Meet our sleep specialist Dr Kate Johnson who will be sharing how to help babies and their mothers sleep better.
We all know the importance of a good night sleep. Not only does it play a vital role in restoring our physical and mental health, but it also helps refresh the mind and repair the body, contributing to overall wellbeing.
Children are no exception. Sleep is essential for their brain development and physical growth, so ensuring that your child is getting an adequate amount of shut eye is crucial.
Getting your little one to sleep, and ensuring they stay asleep can be easier said than done however, and that is where Kate Johnson comes in.
Kate is dedicated to helping parents find the right sleep solutions for their children. With an impressive resume, which includes a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a PhD in Sleep Science, the mum of four not only understands sleep from a scientific, educated viewpoint, but also from a personal one.
Kate now runs Babysomnia, a consultation clinic that helps people understand why their child isn’t sleeping and how they can fix this. Kate’s mission is to reinforce age appropriate sleep in children by using her extensive knowledge about the science of infant and child sleep as well as acknowledging and respecting the strong attachments and associations babies develop.
We are lucky enough to have Kate join us as a guest writer for Tinitrader, sharing with you evidence based information about what works when it comes to sleep and helping you make informed decisions about ways to help your family.
We had a chat with Kate and found out a little bit more about what it is she does and how she can help you and your family.
What exactly is a sleep specialist?
I’m providing advice and information about how to help babies and their mothers to sleep better.
How and why did you become a sleep specialist?
I did a psychology degree at The University of Melbourne and then went on to do a PhD in Sleep Medicine, as I found sleep really fascinating. It’s such a dynamic, evolving field and we have now come to understand that sleep is so pivotal in so many areas.
I then completed Postdoctoral Fellowships at both Standford and Harvard Universities.
When I started having my own babies a lot of the information I was getting in terms of what to expect in terms of sleep and how to get them to sleep was either just wrong or it was not presented in a way that I found particularly helpful, so I decided that it would be good to present this information to women in a way that is more accessible.
I think that part of this problem is that sleep is a very provocative area. When you’re tired and sleep deprived everything seems to be much more heightened.
When we are talking about your baby not sleeping, everything can feel pretty terrible, so I decided that it would be a good thing to be able to explain how to get better sleep using science and medicine.
Tell us a bit about your family.
I have four children. I have a nine year old daughter, and then 3 sons who are seven, five and eighteen months.
Tell us a little bit about Babysomnia and what led you to start it.
After I had my fourth baby I realised I was getting asked lots of questions from friends about their babies sleep or lack of sleep!
I found so many people were confused about what were reasonable expectations for their babies and how much they should be sleeping.
There also seemed to be this notion that there was only one way to help babies to sleep better, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
So I started Babysomnia as a way of showing people that there are a range of different ways you and your baby can get better sleep.
What is your number one piece of advice for parents in relation to sleep?
Actually I have 3! The first is make sure you optimize your babies sleep environment. It should be cool, dark and quiet.
The second is establish a sleep routine.
Babies thrive when they know what and when something is going to happen and finally stick to a regular bedtime and wake up time.
How common are sleep problems in babies and what are some of the most common problems parents come to you with?
The number of problems seem to be increasing, which is interesting and I wonder if maybe people aren’t getting enough information when they leave the hospital about what to expect or maybe there is just information overload during those early weeks!
The most common sleep problems I see are people having to rock, feed or drive their baby to sleep, which is what we call a sleep association.
I also see babies who are waking frequently over night as well as catnapping babies or those who only ever sleep for 40 minutes at a time.
The internet means there is so much information and advice readily available to parents but do you think that sometimes this can be more of a hinderance than a help for parents?
Absolutely! I think that you’ve got to be very careful, you can go onto the internet and google anything these days but you’ve also got to think carefully about who it is that’s posting the information, what is there background and where are they getting their information from.
Most of the people who are posting about baby and their sleep have often had negative experiences, so they’ve had babies that aren’t sleeping very well and then their voice becomes overly dominant.
The other thing is with the internet is parenting philosophies are very strong at the moment, attachment parenting philosophies and cry it out type of philosophies and they seem to dominate the conversation about how we get our babies to sleep.
Instead we should be focusing on the fact that babies need to go to sleep. We know that sleep is very important for babies’ development, for brain development, social development.
It is also very important from a mother’s perspective. Mothers that aren’t getting enough sleep and are chronically sleep deprived are at a higher risk of suffering things like post natal depression and so forth.
So really the take home message is, sleep is very important and how you get your baby to sleep is less important, they are lots of different ways we can do that and make that happen but at the end of the day everybody needs good quality sleep.
How do you think you can be of help to Tinitrader Mums and Dads?
I help families navigating the exhausting world of getting their babies to sleep with customised solutions for their individual family.