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Amanda is back and here to share with you all about how to completely transform your nap time! If you can barely make it through an episode of The Slumber Party without hearing your little one waking up–this is your episode.
Want to do more reading on naps? Check out these blog posts!
Hey guys, welcome back to the slumber party. I’m Amanda Jewson, your infant and child sleep specialist. Thank you so much – I always have to start this podcast by saying a huge thank you for listening. I am always in shock when I see that you do and I have a general idea of how much you’re listening and I’m pretty impressed. So thank you. Thank you for your reviews, your sharing, your tags on my Instagram. By the way, if you’re not following me on social media, I talk a lot about this stuff on my social media @babysbestsleep – so that’s on Facebook and Instagram. I’m most active on Instagram. I have a Twitter account to I guess shout into the abyss of the Internet. Some people listen I think or read, but mostly I’m on Instagram and I talk a lot about stuff that comes up and with my own kids and, and things that are pressing to clients. So yes, but, I mean I know how much you’re sharing and reviewing. And I think as of the other day, I was number 37 out of 200 on ‘Kids and Family’ for the top charts. So that’s like.. I’m wowed. Uh, and I hope it continues! A bit of it is, you know, “hey, you have a new podcast and people are listening to it” and so all of a sudden that happens and that’s definitely gonna help me right now, but I’m going to take it, I’m going to take every last bit of it! So please continue to like and share with your friends if you like it and are finding value. Last week I had a discovery call with a family and it was with the dad and the dad was like, I listened to your podcast and it was super helpful and I’ve shared it now. Honestly, that was such a big compliment. So thank you that dad, I appreciate it. This is dad approved! You can share this with the dad’s in your life if you’re not already listening. I feel like I’m pretty gender friendly, right? Or parent. I don’t even know. I mean we’re, we’re getting into a new world guys. Lots of moms and dads. We have two dad families. We have two mom families. Listen, if you’re a parent, if you have kids, if you have a tiny human at your house that doesn’t sleep, I’m for you. And I love you. I think that’s especially important to say during these crazy times where people are kind of crazy and it’s pride month. So I love all of you. I don’t know how we got onto that, but hey like, it’s important to say.
Okay. So this week, this week’s question actually came from my Instagram. I’ve had several variations of this, but I’m going to open it here. Okay. This one comes from Jenny.
“Hey Amanda. Thanks for the podcast. I’m really digging it. Can you work your magic and fix my kid’s 27 minute nap? I’m sick of this shit. Thanks Jenny.
It doesn’t get any more direct than that. And um, I think we’re going to answer that. And Jenny is the first person to ask me that on Instagram, but there are lots of you who did, or asked a variation of that question. So I’m going to talk about a lot of things in terms of napping today and hopefully it’s going to answer the, the variety of your questions. As always, I do a free discovery call if you are looking to work with a consultant or get some advice – I want to make sure that we’re a good fit and I understand your problems. So I do that for free, and you can do that at www.babysbestsleep.com/15mins, if you, if you want to talk about working with a consultant. And I’m telling you all of these things – this is essentially the advice I would give you in a call anyway. And so if you try it and it’s not working, chances are there’s something else going on, and uh, working with the consultant will help.
So, Jenny, we’re going to answer your question this week. And you know, even in my work with my clients every day, I actually have in big bold letters in every single plan that I write that naps are the worst, they are the worst for everyone. And I’ll tell you why. So I, I’m kind of always talking about, you know, the science behind why your kid is sleeping well or not sleeping well. And this one has a good scientific reason as well. Essentially we’re asking our bodies to ignore their biology. So at night when it’s dark, you know, for most people we are starting to feel a little bit tired. So any of you who have, you know, older kids or more than one kid and you have a toddler and it’s getting to be about six or seven, we’re kind of like, “oh my god, just please go to bed, let it be bedtime, because I’m exhausted and I know I’m supposed to be entertaining you, but it is 6:30 PM and you’re shouting at me about puzzle pieces and I don’t have it in me.” So that is a natural lull and it’s an indication that we have some sort of Melatonin production starting and Melatonin, I’ve talked about this before, is nature’s little sedative, gives us a little spritz, spritz of a Melatonin. We feel tired and a night’s sleep is so easy. We sleep super long stretches, we connect our sleep cycles really regularly. If you don’t know what I’m talking about in terms of sleep cycles, you should listen to episode one of this podcast about the four month sleep regression, because I talk all about what’s going on. But night’s sleep, we can totally connect our sleep cycles easily. And then early in the morning our body stops producing that hormone, that Melatonin and starts giving us all the stress hormones we need to wake up. So it’s a little combination of a couple things. So those stress hormones, don’t let that scare you we’re talking about physical stress to kind of keep us alert and aware that’s all healthy and good. We all have it. And then that continues throughout the day to keep us alert and aware. Combine that so we have a lack of Melatonin. And we have sunlight outside. And especially now if you’re listening to this in the springtime in Canada, we got lots of sunlight, which is why all your kids are waking up so early. If that’s your problem, listen to last week’s episode. But essentially it makes it really hard for kids to want to fall asleep. Our babies are” people were having fun. They know what’s going on. They have Fomo, they like you, you’re so cool. And then you say, okay, go into this room and not be with me for a little while.” I mean, I get it, I understand their protest. So generally I hear when people are talking about their crap naps, like Jenny, they’re talking about a 27 minute nap or like a 35 minute nap. Generally if your, if your baby is crap napping, you know exactly what their, their time is. Right? So with most clients when I work with them, they’re like, “get me over a 27 minute and 45 second nap.” They know. And so generally that time represents a sleep cycle and their sleep cycles are a little bit shorter during the day. But for most babies who are napping longer than that time, you know, 30 to 40 minutes, that is a really good indication that that baby is able to connect a sleep cycle. So that means shifting from one sleep cycle to the next, connecting that and sustaining a nap. Your child is very unlikely sleeping for two hours straight or one hour straight during the day. They’re linking those cycles. And again, go back to episode one if you’re not quite sure what a sleep cycle is. Sleep cycle is us going through some stages of sleep, waking and reconnecting. It’s what we do all night. That’s your Coles notes version, just to keep you occupied during this.
So when I don’t have a good napper and I, I’m trying to figure out what’s going on, I can generally assess that there’s probably some help to sleep. So you know, if you are helping your child to sleep in any way, whatever that looks for you, rocking nursing, um, et cetera. And again, let’s go back to my big disclaimer. I’m not against those things and I’m not saying those things are wrong, I’m just saying that for some babies having that help to sleep does not allow them to have fuller nights of sleep. And again, if it’s a problem for you, it’s a problem for me and then we’ll talk about it. If you’re listening to this and you’re like,
I love nursing my kid to sleep and I never want to stop that, shut up Amanda.
No problem. Okay, so if there is that help to sleep and your child is falling asleep in one of those ways, what we’re going to have to do is probably remove that help because once we remove it and they can fall asleep completely on their own, when they wake from that Short sleep cycle of that 27 minutes and 45 seconds, they will very easily be able to put themselves back down again. Okay. That is the, the key is that if a child who can have longer naps is generally able to connect sleep cycles. So you know, that’s my step one. Assess your whole day. How is your child falling asleep every single time? How are they falling asleep at night? How are they falling asleep during the day? If there’s too much help, the rest is not going to happen. Okay. That’s step one. So if you’ve answered that question, “Amanda, my child does not sleep well because I help them.” Well that, that’s a whole other thing I think. And we’ll, we’ll have to evaluate that and you can book a call with me, but for some of you, there’s going to be another reason.
If your baby is between four and six months, they just might not be able to do it. And that’s a developmental milestone. Okay? So usually I find that babies between four and six months aren’t quite connecting those cycles until they reach a certain point. I do think it’s like some portion of their development kind of flicks a switch and they’re like, hey, you can connect those cycles. So if you do have a four to six month old and you’re thinking, “Hey, they do go to sleep completely independently. I’ve been racking my brain, they’re so awesome. I’m a sleep queen. So why doesn’t, why don’t they connect the cycles?” Honestly don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s just, it’s a biological thing is developmentally linked. So that could be a reason for you as well. Another thing that that can actually come up is your timing and it’s why when I’m working with clients, I insist on a sleep tracker of some sort.
Okay. So what was I saying? Yes. So some of the other reasons are timing. And when I work with clients, I ask them to keep a sleep log for me. And it’s a Google doc. I see it in real time. And within three or four days I start to see some patterns. We start to identify baby’s clear wake window, what is ideal for them. And we do that through a series of like minor experimentation. I never want to suggest that we’re experimenting on babies. No one likes that idea. But, we’re pushing and pulling the week window ever so slightly. You know, what that might look like is, you know, let’s say you should head to my website and I’m going to link to a couple of blogs that I have on napping on the podcast notes here that I encourage you to take a look at because I have some timing charts that you can start with. And so when I’m starting with a client, I’m kind of using my best guess and what most kids are doing at that age. So for example, like let’s say you have your four month old, I suggest starting babies at anywhere between one and a half to two hour wake windows. So once your baby is sleeping well through the, you know, through the night or, or better, you know, if their night feeding, but having longer stretches, they’re generally going to be a little more rested and aware. So after a few days of feeling rested and aware they are, they’re going to maybe potentially need a little more time in their wake window. You know, we’re always being told to avoid over tiredness. And we definitely want to, but there is a risk in actually putting a baby down under tired. Right? So you can get protest in either way. So part of the work will be kind of like being a detective, right? Like ‘okay, well I did this this one day, I pushed it a little bit and it actually extended the nap or maybe that wake windows too long and they’re freaking out. And because they’re so overtired, their brains can’t settle down. And that’s a result of my crap nap.’ I do suggest a mild experimentation if your baby is already sleeping well. So definitely your um, your wake windows are going to play a part in there. So go to my blog, check out the times for that, make sure they’re not under or over tired.
Yeah. The, you know, there are some very basic things that can also disrupt sleep that we think are not a big deal. Right. So, you know, I like to talk about darkness. I’m not crazy about blackout anything. You know, my first daughter slept through like a pretty well lit room and we never had to do blackout conditions for her. My second daughter was so super light sensitive. If her room is light, she is awake. Like she would wake up at 4:30am in the morning, so we had to be a little bit crazy. We had to do the double black garbage bags. If you listen to that podcast last week, those are things that we do do. So again, if naps aren’t going well and you’ve tried everything, that can just be another strategy that you use.
This goes without saying some white noise during the day. Some people are afraid of weight and ways being a sleep association or a crutch for children, it really isn’t. You know, white noise isn’t going in helping your baby sleep longer. They may have a longer nap when they have white noise because they don’t hear the doorbell ringing or your dog barking or the garbage truck. Right? It can be really effective. And like if any of those things happen at the end of your child’s sleep cycle where they’re getting into that lighter sleep and you know, garbage truck is like, you know, it would wake me up, it’s going to wake up your child. So I would say, you know, anywhere between 40 to 50 decibels as a recommended limit and you can download a decibel reader on your phone, which is awesome. And they’re generally free and pretty easy to use. So it’ll be like this, this, these are the decibels. Okay. So that’s um, that’s in general. Honestly, if your naps are crap, your child like 9.5 out of 10 is going down with some assistance. So that’s going to be your first step of action.
Nap Training can be challenging. So I’m not a big fan of longterm, prolonged amount of crying. If you have a spirited child, it is best to work with a professional. It doesn’t even have to be me. Talk to your doctor about a plan, find something that you feel good about or hire me, and we can get past that protests a lot quicker.
One thing, I guess this is a little like side note to crap naps and the side note being when we are talking about crap naps, so we also need to talk about sleep pressure. And so sleep pressure is basically how tired we feel from the time we wake up in the morning. So if we wake up in the morning, you know, adults, we still start to feel like it’s how your, your brain is making you feel tired and how well you can sleep and how long you can sleep based on the number of hours you’re awake. So if you’re a baby, your sleep pressure develops quite quickly. If you’re an adult, obviously slower. And it changes as your child gets older. We need to increase the sleep pressure in order to fall asleep and to sustain a nap. So the sleep pressure is super important. You know, going back to that scheduling question, it’s important to get a good a scheduling and routine and your wake windows down so your sleep pressure is, you know, perfect. When it’s perfect, you’re going to have that great nap.
The other part of the sleep pressure part, however, is understanding what it does when you have micro naps. So migraine apps happen all the time, right? So you are running an errand and uh, you’re like, okay, we’re, we’re close to downtime, but whatever. And then your kids sleeps in the stroller or it gets really, really drowsy in the car seat right before nap time. And then you go and you put them in their crib and they’re like, “Ooh, I’m never sleeping again!!” We have all been there. I’ve been there a hundred kazillion times and it might take them a whole other hour to get down again. So if we, if we talk about, um, sleep pressure, if you want to think about it in terms of an analogy, this sleep pressure is like a balloon, right? As we wake during the day and as our babies are awake, they fill that balloon with their sleep pressure. So even a micro nap deflates that balloon quite significantly. So when we look at that balloon again, we have a semi deflated balloon that we’re asking to perform like a full inflated balloon. Are you following me here? So what I’m saying is if your child has micro naps or even if they’ve had a crap nap, our assumption is like, okay, just go to bed. Like that wasn’t a good enough nap. You have to be tired, you’re still tired. But realistically that’s deflated a lot of their sleep pressure, it will be very, very hard for them to fall back to sleep. So you know, if you’ve had a micro nap, give your child up to one hour to build up that pressure again to be able to fall asleep again. And if your child has had a crap nap, you know they’ve had their 27 minute nap, don’t kill yourself trying to get that baby back to sleep. Okay? Try for maybe 10 minutes. You can do some shushing, you can pat, depending on what sort of thing you’re doing. If they’re not going back to sleep, you’re just killing yourself. Like you are trying to make something that will potentially take up to an hour to happen. But the only thing it’s not because you’re helping them, it’s because they are now, they have adequate sleep pressure again to fall asleep.
So you know, naps can be quite complicated as I’m sure this is starting to sound, which is why it’s great to work with a professional in that. But essentially, you know, if your child has a micro nap, you might need to give them a little more time to build up that sleep pressure. And my big thing is if your child has a short nap, do not kill yourself trying to make it and don’t feel tempted to supreme Lee shorten their next week window. You might want to shorten their wake window by 15 to 30 minutes or have it on the lower end of what they’re able to do that any more than that is just going to result in another crop. Not because they don’t have enough sleep pressure buildup to sustain the nap is very, very, very complicated. I’m sure we’ve all, I mean, I’ve been there. I remember with my first being like, okay, you know, this is not enough sleep. The Internet tells me you need an hour of sleep every single time. We’ve only done for 20 minutes. I’m going to spend the next hour doing whatever it takes to get you back to sleep so you can sleep for another 20 minutes. And it’s fucking maddening. Pardon my French. No pardon, I actually marked this as explicit, so it is what it is, but don’t make yourself crazy about it. Okay? Make that promise to yourself. What I would suggest is if you’re not ready to do this work or you want to say, you know, screw you. I mean, I don’t want to do anything like this. Try to find ways to nap where you’re getting something out of it. So nap on the go. Go get a coffee, go to Starbucks. You know, go walk around the mall. Go sit in indigo while you read a book. You know, like do something for yourself. If you’re going to be working for that nap and you want your kid to get that nap, go ahead and do it. Like even with my clients, I just say, look, let’s do the last nap on the go so you don’t go crazy. I really, I suggest that for you as well. Do something for you if your, if your kid can’t do something for you. Okay.
All right guys, that is your crap naps sorted! Please keep your questions coming. You can message me on my Instagram page @babysbestsleep. You can email me at Amanda@BabysBestSleep.com. I love your emails. I’ve got some such cool questions and I actually have a great list of experts that I’m connected with that I can help solve, you know, in addition to your problems, some of the other concerns that you might be having revolving sleep. So that’s coming up. Lots of fun stuff, lots of cool guests, lots of things in the pot. I’m super excited.
If you can allow me one more moment to be thirsty, please share, subscribe and review the podcast if you like it and you want to see it going and extend – those all make that happen. So thank you so much, everyone. I hope your naps get better tomorrow and if they don’t, this podcast again, just enough crap nap time. This is 23 minutes and four seconds thus far. If your kid is waking up, listen to you, you’ve just listened to this podcast, you’re going to be on it.
Thanks again, everyone. Have a good one. Bye!