Dana Obleman has helped sleep train over 100,000+ children and is the founder of the Sleep Sense Program. She shares with us sleep tips & tricks to help settle your little one to get a good night’s rest, including why Baby Dream Machine is the must-have device.
After I gave birth to my first child, his sleep troubles led me down a massive rabbit hole of sleep books, scientific studies, and research papers, all of which would eventually become the foundation for The Sleep Sense Program.
Although I learned a LOT before creating the program, and a whole lot more in my 16 years as a pediatric sleep expert since then, there are still two central pillars of a baby sleeping well that I can’t emphasize enough:
- Your baby needs to learn to fall asleep independently... and
- Your baby needs a consistent, predictable bedtime routine.
The functionality of a bedtime routine goes way beyond just “getting ready for bed.” We’re not just getting our PJs on, getting comfortable, and saying goodnight. Bedtime routines provide a much more valuable service.
The Importance of Melatonin Production
Our bodies function on a 24-hour clock that, before the invention of the light bulb, used to be determined by the rising and setting of the sun. When the sun goes down, our bodies stop producing cortisol, which helps keep us focused and alert, and starts producing melatonin, which winds our brains and bodies down and helps us get to sleep.
That probably worked well in the days before we had artificial light, but nowadays, we’re surrounded by light everywhere we go and every waking minute of the day, so we rarely get the gradual onset of darkness that our bodies recognize as a cue to start shutting down.
Fortunately, that’s not the only way our brain can be taught to recognize an approaching bedtime. We’re creatures of habit, and when we repeat things in predictable steps, we learn to recognize them as patterns, and those patterns can help our bodies plan accordingly.
It’s one of the reasons I recommend that bedtime routines start off with a bath. Bath time is so different from baby’s other daily experiences, so it serves as a very recognizable point where the brain can make the connection, “Aha! We’re in the bath! I know this part. After this comes the PJs, the story, and then bed. Guess I’ll get started with the sleep hormones.”
(Note: the human brain doesn’t actually vocalize this. That would be horrifying. I’m speaking metaphorically.)
Aromatherapy and Bedtime
Another great way to let baby’s system know that sleep is on its way is through their sense of smell. Smell is very closely linked to memory, as you can tell whenever you get a whiff of an ex’s cologne at a department store. So using an essential oil diffuser (like Baby Dream Machine) in baby’s room can help set the stage for a good night’s sleep. (Lavender oil, which is what Baby Dream Machine’s Sweetest Dreams oil is made up of, is a great choice, as it’s reported to have some sleep benefits even outside of this bedtime routine scenario.)
Lights Out… Except for Red Ones!
Turning down the lights at the start of baby’s bedtime routine will also help their system recognize the onset of bedtime. Most household light bulbs emit some amount of blue light, even if it doesn’t look particularly blue. The major provider of blue light is the sun, which, I know, doesn’t look blue either, but that’s where we’ve come to associate blue light with wakefulness and alertness, so turn down the lights throughout the house right around the start of the bedtime routine.
Of course, when it comes to baby’s room, you’re probably still going to need enough light to read a couple of stories, so use red lights instead of regular light bulbs, so they’ll give you enough light to read by without stimulating cortisol production. Baby Dream Machine uses the *perfect* hue of red light to assist in natural melatonin products, which helps your baby sleep.
And whatever you do, keep the screens away from your baby’s eyes for at least an hour before bedtime. Tablets, phones and TVs emit a massive amount of blue light.
So How Does Baby Dream Machine Help with Sleep?
Baby Dream Machine can do all of the above-mentioned things (and more) at the push of a button with its combination of red light therapy, aromatherapy, and pink noise - making it my new favorite tool for helping your baby get off to a great start every bedtime.
Dana began her private practice in Vancouver, Canada in 2003. After struggling with her own child’s sleep, she drew on her dual degrees in Psychology and Education to create The Sleep Sense™ Program, a complete sleep resource for parents which has sold almost 100,000 copies in more than 30 countries. Since writing The Sleep Sense Program, she has authored an additional four books on specific parenting challenges.
Over 75,000 individuals follow her on Facebook and Instagram, her instructional YouTube videos have over 3.5 million views, her parenting blog and website average 90,000 unique visitors per month, and her weekly podcast has over half a million downloads.
She has been a featured speaker at major parenting trade shows, a frequent guest on radio and television programs, and her work has been highlighted on Good Morning America, CNN, Today’s Parent, WebMD, The Washington Post, and many other prominent media publications.
She has personally trained a global network of over 200 Certified Sleep Sense™ Consultants to carry on her work in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Namibia, Finland, and the United Kingdom, as well as the United States and Canada.
Today, Dana lives in Sarasota, Florida with her husband and 3 children, where she continues her life’s work to educate and empower families with healthy sleep habits.