As new parents look for the sleep solution for their sleep needs, there’s so many resources that can be found. Sleep Training becomes a hot topic of teaching a child how to fall asleep “independently” which will then somehow lead to 10-12 hours of blissful sleep at night.
But, how long does it take?
The length of time it takes to see results is dependent on many factors.
- The sleep training method you use
- The environment
- The nap schedule
Most articles will say sleep training will take anywhere from 3-7 nights. When you join those Facebook Mom Groups, you may actually see longer, where families are still combating sleep and a couple wake ups (although improved) even 2 weeks later. The difference between finding your sleep goals in 3 days versus 2 weeks has a lot to do with the approach and factors, and less to do with your child.
Sometimes, when we mention this to families, it can be a mind blowing statement to them, especially if they have already deemed their child to be a “bad sleeper.”
Let’s go through these factors when considering how to get your fastest results with the least amount of tears for your family.
THE SLEEP TRAINING METHOD
There are about 3 main methods of sleep training, all in different flavors from Cry-It-out, Ferber, and more gentle forms of sleep training. Some methods are more appropriate than others for your child, and it is key to determine which one works best. Here’s a little encouragement, that gentle forms of sleep training exist and do work just as fast. Find the one that your child will respond to the best…and one that is most developmentally appropriate.
We hear it all the time…the best environment is dark, cool, with a touch of brown noise, all of which we talk about in our Blog The 5 Must-dos for the Ideal Sleep Environment. But, does it really make a difference? Absolutely! Will your efforts be completely shattered if you don’t have these elements in your child’s sleep space? NO, but it can impact how long it takes to see your sleep success. I once had a client who had begun sleep training. We grazed over the nursery audit that we provide with assurance from mom and dad that the room was dark enough. Once we began, which also included an earlier bedtime (7 pm vs the 11 pm they had previously) found us 2 days in with what felt to be difficult time to fall asleep at bedtime. It felt like a puzzle, and after requesting a video to find out what the little guy might have been doing, I had found that their nursery was bright enough to make it difficult for me to fall asleep. There were nothing but sheer curtains, and at 7 pm without daylight savings, it was quite light. The light can be distractors to this learning period, so removing any barriers to initial learning will be so important to decrease your time to sleep success.
THE NAP SCHEDULE
In our own approach and work with families, we actually won’t allow any family to start any sleep training without a really strong nap schedule, more specifically a nap schedule that is individually and developmentally appropriate for the age. Being cognizant of total day and night sleep, the wake times before each of the naps in place can actually make a huge difference to how fast a child makes it to the 10-12 hours. In fact, having a solid accumulation of sleep pressure with a good nap schedule can mean your first night has minimal tears. These are the guidelines:
- Having the exact same wake up and bedtime for at least 3 days in a row
- Having a consistent nap schedule which either means your waketimes are exactly the same for 3 days in a row, or you were able to be consistent with your time-based nap schedule for 3 days in a row
- Capping your naps to make sure you don’t exceed sleep goals
This brings us to the next factor…
Consistency means a lot of things when we talk about sleep. It means consistency in your schedule (holding firm to those wake up times, etc…) but it also means consistency in how we respond to our child. When we start the practice of sleep training or sleep learning, we are changing the routine or sequence of events that our children know happens before bedtime. In the new routine, we remove sleep associations, we implement a new sequence of events with the goal to show our children they are safe to fall asleep without those things. While they still develop their communication, we have to find specific, simple ways that help them understand what we are communicating…”It’s okay to go to sleep, go to sleep, you are safe.” Having a varied way of how we respond to them in the situation can cause confusion of what is expected…of what happens next, and sometimes can cause a longer time to fall asleep, or a longer time to sleep goals.
If you want to dive in more, join us for our next Webinar: How to Help Your Child Sleep 10-12 Hours Without Cry-It-Out…in 3 days.
Leave a comment! What are some of your sleep training questions?
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