Review: Still Awake by Lyndsey Hookway

Originally published: 14/10/2021 Updated 05/03/2024

Still Awake is a book by Lyndsey Hookway, published by Pinter and Martin who kindly sent me a copy to read and review as part of their book club. Lyndsey Hookway has a very impressive CV; she is a London-trained paediatric nurse, health visitor, IBCLC, holistic sleep coach, independent lecturer and international speaker. I heard Lyndsey speak about night waking at The Breastfeeding Festival in Milton Keynes a couple of years ago, so I was already feeling pretty positive that this would be a good book!

Still Awake has been written for parents of toddlers to tweens, so children aged 18 months to 12 years old, and people that work with them or support them. The book explains the science of how children sleep and provides a multitude of practical and creative tools to support families and reduce conflict at bedtime. 

The book is rooted in gentle and respectful parenting, something that is important to me, and includes expert contributions from more than 20 professionals all over the world who work with sleep. It also includes advice for parents of children who were adopted and/or fostered or who have chronic health problems or disabilities, and it also includes perspectives from parents from around the world and different cultures, which gives a broad and diverse mix of knowledge and understanding.

Infant sleep is something that I and many other parents have struggled with, but with babies it's often something to do with being too warm or too cold, or hungry or thirsty, or having a dirty bottom, or simply needing a cuddle. What about when your child is older than this? What about my four and a half year old who still wakes at night time? While there are loads of books on baby sleep, there aren't very many around, that I've seen at least, that tackle the difficulties you can face as a parent with older children. 

As I've learnt from this book helping older children with their sleep is a little bit more complicated. Right from the introduction Lyndsey makes it clear that she will not offer you false promises or quick fix tricks, she doesn't promise to have your children sleeping a certain number of hours per night. She does however offer you hope, which comes from a place of having a lot of experience and a lot of love for children. She is keen to point out that while some sleep problems might be behavioural most of them are not, so the matter of sleep can't be tackled in the same way that other behaviour issues might be.

After the book introduction there are twelve chapters, which are: how sleep works, self soothing, supporting sleep without sleep training, lifestyle factors, little kids big feelings, things that bump walk leak yell in the night, big changes big deals, children with disability and complex needs, all about naps, all about nights, night feeding, and troubleshooting. So you could choose to jump straight to the chapter that you feel is most relevant, or you could work your way through from start to end.

What I particularly liked about this book is that the information it gives you is reassuring. Lyndsey manages to reassure you that what your child is doing is actually okay, it's pretty normal. As someone who is generally described as a gentle parent, I've never fancied the idea of training my children to sleep or not responding to them when they need me in the night. This book delves into the whys: why is my child waking up in the night? Why are they coming to me? What is that they need? What could I give them that could be a substitute for what they're coming to me for?

In the end, this book hasn't resolved the matter of my four year old's nightly visits just yet. It's still a work in progress. As I said, there are no quick fixes! What it has done though, is help me understand how my daughter might be feeling and given me reassurance that it's not a bad thing to meet her needs where she is, which in turn has made me feel less stressed about it all. I think when we understand something more, it helps us feel better and  less like we're out of control, and that's what this book has done for me.

Affiliate link to buy the book here.

Has your children's sleep ever been a problem?
What tools did you find helped?

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