Welcome to the February 2013 Natural Living Blog Carnival: Addressing Sleep Challenges. This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Natural Living Blog Carnival hosted by Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project through the Green Moms Network. This month our members have written posts about how they address sleep challenges in their homes.
I know what it's like to not sleep. As a matter of fact, as I am typing this, my entire family is already in bed. Everyone except that is, for me. Being a mom comes with a lot of sacrifices. Sacrifices that I was sure I was willing to take in my naive days (sans kids!) before I really lacked a good night's rest. Let me explain...I come from a long line of no sleepers...my dad worked nights and when he got home his favorite thing to do was stay up all night watching movies. I was a terrible sleeper as a baby, I would fuss and cry for hours unless someone rocked me to sleep while walking around (apparently it it did no good to rock me sitting in a chair), and my husband still wakes up randomly at 3am as if it was 8, to him there is no difference. So it is no surprise that my kids would be terrible sleepers. Sure enough, when my oldest was an infant, I wrote down on a piece of scratch paper that he woke up 19 times in one night (did that mean he even slept that night?). He did not really sleep through the night until he was about 2 years old. The lack of sleep decimated my husband and I. It was stressful, it was terrible, everyone was always cranky and on-edge. I remember buying all of the recommended reading for sleep deprived parents of newborns, The No Cry Sleep Solution, aka "The Pantley Method", How to Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems, aka "The Ferber Method", Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child, aka "The Weissbluth Method" and finally, The Baby Sleep Book, aka "Dr. Sears' Method". I read all of them...in under two weeks. How you ask? Because all I did was nurse. All. Day. Long. I was in a trance, and on a mission, to get my child to sleep through the night. All of these books offered very different solutions to various sleep problems, and I can honestly say that all of them contained at least something that helped me understand the process of infant sleep and how to get through some hurdles. But nothing worked. After a few months, my baby's schedule did become a bit more regular, the problem was that this regularity was very odd for us. The baby would go down at 6:30-7:00pm, wake up 2-3 times during the night and finally wake up for good at 4am. Come rain or come shine. Now, I don't care how much energy you have, 4am is impossible. Especially after nursing at night. Any adult getting up at that time is trashed during the day. We went on and on, back and forth with this crazy schedule until one day my neighbor suggested that we try to put him to bed later so he would wake up later. I scoffed. I thought it was bad advice. All of the baby books I read suggested that a baby should have an early bedtime anywhere around 6:30pm-8:00pm. I don't remember why I decided to finally take her advice, but we did. We moved his bedtime to 8:00pm and after a few days he started waking up at 5:00am! Yay! So the next week we moved his bedtime to 9:00pm, until we finally reached our ideal bedtime of 9:30pm. He was waking up at 7:00am. I could not believe it! He slept better through the night, was less cranky and we were able to have a somewhat normal schedule. Fast forward a couple of years, he has stuck to that schedule and has been a pretty good sleeper ever since. I think the key was by that point he was actually pretty darn tired. With that schedule our family could hang out after dinner, or even take a stroll before putting him to bed. What a luxury. I guess the point is, there is no right or wrong answer. Every child is different (don't get me started on my second child's sleep issues!). It's a lot of trial and error, but once you figure out what works for them stick with it! It might go against what the books say, but hey, if it works for your family, then it is right for you! I would be lying if I were to say that I would revisit those sleep deprived days. Life is so much better when you have sleep! What are some of the sleep challenges you face at home?