Setting Achievable Sleep Goals
by Kate Swanson, Certified Sensitive Sleep Consultant in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Goals are a great motivation. They give us something to work towards and can keep us focused as we mark our progress. When we look specifically at sleep goals there are three questions I like to ask.
Is This Goal Age & Developmentally Appropriate?
Do you want your three-week-old to sleep 10-12 hours overnight? This is not an age appropriate goal. The amount of solid sleep we expect to see in a newborn looks very different from that of a toddler. Newborns require frequent feedings and also do not develop self-soothing skills to settle independently until several months after birth. At this early stage, we need to expect multiple night wake ups and prepare ourselves as adults to comfort, support, and assist our little ones to resettle to sleep when needed.
A 2-yr-old toddler who is fighting his daytime nap doesn’t automatically mean that he is ready to eliminate his naptime all together. We know developmentally toddlers are at a stage where they like to explore and stay active, this is so much more interesting than laying down for a nap. We also know during this age they are testing boundaries. We need to establish limits and set up clear expectations.
It is so important to look at your child’s age and developmental stage along with their overall health conditions before establishing your sleep goals.
2. Is this goal Sustainable Long Term?
You may be at the recommended stage to stop swaddling your infant. Transitioning into a “Merlin Suit” seems like a great goal for the moment, yet how long will it be before you will need to transition again out of the suit and into something else? How do you feel about going through multiple transitions several weeks or a month apart? Evaluate what is a priority to you in the short term and the long term.
Next look at your current situation – what is emotionally and physically sustainable for you as a parent? If waking up 2-3 times a night with your 18month old works for your family that is fantastic. Yet if you are feeling exhausted and frustrated when you are needed overnight, this may be a sign that a change is needed for your family’s sleep. It is just another piece to consider as you start to create your goals.
3. Is my goal Realistic?
By answering these first two questions you can get a clearer picture of what your goal (or goals) will be. Then evaluating if this goal aligns with your individual family needs and if you have the emotional and physical support you need to achieve it will help you determine if it is actually realistic. Goals are not attained magically overnight. We need to be committed, break it down into steps, recognize achievements, and give ourselves and our children the necessary time needed to make these changes.
As always our team here at A to Z Sleep Solutions is here for you. Whether it is to join you in creating these goals together with a one-time phone call or to actually work alongside you as we navigate that road to success through our one on one assessments. Whatever it may look like for you, we are here. I encourage you to start creating those goals today!