The power of Embracing Every Emotion on Infant Sleep with Greer Kirshenbaum



infant sleep

This week Bianca talks to Dr Greer Kirshenbaum from Nurture Neuroscience, the first neuroscientist doula, about the importance of sleep and the challenges that families faced when trying to fit into unrealistic societal standards around infant sleep guidelines and the pressure to sleep train babies. Infant sleep guidelines are an essential resource for parents. Greer and Bianca discuss how science now backs up what we have known in our hearts: humans need other humans for co-regulation and children develop optimally when all of their power of emotion are accepted.

Unlock the transformative power of emotions in this insightful article.

Click here for the transcript

This week featuring:                                                                                                                                                          

Bianca Sprague feels especially passionate about creating access to quality pre & postnatal care for marginalized communities. She is an advocate for mental wellness for the entire family, and especially for the birthing parent, after suffering from PPD in silence and losing her father to suicide in 2012. She recognizes the barriers put in place for female entrepreneurs and believes that understanding the evolving online space can even the playing field for women in business.




Greer has worked for several years as a postdoctoral research fellow and assistant professor at Columbia University. She is on a mission to revolutionize the future of health by communicating scientific research. Greer worked in neurobiology laboratories for over 15 years studying how genetics and experience shape the emotional brain and influence lifelong mental and physical health.






Hot + Brave The Blog-Cast:

This week on the Hot + Brave Podcast, Bianca was joined by sleep expert Greer Kirshenbaum as we continue this season’s theme of The Body. It is hard to talk about the body without bringing up sleep, it is one of the pillars that keeps us functioning. Without sleep, human beings cannot live, Period. Yet, it is often something that is completely overlooked in terms of priorities for our health, happiness and mental wellbeing. 

Sleep is not a bargaining chip or something we can sacrifice at any consistent pace without power of emotion. It is as important a staple to human life, just like oxygen, food, or water. Bianca jokes in this week’s episode, “We’re like, of course we need oxygen. Of course we need water. Of course we need food. But y’all sleep is the fourth pillar!” Still, it is far too often that we end up in the situation where we sacrifice the quantity and quality of our sleep and de-prioritize its importance. As parents we stay up to finish the chores, do food prep, pack the school lunches (and more, and more and more!) at the expense of our own sleep and rest. These sacrifices can have serious impacts on our overall health and wellbeing. 

Sleep, Health and the power of emotion

Emotions have the ability to shape our lives and impact our well-being. By understanding the power of emotions, we can learn to manage them effectively and use them to our advantage. Sleep is vital for our physical health, mental health, stress regulation, and cognition. This means that a lack of proper sleep can make our awake hours a lot harder. Even if we don’t feel so tired sometimes, this does not mean that we have overcome the need for sleep. Lack of sleep leads to higher levels of anxiety and depression which can start a vicious cycle that, in the long run, makes falling asleep more difficult. We miss sleep to try and alleviate some of our life stress, but then without sleep we feel stress and anxiety anyways – keeping us up at night in an endless struggle. On top of this, it is during our sleep cycles that our bodies heal. This includes immune system regulation and the healing of wounds. We need dormancy to heal our minds and our physical bodies and to support healthful lives.  

Most people assume that when they go to bed their brain goes into shut down mode, but really, the brain is super active in sleep. Our brains are hard at work as we sleep to prepare us all for our time awake – whether by improving our mental awareness, sorting through our stress or healing our physical bodies. Caring about our power of emotion and health means caring about sleep and not compromising it to be more productive. Lets face it, working while exhausted, with low cognition, and anxiety is not working for us; it wears us down and leads to burnout. Eventually we get to the point where we end up needing more of a break than initially would have been required if we just slept when we needed it. Greer notes that, “If you’re not sleeping enough, you have higher stress, higher anxiety, higher depression […] and then if you have higher stress, anxiety and depression, then your sleep suffers. Right? So it’s a really horrible negative feedback cycle.”

No one Size Fit for Sleep

There’s no one size fits all solution to sleep – sleep when works best for you and what feels best considering your life circumstances. This could mean going to bed earlier or later. There is nothing “better” about an early bedtime or, on the other hand, being a nightowl. It’s good to experiment with what gives you the best rest and also, what fits with your schedule. Basically, there is no blueprint, sleep needs to be tailored to the individual and the family. 

Speaking of the family, let’s take a look at what Bianca and Greer offer in relation to power of emotion for infant sleep and infant sleep guidelines. There are so many misconceptions about how a baby should be sleeping. In comparison to adults, Bianca points out that, “baby sleep is incredibly different. It has so many different features. So babies do wake frequently through the night, having genuine needs for feeding, closeness, comfort”. However, parents are provided so much information that causes a lot of stress and does not conform with what research showed us about infant sleep. Also important to note, is how tricky a subject this can be. When it comes to sleep training a new baby, this process is often very uncomfortable and stressful for parents (and babies). Now imagine, after enduring such a heavy process that someone comes and tells you that you did it wrong. Not fun. It’s because of this that Bianca is so clear in the podcast that, “parents, […] it is not your fault. This is the message that is fed to us”. We are told to put our babies in their cribs and let them cry it out. It’s stressful, it’s unnerving, and we are being failed when this is provided to us as the best option. Here we have to acknowledge the power of emotion and infant sleep guidelines. 

Talking about sleep training can elicit a lot of shame because it is already such a negative experience – so when you hear you did something that maybe didn’t help your baby and it was already one of the hardest things you have done you feel upset. We are told to put the baby in a separate room and leave it by professionals, doctors, and pampers advertisements. On top of that, the 40 hour work week and workplace demands means that this efficiency model for infant sleep seems plausible. At the same time, most countries do not do this. Only a handful of countries around the world sleep train in this way. Society is failing us by telling us that our babies are a problem, or not normal if they can’t sleep. Consistency is the key when it comes to infant sleep guidelines

Power of emotion & Infant Sleep Guidelines

The truth of the matter is that babies do not typically just sleep through the night, nor should they. Our babies are not “problem babies” or “bad sleepers”, this is a myth that is taught to us to try to fit babies and their sleep needs into an incompatible adult schedule. Through Dr. Greer’s research we can understand how biological sleep looks different for children at different ages.  This change in perspective can reveal that our children are perfectly normal and we’re not doing anything wrong. It is a myth that a baby should sleep straight through the night, for example  in a 7PM-7AM timeline. In fact, waking up in the night is necessary for infants in sustaining life by supporting better and easier breathing for them. Breathing in deep, prolonged sleep is far less ideal; breathing in light sleep is better regulated for their infant systems. In other words, being in a deep, adult type of sleep makes it harder for our tiny humans to regulate their own breathing – waking up helps keep them in light sleep and breathing properly.  Forcing deep sleep (the type of sleep that we adults want) is actually overriding the infant’s own built in protection system against things like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). 

Check baby sleep consultant training here.

Sleep is so integral to our well being and healing. There is no exact model that works for every single person, or especially, every single baby. But what is true across the board is that sleep matters, and we should not be expected to compromise one of our life pillars to fit some arbitrary goal. 

What else is going on at bebo mia?

Apply for a bebo mia scholarship!

As you may know, at bebo mia, we are deeply committed to accessible education – especially for women – which is one of the reasons we have our scholarship program.We are currently accepting scholarship applications for our March 2023 MSP Cohort and it’s not too late to apply! You can learn more about our scholarship program and apply here:

Applications are being accepted until 11:59pm EST on February 23rd, 2023 so if you’re interested in applying, please do so before this date.


Book Club!


Doors are now open to register for our next book club which is happening on Tuesday February 28th, 2023 at 1pm EST. The book we’re reading this month is The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

How can I register?

Sign up for free at or via the link in our bio


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The Ember Blueprint is raising funds for tuition for women in trades as well as stipends for students to provide care to under-resourced families. With over one thousand applicants in the last 5 years, it is clear that access to tuition is a barrier for women entering the trades.


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Infant Sleep guidelines

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