I know how important sleep is to health but that knowledge certainly didn’t come easily. It came as a result of years of living with the stress of a job I wasn’t happy in before our little guy came into our lives. I don’t know about you but when I am stressed I do one of two things. I eat poorly and I don’t prioritize sleep.
What I didn’t realize pre-baby was how my insomniac ways were about to impact me once baby was born. I didn’t realize that when you have a tiny little human counting on you for everything, not only is sleep the sacrifical lamb but you also sleep with one ear open which doesn’t help matters. And when you don’t sleep your energy is low, you start forgetting people’s names, you forget to get dressed or brush your hair or even remember the last time you fed baby. It’s the worst form of torture.
I wish I had known Jennifer Garden, Occupational Therapist way back when. But frankly speaking, I was too tired to even know what an OT was or how one could help my situation. Now that I am better rested and thinking more clearly I am happy to announce that Jennifer is going to run our Infant Sleep & Breakfast Workshop on Tuesday, October 22nd 2013.
Here are a few questions that Jennifer answered about what she does as an Occupational Therapist and about the importance of sleep.
Question: What is an Occupational Therapist?
Occupational therapists are registered health care professionals. They focus on helping people to engage in daily life activities that they find meaningful and purposeful. You will typically encounter occupational therapists working as a core team member in hospitals and community health care settings. They work in the areas of mental health, paediatrics, geriatrics, return to work programs, and a host of other specialized areas.
One of the main ‘daily activities’ which affects all of us is sleep, in fact it is a foundational one. If sleep does not go well, nothing else in our day seems to go well either. OT’s are uniquely positioned to assess and provide recommendations to address the complex area of sleep.
We all need to sleep.
Question: Why is sleep so important for us and our children?
Sleep is essential for all of us. When you think of children’s health, it’s one of the most important aspects of their development because it helps the brain grow and develop. Children spend much more time in sleep than adults do because of the important development that takes place during sleep. If sleep is not optimal for us as humans it has health consequences.
As adults, we know all too well what a sleepless night brings:
- difficult thinking (fogginess)
- inability to perform our daily tasks to our best
For children, it’s even more challenging for them to cope as they have yet to develop most of their brain. When children don’t sleep they are often irritable, cranky, and fussy making it even more challenging for a tired parent to parent effectively and calmly.
Sleep is a complex puzzle that can be solved.
Assessing a sleep problem is rarely a simple feat. Sleep is a complex puzzle with many pieces to it therefore a cookie cutter solution is not the answer.
Question: How can an OT help my baby sleep?
Your OT can help you address areas such as the daytime activities you and your child engage in, the eating behaviours your child has, your routines, practices around sleep habits, where your child spends their time sleep and how they are getting to sleep are some of the many areas occupational therapists will work with families to uncover the sleep disturbance. We also work with other health care professionals to address areas which are related to sleep such as your doctor, registered dietician, psychologist and paediatrician.
Occupational therapists work in a family centred model of care and develop goals for sleep with parents. This means that the occupational therapist is there to provide you with evidenced-based practice and current research on areas which affect your child but that you are in the driver’s seat and are making informed choices concerning the care of your child. It is important to consider a child’s mental health needs as well as the entire family’s health needs and this is paramount to ensure success with sleep. Best of all, most extended health care plans cover the services of an occupational therapist! If your child is having difficulties with sleep, rest assured our occupational therapists are here to help.
I’m thrilled for you to meet Jennifer at our Infant Sleep & Breakfast Workshop.
When you’re a mama you’ll probably always chase sleep so why not come out and learn about how lack of sleep is affecting your family. Enjoy a light breakfast and meet some other mamas too.