Posted in Baby sleep, Blog, Emotional wellness, Featured, Rebecca

How to cope when your baby just won’t sleep

20140225_164715I must be honest. I am totally and utterly sleep deprived beyond what words can even describe right now. This is not my first rodeo but man, it is sure more intense than the first.

As I analyze my baby’s sleep habits Every. Single. Day. I find that I feel a wide range of emotions. Despair. Frustration. Helpless. Anger. Even resentment towards her. Will the sleepless nights ever end? I swear I’ve tried every trick in every book and then…Why Won’t She Do What I Want Her To Do? Right?

I’ve now decided this. Forget the sleep books. Forget the magic tricks.

The only way AROUND….is THROUGH.

*Before we talk about how to deal…I wanted to say this. I am not a sleep expert and this is not a post about How to Get Your Baby To Sleep. I cannot help you there. However, I do believe we can support each other through this mania.

 

Here are some tips on how to deal with (really yourself) and life when your baby just won’t sleep.

First off….Read up on sleep tips.

This is all I will say on this. Go read the sleep books so you know what’s out there. See if there IS something that maybe you are missing. Such as, my 3 month old was waking every hour because she was over-tired. We implemented strict nap routines during the day and she started sleeping better immediately.

Done. Now you are armed with many tools and tricks. Some may work. Others may not. Moving on to How To Cope…

 

1.)  Get Outside
Fresh air. Sunshine. Cold rain. Ok, hopefully sunshine.

2.) Exercise
Get those great natural “feel good” endorphins going!

3.) Every single day open all your shades/blinds/curtains to let as much light into your house as possible.

4.) Get out of the house with your kids
I know it’s a lot of work to get out sometimes, but I never regret it when I force myself to do it.

5.) Call a friend or your mom to vent (no advice allowed. you just need to vent)

6.) Repeat step 5 but it has to be a different friend.

7.) Is there something small you could do every day that lifts your spirits?
I have a favorite outfit I always love to wear. I feel better when I put on some makeup and feel pretty. I put concealer under my eyes so when I look in the mirror, I don’t see the sleep deprivation. Favorite sweatshirt maybe? Comfy and cute. Yoga pants are always a favorite for me. Or maybe you love iced tea. Make some and put it in your favorite cup with a bendy straw. (It’s the little things)

8.) What makes you happy?
Buy some expensive dark chocolate. Reading some of a book. Watch your favorite show/movie. One thing I like to do is buy a bunch of tulips. I separate them into smaller blooms and vases and then put one in each bathroom. One on the counter. One on the dinner table. I love seeing the blooms and it’s something little that makes me smile.

9.) Get out by yourself, no matter how much time you have.
When your husband gets home, LEAVE. Go for a walk by yourself. Sit on the porch for 5 minutes with an iced tea. Or if you can, go out for longer. Do bedtime and go to the mall. Or stop by a friends house (to vent. HA)

10.) Do some skin to skin time.
I think this is easily forgotten after you no longer have a newborn. To be totally honest, recently I had started being very angry at my baby. My sleep deprivation was her fault. Dang it. (yeah, I know…so mature) I decided to try something different. I started taking baths with her. Totally naked. And just the two of us. No loud 4yr olds allowed in the bathroom. I splashed with her. Cuddled her. Nursed her in the bath. Washed her. Sang to her. Looked into her eyes. And fell back in love. She’s a busy 7 month old now and this is our special relaxing/bonding time. As I started doing this, my anger melted away. I saw how foolish it had been to even be angry in the first place.

11.) Talk to your doctor.
I am not a doctor. But I know many times, our levels can be low for various things and influence how we feel. Also, many women struggle with Anemia even in the postpartum period. Get bloodwork done. There may be something going on contributing to you feeling tired. It could be many different culprits.

12.) Find a friend to talk to who has a same aged baby, in your same situation.
It can feel isolating and lonely when you feel you are dealing with this all by yourself. Even if you have someone to vent to, finding someone who is ALSO in your situation will feel validating. You can bear each other’s burdens. You can share sleep tips. It helps to just know that someone out there knows EXACTLY what you are going through…and TODAY. Not your grandmother that went through it 40 years ago. Somehow, it’s different.

13.) Take care of yourself otherwise.
This is a BIGGIE. What you are putting in your body affects how you feel and how you function. Maybe you aren’t getting enough sleep, but for now that’s a problem you just have to surrender to. What you can do is take care of yourself everywhere else you are in control of. Drink enough water. Take your supplements. Eat good & real food. Exercise.

14.) Focus on what you CAN control.
I suggest focusing on the things in your life that you can control. Today, I will be happy because….Today, I am grateful for. I control my friends. I control what I eat, where I go, what I think about. We have so much power. It starts with our thoughts and we create our own reality. Make a list of things you have control over.

15.) Make a list of things that are going well. You get to choose what you focus on.

16.) Ask for something.
That is a bit vague but you get to choose what you ask for. I LOVE having my feet rubbed, but husband (or so I thought) just isn’t “that guy”. A few days ago after a long hard run, my feet were aching. I was complaining and my 4 yr old said, “why don’t you ask Dad to rub your feet?” And I replied, “Because Dad doesn’t do that.” My 4 yr old proceeded to go to Dad and say, “Dad, listen. Mom ran a long ways today and her feet ache. Will you please rub them for her?” And guess what? Daddy rubbed my feet!!! And guess what he said next….”All you had to do was ask.” (or have your 4 yr old ask. HA) Guess what I’m doing MORE OFTEN???? Yup. I’m asking, baby!

17.) STOP CARING.
Strange right? This was advice from a lovely friend but honestly, I’m still processing it. She said this, “Stop caring about how much you sleep and how much you don’t.” I wasn’t sure if I should laugh at her or if she was a genius. She mentioned that she did this with her first baby. It took her a week or so to really believe that she didn’t care anymore. (you can’t fake it) She started walking with a pep in her step. The bags beneath her eyes disappeared. she became happier. She ran into some friends of hers that were surprised. They said “Oh is your baby sleeping through the night? You look great!” She replied, “Ummmm, nope. I just stopped caring.”

I was fascinated. I still haven’t been able to shift into this mindset myself, but I would love to hear from anyone else that it worked for too.

 

I will end with this. It is just sleep. I know. I know. You can’t function or think when you are sleep deprived, etc etc etc. I get it. I do. Here’s the thing. THIS TOO SHALL PASS. Is it really worth letting SLEEP (or lack of it) control your life right now? Heck no. So don’t let it. It is a daily choice I struggle with but CHOOSE to make to not let it be in control of my day.

It will NOT control my happiness. *say this out loud*

I know it is not easy. Motherhood just isn’t easy. This is the first of many trials to come. We are on the journey. This is our life and we chose it.

I hope some of these tips help you. If you have any more tips to share, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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  1. Oh my gosh. For some reason I thought about the two words “moms alive” late last night so I looked it up this morning and read the first article on your site (this article on being sleep deprived), and this must be more than coincidence. I just had a terrible night with my baby who was waking all the time, and then when he finally dozed off I couldn’t fall back to sleep. I virtually got no sleep. And this is my second boy. I thought my first was bad but this one is worse. And yes I have gotten angry and frustrated. And yes I also firmly believe that this too shall pass. Do they really wake every hour at night bcos of lack of sleep during the day!?! I must look that up!

    • Hi Sarah. Thanks for your comment. Wow. I wonder why that popped in your head last night. Crazy!

      The sleep book that really helped me this time around was called Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child. He talks about how sleep begets sleep, which seemed weird to me at first. But then after getting my 4 mo old on a regular nap schedule during the day and putting her to bed WAY earlier, she started sleeping a lot better. It totally seemed counterintuitive to me.

      It’s also good to remember that there are things that will periodically interrupt sleep. Reaching milestones, growth spurts, sickness, and teething are just a few. My little one is 9 mo and she’s been getting 2 top teeth. She was sleeping through the night just a few weeks ago. The last few nights she’s been up a dozen times. *sigh* Then I remember it will pass. I’ll be a zombie for a few days, drink some extra coffee and she’ll get her teeth. We’ll all be much happier and it will be over.

      Hang in there!

  2. Oh my gosh. This is exactly what I needed to read today. I’ve been trying and trying to get my three month old to sleep better and I’ve been letting the sleep deprivation rule my life. What a novel idea to “stop caring.” I bet at this point that would be my best option. I know that this stage will pass and someday I will miss my tiny baby. So maybe if I just try to go with the flow more I can actually enjoy motherhood a little more.

  3. Thank you so much, this is exactly what I needed! I’m a solo mama with a beautiful 10 month old boy. He’s an absolute dream during the day but such a light sleeper!! He wakes up every hour and has done since day one. We’ve had a few blocks of 2-3 hours but it’s rare. I get obsessed with how much sleep we get and so angry and frustrated. I’ve shouted at him and then I hate myself. Thank you for reminding me that it’s not that bad and it will pass! X

    • You’re welcome. That’s the biggest thing to remember, that it will pass! Hang in there. A helpful book (really the only helpful book on sleep) I read was Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. That really provided accurate information on age of the child and what to expect.
      Other than that, sometimes to you just have to tough it out. Hopefully you can find comfort in knowing you are not alone!

  4. Thank you for this post. Our 7.5 month old is still waking every 2-3 hrs. Its like I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and have visions of a 5 yr old running about at night every 2-3 hrs. Your post gave me a little bounce and some brightness to persevere.

  5. Ian Matthews says:

    Wow I needed this. I am currently reading this while my husband takes a crack at getting baby to sleep after I spent the last 1.5hours trying. Its 3am and I was getting that feeling like this will never end. Your tips are helpful but also it is helpful to know other people have had babies who won’t sleep. I feel like we’ve tried EVERYTHING and at this point he’s 10 months old and I’m more than a little crazy. I recently had to go back to work and so am now trying to push through my work day whilst utterly exhausted. Its good to hear that other’s have had babies with sleep troubles like this though. I have a lot of friends and family with babies my L.O.’s age but none of them seem to be having these troubles. It makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong but I know logically I’m doing everything I can. Anyway thank you for the article. It’s the only one I’ve seen like this and probably the most helpful.

  6. It’s 3am – “despair o clock” . My 13 month old is a terrible sleeper and I’ve been chronically sleep deprived since day one! I’m constantly in tears over how much broken sleep I get (if I manage 4hours in a row it’s bloody magical!) I have read not to count how many hours of sleep but just go with the flow, but it’s easier said than done. One hour at a time … sigh. Thank you for your article

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