A sleep consultant revealed her top tips for parents struggling to get their children sleep at night – including ignoring them when they cry and having a regular wake-up time. Leanne Palmerston, 51, claims there are “simple things” parents can do to ensure that they and their children get a full night’s sleep – even when they have a newborn – but insists they “have to start doing it from day one”. Leanna suggests sticking to a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, getting outside, de-stimulating in the evening and going to bed when tired to sleep – not relax. Leanna, a sleep consultant, from Hamilton, Toronto, Canada, said: “Babies are creatures of habit. “If there is a move they (parents) make, which is the wrong move, it is to be afraid every single time a baby cries. “And they commit themselves to doing anything they can to stop the babies crying. “What we see happening as perinatal professionals, is we see a parent has a video and a sound monitor and their baby is sleeping away from their parents and the parents start to hear a little squeaking and winging. “Parents ‘oh my goodness the baby is awake’ and then they will nurse the baby or give the baby a bottle. “What that does, is it primes the baby to expect that when they reach consciousness they will be rescued and fed by their parents. “What ends up happening is that the baby will start waking up approximately every hour to an hour-and-a-half. “If we leave babies to just do their bit of winging and give them five minutes what often happens is they don’t actually start crying as they settle back down and go back to sleep. “If we intervene every single time we’re going to hyper-interrupt their sleep and establish a strong expectation that they will be fed every time they wake up.” Leanna said it can be dangerous for parents to keep going to their child when they are crying in the night as they won’t be able to sustain sleep – resulting in them having hyper-fractured sleep. She said that hyper-fractured sleep can exacerbate any existing or new merging mental health issue and make it dangerous for parents to be walking around with a baby in their arms if they are feeling deeply fatigued and start to feel shaky. She said: “We know that fatigue has a similar and sometimes worse affect on your ability to drive or operate machinery as does ingesting alcohol or smoking cannabis. “The body requires sleep – plain and simple. The body requires sleep in order to regenerate itself to optimally run. “If we think of the body as a machine – sleep is the grease that keeps the gears running smoothly. “If we don’t have enough sleep then the gears start to grind out and damage the machine itself. “If we’re not sleeping it has a direct correlation to metabolic diseases. “Lack of sleep causes inflammation which leads to metabolic disease and symptoms of the metabolic disease include high blood pressure, weight issues and insulin resistance. “We are looking at a whole host of conditions which leads towards diabetes and heart disease. “We don’t want parents living, even if it is for a few months or so, in misery which can impact many areas of their life. “This is a very far-reaching problem that I don’t think many people understand.” Leanna also said a way to prevent fatigue is to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. She says doing this will reinforce the circadian rhythm – behavioural changes that follow a 24-hour cycle – and she promotes to go to sleep at the same time every night. She said: “Just like with babies, consistency is key, consistent bedtimes, consistent wake times – even on your days off. “We all want to run to the pub, maybe have a bunch of drinks, come home quite late and then sleep in, in the morning perhaps if we don’t have to get up with our pets or children. “But those can interrupt our habits and make it a little harder to slip back into a better habit during the work week.” Leanna’s top tips for a good night’s sleep for children: – Turn the sound down on any baby monitors so you don’t keep fussing over the children if you hear them make a sound – Don’t be afraid to leave your children to cry – Keep them in a routine Leanna’s top tips for a good night’s sleep: – Sticking to a consistent bedtime and a constant wake-up time – Making sure are getting outside – Try to de-stimulate yourself in the evening – Go to bed when you are going to sleep and not to relax

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