I might as well have joined the circus, I look the part completely.
Majority of us new or seasoned parents have thought up a similar sentence that starts exactly like this. And we were warned. You hear the stories, the jokes…”better get your sleep now because you won’t for the next 5 years”…if only sleep accrued and earned interest in a bank somewhere.
Funny enough I am writing this having got 3 hours of sleep last night. Not related at all to having a new baby, because mine is 6. And here I am thinking how am I going to function on 3 hours of sleep…crap. My theory is that I need to be able to empathize with my clients though so the sleep fairy only allows me a certain number of good nights.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever put your keys in the fridge, or locked yourself out of the house, or forgotten to shower. I will say this sounds a lot like my daily life and I’m not regularly sleep deprived…but you ARE more likely to make odd decisions when you are lacking in sleep (at least ya’ll have an excuse). Later I’ll share some of my favorites (side note I love receiving these emails as it only further proves how amazing we are for getting through each day).
A recent study from The National Sleep Foundation found that 76% of parents have frequent sleep problems. I was actually surprised it wasn’t higher, but I bet you have one or two of your Mom friends that falls in the other 24% and seems to be perfectly put together and still getting her nails done and stuff. While you are over here like…
who are struggling to get the sleep they desperately need. When not working you can find her at the gym, at the beach, or spending time with family. She is the Mother of the coolest 6 year old boy, Slade, and Step-Mom to 3 pretty rad kiddos!
It’s going to be ok, I promise. There is hope, it’s called benadryl.
Don’t do that.
Anyway, truly there is hope. 4 years ago I realized there is such a thing as sleep consultants. People who are professionally trained to help your baby sleep, thus allowing you to finally catch some Zzzs. Wait what? How is this a thing and nobody knows about it? This is fascinating. Well my initial interest turned in to passion, and that passion turned in to a career so fast forward 4 years later here I am. You’re welcome.
One of the things that is so great about my job is that I literally get desperate calls. Parents are ready to let me move in with them and give me a horse. I totally get it.
Not sleeping makes you do crazy things and you will do anything to get it. I’m like a drug dealer of sorts. The difference is your body actually needs sleep. In fact the list of consequences that can on set from sleep deprivation are pretty lengthy. Attention to detail decreases, hearing is impaired, high levels of inflammatory markers enter the bloodstream, heartbeat can become irregular, emotional state is high, and the list goes on and on and on.
So then what do we do, stop having babies in order to preserve our glorious, uninterrupted, nights of restful sleep? Of course not (well some do…those are the smart ones).
I’m about to tell you something that will change your life…
you do NOT have to show your baby how to sleep. They actually know how to do that all on their own!
So then why don’t they do it you ask? Well mainly because of us. Whaaaat?!
Listen, I totally understand as a Mom wanting to soak up every ounce of love and embracing each moment with your newborn baby. And it’s completely natural to want to rescue them at the first peep of discomfort. Too, remember that sleep is essential and vital to your health and your body regulates sleep in the same way as it does eating, drinking, and breathing. It’s a natural process that from birth we learn to regulate in conjunction with what our body needs.
So if this is true why don’t all babies just sleep through the night? Well some do but MOST don’t. Somehow I was blessed with a baby who slept constantly from almost day 1 of being on this planet. I actually called the Nurses to ask what was wrong with him (I still have a vision of what her expression must have been receiving this call). He is a natural sleeper, still is. So I didn’t have to do much of anything to help him figure it all out. The cold hard facts though are that most babies do need some help. It’s the ways in which we help them that lead to sleep challenges later on.
We’ll be here until next Tuesday if I list all of the ways in which you can prevent sleep issues in the future. However, I can tell you the basic principles that you should follow if you want to regain control of your sleep-life.
- For the first 2-3 months of life, follow your baby’s sleep patterns. Allow them to sleep when they want, and tend to their needs when they wake up (nursing, pacifier, rocking, etc). Even let them sleep with you if you choose
- After 3 months of life start making the shift to a parent-led sleep schedule and adapt the mentality of wanting an independent sleeper. Do this by allowing your child the opportunity to figure this sleep thing out on their own…i.e. the opportunity to self soothe
- Resist the urge to rescue. Chill out! If you know your baby is fed, safe, changed…then they are ok! Take a bath, have a glass of wine…and for gosh sakes stop being so hard on yourself. You are not a bad parent for not responding to every single cry or noise your baby makes (And let’s just be clear…by not responding I don’t mean letting your baby cry to the point of vomiting). Do remember your baby’s only way of communicating is through crying. BUT, it isn’t always a negative means of communication!
Sleep is absolutely vital to EVERYONE’S health, including your little one. So the same consequences apply to your baby if he isn’t getting the sleep he needs. You can do this!
And if you can’t…hire a sleep consultant. I guarantee you if you ask your other Mommy friends they will tell you it’s one of the best investments you can make! (Just don’t listen to their advice on how to actually “train” your baby because every baby is different
Oh, and we are just getting started. I’m literally obsessed with sleep, which is good for you because I have some good stuff up there that should help.
There is hope. You will sleep again. Now go take a nap.
And may your dreams be beautiful