Did anyone get a lie-in in this morning?

Worried that the bedtime routine may go to pot now the clocks have gone back?

According to the ‘Great British Bedtime Report’ complied by the Sleep Council more than a quarter of people who have
three children (26%) sleep poorly most nights. The report concludes that that the average Briton goes to bed at
11.15pm and gets just six hours and 35 minutes sleep per night. This is considerably less than the ideal of 8 hours and 15 minutes!

For the full report see https://www.sleepcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/The-Great-British-Bedtime-Report.pdf

So is it time to address any sleep issues?

Let’s start with ensuring the end of British Summer Time does not exacerbate any sleep problems your family has.

Ensure you start the bedtime routine this evening at the usual time (as per clock)  – not at the time your child’s body clock thinks it is!

If they wake early tomorrow (as per their body clock) use your usual techniques for informing them it is still night time. Ensure any timers on nightlights or Gro-clocks are changed and use a reward system for staying in bed when they supposed to! Always reward for staying in bed and/or lying still not for falling asleep – that is harder for your child to achieve.

For help and support with family sleep problems visit http://www.goodnightsolutions.co.uk/services

https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-being-sleep-deprived-alters-a-brain-connection-that-causes-fear-and-anxiety/

Nick Hobson writes an excellent blog on sleep deprivation and anxiety (see above) – summarized as  ‘a sleepy brain is particularly susceptible to negative emotion states and heightened anxiety’.

What does this mean for new mothers?

New mothers (and any parents with a child who won’t sleep) will relate to a feeling of underlying anxiety. This may range from fears about the child’s health and development or how the household tasks of cooking, washing and caring for older siblings may get done.

It could manifest in worries about feeding, not napping, about waking from a nap when the chores have not been completed, about going out of the home or social anxiety. How does a new mother get everything done? It’s routine to tell a mother to focus on the baby and rest they they sleep. However for a lot of mothers this is very difficult and the essential household tasks of washing, cooking and caring for older children cannot be ignored.

Now add into this mix a return to work commitments, possible previous anxiety and substantial sleep deprivation!

Some parental anxiety is normal and healthy and acts as protective factor for that child. But for some parents who may be particularly susceptible to sleep deprivation or have other stressors in their lives this can tip into an anxiety that cripples a mother internally (although perhaps not outwardly if the ‘game face’ is effective?)!

So what can be done in the first few months? Babies need night feeds and care!

How often as a health professional I hear that the mother is doing all of the night care for a baby or toddler. Due, perhaps to single parenthood or a partners job! This may be manageable in the short-term but not if a baby/child is waking frequently in the early hours of the morning for an extended period of time. The second part of the night is when, as adults, we get most of our REM sleep (interspersed with brief bits of deep sleep). This REM sleep is crucial for emotional regulation, memory storing, processing of worries and fearful experiences. Therefore after a good night’s sleep the previous day’s negative experiences do not feel as painful!

So how does the mother who gets very little of this REM sleep sleep think and feel?

Perhaps as a compromise the mother goes to bed early while partner looks after baby – after 1 or 2 am perhaps then partner gets a chunk of sleep and mum wakes up. On the surface this seems a very sensible division of labour given that partner is waking to go to work. Fast forward several months and mum has lost most of her REM sleep and partner has lost most of their non REM (deep) sleep. Resulting in an emotional and irrational mother and a partner who may have more illnesses and physical complaints – through no fault of their own.

That mother, whose job it is to teach and regulate her baby’s emotions and brain development, is never getting the REM sleep so crucial for processing of her own emotions and logical thinking. Take this to the extremes and that mum can no longer distinguish between real threat and imagined threat and is living a life of crippling anxiety and fear.

How do we improve this situation?

Forget about having an hour or 2 of’me-time’ when the kids are asleep, prioritize sleep which is the ultimate ‘me-time’!

Ensure that both parents get an undisturbed chunk of sleep which is not always at the same time every night.

If there is anyone else who can help allow them to!

For sources of support regarding antenatal or postnatal anxiety and depression see your midwife, health visitor or GP or visit https://www.mind.org.uk/

There are also self-referral services for talking therapies and many local groups for support.

For help with sleep visit http://www.goodnightsolutions.co.uk

Sleep Awareness Week 1-8th October

Is your child’s sleep problem leading to on-going issues for your own sleep and health?

The Sleep Health Foundation in Australia is running a sleep awareness week this week, focusing on caffeine and sleep.

Did you know?

Caffeine promotes alertness by inhibiting chemicals in the brain that promote sleep.

Caffeine is absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream and reaches peak levels within 30-70 minutes.

Its effects can then last 3 to 7 hours, but it may take up to 24 hours to fully remove caffeine from the body.

Caffeine can impact on sleep in a number of ways:

It can be harder to go to sleep.

Your sleep may be lighter and you may wake up more often.

You have to go to the toilet more during the night.

The Sleep health Foundation are running a short survey on sleep habits and assessing an individual’s likelihood of having Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. Worth taking if you feel you sleep enough hours but are never feeling refreshed and need that morning hit of caffeine before you can face the day! See their link below for more information.

https://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/public-information/key-events/about-sleep-awareness-week.htmllee

Please contact your GP if you feel you, a partner or a child is suffering with sleep apnoea. Another excellent website is charity hope2sleep https://www.hope2sleep.co.uk/

For all other sleep issues contact me at http://www.goodnightsolutions.co.uk