Achieve sleep success for your whole family.

Taking the Emotion out of Sleep

Baby and child sleep can be an emotional topic, and as a parent who struggled with sleep deprivation, I completely understand why.

When you – the adult – are exhausted from battling to get more than a few hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep night after night, week after week, even month after month, it feels utterly impossible not to get emotional about it. You are, after all, a human with feelings of your own!

Yet the more work I do as a sleep consultant, the more I realise how important it is that we look at sleep from a scientific standpoint and not from an emotional one. 

In this article:

  • The science of sleep
  • Emotion and clouded judgement
  • Sleep is just … sleep!
  • Taking a step back for successful sleep

The science of sleep

Sleep is a naturally occurring process, a basic human need, and as I often say, we are all born or biologically designed to sleep (1). We all have an internal sleep system in place: a 24-hour body clock or circadian rhythm that controls when we sleep and when we wake (2). 

The science behind sleep and how our brains function may be complex, but as far as getting the sleep we need goes, it really should be a very easy, straightforward thing we all do, day in and day out. 

So, why isn’t it?

Emotion and clouded judgement

I wonder if a lot of it has to do with the emotion that has been brought into it – emotion that clouds our ability as parents to take a step back and see sleep for the natural condition it is. 

Many sleep experts out there make the emotional well-being of babies, children and families their primary focus. This has merit because parental attachment plays a huge role in development (3), but there’s a downside. 

Making our emotional attachment the main focus can make it difficult for us to identify when something is getting in the way of our little one’s sleep. “Feeding your baby whenever they need it”, for example, can turn into a baby who wakes every second hour at night because they’ve been snacking all day rather than taking in the calories they need by having full feeds. 

In turn, this can majorly impact our own well-being. On top of struggling with sleep deprivation, we worry about risking the bond and the attachment we’ll have with our child.

Sleep is just … sleep!

I wholeheartedly encourage nurturing, bonding and secure attachment between parents and their children, but I believe it’s crucial to see sleep for what it is: a natural, necessary function of our bodies. 

For me, sleep is about our bodies, our hormones, our natural drive, and our basic needs. 

Sleep is about our environment, waking up in the morning when the sun rises and the light tells us it’s daytime, and going to bed at night when the dark signals to our body it’s time to rest and recharge. 

Sleep is about feeling tired and allowing ourselves to drift off for no reason other than that. 

Taking a step back for successful sleep

I work with many different families, and I find time and time again that the ones who try their very best to take the emotion out of setting up healthy sleep habits achieve success far more quickly and easily than those who don’t take that step back. 

It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the emotion of it all when there are loud voices out there saying things like “sleep training will permanently damage your baby” and “if you leave your baby alone they will never trust you again”. These voices play right into the hands of our insecurities and fears about not being a good parent.

But do you know what? 

Allowing yourself to see sleep for what it really is doesn’t make you any less of a parent. What you’re actually doing is allowing your baby to follow their natural instinct to sleep and taking care of your own well-being at the same time. 

When you set your emotions aside, it becomes a lot easier to understand why sleep is not happening, to make the changes that need to be made, and to stick to healthy habits that work – not just for your little one but for your entire family.  


  1. NINDS. (2023). Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep.
  2. National Institute of General Medical Sciences. (2023). Circadian Rhythms.
  3. Rees C. (2007). Childhood attachment. British Journal of General Practice, 57(544):920-2.
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