Kim Sopman – FOUNDER + CERTIFIED SLEEP CONSULTANT
The sleep consulting industry is bananas. Five years ago I didn’t feel this way – I didn’t feel the industry was oversaturated, but it is now. There is every kind of sleep coach you can imagine out there, gentle, baby-led, sensitive, holistic… the list goes on.
Some of these coaches are self-proclaimed and some do have the education to back up their words of wisdom. The conventional title “sleep consultant” doesn’t cut it anymore, because these consultants are cut down by the holistic and the gentle as not being intuitive or offering individualized support.
Coaches are either walking the holistic path or the mainstream path. The middle ground is where the rebels hang out. The rebels understand that without balance, neither holistic nor mainstream alone will work to solve a family’s sleep crisis. I feel the sleep coaching industry needs to promise less and speak the truth more whenever I come across questions like the ones I will share below.
A family with a 10-month-old baby found me on the Holistic Sleep Coaching Directory. Frankly, I didn’t think people actually searched Certified Sleep Coach directories! Anyway, they wanted to know exactly how much their baby would cry if they worked with me… and because I am certified “holistic”, the answer would be none, right? BUT if they wanted to try conventional sleep training – then how much crying would there be then?
My answer was simple – “I do not know,” I said.
There was a brief silence as I waited for a response – there wasn’t one. I carried on talking.
Whether I am holistic, mainstream, create a high-touch, responsive plan, or communicate by text 24/7, at this moment I don’t know your baby. I don’t know his temperament. I don’t know about you and your partner’s personality and how you are coping. So, sadly, I can’t tell you how much your baby will cry. Changes to routine and sleep preferences typically make babies upset, and when babies get upset they cry. A parent’s job is to respond and reassure. To be the co-regulator. To help bring their baby back down to ground level.
He responded that he and his wife were looking for a holistic coach, and they spoke to other coaches and wanted to find the right fit… and could I tell them specifically how long it would take their baby to sleep through the night.
I could give the “2 weeks to a full night of sleep” promise, but that’s not me. There is no way of knowing before implementation how a baby will react to the simplest changes.
I wish all parents knew before scouring the internet for a sleep professional that making changes is hard work, and there are no quick fixes and zero no-cry solutions. It can also be frustrating as sleep is not linear and there will always come a time when challenges arise, even after working with a professional. This is part of the process of a baby growing and changing daily. When I work with families for a month, their baby could be on one sleep pattern at the start of the month and a completely different one by the time we’re done because that’s how fast sleep can change!
The word “holistic” is a hot topic in the parent coach and sleep coaching industry. I think many people believe that it’s the answer to their prayers. When I speak to families, I like to explain that being a holistic sleep coach means I look at the complete family: it doesn’t mean that we do the same techniques or methods mainstream sleep consultants do, but we do it better. That’s not what it means.
It simply means we take the family unit into consideration, and I am talking about the primary caregivers, siblings, even grandparents when tackling current sleep challenges. Sometimes it’s not the baby that requires my focus. Sometimes the parents are struggling with night wake-ups or frequent cat naps and simply need to know that this is biologically normal. It’s more of a reality check. Sometimes a baby’s sleep needs and abilities differ from their parents at this point in time.
So, what can I do to give parents some relief? How can I balance their expectations? For me, this is a family-led approach, looking at the full picture, not just down the narrow lens of a baby that needs “fixing.”
I don’t need the word holistic in my title to do this job either. I am one of the rebels taking the middle path, supporting families in a realistic way. No promises. No deadlines. I support change, I work honestly and allow room for imperfection as perfect sleepers do not exist.
Gillian is a certified Sensitive Sleep Coach through the Institute of Sensitive Sleep Consulting, based in Australia. The Institute prides itself in training sleep coaches to approach each situation from a uniquely sensitive approach. This includes effectively listening to each family and their goals, respecting their lifestyle choices and encouraging parents to gently attune to their child, in order to preserve the attachment relationship. With her sensitive, caring nature, she will guide families to their sleep goals. Gillian has a 3 year old boy, a 1 year old girl and is proud to make sleep a priority for her family.
Lindy completed her post degree bachelor of science in nursing in 2013, and began her nursing career working in Neurology & Pediatrics, then obtained her perioperative nursing diploma. As a Registered Nurse, Lindy has had the opportunity to work in both Pediatric and Perioperative care, where she has worked in the operating room since 2014. Lindy brings unprecedented care and knowledge to Rest Easy Sleep Consulting and provides advice and professional feedback on every client case. Fun Fact: Lindy was Kim’s very first client! Lindy has three handsome boys ages 4 years, 2 years and a 5-month old!