A Latina Mom's Journey to helping families get a good night's sleep
Through Not A Peep, pediatric sleep specialist Maria Lopez guides hundreds of parents and their children in developing healthy sleep habits.
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Sleep is one of the most fundamental components of a person's health and well-being.
Beyond that, it’s also an undervalued, yet very important function of a strong family dynamic, in which a lack of it can have rippling effects.
For many new parents, in particular, sleep can be extremely difficult to come by. That was a reality for Maria Lopez, a certified pediatric sleep specialist when she became a first-time mother.
“After I had my first child about seven-and-a-half years ago, I could not believe how insanely tired and sleep deprived I was, and how much it was affecting my life,” she said.
According to a survey conducted by Sleep Junkie, new parents are falling short of sleep by about three hours every night in the first year of their child’s life.
The accumulation of this lack of sleep can have huge effects on the family.
For Lopez, when she saw the impact that sleep-training her daughter had — an experience she described as “life changing” — Lopez developed a passion for children’s sleep and wanted to help other parents and families have the same experience.
So, in 2017, the now-mother of three, started Not A Peep, a sleep consulting agency based in Philadelphia for parents and children.
Through Not A Peep, Lopez works with parents and children, from newborns all the way up to the age of 12, in helping both sides get a good night’s sleep.
As with many new experiences, first-time parents have to go through a learning curve both in getting their child to sleep, and maintaining their own sleep schedule.
The early struggles of doing so can have a long-lasting impact if not addressed as soon as possible.
“I meet a lot of moms who go through postpartum depression and anxiety,” said Lopez, adding that sleep deprivation has also put strains on some relationships, as well.
For clients who reach out for her services, Lopez sends them a questionnaire to get a clear idea of where the family may need help. This is followed by a one-on-one home visit or video chat that helps Lopez design a specific sleep plan for that family.
“It’s all about changing old habits and replacing them with new habits,” she said.
Once the sleep plan is designed, Lopez supports the parents in establishing the plan as a routine and provides frequent follow-ups with the family until the goals are met.
“I’m there to make the process of sleep training a little bit less stressful for [the parents],” she added.
In the three years since starting Not A Peep, Lopez has helped hundreds of parents adjust their sleep habits in a way that is beneficial to both the parents and the child.
Lopez added how working with all these different families has taught her some things about her family as a parent herself.
“Each kid is different,” she said. “So, it’s a reminder for myself not to expect the same exact thing from each of my children.”
In each of the last two years, Lopez was named the winner of the Philadelphia Family LOVE Awards for Best Sleep Consulting.
The honor means the most to Lopez because the winner is chosen based on what clients say about the professional’s work, and how their experience was.
“It just tells me that what I do does change lives and impact these families,” she said. “It’s just really rewarding.”
As a native of Colombia before moving to the United States at the age of 18, Lopez is also able to extend her services to other Spanish speakers.
At Not A Peep, the value of a family consistently getting a good night’s sleep is put at the forefront.
“It just changes lives,” said Lopez. “It changes family interactions, changes your relationship with your partner.”
Improved sleep habits can be the difference between parents getting a divorce or deciding to expand their families.
Sleep training a child can pay huge dividends for a family, and it’s that dynamic that Lopez finds most fulfilling about her work.