Normal sleep? When I ask people what goal they would like for their child when they ask me about sleep training or sleep problems – in 99% of families it is for the child to sleep through the night. I start by explaining that non of us sleep through the night. If we perceive we have had a full night’s sleep we were not aware of these awakenings – on the other hand we may be very aware we have woken especially in this hot weather.

Normal sleep (from about 4 months onwards) is characterized by a periods of deep sleep occurring roughly 10-15 minutes after falling asleep. We then move into lighter sleep, REM sleep and wake periods which we cycle through for the remaining hours of the night. It is therefore normal (and evolutionary advantageous) to wake 2-3 times in the wee small hours. We wake to check we are safe – as an adult we usually are!

However if we are 7 months old or 7 years old (or anything in between) then maybe we are not safe? Maybe the reassuring nightlight has turned off or the lullabies have finished? Maybe mummy or daddy are no longer there? Or maybe we fell asleep on the sofa and now everything is different? Maybe the bottle of milk or the comforting breast feed is not there either? So what do we do now? Perhaps cry or come to find a parent? Sound familiar?

So how do you teach your child to sleep trough the night? You don’t! You teach your child to be safe and comfortable in their sleep space (wherever that may be) and you ensure that whatever soothed them to sleep at bedtime remains there at those wakings in the night. That means teaching your child to fall asleep happily at bedtime without needing you to sooth them at those night wakings. Unless you want to be there of course. Services