Should you go to Sleep School?

Before going to sleep school, I had no idea that there was actually (in some people’s minds) a stigma associated with sleep schools. Here I was freely telling anyone who would listen about how excited I was to be taking myself and Frankie off to the Masada Mother Baby Unit’s five day residential program, when some people were probably judging the hell out of me. At first, I was surprised to learn about the stigma, but then upon reflection, I can understand where it comes from. As mums, we can be so reluctant to ask for help, because if we ask for help, that obviously means we are not coping and we are therefore a crap mother, right?

Not only is there stigma, but there also seems to be a lot of mystery (“What happens behind the closed doors of sleep school?”) and this was definitely one of my motivations for starting this blog. For example, people talk a lot about the Masada “patting”, but often in vague terms that are not actually that helpful. I know before enrolling in Masada, I was reading people’s blog posts about their experiences and there wasn’t a great deal of concrete information, even though they all sung Masada’s praises.

And finally, I think there are a lot of mums with babies who are not terrible, waking-up-every-hour sleepers, and think: Isn’t sleep school only for those in dire straits? I probably fell into this category.

Aside from the fact I didn’t have a woeful little sleeper, for the first 10 weeks of her life, Frankie would only sleep for chunks of two to three hours at night. Our maternal health nurse had suggested these periods of sleep time would extend by the time Frankie hit about six weeks, but this never happened. Also in the back of my mind was the fact I was returning to work part-time in June, and I kind of wanted to be getting more than three lots of two hour chunks of sleep overnight. You know, just so my brain could actually function and I could improve my post-pregnancy, sleep deprived goldfish-like memory.

So given the above, enrolling in sleep school was a no-brainer for me. And here is the advice I would give to other mums considering whether to go:

  • If you are sick of hearing the advice “sleep when your baby sleeps” (particularly useful advice if your little one doesn’t sleep) and if even trying to stick to this piece of advice is leaving your exhausted: enrol.
  • If you are not sure whether your bub is a “bad enough” sleeper: enrol. Just the fact you are questioning it means that things could be better.
  • If you are going back to work and your bub isn’t giving you enough sleep to be able to function like a normal human being: enrol.
  • If you are worried about the sleep school stigma and are nervous about asking for help in fear that you will be nominated for “worst mother of the year”: enrol. And dump those friends that would judge you for such a decision. Like us mothers need more judgment.
  • And if you are hesitant to enrol because you just have no idea what goes on in a sleep school, you might like to have a read of this blog as I have tried to give an accurate picture of what to expect (at least, what to expect at Masada).

And hey, even if you enrol, you can always pull out if Murphy’s Law strikes and your little one becomes a superstar sleeper. Incidentally, a couple of days after I enrolled Frankie, she slept for a full seven hours – but sadly this was never to be repeated, so we kept out place at Masada.

Have you been to sleep school, or considering going? I’d love to hear what your experience was, or what is stopping you from making the call to enrol…

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16 thoughts on “Should you go to Sleep School?

  1. I am due to go to a sleeping school in a couple of weeks, but the last big ussue I had, resettling, seems to have been solved using your blog techniques! My 10 wo twins sleep from 7 PM till 5 or 6 AM, they self settle (or need some pats), and now also resettle (also with some pats sometimes). I still want to go to the sleep school but I feel bad now to take someone’s place since I am going to a publv one. Thanks for creating this “trouble” for me! 🙂

  2. I really wish we had a sleep school in Cape Town, I would have signed up immediatly. We only have sleep trainers that will give you a consult or that will spend one to 3 nights with you, and its hellish expensive. To have someone help you for a whole week, day and night must be magic.

  3. Thank you for this post! I went to Masada with my first child and it was a lifesaver. The continual comments of “it’s just a stage…”, “just use a dummy” etc did not help. I wished I went earlier than waiting 7.5 months. By about the time my son was 10 months old I could say that I started to enjoy motherhood.

  4. I also enjoyed your blog, and lucky enough to be attending Masada on Monday. Can’t wait and also anxious as to what if it doesn’t work. It’s my little glimmer of hope. Feeling very positive and can’t wait to get on top of this! 🙂

  5. I am not a very structured person so 3 weeks at home after is putting me off. I would just like overnight sleeps but not so fussed about day sleeps being at home. 3 weeks at home for all naps is sounds hard when you enjoy going out and don’t have family help at home

    • Hi Bec – yep, three weeks at home does seem like a lot (but in my opinion worth it to have a baby that is an excellent sleeper). For what it’s worth, this first week has gone by very quickly. But it is totally a personal decision 🙂

  6. Hi Amantha, I’m just wondering what wait times (weeks) Masada told you and actual weeks that you had to wait? I’m desperate and have been waiting only one week! They told me an 8 week wait! I have a 8 week old baby that only sleeps 8hrs/day! Tired mummy! Glad to hear good reviews from you 😊

    • hi tara, my friend was given a date late august and she had her application in two weeks ago, and she has started today. so she actually only had to wait two weeks. 🙂

  7. Hi Amantha,
    Just read your blog re Masada and wondering if you remember how long the waiting period was for you to get a spot there?
    And if whoever enrolled will also get admitted for the residential stay?
    A friend of mine told us they conduct interview and not everyone could get in. Depending on how severe the problem is.
    Mine is 3 mos only nap 45 mins cycle and require rocking for settling and boobs for re-settle all the time and wakes every hour at night!!

    • When I applied, the waiting period was only 3-4 weeks, but I know during more popular periods, it can go up to 10-12 weeks. I haven’t heard about anyone getting knocked back from Masada…And sounds like you have a very valid reason to want to go!

  8. Hi hope you are well. I felt compelled to contact you after seeing your you tube video on the masada pat pat technique it has changed my life overnight! It led me to your site and your story really resonated with me. Before the birth of my lovely baby boy I had armed myself with a copy of Gina Ford’s contented little baby and was determined to avoid sleep deprivation. After a rather traumatic birth and a long stay in hospital every health professional told me to avoid a routine and that my baby would naturally start sleeping longer stretches in the night as he got older. Six weeks came and I was feeding on demand every 1.5-2hours and co sleeping to try and snatch some much needed sleep. I was told at 12 weeks things would naturally change in fact I was increasing my baby’s dependence on me he would only sleep( including daytime naps ) while feeding and wake as soon as I’d put him down. I’d heard about patting but didn’t actually know what it looked like . I did a random search and found your you tube clip . I am a little embarrassed to say I actually didn’t sleep as much as I could’ve as I was busy reading your blog last night . Thank you soooo much for sharing your experience and in such a fun and entertaining way. Xxx

  9. Hi there I’ve just had a great read of your blog and wanted to understand if the nurses let your baby scream? I know there is a difference between crying and grizzling but what about screaming? Thanks for a great blog

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