Why cry myself to sleep? Science answers

– Mom, why, when I fall asleep, I immediately start to worry about a lot of things? I remember bad things, gloomy thoughts come to my mind, I want to cry and it’s hard to fall asleep …

– You see, bunny, there are people like you and me who are very sensitive by nature. We are able to feel and love, as few people can. We need to spend these feelings during the day, and if we don’t, they come out of us like this: they don’t let us sleep and make us cry.

– How should they be spent?

– It is imperative to communicate with people, you with children: to sympathize with those who need it, to help those who need help. It would be quite useful to watch a good cartoon, to cry over the hero of a good book, which I will read to you. And then, pitying others, we will forget to think about the bad and cry.

Just knowing is not always enough

This mechanism is quite simple. Would have known sooner. The system-vector psychology of Yuri Burlan opened my eyes to many things in life. So better late than never.

I tell my daughter how everything happens, and it suddenly dawned on me: I know by heart the mechanism of the emergence of fears, hysteria, phobias, gloomy thoughts and much more. I know inside and out. Ready to talk about it in detail and a lot. At the same time, I have so many unresolved problems myself.

Now I can’t sleep…

Everything I said happens to me too. Word by word. In the same way, I can fall into fear and panic – sometimes emotions overwhelm me so that I can’t control their release, and negative ones at that. I can just as well spin dark thoughts and scary images in my head without being able to brush them off or erase them.

It turns out that I myself do not fulfill what nature has given me enough, and I do not develop my daughter to the fullest. Once again I try to avoid her tears and the sidelong glances of my relatives, who believe that my daughter is a crybaby. And this creates even more prerequisites for her fears and tantrums. Here is the number.

dark thoughts picture

Oh, this visual vector! Or unspent emotionality is the enemy for ourselves

If someone else does not know, then we are endowed with certain properties and desires, which System-Vector Psychology calls vectors. In one person, there are often several of them.

So, the visual vector is the most sensual and emotional. People with a visual vector are extroverts with an irrepressible desire to communicate, create emotional connections, love and help everyone around.

It’s just the potential. If you develop correctly in childhood and realize these properties of yours day after day. But if there is no realization, then this very emotionality will go sideways – fears, tantrums, phobias and insomnia with gloomy thoughts.

We used to think that there is only one step from love to hate. But in fact – from love to fear. The amplitude of the visual vector can swing from the fear of death (the root fear, the cause of all other phobias) to a great love for all of humanity, which few are able to experience. But it is this kind of love that is absolute happiness.

Therefore, people with a visual vector who “spend” emotions, and correctly, do not suffer from the above misfortunes. They have no time. When there are emotional connections with other people, there is empathy for someone and a desire to help, then, willy-nilly, all thoughts revolve around this. Moreover, in an upbeat major desire for action.

At the same time, all brain cells are activated, a state of euphoria and a wild desire for creation arise.

It fills the whole being so much that there is not a drop of empty space left in the volume of consciousness in order to wind up scary pictures, get scared or hysterically demand love and attention to oneself. This is the only way to get rid of gloomy thoughts and tearfulness.

Opposite is better seen

Yuri Burlan constantly pushes us to this conclusion at the training “System-Vector Psychology”. Now I myself have come to him.

My daughter was sick the other day. I, as always, in a slight tremor and panic: what if this, and suddenly that, why did the temperature rise again, why did she start coughing again? A bunch of suspicious thoughts and gloomy pictures in my head. I look at my husband. He is calm. And he’s not a jerk. He worries and takes all the necessary actions whenever necessary.

I share my experiences with him. He calmly gives arguments that, if you think about it, are absolutely sober and real: the usual SARS, the body is fighting, here is the temperature, the cough will pass soon, you need to calm down, not to scare the child, now there is an epidemic, everyone is sick.

Dark thoughts in my head picture

And then I remember that always and in all situations like this, he was right. It turns out that it is he who sees the situation much more realistically than I do. He does not have a visual vector, so he does not see the superfluous, drawn by the imagination? And if this imagination is also not very healthy due to unfulfillment, then it is I who see everything distorted?

Here is a blow! To confirm my guesses, I remember a friend who is also with a visual vector, a caring mother, but, like my husband, calm. Exactly! She is fully implemented. Among friends, he seeks to help everyone, so there are many of them, at work a high position and constantly among people, at home an emotional connection with children and her husband. She will not have dark thoughts.

And I? From morning to evening, work, where I am alone almost all day. Few people around, little communication. Not enough time for movies, books, friends. At home every night is the same. Focusing mainly on yourself and family. There are no special aspirations and ideas, there is no way out, to people. What am I doing for society? It turns out very little. Everything converges.

Action is the only way out of darkness

Sadly, all thinking leads to my own problems, which only I myself can solve. Wow, how accurately System-Vector Psychology is tested by life.

Nature itself pushes us to the right path. She gives us certain abilities and strictly watches that we do our part. If the visual vector does not fulfill its tasks in empathy, help, sacrifice in society, then here are your fears, phobias, suspiciousness. If you want to remove gloomy thoughts from your head and be happy – go and do it!

You can follow this up on your own. In a state of fear, hysteria, internal tension, it is enough to watch a film on compassion, where you can cry out of pity for the hero. It instantly gets easier. Releases tension and bad thoughts. Let it be for a short time, but the mechanism can be traced.

This is how you need to get started. Maybe not abruptly. First, a movie, then connect a book (preferably a classic), cry over the hard fate of the heroes. Then think about how many people there are who need care and warmth, but there is no one to give it to them. And do something meaningful for someone. There will be pleasure from what has been done, relief of one’s conditions, joy for another. This will gradually begin to become a habit, because a person was created with the desire to receive pleasure. And getting it from helping others is the surest way for a visual vector. After all, for him it is the natural meaning of life.

How to get dark thoughts out of your head

All of the above applies to children as well. He also lacks communication, empathy, emotional connections, what helps to spend the accumulated emotions. The mechanism is the same. True, the child is still developing and it is important for him to show this path. And a lot depends on the state of the mother, which always affects the child.

Only action can help. You also need to know the theory, but it is not enough. There is only one way out. Thank you baby for asking me this question! Otherwise, I would have continued to think that I knew the way out, and would not have felt so keenly that I was doing little to get closer to it.

Is it good when the baby “cry myself to sleep”?

The question on the topic of baby crying during the process of relearning to new sleep patterns is not discussed only by the lazy.

The Internet is full of arguments both that training through crying is a quick and effective way to achieve results, and that crying a child leads to irreversible changes in the baby’s brain, leaving him or her at least emotionally disabled for life.

How to understand and make the right decision for your child?

Sleep correction through crying

This decision remains with the mother and it is always easier to make the right choice, having full information, and not just the emotional side of the matter.

Separately, I will make a reservation that in my practice I never force parents to use any particular method – the final decision comes only after analyzing the situation, jointly discussing the goals and philosophy of education in a particular family.

When Not to Use the Pure Cry-and-Sleep Method

  • If your baby has not reached 6 months from the date of the due date, it is important that fundamental cognitive skills are developed.
  • If your baby is sick – the discomfort of being unwell will only complicate the task.
  • If now serious changes are taking place in the family: moving, the birth of a new baby, the death of a relative, the mother’s going to work.
  • If your child has been severely physically or emotionally abused at any time.
  • If not all family members agree with this technique, it is too likely that you will give up halfway, only confusing the baby in your requirements.
  • If your child is older than 2.5 years and/or is no longer in a crib, it is important to exclude the possibility of injury

About children’s crying and sleep

Ask any pediatrician, and he will unequivocally answer that crying for a child is a way to communicate with the outside world . This is how a baby who is not yet talking lets us know that he is tired, hungry, cold, awake, bored, sick, etc.

Over time, each mother learns to distinguish between different types of crying – the call to play, feed, change, or simply pick up and change the boring picture. Accordingly, there is nothing traumatic or threatening to the baby in crying itself – it is a natural communication mechanism. In the case of any retraining (not necessarily for sleep), crying is a baby’s signal to you that he doesn’t like the fact that you suddenly changed the rules of the game that previously suited him.

The debate against crying of any kind in relearning sleep habits goes with the wording “continuous crying is dangerous for the baby.”

However, in this case, there is a rhetorical manipulation – what is prolonged crying? Is it half an hour of crying, an hour, three hours, three hours in three days, an hour in a month? Where is the objective data that would clearly define the concept of prolonged crying? All children are different and no one can provide such data, even in our age, when a lot can be weighed and measured.

To give a couple of examples – a newborn with colic and reflux can cry up to 8-9 hours a day for 10-12 weeks. In general, this will amount to about 616 hours (11 weeks of 8 hours) of crying.

Does this mean that such kids are doomed to irreversible damage to their psycho-emotional development?

– Yes, someone most of the time is next to such a baby – but in what condition! During such periods, a hormonal mom and a tired dad are not able to be affectionate and encouraging 100% of the time. And the presence of a parent nearby, who himself is nervous and annoyed, and also not able to do anything to alleviate the situation of the baby, is also a dubious bonus to affection (can’t the baby think that we are intentionally not correcting the situation? – no one knows for sure ).

Another example is that an overtired child will cry every day for months, or even years, many times a day. At the same time, his mother, irritated and exhausted by his “bad behavior”, certainly will not reassure him at every squeak. Moreover, she does not always succeed in this – we often hear that it is impossible to calm down a child who has gone too far even with such iron arguments as swinging or breasts. What harm will be done to the child when he does not get enough sleep, we discussed in detail in the article on why make sleep a priority .

At the same time, I want to separately note that with the right approach, the process of accustoming “through crying” takes a maximum of 7 days.

During these days, periods of crying are reduced from a possible 4 hours in the first day (the maximum time indicated in a survey of more than 40 colleagues practicing worldwide) to 30 minutes by day 4-5, which will average about 6-7 hours out of 168 hours (7 days). And as soon as sleep improves – the child has learned to fall asleep, switches between sleep cycles without waking up, his general well-being and mood improve dramatically, reducing periods of tearfulness associated with fatigue for years to come – no one can count how many tears are saved here either.

Another argument that I often come across is that the child stops crying and falls asleep, at best from exhaustion, and at worst, having given up waiting for help and support from parents. In such articles, there are usually entire paragraphs about how the bond between mother and child is broken, how in wild tribes mothers carry their children all the time and they sleep and never cry (because their first call is followed by an immediate reaction), and about how we should change our attitude to the situation, and stop seeing it as a problem.

I will start with the last arguments and return to the beginning a little later.

– If a mother does not see a problem in her baby’s sleep habits, then there is no problem, no matter how the child sleeps, where and how much. However, a tired mother, with her back breaking from long swings of 12 kg of happiness, cannot be loving and caring with all her great desire. And then this is a problem, even if we are not talking about how quality rest her baby gets. From the same series and arguments about wild tribes – we live in a different society, which makes other demands on us. We do not have a village where all the women of the village would help with the baby. In such societies, no one expects timely paid receipts, a dog to walk, and a caressed husband who has returned after a hard day at work.

Therefore, I believe that to add to the already considerable feeling of guilt for unwashed dishes, a crumpled bathrobe and an irregularly cooked dinner, also the inability to carry a child around the clock in order to respond to his requests in the first second is frankly inhuman in relation to such a mother.

Assumptions about the rupture of the emotional connection between mother and baby when he cries are also debatable for me. With a properly organized process, the baby wakes up happy and goes to his mother with a smile – where is the evidence of a broken connection? In order for a child to really “close” himself from his parents, he must be ignored for days, his needs should not be fulfilled. This does not happen in a normal family – during periods of wakefulness and during the ritual of preparing for sleep, the mother is always very affectionate and caring for the baby.

And another comparison that I regularly find in anti-tears articles is that:

supposedly children who learn to fall asleep on their own, with the participation of crying in the process, then fall into a deep “coma” sleep identical to what happens with serious injuries.

Excuse me here, for me this comparison is analogous to the fact that hallucinations and dreams are the same thing, simply because in both cases people see things that are not in reality.

Method method strife

To begin with, let’s look at the terminology and methods, as they say, flies separately – cutlets separately. When it comes to pure “training through” crying, in Russia this method is more familiar, as the method of Dr. Spock. In this approach, after the usual evening activities prior to bedtime, the baby is left in the crib and left the room. This is usually followed by a period of 30 minutes to one and a half to two hours, when the baby cries with varying intensity and, finally, falls asleep. In modern practice, this method is usually used only for children starting from 6 months of age (although French pediatricians use this technique from 6 weeks !!!), when the baby has already clearly formed the concept of the constancy of the object (mother) in space, even if it is not visible (game of cuckoo). Contrary to popular belief, that the child falls asleep in such cases from exhaustion, this is not so. If you look at the video babysitter, for example, you can see how after a certain time the baby is actively looking for his own way to relax: he rubs his ear, strokes the sheet, rolls from side to side, etc. This is exactly what will lead to the development of your own skill. On average, this process takes up to a week, depending on the age of the child, temperament, the presence of previous failed attempts and the sequence of parents.

This method is not recommended for children under 6 months old, and especially babies who have not passed the adaptation period: adjusting the regimen, initial skill development, preliminary acquaintance with the new sleep environment (if you move the baby to a separate bed from you).

A variant of the above method is the “controlled crying” method, it is also the Esteville method in other variations, it is also the Ferber method. With this approach, parents visit the baby at increasing intervals. This gives a clearer awareness of the presence and parental support, and also does not distract the baby from concentrating on finding and mastering a new skill. This technique also works relatively quickly, and requires complete consistency from the parents. It is important that parents see positive dynamics in the implementation process, starting from the second day. This method can be used for children from 5 months of age, but it also requires an adaptation period, which will involve at least adjusting sleep and wakefulness, as well as getting to know a new sleeping place before starting.

All kinds of “no tears” methods (Pantley, Sears, Chair, Karp), unfortunately, also do not guarantee an absolutely peaceful process with a smiling child at all moments of laying down. Most often, these methods stretch for weeks (from two to eight) and at the beginning they still cause tears of protest, which parents have the opportunity to limit with their own presence, physical contact, etc. Again, a lot will depend on the adaptability of a particular child and mother’s approach.

In some cases, despite all efforts to soften the transition, the baby gets so upset in the early days that there is simply no point in stretching the process, and it is worth trying a more direct method. In other cases, children do relearn to new routines with little or no tears. Such methods should be used for babies from 4 months old, for the regulation of the initial skill and regimen, with the refusal of prolonged co-sleeping, for very excitable mothers and children, with certain health problems, for older children.

Scientific side

To date, I am aware of 54 scientific studies conducted by pediatricians, neurologists, psychologists and sleepologists, the purpose of which was to prove the harm or safety of the use of methods that entail different degrees of crying.

All of these studies (I provide links to studies, the full texts of which can be viewed without paid access to the source in English format) recognized that:

  • methods that include crying (including in its most direct form) are effective, i.e. children really master the skill of falling asleep on their own, with their correct application;
  • in different terms of the assessment (from four weeks to 5 years), no negative impact on the health of the child was revealed;
  • The result of such interventions included an overall improvement in maternal well-being and the general climate in the family by improving the quality of recreation for all family members.

For me personally, the most convincing was the study conducted by scientists in Australia.

During this study, scientists followed over 300 babies who went through the intervention and did not go through it for 5 years. Comparison of these children after 5 years, where one group was after undergoing the “controlled crying” program and the stool method, and the other without any actions to improve sleep, showed that there was no difference in physical, psycho-emotional health between both groups. This gave direct grounds to conclude that these methods are safe in the long term.


Every mom decides how and when to teach her baby to fall asleep herself. At the same time, such a decision is always easier to make if there is enough information about all the options. I don’t know any mother who would come to the idea of ​​the need for changes when everything is fine in the matter of sleep. No one has the right to condemn or impose their opinion on this issue, this is too personal a decision, due to a huge number of factors.

It is very important at such moments to clearly understand your goals, assess the age, temperament and health of the baby (the pediatrician will help you here), know well what changes should be made, and be consistent in your actions. Possible options for methods, including “no tears”, will almost always be met by the baby with protest, but this does not mean at all that you cannot change something with love and care for the baby.

  1. Improving infant sleep and maternal mental health: a cluster randomized trial
  2. Improving Infant Sleep and Maternal Mental Health Harriet Hiscock, Jordana Bayer, Lisa Gold, Anne Hampton, Obioha C Ukoumunne, Melissa Wake Arch Dis Child.92(11): 952–958.
  3. Five-Year Follow-up of Harms and Benefits of Behavioral Infant Sleep Intervention: Randomized Trial Anna MH Price, Melissa Wake, Obioha C. Ukoumunne, and Harriet Hiscock Pediatrics 2012; 130:4 643-651
  4. Reducing Bedtime Tantrums: Comparison Between Positive Routines and Graduated Extinction. (Reducing tantrums when lying down: a comparison between positive ritual and controlled crying) Lisa A. Adams and Vaughn I. Rickert. Pediatrics 1989;84;756
  5. A systematic review of treatments for settling problems and night waking in young children. (A Systematic Review of Approaches to Solving Sleep Problems and Nocturnal Awakenings in Children) Paul Ramchandani, Luci Wiggs, Vicky Webb, and Gregory Stores. BMJ2000;320:209
  6. Behavioral Treatment of Bedtime Problems and Night Wakings in Infants and Young Children. (Behavioral Treatment of Sleep and Night Awakening Problems for Infants and Preschoolers) Jodi A. Mindell, PhD, Brett Kuhn, PhD. SLEEP Vol. 29, no. 10, 2006
  7. Behavioral Parent-Training Approaches for the Treatment of Bedtime Noncompliance in Young Children. (A Behavioral Parental Teaching Approach to Correcting Preschoolers’ Laying Difficulties) Camilo Ortiz & Lauren McCormic. JEIBI, Vol.4, No 2, 2007
  8. Reducing Nocturnal Awakening and Crying Episodes in Infants and Young Children: A Comparison Between Scheduled Awakenings and Systematic Ignoring. (Reducing Nighttime Awakenings and Crying Episodes in Infants and Younger Preschoolers: A Comparative Analysis Between Scheduled Awakenings and Systematic Exclusion of Adult Presence) Vaughn I. Rickert, C. Merle Johnson. Pediatrics, 81, 203-212

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