Monday, August 20, 2012

A sleep tip for tired moms: eliminate screen time!

At almost 10-months-old, my baby is still not sleeping through the night. This means I don't sleep through the night, and I've had to get used to always feeling at least a little bit tired. Somehow I manage, but it can be rough. Especially since I used to sleep for nine or 10 hours every night (I also used to take naps most days). Quite the change!

Fortunately, I found a way to maximize the quality of the limited amount of sleep I do get. I ditched my iPhone! Not altogether -- just at night. I had somehow convinced myself that I needed to have my phone right beside my pillow at night. Really? Why? All it does is keep me awake. When my phone is within reach, I am constantly picking it up. Is it my turn in Words With Friends? What is happening on Facebook? What is tomorrow's forecast? Any new Groupon deals? I realized this a couple of weeks ago after a really, really rough night. My baby woke up for her first nighttime feeding at about 12:30am. After she fell back to sleep (15 minutes later), I made the mistake of looking at my phone. One of my friends was messaging me on Facebook! It was super important, of course, and we wound up chatting until 3am. I quickly regretted this, because I could not get back to sleep. I just sat there (staring at the ceiling) for more than an hour. When I finally started to doze off around 4:30am, my baby woke up. And this time she decided to stay up for a while. She went back to bed at 6am, but only for another hour. I spent the next few days feeling like a zombie. All. My Fault. And besides, I know better. It is pretty well-established that screen time disrupts sleep, and I've even written a few articles on the topic. Sigh.

I made a decision at that moment that I could not let this happen again and immediately implemented a No iPhone At Night policy. Instead of placing my phone within arm's reach, I now set it on the bathroom counter. It is still only a few steps away in case I do actually need it, but far enough away that it doesn't serve as a distraction. My sleep situation is still not ideal, but it is better (much better) than it was two weeks ago!

Are you distracted at night by your iPhone, TV, tablet, etc.? Do you sleep better when it is out of reach?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sleep and food and winging it

When summer began, I had high hopes for my ability to make this blog interesting, fun and informative. Carl has been on sabbatical from work since June 29th, so theoretically this gives me more time to spend writing. Well, summer is winding down and sabbatical is winding down (he goes back to work right after Labor Day) and obviously my high hopes did not translate into reality. That's OK. I'm still hopeful that once we settle into a fall routine I'll somehow figure it all out. Until then, I'm just going to keep winging it -- blogging when I have time, letting it go when I don't and not stressing about it either way. With that said, I do really want to figure it all out because I miss my freelance writing career and I think this space is the best place for me to merge motherhood and writing (at least for now).

In light of all of this, I realize I've left some readers hanging, and I do want to finish what I started in terms of certain topics. For example, months ago I wrote a couple of posts about my pelvic floor physical therapy. Several readers commented and sent emails indicating that they wanted to hear more, and I need/want to follow through. I'm sorry! I promise I'll get to it eventually (the short version is the PT helped a lot and it was totally the worth the investment). Are there other subjects I've failed to follow-through on? Please let me know!

Anyway, with the goal of getting back on track I thought I would post a quick update about where we are in terms of sleep and food.

Sleep is still really, really tough for us. My baby (who will be 10 months old on the 24th) is not even remotely interested in sleeping through the night. Her current pattern goes something like this: she goes to bed at 9pm, wakes up around 1:30am to nurse, goes back to sleep, wakes up to nurse again around 4:30am and wakes up for the day around 7:30am. We recently tried a bit of sleep training, but it didn't help at all and after a week I could not take the sleep deprivation any longer (she had a lot of trouble going back to sleep when she woke at 4:30). We've also tried a few different tricks with food (i.e. feeding her a fourth meal close to bedtime, nursing her a few extra times after dinner, etc.) but for whatever reason, she just doesn't seem ready to drop either one of her night feedings. As much as I would love to sleep through the night myself, I'm not going to push the issue. Eventually, it will happen. In the meantime, I'm just going to enjoy the fact that she is relatively consistent, that she still wants to nurse and that she is very healthy and very happy. On a side not, I have had several people suggest rice cereal before bed as a possible solution, but that isn't an option for us.

As for food, she's a good little eater and so far has not rejected anything we've introduced. She even ate raw onions a few weeks ago (total shocker -- I personally despise raw onions, blech!). I wouldn't say her diet has a ton of variety, but she is definitely enjoying her meat, veggies and fruit. We're still avoiding eggs and I'm not really sure when we'll give them another try. Maybe soon? I'm really hoping the previous egg incident was just a fluke!