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Sleep Anxiety

Updated: Jan 1, 2023

You've been watching the clock, your little one's awake time is quickly coming to an end and your heart starts to race, your anxiety rising....


"How long will it take to settle them this time?"


"How long will they sleep for?"


"Will I need to resettle them? How long will that take?"


"Should I go to the toilet now incase I'm stuck in the room for the next hour?"


"If they sleep for an hour, then their next awake time is an hour, so next nap will be at..."


These are some of the thoughts that would race through my mind daily! I had severe anxiety surrounding my little one's sleep. I spent my whole day watching the clock, calculating awake times, "ideal" nap time, the next awake time, the next nap time, bed time....


When it came time to put my little one down for a nap, I know he could feel my anxiety too. I would then spend the entire nap time checking the monitor, tip toeing around the house, having the quickest showers of my life, in fear that he would wake up and I would need to resettle him.


It is important to remember you can only provide the ideal opportunities for sleep. Whether your little one sleeps is entirely up to them . Focus on the things you can control, like:

  • Great sleep environment

  • Predictable daily rhythm/routine

  • Age appropriate awake times

  • A Consistent settling and re-settling approach

  • A calm, responsive and loving caregiver

  • Well timed feeds and balanced nutrition

  • Adequate stimulation and activity during awake times

Try not to focus on the things you can't control, like:

  • When they fall asleep

  • How long they sleep for

  • If they cat nap

  • If they wake early

  • If they self-settle

  • If they resettle

  • How many times they wake overnight

  • If they are having a bad day (ill, teething etc.)


If you are "stuck" in a contact nap/ re-settling/ settling/ feeding try these things to try to ease your anxiety and quiet your mind:

  • Headphones with music/meditation/audio book

  • Deep breathing

  • Clench and release your fists

  • Wriggle your toes

  • Try humming instead of shushing

  • Visualise something that calms you

  • Take an afternoon walk

  • Give yourself a wind down before bed

  • Eat and go to the toilet before settling (naps and bedtime)

  • Take a break if you need to

Be realistic with your expectations for your little one's sleep. Just because a baby at Mother's Group is "sleeping through", doesn't mean that your baby "should" be or that there is anything wrong if they are not. If you go into the night expecting your little one to "sleep through" then you may be frustrated, disappointed or more anxious if they wake multiple times and call for you. If you know your baby has had a rough day (missed naps, catnaps, overstimulation) be prepared that it could be a rough night too.


Be kind to yourself. Be kind to your baby. They're only little for so long. They will only need you for so long. There will come a day where they won't need you to fall asleep, they won't need you during the night. You will get a full night sleep again!


If you feel that you are experiencing intrusive thoughts and the anxiety is consuming you, speak to your GP. It is a lot more common than you think, but it also isn't "normal".


If how your little one is falling asleep (or not) is no longer working for you and you'd like some guidance and support to improve sleep for everyone, Sound Sleep can help you, with gentle, responsive methods.

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