Why did we create The Better Sleep School?
Like so many of you, the team behind The Better Sleep School has struggled with sleep. (And we’re not going to lie. We still struggle with it from time to time!) Even though we knew we needed to make sleep a priority, we weren’t able to find a program to help us take control of our sleep environment, our behaviours, and our lifestyle. Through our own challenges and successes with sleep, we have created a program that provides you with information that is uncomplicated, strategies that are easy to implement, resources that encourage a holistic approach and support options to ensure your success.
My story begins like many other women my age. Before having children I worked full time and kept a reasonably active social life. Once my son Henry was born, one of the biggest challenges for me was adapting to such a different social calendar. Where were all of the adults? I wasn’t on Facebook (yet) and none of my friends lived in the area. I, like many first time moms, clung desperately to the prospects of joining local mom’s groups and participating in mom and baby classes. When my son was 5 months old we had programmed activities each day of the week. Boot camp for me a couple of mornings, music or swimming for him and a standing mom’s group play date. While these activities were great for us in so many ways, I was ignoring the fact that these activities prevented my son from keeping a predictable daytime schedule. When he did nap, it was only for 30 mins. It just wasn’t enough sleep for anyone. I had to prioritize what I could do in those 30 minutes – Shower? Eat? Rest? There was barely enough time to accomplish one of those things.
This made it impossible to look after myself and my family. I sought out sleep coaching to help him develop independent sleep skills and I became a happier, more positive parent and wife as a result. Not wanting to repeat history, we helped to foster healthy sleep skills from a very early age with my second son.
But…there’s more to the story.
Even though my children slept well, I didn’t. A year after my second son was born, I found it difficult to fall asleep and I would wake in the middle of the night for long stretches of time. The stress of raising a young family, working (and trying to nurture a small business at in my spare time) lead to working mom syndrome. I neglected my health and wellness. My formerly healthy self was suddenly struggling to get out of bed some days because I was plagued with migraines, back pain, and fatigue. I wasn’t productive as an employee and as an entrepreneur. I wasn’t a great partner to my husband. And I certainly wasn’t the mom I wanted to be.
My personal sleep journey has required a lot of self-discipline and personal reflection. Committing to make sleep a priority was only one piece of the puzzle. Understanding the relationship between my health and sleep, advocating for myself to find answers and asking for help where I needed it is what made the difference.
My role now
I founded The Sugar Plum Sleep Co., a Toronto-based sleep coaching practice in 2012. I work with families to develop customized and easy to follow sleep programs for both pediatric and adult clients. My personal and recent experience with sleep problems provides invaluable perspective, ensuring comprehensive and supportive guidance, helping my clients quickly achieve positive and long last improvements to the quality of their sleep.
I’m thrilled to be a part of The Better Sleep School to help more people make sleep a priority in their lives and to navigate the changes they need to make in order achieve that goal.
I’ve always been a night owl. Even as a kid, I would hide under my covers long after lights out reading books with a flashlight. University and then living with my now-husband fostered more late nights. I was working as an elementary teacher and he was working in restaurants getting home late at night. Staying up was the only way we saw each other. I thought I was okay with the late nights and that it was part of who I was.
Fast forward a few years later, and we welcomed our first child, John. The round-the-clock breastfeeding coupled with the night wakings and short naps from outings had me so tired I’d break out in tears daily. And instead of sleeping when my son did, I stayed up to spend time with my husband who had gone back to school or work on the Master’s course I had signed up for just before I found out I was pregnant. Around 6 months old, John started sleeping through the nights and taking long naps. I began to feel restored and as the desperation for sleep faded, I continued my late night ways.
I didn’t realize how much being awake past midnight was affecting me until our second son, Matthew was born. He was the child, I should have sleep trained but didn’t. And at the age of four, he continued to struggle with sleeping through the night on his own and it was showing on me.
I needed to take control….
I’m the founder of a website dedicated to green and mindful living for Canadian moms called Green Moms Collective. Every week, along with our expert contributors, I share insight into making better choices for our family’s wellness and the planet. And as much as I read from our contributors about how sleep affects health, I was ignoring this over and over. I clean my home with green products, we eat mostly organic, and I’m a green beauty advocate. My husband and I even recently took leaves from our school jobs and moved our children from the city of Toronto to live on a lake 3 hours north. I’m serious about mindful living.
But last summer after my mom died, my sleep suffered even more. I was finding myself regularly still awake in the hours before dawn and when I did manage to sleep I’d either be woken from stress or my son. Every single day was hard. Exhausted more than I’d ever been, I signed up to take an Adult Sleep Coaching course in hopes that what I would learn would help me get the sleep I so desperately needed as well as offer insight to support the readers on Green Moms Collective.
What I’ve learned has made my days better and our family is happier as a result. While I’m still prone to stay up late at night, I conscientiously choose to make restful sleep a priority for myself. If I can do it, so can you.
I’m excited to partner with Rebecca Earl to bring you The Better Sleep School and help you make the choice, using The Better Sleep School tools, to wake up feeling rested. Here’s to #BetterSleepHappierMornings.