By Iphigenia Sarrimanolis
Liz Harden knows the frustration and stress that comes with a child not sleeping through the night. She became obsessed with sleep after delivering her first baby, Walter, in 2011 and experiencing sleepless nights that resulted in anxiety and exhaustion. She remembers searching “how to make babies sleep” on Google in the middle of the night. “He did not come by sleep very easily,” Liz says. “… I didn’t feel good. I started looking for every resource, every book, every piece of information I could get my hands on to learn about how I can make [my] baby sleep.”
After months of research and conflicting information, Liz decided to hire a sleep coach, and it changed her life. “The sleep coach helped me distill everything down to ‘OK, this is what is important for my family and what I need to focus on.’”
Liz, who has a background in health education and mindfulness, got a job with an online sleep consulting agency. After a few years, Liz had her second child and decided to venture out on her own. She started Little Dipper Wellness, which offers in-person and virtual sleep consulting services, as well as yoga services, for families. “A lot of people don’t understand or realize what an impact stress has on sleep,” Liz explains. “Babies and children truly absorb the emotional state of their parents – when parents are stressed, children feel it.”
Chapel Hill parent Whitney Rivers heard about Little Dipper Wellness from a Facebook group of local moms. After struggling to get her child to sleep through the night, she hired Liz to help. Liz developed a plan for Whitney and provided her with resources that were specific to her and her family. “The main thing was that it got my kid to sleep on a normal schedule,” Whitney says.“I also was given some healthy habits about creating a soothing, positive environment for the bedroom and reinforcing the things we were already doing well. It really helped with our immediate problem and gave us tools for the future as our kids keep growing and changing.”
Liz has been busier than usual since the pandemic began. “I have found myself being needed the most at a time when I am least resourced,” she says. Despite the challenges, Liz and her team of sleep consultants have adapted, even if their work has to be done over Zoom.
Liz says she will release an online course about sleep and mindfulness in the near future so that a wider audience of parents and families can have access to these resources. “I’m working on this course because I want to have a lower-cost option for families, especially at this time when so many people are worried about finances,” she says. “Quality sleep is a fundamental right that we all deserve.”