Owlet Dream Lab Review: Can A Sleep Coaching Program Help My Kids?
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At 5:41 am I can already tell that it will be a bad day, mainly because my twins have taken turns waking me up every 20 minutes since 3:17 am I alternate between the two babies until 5 am , when I can rest for almost half an hour before they wake up. I feel like a dying neon sign: twinkling and buzzing and trying to function properly. I can not concentrate. I am angry. I cry at least twice before lunch. There is a reason why sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique.
Not every night is as hard as this one. In general, we have come to a difficult truce in my house with regard to naps and bedtime for the children. We pretty much stick to a schedule, and they usually don’t take more than 15 minutes to fall asleep at night. But, they don’t always stay asleep, their naps are probably shorter than they should be, and I know I get them into bad habits by cuddling and rocking them back to sleep. We could do better, and since I didn’t know where to start, I decided to enroll in the Dream Lab sleep coaching system.
Dream Lab is affiliated with Owlet, the company that manufactures the Smart sock which monitors a baby’s heart rate and breaths while sleeping. The Dream Lab System was developed by two pediatric sleep consultants, Jill Spivack and Jen Waldburger, who have helped more than 500,000 families establish healthy sleep habits with their children. The service is Owlet’s only software product, and while you can purchase a code to unlock it for $ 100 from several different locations, the program itself is only available through Owlet’s website. It consists of assessments and quizzes to see where your child is having difficulty sleeping, as well as instructional videos and three different workout options for use with your child. This is not a ‘shout it out’ type program, but emphasizes that a few tears during the process are probably inevitable.
What is sleep training?
For those who are not familiar, sleep training is the general concept of teaching a baby to fall asleep on their own without the intervention of a parent or guardian. This means no rocking, cuddling, walking, rocking, breastfeeding or feeding. This not only teaches a child how to calm down, but it also helps them learn to fall back to sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night.
There are dozens of schools of thought on this subject – new parents will probably hear the phrase “let them cry” more than once – but they all essentially center on getting a baby to sleep consistently. and deep all night. These techniques are sometimes associated with weaning from sleep, which takes your child away from waking up at night to eat. Either way, the goal is for everyone to get more sleep.
The Dream Lab process in action
The first step in the Dream Lab process is to assess your child’s health and sleep patterns. It consists of nine questions, including items such as “Is your child currently cutting a tooth in the gum?” and “How do you feed your child?” When I go into the responses of my daughter, who is teething and about to walk on her own, I’m told that maybe now is not the right time to start a sleep training program because she is both irritable to the tooth and excited. about his new skills. Fair enough.
While this is disappointing, as she is the one who needs the help the most, it is also quite understandable and gives me some confidence in the process. It makes sense that a child who suffers from intermittent pain or who is developing new skills would have a hard time training for sleep. Dream Lab allows program users to return once the circumstances are more conducive to success.
Since I have twins, I instead did an assessment for my son, who qualified. The next page showed a video to help me understand when to start the sleep training process. After that, I took another quiz for the “Sleep Stealer” section, which consisted of nine more questions about my kid’s sleep patterns, what they’re wearing to sleep and what’s in them. its cradle, through the temperature and darkness of the room. The next step was to answer another set of questions to determine which method (visit, stay or contact) would be the best solution. I end up matching the Stay method, which is the one I would have chosen anyway.
The results of the Sleep Stealer questionnaire are divided into 17 suggested actions in five categories (for example, sleep environment, routines and sleep program). Some of the suggestions were for things I already do, like creating a regular, relaxing routine before bedtime. Some of the other suggestions are pretty straightforward, like leaving the white noise machine on overnight or keeping the room warmer. Others – say, putting my son alone in a room while he trains to sleep – are impractical or would be difficult to accomplish. The only other room in our house where her crib could fit has a broken window and gets way too cold, so I left that to be done.
While not all items are marked as complete, the site still takes me to the next step: a series of coaching videos that give step-by-step instructions on how to get started with the Stay Method. There are additional videos covering topics like naps or separation anxiety, and each has a summary you can click for more information. After watching the videos, I was taken to my son’s sleep plan, which detailed a daily schedule of when to start a relaxation routine, nap times, and a schedule to wean him off late-night feedings. The plan includes a page for each day, and places I can go into detail as and when it was put in its crib, how long it took to fall asleep, etc. trainers to motivate me to continue.
Does sleep training work?
If I rated my kids on their progress in the Dream Lab program, I would give them an A-. They’re older than most babies who start to sleep training, so they picked up a lot of techniques quickly. And after a few days, they fell asleep faster, with less intervention from me, and stayed asleep longer. They were also easier to fall back to sleep when they woke up in the middle of the night.
However, if I noted myself on how I did on the program, I would get a D at best. I can’t lie here, I didn’t follow the program to the letter – and the Dream Lab coaches are very specific on this. importance of fully complying with the recommendations. Some of the places I failed were the Sleep Stealer suggestions. Honestly, I don’t really have a good place to isolate a sleep-training child so my son stayed where he normally slept: in the crib next to my bed, in the same room as his sister.
Of the 17 action items in the Sleep Stealer section, I skipped three. But I haven’t followed all of the step-by-step instructions for the Stay Method either. In order to train me to sleep with as few tears as possible, the method requires me to stay in the room while babies cry and check in with them intermittently – but not touch, rock or rock them. help in another way. I failed there. I adjusted the method somewhat, so my recordings included placing them on their backs in their crib, giving them a pacifier, and putting them away with a blanket (something else that is not allowed in the program) .
While that’s not what I was supposed to do at all, I tried to keep my interactions to a minimum, and it generally worked. I also went back to holding them briefly at night when they woke up, before putting them back on. Again this still worked most of the time and was an improvement over the nights I spent hours walking across the room holding them. As far as I know, we are still making progress – although slower than we could have done, we have strictly adhered to the program.
While the Dream Lab System aims to make sure you’re as ready for sleep training as your child is, with plenty of energy and time to devote to establishing a routine and sticking to the plan, i found it difficult to be. precise with him. Not just because I have twins, but because I work full time from home, during a pandemic, in a fairly remote location. My days are pure chaos, and something like a Sunday afternoon walk or a migraine does a remarkable job of derailing the kind of strict routine Dream Lab needs.
There are a million different sleep coaching systems, YouTube videos, and Instagram influencers that will offer tips on how to get your child to sleep better. Having never tried a sleep training program before and having only a short time for intensive research, I would be quite willing to pay the $ 100 entry fee to receive instructions. This helped the system ask specific questions making sure the program was tailored to the needs of my children.
That being said, I had some concerns about the overall process. First of all, I didn’t know exactly how to do this since I have twins. There is a section on the Multiples Help Center page, but it didn’t answer all of my questions and I didn’t really want to wait a day or two for a webform response. For example, what if my son and daughter used different methods? I also had other questions: does weaning from night meals include the 9 p.m. as well as the midnight weaning? This might be the only time I would have really liked to see a chat box for more immediate answers.
Also, on several occasions I wished the program was available as part of Owlet’s existing application. Since it’s only available as a webpage, I had to catch up on my entries for each day’s activity – especially on weekends when I rarely open my computer. I also had to refresh the page often because it had timed out, and at least once I had to log back in. This is obviously not the biggest issue, but given that Owlet’s other products can all be grouped together in the app, it would have been nice to have this one as well.
As to whether or not you should try Dream Lab’s sleep system, I will tell you that like many coaching programs, you will only get what you put out of it. But I am not disappointed with the experience. , and I will continue to use it with my twins as I have seen some really positive results. Allowing my kids to fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer was already worth the price of the program. I’ll just adjust their schedule to one that’s a little more achievable for my home right now.