends daycare for the first time. In these types of situations a child may not be comfortable but they are not being harmed. Their carers are their loving and supportive buffer. Parents love and care for their children. They keep them warm, dry, clean and fed. They cuddle them, look after them and provide their every need. Short periods of crying over a few days will not undo any of that. Newborns with colic cry for hours on end, day in, day out for literally weeks, no matter what their parents do. Are these babies going to suffer long term effects from all the crying? Of course not!
Truth: a parent or child running on minimal or fragmented sleep is of great concern.
The fact is, parents of children with sleep problems and who suffer chronic sleep deprivation, are far more likely to suffer poor mental health and experience breakdowns in relationships. I’ve worked with parents on the verge of divorce, parents who suffer severe anxiety or postpartum rage, even parents who have almost driven off the road (with their child in the car) due to exhaustion from lack of sleep! These things are real. Not to mention that long term sleep deprivation contributes to health issues such as obesity, diabetes, depression and cardiovascular disease.
What about our children?
Kids who don’t sleep well have more behavioural problems, more academic problems, more health problems, more risk-taking behaviours and more anxiety and mood related problems. I’ve witnessed these things first hand in schools and with what seems to be an increased frequency and severity. It really is a dire situation and one that we can’t ignore. It’s real.
We need to do what we can, to get better sleep for our children and ourselves.
What needs to happen is to change the script, so parents not only understand the implications of chronic sleep issues, but also that help is out there and that they are not alone. They need to know that they don’t have to continue to struggle and suffer or be bullied into inaction. They need to realise that their children rely on them to lead the way and that they have a choice.