Many parents wonder why sleep training is bad. This article will examine the main cons of extinction sleep training for infants, including the damaging effects on cortisol levels, harm to the child’s fight-or-flight instincts, and danger to the development of the brain. The most important con, however, is the lack of consistency. It creates an inconsistency in the child’s sleep schedule and causes confusion.
Problems with extinction sleep training
Extinction sleep training is a popular method of bedtime coaching, but it is controversial among child development researchers. This method relies on the assumption that children rely on parent soothing to fall asleep. If parents refuse to soothe their children, they may end up stalling, crying, or throwing tantrums. When children can’t get to sleep, they’ll be disruptive throughout the night. But there are problems with extinction sleep training, including the fact that it ignores individual differences.
Although infants show self-soothing behavior, they rarely use it. Hence, extinction sleep training doesn’t teach them how to regulate their emotions, which is essential for their growth and development. The most common form of regulation for infants is coregulation, and this cannot be taught with extinction sleep training. It also doesn’t address the problem of sleep resistance. In fact, extinction sleep training may cause other negative effects, such as disrupted sleep.
Some studies have suggested that the extinction sleep training method may lead to a number of attachment problems. It is also difficult to implement when parents co-sleep with their child. This method requires the parent to separate from the child until the child is asleep, which may lead to problems in the future. Parents who co-sleep with their children may face similar difficulties. Moreover, it may result in sleeplessness, which can result in a lack of quality sleep.
Some of the problems with extinction sleep training include its inability to address the root cause of the problem and the potential negative effects. While the authors claim that the extinction bursts are a normal developmental response, they are a common sign of progress toward a more restful nap. If your child has suffered a traumatic event in the past, it’s best to seek professional advice from a behavioral psychologist.
Negative effects on cortisol levels
Sleep training has many benefits for children, but its negative effects on cortisol levels have been under debate. Research by Larson, Gunnar, and Hertsgaard (1991) suggests that children who do not get adequate sleep may be at higher risk for increased stress. This study also looked at the relationship between cortisol and daycare attendance. Researchers concluded that improving sleep quality was linked to lower levels of cortisol during the day.
Studies have shown that crying during sleep training increases cortisol levels in newborns, but not in the long run. While crying during sleep training may increase cortisol levels temporarily, there are no long-term effects on attachment. Cry-it-out articles argue that elevated cortisol levels in newborns indicate toxic stress and trauma. However, research papers discuss that a baby’s cortisol levels depend on several factors, including attachment.
The study results also point to the importance of variability in sleep. In other words, people who do not sleep enough often are more likely to develop cortisol levels that are higher in the morning than during the day. Moreover, those who are more productive during the daytime have lower levels of cortisol in the morning, indicating a greater vulnerability to stress. While variability in sleep is common in humans, it is still uncertain how much it influences cortisol levels.
The researchers conducted a study in mothers’ homes. They asked the mothers to collect saliva samples at home in the morning and evening using a cotton dental roll. The mothers then placed the wet swabs in empty plastic syringe tubes, labeling them with the date and time. The samples were stored in the refrigerator until the mothers returned to the daycare facility. The results of the study were then analyzed to determine whether mothers’ children were more susceptible to chronic stress.
Harmful for infants’ fight-or-flight instincts
Critics of cry-it-out sleep training point out that it is detrimental to the rapidly developing brain and psyche of an infant. Cry-it-out parenting is the result of pressure from parents to achieve a solid night’s sleep before their infants are ready. Cry-it-out parenting is also dangerous because it may cause an infant to withdraw into a state of numbness, which could affect their ability to trust other people and even their own family members as they grow older.
Studies of newborn monkeys have shown that sleep training undermines the development of their brains. The isolated monkeys were able to smell, hear, and see other monkeys, yet developed social skills and trust issues. Compared to an adult brain, a baby’s brain is only twenty to twenty-five percent developed at birth. They have a fully developed amygdala that helps them understand fear, but they don’t have as much brain volume as a monkey’s. Therefore, sleep training is counterproductive and will only cause the infant to develop into a child who has no way to express their emotions.
Another study, comparing three groups of parents, showed that the control group didn’t follow the sleep training technique and the control group did. The control group was allowed to cry for longer periods, while the non-control group gradually shifted their bedtime later. Overall, the results showed that both groups of babies slept longer and woke less during the night. Objective measures, however, didn’t reveal any statistical significance.
If you are considering sleep training, you should keep in mind that you are teaching your child a new skill. While it may take a little time, it will be worthwhile for both the child and the parent. Some babies are difficult to train. No one learns new habits overnight. Even if you’ve tried it countless times, it will take some time. So don’t give up just yet.
Dangerous for brain development
It may seem counterintuitive, but studies have found that sleep is critical to healthy brain development and growth. Sleep-deprived infants grow into sleep-deprived children. The developing brain is vulnerable to disruptions during this crucial developmental stage, making them more likely to injure themselves. Sleep-deprived adults struggle to interpret emotional cues and are less expressive. Even more troubling, lack of sleep can undermine the attachment bond between parents and children.
Harmful for baby’s sleep
Some studies have shown that a typical baby sleeps for 9 to 12 hours per day. The reason is largely biological. Babies naturally sleep more at night than during the day. While promoting deeper sleep may make your baby sleep longer, the consequences can be negative. If you want your baby to sleep longer at night, you may need to use sleep training. Here’s why:
Research shows that babies eventually learn to sleep independently. In contrast, crying it out for sleep training is counterproductive and even harmful to the infant’s mental health. The most common reason for crying-it-out is a fear of separation and aversion to sleep. However, this is not the case for every infant. While cry-it-out methods are widely used in North America, Australia, and parts of Europe, they may actually harm a baby’s health in other ways.
According to Dr. Schwartz, the optimal age to begin sleep training is four to six months. Some parents choose to start at four months, but there are also some babies who benefit from a sleep-training regimen at nine months. These babies are no longer hungry during the night, and a more responsive approach to their cries may be beneficial. However, it is important to remember that babies do not know when to sleep-train. It’s best to consult a pediatrician before trying to sleep-train your baby.
Despite the widespread popularity of sleep training, there is still very little scientific research to support this approach. In Canada, over half of parents have tried the method. In Switzerland, one-third of parents have opted for sleep training. There are many companies out there that specialize in recommending the method. While some studies are merely experiments, others have been replicated many times. And the benefits of sleep training may not be worth the risks.