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A fascinating conversation about sleep – from a sleep expert! How do you get a good night’s sleep – and what if you don’t!?

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Well color me happy.

I’ve learned that it is possible to get a good night’s sleep – even when you have a toddler who loves to snuggle and a 6-year-old who doesn’t want to miss the snuggle boat – and joins in. Every night. 


I know that because I’ve met Soda Kuczkowski.



She is a wife, a mom, a small business owner and a sleep health educator – (who knew, right!!). She owns START WITH SLEEP. An adorable boutique on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo. It’s actually much more than a boutique …  I’ll get to that .. but let me start with more on Soda and her background.

Soda has been studying and teaching about sleep for more than a decade. It’s a true passion, “Because believe it or not sleep is about energy,” Soda says with great enthusiasm, “When we sleep well – we restore ourselves both mentally and physically, it improves our overall quality of life. We are happier, healthier, more focused individuals. The quality of our sleep leads to a very long list of benefits because it taps into all areas of our overall well-being including mental, physical, emotional, behavioral and spiritual health. It allows us to truly be our best and healthiest selves.”

That sounds well and good, but – how do you actually get more – or better – sleep!? That’s the million dollar question! Of course, Soda says, there’s not a cookie-cutter answer, “Health needs are individual. There are many factors not limited to age, gender, culture and medical history that can change the course of what the recommendations dictate.”

You guys, there are 11 different types of insomnia, “We have all faced sleep challenges at one time or another and as it turns out it can be the result of anything – from the environment you sleep in, to making simple behavioral changes to even the possibility of an undiagnosed sleep disorder you didn’t even know existed!”

If that doesn’t bum you out, this might.

There are 80 classified sleep disorders.

A nightmare, right? 

Maybe not.

Soda is here to help, “Sleep is a lot more multi-dimensional than people realize. You would think something that should come so naturally to us would not be so challenging at times, but we live in a world that is now inundated with technology.  We make ourselves sick by the choices we make, often unintentionally because the damage it causes doesn’t seem close enough for us to realize how it impacts our quality of life. I created START WITH SLEEP to be that solution.  I wanted to create a resource that provided a means to create healthier habits not restrictions. We want to provide you tools to supplement the life you lead not create barriers for enjoying the things you love. There is so much data about the negative impacts of everything but not enough on the realistic things we can do to avoid getting there. It is not enough to state statistics and facts, we need to provide individuals the education to empower themselves to implement and consciously make healthier choices.” 




At START WITH SLEEP, they have the tips and tools to meet our individual needs, “From blueblockers, amber tinted glasses meant to cut out the blue light emitted from our electronic devices that could be preventing us from producing melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep and wake cycle – available in toddler, teen and adult sizes, so that we do not have to give up our devices entirely before bed to natural remedies to relieve stress or manage issues that can affect our sleep like restless legs syndrome to hot flashes to the latest in sleep technologies to manage pain, as inflammation in the body can play a large role in keeping you awake at night. We also want to be a trusted resource to educate the public that not all that is labeled or marketed as natural is safe. We help create a dialogue that helps you understand what is appropriate for you and which medical professionals are the best resources to get the answers you may seek about your health.”

It’s a good time to change our habits, so if you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired – there is hope out there for all of us insomniacs!  

“Sleep medicine and sleep health is fairly new in that the correlation between how we sleep and how it contributes to how our health is managed and maintained over time is just being validated. It is still very complex in that patterns of sleep change throughout the course of our lives. When people understand the principles that science has laid out for us, they can make decisions that can lead to longer, more vibrant lives and even in some cases prevent the onset of disease.”

Soda believes good sleep habits should begin at the very beginning of life so her center covers the spectrum from maternity, child to adult sleep health solutions. Her newest programs, the Baby Sleep Collective which launched this month focuses on everything from maternal health to newborn and infant sleep through toddler programs up to age 5. More programs for older children will be launching in the upcoming months as well. Soda states that “It is also important as children grow to understand how sleep impacts their behavioral, physical, mental and emotional health. We are now seeing sleep disorders such as sleep apnea in our little ones as young as 4 years old”.

“One of the most common challenges parents have are sleep challenges. Just when they believe they have it under control a transition can occur that throws them off course, from teething, to crawling, to moving to a new home, there are many things that can create sleep issues. Our programs were developed not only by how each age demographic changes but the specifics of what affects each. Did you know that in the first year alone a baby can offset parents sleep by 750+ hours? Learning coping strategies during those times can go a long way in supporting the entire family sleep and health dynamic.”

No, you’re not dreaming – but this is like a dream come true. It’s possible to get the sleep we need for a happy, healthy life.



You can find more information on classes, registration, store hours and more at www.startwithsleep.com. 

START WITH SLEEP is located at 1211 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo.  Like their Facebook page for great ideas, advice, and a heads up on classes – https://www.facebook.com/startwithsleep/


Mary Friona

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Mary Friona

Following my heart with my husband and four daughters. An Emmy Award winning journalist lucky enough to work in television & radio for 20 years - seeing wonderful places, meeting great people and telling their stories.

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