Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sleep deprivation

For me, one of the most challenging parts of raising a baby has been the sleep deprivation. My daughter did not sleep through the night until she was about 14 months old, and even then it was sporadic. In fact, it is still sporadic. Sometimes she'll do great. Other times, not so much.

Tuesday night was a difficult night for us, and I spent all of Wednesday longing to put my head on the pillow and take a nap.

In light of this (OK, and because I am too tired to write a regular post), I wanted to share this great post from The Happiest Home.

Coping With Sleep Deprivation by Sarah Powers

Sarah lists several excellent tips for coping with sleep deprivation, and even though it is geared toward moms with new babies I think it contains some gems for all of us. My favorite is the one about avoiding screen time at night (I blogged about this topic myself last year). So, so important.

Do you have any great tips for coping with sleep deprivation?


  1. My one great tip would be sleep training. As a toddler, your daughter should be able to sleep through the night. Teaching her good sleeping habits is crucial.

    1. To me, sleep training is a lot like breastfeeding, co-sleeping, dietary choices, etc. -- a personal decision based on your own family's situation and preferences. Sleep training has pros and cons to it, and there is not necessarily a right or wrong choice. We decided to not sleep train, and I think her sleep habits are well within the range of normal for her age. She had a rough night and she was congested ... don't we all have rough nights? I often hear her wake up and start talking to herself or call out to one of us in the middle of the night, but she does not necessarily need one of us to go in her home. And most of the time she'll be back to sleep in a few minutes. This seems pretty normal to me!

    2. I meant to say go in her *room.

    3. A point of view worth considering: many people in the Paleo/Primal community are now arguing that sleep is the biggest priority in a healthy lifestyle - even above diet and physical activity!

      When I work with families who are thinking about sleep training, I always ask them to weigh the *known* effects of cumulative sleep deprival (on both parents and baby) against the *theoretical* (unproven) risks of sleep training. There is a lot of fear and guilt-mongering out there when it comes to the controversial topic of sleep training, but most of it is based on personal theories; and what little research has been done does not hold up to scientific scrutiny when you merely scratch the surface on the methodologies used.

      Of course I have a slight bias, being a sleep trainer and all :) Sleep trainin worked well for my family, but I agree with you - it's a personal decision.

      Hopefully things will get better soon!

    4. I completely agree with the idea that sleep is the biggest priority in a healthy lifestyle. That is precisely why I skipped the gym yesterday, and why I don't get babysitters to stay here while we go out late at night. She goes to bed around 9 and I go to bed no more than 45 minutes later. I also take naps in the afternoon as often as possible. I love my sleep, and have always valued it above my social life, a clean house, etc.

      I do not really know much about the theoretical risks of sleep training ... that is not why I did not do it. It just simply seemed unnatural to me when we briefly tried it. It might be different with another child with a different disposition, but for whatever reason with H it was not the right choice. I am not opposed to it at all, but I do think it is irrelevant to us at this point. She has never been sleep deprived and is not sleep deprived now. She is in bed for 10+ hours a night, and always takes three hour naps in the afternoon. She usually goes to bed easily and wakes up happy. The sleep deprivation comes into play for me when she wakes up and stirs in the night, which is just part of her natural sleep rhythm. Even though she does not need me to coax her back to sleep, I still wake up. And then, I have a hard time falling back to sleep. We also live near a noisy train crossing and sometimes the conductor blows the born really loud which shakes the house and wakes up the whole family. Nothing we can do about that! And then there are nights like Tuesday night, which was just nuts. Totally random though, and it can happen to anyone. Even to sleep-trained babies. I do not sleep well when I am congested, so I am not surprised that she was awake so much.

      So anyway, I guess my point is exactly the point you were making ... sleep is such a priority so parents who are facing sleep deprivation should do whatever they can to maximize their sleep time.

    5. My parents live really close to train tracks too, and trains were the cause of many a night of insomnia when I was growing up. All of the traffic, sirens, sea planes and ship's horns we hear from our downtown apartment don't even come close to bugging me as much as those trains did!

      Babies *are* very noisy and restless sleepers, especially between midnight to 5:00 AM. I wonder if it is worth your while to wear earplugs, and put the baby monitor on Carl's side of the bed? You'd still hear any loud crying that required a response, but perhaps wouldn't be disturbed as frequently by the normal nighttime sounds she makes. I wear earplugs at night both for this reason, and because J snores.

  2. Thank you for this article share. My 11 month old rarely sleeps. When she does it's for 1 1/2-2 hours. She can go 17 hours without sleep. I'm going on over a year of sleep deprivation.


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