Allana Robinson: Today we have Talia Shapero joining us. Talia is actually an adult sleep coach.
Did you know that was a thing? I sure didn’t!
I was super excited when I connected with Talia because parent sleep is a huge stressor that I think most of us deal with and it impacts our ability to be calm and present with our kids so much.
Often, our ability to stay regulated and therefore help our kids regulate hinges on our ability to be well rested, so without further ado, let’s start the interview.
Welcome Talia. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Talia Shapero: Hi, thanks so much for having me.
Allana Robinson: So let’s start off by introducing you. Tell us who you are, what you do, how you came into this. I know you have quite an interesting background.
Talia Shapero: My background is actually in teaching and education in the early years field and I know that we have some similar, yeah, similar background experiences.
I am an adult sleep coach consultant and sleep educator. I work with adults, I can also work with some teenagers who are having issues with their sleep. who are suffering from, nighttime sleep, daytime sleepiness any other sleep related issue.
What I do is identify and address those root causes or other imbalances that are impacting a person’s sleep and work with them to put together what I call a sleep optimization plan to help get their sleep back on track for really long term improvement.
I don’t want to treat symptoms. We’re looking at what’s really going on because, we are fundamentally driven to sleep!
It’s a biological need. It’s a drive that we have and often there’s external factors that are getting in the way of us sleeping well. I got into the field because I was a chronic insomniac for years and years.
I never considered myself a good sleeper, but I think the trigger for me was having kids, which a lot of my clients experience. I know, Allana, that’s why we connected. You have parents who are suffering from sleep issues
his happens to a lot of us, right?
We’re pregnant and we have our babies, they’re born. We’re waking up at all hours of the night to be responsive to their needs as we should.
What was happening over time, my son ended up falling asleep and sleeping through the night but I couldn’t anymore.
I spiraled out and like I said, there’s external factors going on. At the time I was expanding a business and growing a business and I was really busy, but also, not entirely satisfied with everything.
I just, didn’t have maternity leave, worked myself to the bone, burnt out and eventually I had this burnout insomnia diagnosis.
As I was going through my treatment, I just noticed that whenever I would tell anyone about what was happening with me.
First of all, nobody knew that there were solutions to sleep challenges to overcome them. Everyone was very, including myself, was fatalistic about it and secondly, anyone who I spoke to they’re like, Oh, I can’t sleep or my mom can’t sleep or my nephew can’t.
Everyone’s got their own sleep story, that’s really how I got into the field and became certified.
I’m really passionate to help others because I understand how terrible it feels not to sleep and it doesn’t just affect your night, but it affects, our entire being.
Allana Robinson: Yess, and that’s why I was so excited when you reached out to me because, I’ve worked with tons of different children’s sleep coaches, and that’s all well and good. Similar to you, after I had kids, I was good for a while because I was so sleep deprived that I found falling asleep when my kids were really young very easy.
Then once their sleep really resolved and stopped being able to sleep. The sleep pressure was gone all of a sudden and, same thing, I have clients who complain about it. Friends who complain about it. My own husband struggles with his sleep.
I’ve found solutions, but he, men, they don’t want to do anything. I just want to solve those problems.
Talia Shapero: Men are looking better at compartmentalizing their bedroom issues.
Allana Robinson: Very fatalistic, as you said about it, just oh, this is just how it is. I was so excited because as you said, I’m really an advocate of you have to put your own oxygen mask on first.
Our kids can only ever be as good as we are, they can only ever be as okay as we are.
If we’re not sleeping well, that’s going to impact our ability to be patient and calm and guide them in a loving and supportive way during the day because we’re freaking tired.
I had no idea there were actually adult sleep coaches and it was kismet. We had some questions that came up in the Parenting Posse that I would love to chat with you about.
The first one, a lot of parents are having difficulty specifically with their kids are morning larks, as kids tend to be and they’re not so much.
I fall into this category where my circadian rhythm, I get my best work done, I feel most like myself from 1 p. m. to midnight.
My kids are up at the ass crack of dawn and 5:30, I hear their little feet going down the hallway and my kids are old enough now that they don’t come and wake me up, but most of my clients have younger kids still. They have, again, this very opposite schedule to their kids, and they’re struggling to balance that.
Talia Shapero: What can we do about it?
Listen, I think it is a tricky time. There are some things that we can do.
First of all, and I guess, like you said, some kids are much, younger, and they really need that support.
I always say, if you need those hours in the morning to sleep, try and help your set your child up for, what I called independent living in the AM.
It might be, and again, it has to be age appropriate depending on who you’re dealing with.
For example like with my son sometimes, on weekends or if you’re up, if you wake up, you can go then, this is your iPad is here. You can go and work that or sometimes they want to come into bed with me. Okay, come into bed.
I got my earplugs on my eyeshades still. You’re not, maybe not getting that deep restful sleep, but you’re still in bed.
Depending on the kids, some kids are happy to stay in their room, but they don’t know the time.
Sometimes there’s those grow clocks, kids are the clock. I want you to try and stay in your room until this time.
What’s really helpful though, is to set up if possible, an activity maybe the night before.
During the week everyone needs to get up and go for the most part always but weekends have a little bin of toys or activities that are special, they’re exciting, they are reserved for that morning time.
There’s still that novelty when they have it maybe having an activity for them.
Again, like if they’re old enough and kids, you know as young as three or four some of them can be pretty independent at, for example putting out a bowl of cereal the night before, maybe a little junk of milk that’s on the bottom shelf in the fridge.
Obviously we don’t want them using appliances or anything, dangerous, but here, serve yourself some breakfast and that gives them some independence as well.
I think, what’s really important, if you are fortunate to be co-parenting with someone, make the most of your chronotypes.
When I say chronotypes, that’s referring to, whether someone’s more of a night owl or a lark or an early bird.
For example, myself, I am up early in the morning whereas my husband needs that lion. Fenerally I’ll take over, more than morning routines. I’m up.
I’ll let him sleep, but he does more of the evening routines because after eight, I don’t want to talk to any children. I don’t want to like, I’m done. My patience is thin. I don’t have it.
I think, working. together and also, asking for help! I think a lot of us, especially as women, we and as mothers, we just take on the world, right?
We need to do it and there’s the control factor of we’re going to do it.
Not so much as we want to do it, but we know we’re going to do it the right way. It’s going to be like. quicker and easier and more efficient.
I think there’s something like we’ve got to let go a little and, give some responsibility to someone else and be able to ask our partners forhelp.
I know like my husband, bless him, he’s amazing. He is no mind reader. He doesn’t really see the signs.If I’m sleep deprived, I need to sleep in.
If I say, listen, like I’m dead, I need some extra time. He’ll say, Oh, okay, yeah, no problem.
These are a few things that you can do if you do need that extra time.
Allana Robinson: I’m such a big advocate for kids, never doing things for kids that they can competently do for themselves.
I think there’s so much that we do for little kids that they really can learn to do. We just have to teach them.
My kids don’t like their EGGO waffles hot. They always would toast their EGGO waffles the night before and then leave them out there for them and I called them cookie waffles because they would eat them like a cookie instead of me cutting them all up.
Talia Shapero: You’re like, oh, you’re getting cookies for breakfast.
Allana Robinson: Exactly and they loved it.
We have the chocolate chips in them or the blueberries in them. They were like, oh yeah, it’s cookie waffle day! I was like, yeah, do not talk to me until 9 a. m.
Talia Shapero: I think that’s true, like kids love having that independence. This is, a whole sideline of child development, but it really builds up all of their emotional cognitive development.
It’s really key for them and they feel good about it too.
Allana Robinson: It’s really functional.
What about revenge sleep procrastination?
I’m guilty of this! Last night I didn’t go to bed until two in the morning because I got really involved in a game of solitaire that I was playing that was really difficult and before I knew it, it was two in the morning.
I’ll do things that. do wind me down, like playing solitaire or, non screen time activities, but then I’ll get really hyper focused on it and I won’t want to finish. Last night I was like, no, I have to finish this hand because I’ll never come back to it.
Talia Shapero: Yes, revenge, bedtime, procrastination, more people are knowing what that term is. For those who don’t, it’s the decision to prolong bedtime to engage in other activities. Despite having enough time to sleep, but you may be doing it because there’s a perceived lack of time during the day or you’re just going down a rabbit hole.
My first piece of advice, like whenever I talk to people about that, I’m like, let’s analyze this a little bit.
What is the reason? Why is it that you’re staying up late and what for, right?
Is it, because you’re not able to find time during the day to do what you wanted to, steal those moments, or is it more of just like a self regulation. Oh, I’m on my phone and that dopamine is hitting and I just can’t get out of it.
For me, cause I go to bed a little bit earlier. I turn everything off around 10 and my son doesn’t go to bed till after eight, but I need time for me and stuff. I need it.
It’s one of my guilty pleasures. I love a good trash reality TV. I’m into housewives. I’m into all of it.
If there’s like something like that, how can I try and carve a little bit of time to do that during my day?
Now, reality is we can’t all do that. What I’ll try and do is if I’m going to the gym, I’m on the treadmill or I’m on the bike, I’m getting my 20 minutes of that during the day. Trying to steal those moments if you can.
Habit stacking. If it’s a self regulation thing, I always say, I’m like, treat yourself, like your kid in terms of their sleep routine.
Something that can be useful and I do as well at 10 o’clock, I have a timer that goes off.
That’s curtain call, we’re putting away the screens, we’re putting away all those things that I might end up going down those rabbit holes with.
You can set, if it’s being on your phone, which I think a lot of us, end up doing, setting, restrictions on your devices.
SI know there’s apps that can either alert you saying, you like, now’s the time to come off or sometimes I think they can deny you access unless you go into the settings and change it.
In general, we want to be trying to stop using our devices 30 to 60 minutes before going to bed.
What can we can do instead?
Create that wind down routine.
I know, you said that you like solitaire, sometimes it winds me down, but sometimes if you’re on.
Allana Robinson: It’s a challenge and I have to finish the challenge.
Talia Shapero: Be really mindful of what are the things we’re doing in that one day and routine that they’re a little bit stimulating, and relaxing, but not overly stimulating that they’re going to keep us going.
Relaxation techniques are really helpful because they can also decrease the stress that might drive those revenge bedtime activities anyways.
In general as part of that obviously, keeping a consistent week and bedtime will help, especially anchoring your wake time because over time, your body will commit to anticipate that you’ll be tired and a wind down routine helps do that as well.
We do that with our kids. We always have whatever they’re doing, whether it’s bath or story time or singing the same songs.
I don’t know about you, Allana, but I have two songs that I sing to my son. I’ve been singing to him since he was in the womb and even if he’s so jacked up, when I start singing those songs it’s like I can physically feel his body.
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Allana Robinson: Same thing with my boys.
We had you into heritability to present to our members the other week and I was screaming in my chair when you were talking about how like we have these great routines for our kids that Pavlov’s dog effect.
For my boys, it’s the white noise going on. They can be bouncing off the wall as I turn on the white noise or they really like the Coco Sleep podcast. My youngest tends to ruminate about things and he listens to a sleep story to help him focus on the story and not on whatever’s tossing and turning in his head. We put one of those on.
They basically pass out where they stand and I was like, yes, that makes so much sense that I’m not doing that for myself.
Talia Shapero: None of us do and I don’t understand like somewhere along the way, the road to childhood to adulthood, we just don’t think it applies.
There’s such a market and an obsession with kids sleep, right?
Sometimes overly but the reality is like we’re focused on it.
We know they need it. We know it’s important, but we need to firstly prioritize it for herself and value it as much and understand that. Our health and wellness is going to be optimized if we sleep and part of that is allowing us time to do.
Allana Robinson: I love that! I love that and I’ve started doing a little bit more of that. Last night it got a little sidetracked, but much better about being conscious of okay, I have a routine.
I have my cup of tea and I, sit down and I listen to a podcast and I do my, usually, very short solitaire hand.
It’s just remarkable how little tweaks like that can make such a big difference to how I feel and how for me, I find when I sleep well.
I’m so much calmer throughout the day, whereas, otherwise, I’m very ready to bust a gut at any minor inconvenience.
Talia Shapero: Oh, completely and that’s because, sleep balances our stress hormones. Our ability to handle stress, to use stress. And when we’re under slept, it’s like we’re in that fight or flight mode. Yeah, that totally makes sense.
Allana Robinson: Oh, I love that. I love that. What do you find is The biggest complaint that parents usually come to you with about sleep?
I know we all, as you said, we all think that we’re the only one dealing with this.
Talia Shapero: Totally!
Biggest complaint and I would say especially amongst mothers is, issues falling asleep and staying asleep and why is that?
Because that busy brain, that monkey brain.
A lot of people, they’re like, I’m so tired. If you’re a parent, you’re doing, your day job, or if you’re, and your day job could be another job or looking after your kids, which I would say even harder than working at a desk job.
You’re running ragged. You’re so busy. They get into bed. They’re like, I’m exhausted. My body’s exhausted. I’m so tired. I’ve been dragging out the day.
They get into bed. As soon as their head hits the pillow, there’s like a switch that goes off and they’re thinking about what happened yesterday, worries about what’s gonna happen tomorrow, rumination, planning, to do lists that is what I often notice a lot.
That’s a big complaint.
Allana Robinson: Yeah, I definitely do that too, and it’s always the things that you couldn’t think of during the day for me.
I’ll sometimes be standing there going, there’s something I need to do, but I can’t remember what it is. For some reason, my brain serves that to me as I’m falling asleep.
Talia Shapero: Exactly. That makes sense and I think the reason for that is because, in today’s modern world we’re so busy.
We’re just like ticking off those little things that we need to do and get by during the day, but we’re not taking a moment to sit with it, process it, carve out some time to even plan for what are we going to do, tomorrow.
When we get into bed, there’s this backlash of thinking because, even though we’ve been busy, we haven’t really been processing it. We haven’t been studying and planning, so that’s why it’s all coming at night and that time when our brain is meant to be quiet.
Allana Robinson: Oh, hat makes so much sense!
I feel you on that one. I know I’m resonating with what you’re saying, if our listeners are listening and resonating with what you’re saying. How do you work with parents? What does it look like to work with you?
Talia Shapero: First of all, I always offer a three 20 minute discovery call, figure out, what’s going on with you tell you, what my process and as well, I always want to rule out any sort of medical or sleep disorder, That’s really important.
Whether someone comes to me or not, I always say, have you spoken to your doctor about this and get a little bit of medical history because, sometimes, there’s things that we can do to change our sleep, but sometimes there’s issues like, hormonal imbalances or nutritional or vitamin deficiencies. That can really impact your ability to sleep.
It might be a quick fix in that way, but when someone comes to me what I do first is a really thorough holistic investigation.
I’m doing a long assessment and I’m examining what I call to be the five pillars of healthy sleep.
I’m looking at a person’s their sleep schedules of course, and what they’re doing through the day environment, their headspace. Mental health and wellness their nutrition and movement and then of course, any medical issues or medication.
I analyze all that.
I’m like a little sleep detective. I get your forms, I have a look.
I’ve been trained to specifically identify some factors that I see that may be impacting their sleep.
My backgrounds in teaching, knowledge is power, the more, and I think the more people understand their sleep and their sleep patterns, it’s going to help them work towards the solution.
I give them a lot of sleep education.
I think a lot of people also are misguided on what is typical sleep? What is a good sleeper? What’s normal? What’s not?
We go through that and then, we address some of those imbalances that I might see.
For example, it might be that like a lot of people just are not getting enough bright light during the day, not getting enough. Natural light outside,
Allana Robinson: Sspecially in these northern climates.
Talia Shapero: Or it could be dehydration, or you’re spending too much time in bed. I think a lot of us do that. We think wh, we’re over or underslept.
We need to spend more time in bed, but that sometimes makes the problem worse.
We, I identify with them what’s going on. We set our problems, we set our goals and then, I help them set some really manageable, small targets, like one to three things to work with at a time that is going to start getting them on the right track.
I know from personal experience that not sleeping sucks and I think a lot of people know that.
I think a lot of people also if, they know there’s probably things that they’re doing that aren’t great, but like we’re a habit mind.
We’re not great at changing our behavior if we’re given a laundry list.
This where coaching approach and I’m sure you feel the same way when you’re with your parents works really well, right?
We’re giving them like tiny, achievable, personalized, meeting them where they are.
Allana Robinson: That’s why working with a coach is so nice because I find a lot of parents, whether they’re dealing with their children’s sleep, their own sleep, their children’s behavior, whatever, a lot of them know what they need to do.
They just don’t know what the priority is. They try and do everything at once and they get really overwhelmed and fall off the horse.
Talia Shapero: Exactly! That’s what I do. I usually meet with my clients every one to two weeks, we review the targets they’ve done.
We modify it. We tweak it. We continue to habit stack that. I’ll usually work with a client for a few months.
Now, I am also offering what I call the sleep reboot consult, it’s a single session and that’s more for people who, maybe just need a few tweaks. Like they’re like, they’re really motivated, independent.
They’re like, yeah, I’m going to take, I’m going to take on your suggestions and we can go from there.
I think for the majority of us, we work better with that long term coaching approach.
Allana Robinson: Yeah, because you need that things change.
First of all, you need that consistent reprioritization of, the next step and okay, this worked, so now where are we going to go from here?
I feel like every time, when I’m coaching, and I’m sure you have the same thing, every step that a client takes leads to another fork in the road.
Talia Shapero: I’s two steps forward, one step back.A hundred percent. It takes time.
People who come to me have had sleep issues for such a long time. I always say, listen, change isn’t going to happen overnight. Think how long it took you to get into this position.
It’s going to take some time to unravel it, but it can be done! You don’t have to suffer like this.
You don’t need to suffer like this in the long term and if you’re not talking to me, go to your doctor and advocate for yourself because nobody needs to suffer from poor sleep.
There may be certain like stressors or, work deadlines or something that’s getting into the way. That’s fine. We have a few sleepless nights or for a few weeks.
Nobody should have chronic sleep issues. they can be treated.
Allana Robinson: Sleep is what I call a face stressor and I usually lump it in with like elimination, food, sickness, and then sleep.
It’s one of those four things are off, nothing can be right.
I love that you encourage people to take care of that because it does have such a profound impact and there’s no way over it.
There’s no way under it, no way around it. You gotta go through it.
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