Lack of sleep throws me completely off. I’m not a person that functions well with a less than normal amount of sleep. My husband can function just fine on just a few hours of sleep. Not me. Not me at all. Give me 8.5 hours or I start snapping. I snap at my children, at my husband, and at that random scrap of paper that ended up on the kitchen floor. “Why piece of paper, why?!?!?!” Truly. It isn’t pretty.
So now that I’ve established how important a normal amount of sleep is in my world, how do I get it? I have two children who still wake through the night. Biscuit is 4 this month and still wakes 2-3 times most nights. Baby Bear is 13 months and still wakes….. a number of times. It’s developmentally normal for children to wake through the night well into their preschooler years so I try to go with that flow.
So here are a few ways that I make sure I get enough sleep.
1. I sleep with my baby. I would only recommend this option if you’re going to do it full time and are breastfeeding. (If you’re not, having baby sleep in a crib or cradle right next to your bed can save a lot of hassle through the night.) Be sure to read our Safe Sleep post. Full time sleep-sharing and breatfeeding means that Baby Bear and I get into the same sleep cycle rhythms so we both hit that light-sleep stage at the same time. So I’m easily able to slip out of sleep enough to latch him on and then we can both drift off back to dream land. I don’t need to get out of bed, I don’t need to try to lay a sleeping baby back down hoping that he doesn’t wake again, and I often don’t even need to wake up fully. It works very well.
2. I get my husband to help with Biscuit. When the baby was born, I would tell my husband that the baby was latched on (he usually was) so I couldn’t get up. Now, if Biscuit doesn’t get responded to almost immediately upon waking in the middle of the night, it used to end up being a screaming fit of several hours (we have, thankfully, found a solution for the screaming so now he wakes up but is usually coherent). So my hubby had no choice but to jump out of bed to respond. Now he often wakes up before I do when Biscuit wakes and makes sure that Biscuit gets the comfort and/or drink that he needs. If he doesn’t, I will give him a gentle nudge with my foot to remind him of his fatherly duty.
3. No media in the bedroom. No TV and no social media. It’s not worth the risk of getting sucked into a digital world in a space that is designed for you to sleep in. Keep your bed only for sleeping (or other adult activities…) and you’re more likely to be able to turn off your brain and fall asleep.
4. Spend enough time in bed so that, regardless of the amount of interruptions I have through the night, I can get enough cumulative sleep in the night. I set an alarm on my phone to make sure I go to bed on time. This is probably the biggest helper because it is so easy for me to get lost in a book or watching a show with my husband or surfing Pinterest or whatever activity I’m involved in that particular evening. My phone jingles (loudly) at 10:00pm and a little note pops up that says “Go to bed!” So I do. Actually, I often go to bed slightly before the alarm goes off and forget my phone downstairs. And then the alarm goes off and my husband has to hunt the house for my phone to turn off the very persistent alarm. At which point he notices the battery is almost dead so he plugs it in for me. It’s really handy because then I don’t have to search the house for my phone the next morning. It’s right at the charging location, full up and ready for the day. I don’t do this on purpose. Truly. I’m just a little scatterbrained when my brain starts shutting down for the evening.
So then, sleep. Important stuff. You’re probably not getting enough of it. What prevents you from getting enough sleep?