Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sleep? What's that?!

Getting babies to sleep when you want them to can be nearly impossible.  In fact, TONS of advice exists on the topic, which can be completely confusing for new (and veteran) parents.  (See "I Read All the Baby Sleep Books," a hilarious illustration of this conflicting advice.)

It is with this understanding that I broach the topic of sleep training.  According to What to Expect (admittedly probably not the most accurate source) and my own past experience, healthy babies are able to sleep through the night well before they are 8 months old, which is the age of my daughter.  Unfortunately, she is most definitely not sleeping through the night.

The Problem
I am so on edge right now.  And exhausted.  Since the baby is not sleeping through the night, I am not sleeping through the night.  She was just waking up once each night, but that time has gotten earlier and earlier.  While we were on vacation this past weekend, she woke up twice the first night and three times the second night!  Last night she was up twice.

I'm halfway sleep training her right now, and she (finally!) just stopped crying in her crib for a nap.  I haven't fully committed yet because it's just so much easier to feed her in the middle of the night so that we can both go right back to sleep without extended crying (hers, but maybe soon to be mine).  My fear is that I've trained her to wake up for a midnight (or 2:00 or 4:00 a.m.) snack.

The truth is, we both need to sleep through the night.  Interrupted sleep has GOT to be the exception, not the rule.

Past Experience
I read something early on as a parent that has stuck with me: The best thing you can do for your child is to help him learn how to be a good sleeper.

We did sleep train the boys, and they are awesome sleepers now.  When they were babies, we let them cry, comforted them after a certain number of minutes without picking them up, and didn't nurse or rock them to sleep.

Now they both sleep 10-11 hours per night plus an afternoon nap/quiet time every day.

Sleep and Mental Health
Being well-rested is essential to everyone's health, but it seems to be extra necessary for those of us who struggle mentally.  I'm much more able to function WELL when I've had enough sleep.

What about medication?  In my twenties, I was prescribed medication to help me sleep, which worked, but I didn't love it.  I didn't take it for long because it really knocked me out, plus I seemed to improve and not need it anymore.

In the last six months, though, I have had trouble with sleeping/early waking due to my anxiety/OCD/depression.  But with breastfeeding, I wasn't able to take any additional medication past the Zoloft, even it if was to help me sleep.  I didn't want to risk it being passed on to the baby through the breastmilk, and since my husband leaves for work early in the morning...I needed to be alert and easily awakened if one of the kids needed me.

I'm no longer having trouble sleeping, but I have GOT to figure out how to get this baby to sleep.  What advice do you have about helping kids sleep through the night?

Sleept Training books we've referenced: