An Interview with Sleep Journalist Malia Jacobson About Her New E-book: Ready, Set, Sleep!

by @thewritermama on August 7, 2011 · 10 comments

Need your kids to sleep so you can sleep?

Or have any friends who are parents and could use a good night’s sleep?

If so, you are in the right place because today I’m interviewing sleep whisperer Malia Jacobson.

Malia Jacobson is a writer, editor, and widely-published sleep journalist. Her articles on sleep and health have appeared in over 50 publications, including Costco Connection Magazine, Seattle’s Child Magazine, Calgary’s Child, and San Diego Family. She is also a contributing writer at Family Time Magazine.

Malia is launching her first e-book today, Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep So You Can Sleep Too. She began her journey toward sleep expertise in 2007 while researching her daughter’s sleep troubles. Soon, she was moderating a global sleep website, where she helped parents around the world put their children’s sleep troubles to rest.

Malia is devoted to promoting healthy sleep for families. So if your family could use more sleep or better quality sleep, I hope you will check out the following interview that I did with Malia to celebrate launch day of her helpful e-book, Ready, Set, Sleep.

Christina Katz: So, Malia, it sounds like you got your start in sleep research because you were having some sleep troubles of your own at home. What was that like?

Malia Jacobson: When my first daughter was born in 2006, I was caught completely off-guard by how little sleep I got as a new parent. Before having kids, I thought newborns slept 20 hours a day! But my sweet baby woke up every 45 minutes through the night, for months. Existing on almost no sleep drained my energy, health, and happiness. I’m lucky I didn’t get into a car accident, because I’m sure I wasn’t fit to drive at that time. The worst part was that I wasn’t able to fully enjoy those early months of parenthood because I was absolutely exhausted.

Christina Katz: Once you started learning more about sleep and applying solutions to your own life, can you describe the leap to sharing tips with others?

Malia Jacobson: I’ve always been a sensitive sleeper, so I was interested in sleep and fairly careful about my own sleep habits even before I had kids. When my daughter just wouldn’t sleep, I went looking for answers in sleep books and on the Web. I was soon asked to moderate a sleep website, and I really enjoyed sharing sleep tips with other parents. It was wonderful to feel like the knowledge I’d gained was useful to other people in my situation.

At that time, I was editor of a business-school alumni magazine, so writing about sleep (the dominant topic of interest in my household) was a natural next step. Along the way, I developed my own approach to sleep that incorporates my perspective as a modern, thinking parent.

Christina Katz: How’s everyone sleeping at your house these days? Is full sleep recovery possible for a family with young children?

Malia Jacobson: Full sleep recovery is absolutely possible. My kids are very well-rested these days. It’s a great feeling, because I know that sleep helps them get more out of life. They’re at their personal best. I don’t think you can ask for more than that, as a parent. Like all kids, they have their tough moments, but everything is much easier when they get the sleep they need. And I know that I’m a more patient, more creative, more fun mom when I’m well-rested.

Christina Katz: What’s the sleep complaint you hear most and what’s your advice to parents with that particular challenge?

Malia Jacobson: Difficulty falling asleep at bedtime is a widespread problem for babies and young kids. I address this particular challenge from many angles in Ready, Set, Sleep. On one hand, children who nap too long or too late may have trouble falling asleep at night. Conversely, kids who don’t nap enough may fight bedtime because they’re overtired. Either way, an age-appropriate bedtime and a rock-solid bedtime routine that’s packed with sleep cues, which I describe in detail in Ready, Set, Sleep, are essential.

Christina Katz: You’ve written lots of articles on sleep for a wide variety of magazines, which parts of the research and writing process are your favorite parts?

I just love gathering and sharing good information. I’ve learned so much from other parents, and I depend on my mom-friends to share what they’ve learned and what they’re dealing with. I love contributing to that ongoing, ever-growing pool of parental knowledge. It feels like I’m giving back to my community—the parenting community. And I love that I get paid to interview doctors, authors, and other experts and pepper them with my questions about parenting and health. How cool is that?

Christina Katz: Does writing about sleep over and over ever put you to sleep? How is it you don’t tire of focusing on one topic over and over?

Malia Jacobson: Sleep science is an emerging field, and that keeps me interested. Plus, I love sharing information about something people can do to improve their health and lives that’s simple, enjoyable, and free. Healthy living can be intimidating; people sometimes think you need expensive exercise equipment or the latest vitamin supplement to lead a healthy life. Sleep is one of the best things you can do to improve your health, it’s available to everyone, and we get another crack at it every night. I think that’s pretty great.

Christina Katz: What are the pitfalls and benefits for parents not getting enough sleep vs. finally getting enough sleep again?

Malia Jacobson: Sleep deprivation adversely affects problem-solving, creativity, and reaction times. It makes us irritable and short-tempered. It’s linked to weight gain and unsafe driving. When I think about the people who really need quick reaction times, speedy problem-solving, safe driving, patience, creativity, and energy—they’re parents. It’s a cruel double-whammy when life deprives us of sleep just when we need it the most. But when parents solve that sleep puzzle, life opens up again. Parents who get their sleep are literally leading safer, healthier, happier lives, and they can enjoy their kids, their partners, their work, their life. There’s just nothing better. And I’m glad to be able to help.

You can learn more about Malia’s awesome new e-book, Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep So You Can Sleep Too, which is loaded with quick, easy-to-digest tips about how families can get more sleep, at her website, MaliaJacobson.com.

Thanks for helping me support Malia’s e-book launch. I’d love it if you’d help spread the word about Ready, Set, Sleep!

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