WAKE TO SLEEP
Many times you will run across a situation where a baby will not sleep for an entire nap but will wake up at the 30 – 45 minute mark or perhaps you have a baby who wants to wake up at 5am every morning and the habit is not changing. As a professional you will have to find a way to encourage the baby to sleep through.
Tracy Hogg invented a very positive, easy way to solve this problem. Let me give an example. At 5am every morning your newborn charge is up. You have tried to allow them to find their own way back to sleep and it has been 1 week, maybe even 2 weeks and the child is still waking up at 5am. What has happened is that a habit or a neuron pathway has been formed.
There are a variety of reasons that can drive the creation of neurons pathways, linking them together in new ways. A few drivers of the way existing neurons may begin to link in a new manner, might be through focused learning of new information or situations we are exposed to.
An analogy to consider how this function might take place would be: If everyday as a child you walked to your babysitter’s home taking the exact same pathway through the woods, and you never, went an alternate way. One day as you walk down your normal well worn path you notice a path to the side that you never noticed before. You think, I should check that out, but you have never veered off that path so you are a little concerned as to what may happen. You take the path and it leads to your favorite cousin’s house. You knock on the door and once invited in you have a good time playing and reading with your cousin. Your cousin tells you “if you come back we will build a wonderful doll house.” So you begin to visit your cousin everyday and the pathway to her home becomes more and more familiar to you. You soon realize that you can go to your cousin’s house and have fun building a doll house or you can go to your babysitter’s house and do nothing. So you spend more and more time with your cousin until you are not real sure you remember the way to your babysitter’s house. You soon realize the path to babysitter’s house is over grown and there is no longer a distinguishable path. The pathway to your cousin’s house is now worn and familiar. This is similar to how neuroplasticity occurs in our brains as we learn something new. The more we repeat something and use that portion of the brain in a focused way, the easier it is for new neural pathways to develop in your brain. This is as true in an adult as an infant.
How does this apply to our awake babies? The baby has developed neuron pathways that are allowing him/her to wake at a specific time. You need to change that pathway.
Tracy Hogg first introduced the concept called “wake to sleep” in her book Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate With Your Baby. Tracy suggests in her book that a number of babies who wake frequently at naptime and at night are habitual wakers — that is, they’re waking out of habit, and not out of hunger or distress. These babies will wake at the approximately the same time every night or they wake up 30 – 45 minutes into their naps. The baby may not be able to fall back to sleep without your help. You may have tried to allow her to find her own way back to sleep and he/she just cannot do it. This is a baby you can pretty much set your clock to for wake ups.
With the “wake to sleep” method, you will go in an hour before your baby wakes at night or 10 minutes before your infants wakes (at the 30 – 45 minute point) from the nap and you lightly rouse your baby (rubbing his back, making shushing sounds, gently tickling his feet, stroking his hair, or simply turning on the light and whispering his name, if he’s a light sleeper) before he begins that transition, and then you help him make the transition, gently easing him into the next stage of deeper sleep. This will change those neural pathways and develop new ones to allow them to sleep through.