Marijke Coetser is a familiar face on our television screens. A popular actress and entrepreneur, she is a mom of two and an internationally certified Sleep Trainer. She believes that sleep is a biological right for the whole family, and we’re here for it!
I vividly recall the day both of my children were born. It was a moment filled with pure happiness, gratitude, and overwhelming love and joy. But a few minutes later, I was inundated with suggestions, advice, information, and opinions! As a new parent, I found the process to be overwhelming and somewhat scary. While everyone has an opinion on how to raise your child, the truth is that nothing can fully prepare you for the journey of parenthood. And let’s face it, we all know what it feels like to be bombarded by the well-intentioned advice of friends and family who have “been there, done that.” But what worked for someone else might not be the same for you, and the last thing you need is to be misled by false information.
One of the biggest misconceptions about being a new parent is that sleep is out of the question for at least the next two years. However, I strongly believe that sleep is a biological human right. Our children deserve sleep, and so do we. Teaching your little one sleep skills is like teaching them any other skill – a learned behavior that can be developed from a very young age. In fact, even newborn babies can learn to sleep through the night! And the benefits of a baby that learns to sleep through the night are numerous.
Just two of the benefits include:
- Growth: Growth hormones are primarily secreted in periods of deep sleep. Babies need to spend about 50% of their sleep in deep sleep for adequate growth.
- A stronger immune system: While we sleep, our bodies produce infection and stress-fighting proteins known as cytokines. The less sleep we get, the less we produce, and the more prone we are to infections and illnesses.
As Paediatrician and author Dr. Jennifer Shu emphasises; “Sleep deprivation is a significant issue for new parents, and it’s important to prioritise sleep for both parents and babies. When parents are well-rested, they are better able to care for their baby’s needs.”
But what about us adults? The benefits of adequate sleep are just as important for us as they are for our little ones. Adults who get less than 8 hours of sleep a night are at an elevated risk for a variety of health problems, including hypertension, high blood pressure, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depressive disorders. A well-rested baby can learn and explore, and a well-rested parent can focus, be more alert, have better memory, and even improve their mood.
To help parents establish good sleep habits for their children (and themselves!), I challenge you to follow these tips:
- Establish a bedtime routine for yourself. Just like children, adults must signal their brains that bedtime is near. Take a shower or bath, brush your teeth, read a paper book (no kindles or ipads!), and concentrate on your breathing to help you relax.
- Take a daytime nap. Not just for babies, daytime naps can also help regulate your nighttime sleep and keep you on top of your game during the day.
- Be kind to yourself. As a parent, it’s easy to put too much pressure on yourself to be your best partner and parent. Instead, focus on being better than you were yesterday.
Sleep is essential for you and your child, so prioritise it and create healthy sleep habits that promote overall health and well-being.
Get in touch with Marijke Coetser to make your dreams of sweet sleep a reality:
Marijke Coetser: Certified Sleep Sense Consultant | www.mcsleepconsulting.com