Monday, March 08, 2010

Who needs sleep? Apparently, not my kids.

I've always thought it was a cruel joke for God to play on me to have sent us not one but TWO children who hate to sleep. I love my sleep. I am not good at staying awake when I am very tired. I appreciate the beauty of an unbroken night's rest. I sleep best when I know I won't be troubled by any interruptions. I am not a morning person. I'm sure you can see how all this is a problem once you have kids. Once you have MY kids, at least.

Both my girls hate sleep, even though they have had very different sleep temperaments (variations on the hate sleep theme) and I've dealt with their sleep problems in different ways. And yet the result has been the same: both Miriam and Magdalena didn't sleep through the night until they were almost exactly 18 months old.

Here are the facts for your analysis (get your righteous parental judgment handy):

Subject A: Nursing: I nursed Miriam to sleep every time, all the time. This came about because of a nursing strike she went on at about 3 months old where she would only nurse when half-asleep. It wasn't long before she wouldn't fall asleep any other way. She never took a bottle, either, so I'll give you one guess who was in charge of all these feedings. Naps: She gave up her morning nap when she was about 10 months old, and her afternoon nap seldom lasted longer than 90 minutes. She gave up napping entirely shortly after she turned two. Nighttime: When she was one year old, she was still nursing FOUR times during the night. We did a modified cry-it-out and got her down to one nursing session which she kept up until she was 18 months old. Then she slept through the night, at long last (except for all those times she still doesn't. You know how it goes).

Subject B: Nursing: I never nursed Magdalena to sleep, not once, not ever (see above for the reason why). She learned to put herself to sleep at a very early age (thank you, Woombie!). I was strict beyond all reason about separating nursing from sleeping. Naps: Still, she gave up her morning nap at around 10 months, though her afternoon nap is sometimes closer to two hours instead of just 90 minutes. Nighttime: Happily, she was only nursing once during the night at a year old. But even after I weaned her at 14 months, she still woke up once or twice every night. It wasn't until last month that she started to consistently sleep through the night.

I even checked the dates each girl started sleeping through the night and they were within a week of being the same age, despite all the differences in their temperaments and sleep training.

Do any of your kids hate sleep? How do you deal with it? Do any of you parents with sleep-loving children want to brag for a minute? Do you think there's any validity in my almost-theory that people who have children close together (on purpose) also tend to have children who sleep through the night at an early age?


Sharalea said...

I am like you--I LOVE my sleep. I NEED my sleep. I THRIVE on sleep. I like naps, I like a solid 8-10 hr/night sleep.

our first baby was willing to oblige my sleep wants. He started sleeping through the night at 2 months (I nursed him till 16 mo., no bottles, some nursing-to-sleep early on but not consistently, no co-sleeping, often swaddled, very quiet & dark room)

Ever since 12 months he started merging his morning nap with his nighttime sleep--making his nighttime sleep between 10-13 hrs on average (and then he'll have an afternoon nap anywhere from 1.5-3 hrs)

My friends all call be "lucky" & tease me for all the extra sleep I enjoy. I am prego with #2 & very unsure of how it will change the 'schedule' and of course...the big question: will this baby be sleeper too?

Is it nature or nurture?

I have no idea, I'm just grateful.

Shannan said...

Here's my handy parental judgement.

Everyone does what works for them. Ha!

I'm somebody who can operate on little sleep (6-7 hours at night) so when I'm pregnant and my body needs 8 hours I don't know what to do with myself. LOL.

Anyway, I'm a sleep nazi and I work tirelessly to get my kids to sleep on a schedule. It took Chase 6 months to get to the two solid naps and 12 hours at night and boy did I work hard to get him there. It involved a few nights of cry it out. Read my latest post for the latest sleep adventure when I took away his paci and we had three solid nights of sleep disruption. He had to cry himself out because nothing I did comforted him.

So there you go. If you want your kids to sleep, you have to be firm and tough hearted and have to endure a few days of crying it out. It sucks, but works.

EmmySue said...

I have found every kid is different no matter how much you try to get them to do things you want. Alexis falls asleep like me... the minute her head hits the pillow she is out, for the night. Timothy is like his dad. He hates to sleep and will fight to stay awake. He just doesn't get tired. Both were treated the same way with sleep habits and training. No explanation for why... just different kids I guess.

Eevi said...

I obviously have very little experience and only one baby, but I think some babies are blessed with good sleeping habits and some arent. Saku was terrible sleeper until about 4 months. Then we sleep trained him and he puts himself to sleep; however, he still wakes up one or twice a night. He usually goes right back to sleep and nurse him once a night. But there are nights like last night, when he woke up about every two hours, cried for 5 minutes(since we didnt go to his room) and went back to sleep. He takes two naps; usually a 60 minute one in the morning and 90 minutes in the afternoon. He has slept through the night twice in his life. Probably way more than you ever cared to know. BUt I feel like I have done everything that ANY/EVERY book tells me to do and he still doesnt sleep through the we'll just wait until he does:)

Aimee said...

I am going to take a total attachment-parenting point of view here, and it works for us.

My son at 24-months still nurses and still wakes up in the middle of the night. It is fairly common for children to wake up in the middle of the night and need their mom/dad to help them back to sleep until 3yo. I have never required a lot of sleep, so this doesn't bother me so much. Jameson slept through the night early until he was six months old and we went to Vienna. He has never slept through the night since that time.

I do believe your theory of babies being close together sleep through the night, but I probably have an answer to why this may be. Mothers who get their babies to sleep through or babies who naturally sleep through the night aren't nursing at night. Nursing hormones are the strongest between the hours of 1-5am, so if there is no nursing the body begins to ovulate. I thoroughly enjoyed my 18-months period free.

Saying all that, like you, I have learned that the sleep/nurse association is a HARD one to break, and I will probably use a modified version of this for my next child.

Jameson's naps were precisely an hour, nearly all the time. He dropped the morning nap at about 13-months and the afternoon stayed one hour, unfortunately. Only very recently (as in, since we returned from Vienna in February) has the afternoon nap become 2-2.5 hours of pure bliss (for Momma).

We have always kept Jameson on a very strict sleep schedule and I wouldn't have it any other way. He is a delightful child and I am convinced it is because he gets good sleep at the same time everyday.

JackJen said...

I'm hesitant to post, since our situations are SO different, and it's hard to compare or offer advice or even remotely equate the situations...

Ian slept through the night starting at 6 weeks. He just did. I don't say it to brag, nor do I apologize for the fact. It was just our [very, very, very fortunate] reality.

I think one of the reasons was because of the nature of a formula-fed baby. Formula takes longer to digest and sits a little heavier in the stomach, therefore allowing longer stretches between feedings.

We did subscribe to the eat THEN play THEN sleep theory (as described in _Baby Wise_), to make sure that Ian didn't associate eating with sleep.

That being said, there's a LOT of nature v. nurture going on here. And I think my darling oldest son came the way he came and sleeping was his thing. Just as parents shouldn't take the lion's share of the credit for a good sleeper, parents shouldn't take all of the blame when a child doesn't sleep well, either.

I'd be interested in hearing what others have to say on the spacing of children...because our kids are going to be 4 years breast-fed, the other not. I'm throwing a TON of new variables into the mix. Maybe I can return and report in a couple of months. =)

Bridget said...

Yeah, I don't know the answer to the nature vs. nurture debate. My kids seem to point to nature, but I do believe that you can sleep train to some extent.

However, I agree that some kids just are the way they are. Unfortunately (REALLY REALLY) I got terrible sleepers, twice. But in other areas of their lives I'm sure they've given me lots less trouble than other kids have given their parents, without any special effort on my part. So maybe I should count my blessings.

(But let me state for the record that sleep is like #1 on my "most desirable innate attributes in a baby" list. Are you listening, God?)

Bridget said...

Also, let me say that I appreciate it when moms of good sleepers recognize their good fortune/hard work.

Jennifer said...

I also love and need sleep.

Ellen was a great night time sleeper from early on, however, her naps have always been a struggle. They go back and forth between long enough and not long enough (meaning she wakes up cranky and stays cranky for the whole afternoon). I've spent most of her life trying to figure out her ideal nap times.

Rachel has been a dream napper from day 1--no real cry it out and she falls asleep for 2 hour naps in her crib. However, it has taken her longer to extend time between feedings at night and to "sleep through the night".

As far as babies that sleep better being closer together on purpose, it is true for us! Since Ellen has always slept so well at night and I was a well rested mama, I was willing to consider entering into newborn sleeplessness sooner than if I wasn't getting enough sleep myself with one child. I got my period back when she was 5 months old and weaned her at 8 months, so nursing wasn't really part of that equation at all.

I'm so glad you're getting sleep now and give you mad props for dealing with your two little not-sleep-loving girls!

Crys said...

My kids will sleep a decent nights sleep for the most part, but when you have three there is rarely a night where someone doesn't wake up for some reason. Last night Sadie came in at four for a snack and Ezra had a bad dream, so when Jason got out of bed at 5:30 there were four of us in the bed. I think Ezra was a good napper, but I know for sure that by the time I was pregnant with Grace and we were in Jordan the only way he would sleep was if I lay down beside him and then you have to ask what is the point. Grace has always been a horrible napper. It actually seems to make her more grouchy. If by chance she falls asleep on a drive home from someplace I know I'm in for a miserable evening. Sadie has no set schedule for nap but will do it occasionally. Usually when she is tired she just follows me around crying and bangs her head on the crib bars if I stick her in there. My best bet is a short nap in the car when I picking Ezra up from school. I think motherhood is just about sleep deprivation. My good friend with teenagers doesn't sleep because she is always laying in bed waiting for them to come home...apparently life is unrestful until you know all the chicks are in ;) I rarely get to sleep past 6:30 here...I'm thinking that is probably normal :)

Alli E. said...

Neither of my girls sleep all the way through the night yet in their own beds!! D wakes up the second (I kid you not) I lay my head down on my pillow to go to sleep and H wakes up everynight somewhere between 2-4 to use the bathroom whilst crying...I have had 4 kids. You would think by now I would have it figured out!! People keep asking when we will have another and I say not until I can get my two girls to sleep through the night!!

Bridget said...

Alli, I totally remember that when we visited you - your girls were up so late and so early, both! Maybe it's a Buehler thing...

Amanda said...

I'm such a hard-core believer in sleep training, it's not even funny. We worked really really hard with Lillian and had a lot of 2 hour crying stretches to get her to stop waking up in the middle of the night, which she stopped doing at 14 months, maybe. Nora was much easier and we only had to let her cry a few times before she stopped waking up. I do know a girl who was so desperate for sleep that she decided to let her baby cry and he would get so worked up that he would throw up. Every night. So, I get that it doesn't work for everyone. (And, my sister-in-law is all about extolling the virtues of attachment parenting, and I hate it because it seems like, when I'm talking to her, if I don't believe in attachment parenting, I'm not "attached" to my kids, like I don't love them, or something. Which is not true. But, maybe that's a rant for another day.)

Nancy said...

Yeah, my mom had six kids and the worst sleeper is her last--my younger sister--who still is a horrible sleeper at age 16.

Rachel is a lot like her. She can stay up until midnight, easily...I think she might be Arab...not sure. ;P She's an awful sleeper.

Miriam is a great sleeper. She's so funny. She sucks her thumb and throws herself backwards when she's tired--like you'll be holding her upright on your lap and then almost drop her because she's trying to get you to let her lie down. So funny.

Anyway, Miriam slept in our bed until last month. I nursed her just whenever she woke up. She'd sleep right beside me and we'd nurse and snooze all night. Now I don't nurse her to sleep. I just put her to bed (at around 8 PM, in her own bed) and she sleeps until around 5 AM when she nurses and goes back to sleep (in our bed if I fall asleep or in her bed if I am still awake to put her back in bed). Her bed is still right next to ours.

Interestingly, she never moves when she sleeps. When I pick her up at 5 AM she's in the exact spot she was in when I put her down.

Rachel was SO not like that. Rachel was always getting tangled in her crib bars and would be on the complete opposite end of her crib when I would go in to get her.

I think it's because she just wasn't sleeping--she was always in there kicking around.

I don't know if it was because she was LOOKING for me (I didn't really co-sleep with her) whereas Miriam trusts that I'm just there.

Meh. I don't know. I'm so sorry you got two non-sleepers, though! My friend had two right in a row, too. I know how much it takes out of you. When Rachel was little I was ALWAYS sick and always tired. With Miriam I have only been sick twice I think. It's awesome. I'm sure it's because I'm much better rested than I ever was with Rachel.

Anyway...good luck with things. :)

Merkley Jiating said...

We need to talk about this tomorrow.

Tia said...

My girls hate sleep too. Abigail just started sleeping through the night at 3 1/2 but will wake up at least once during the night, twice a week. Tatyana sleeps through the night about twice a week. Both girls stopped napping at 18 months. And when they did nap it was twice a day for 20 minutes each. We tried everything with Abigail, but after waking her up at 6am and taking her to the park for 3 hours, then to the mall and to run errands and she still wouldn't go to bed until midnight or later. We gave up!! The doctor told us some kids just don't need sleep. I do. My girls don't. Hopefully this next little girl will sleep a little more.

Anna said...

Sophie has always been a good sleeper; she started sleeping through the night at 2 months. It was definitely nothing I did. I basically was willing to do anything she wanted (nurse her to sleep, walk around for hours if she so much as frowned, etc.) I am grateful for my good luck.

At about six months she started waking up at night again and I finally let her cry it out one night...but I was ready to cave the next night. Luckily I didn't have to because she gave up and since then sleeps from 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.

I take no credit for her being a good sleeper and am terrified our next baby is going to be a bad sleeper.

You have my sympathy.

Mikael@starter home to dream home said...

I have to comment.
Makenzie: Perfect baby. slept through the night starting at 5 weeks old!
Twins: I thought they were TERRIBLE babies, but found out they were normal. They were STILL waking up a couple times a night at 7 months old. I couldnt stand for that. I too, NEED my sleep!
I did the cry it out method for a couple wks. At 8 months they started sleeping 12+ hours at night and now all my children are WONDERFUL sleepers! I am spoiled.

But, I have also learned from the twins that kids are kids. I can say "oh I trained them" all I want, but you know your kids. maybe your kids just hate sleep... but deep down I know most normal healthy children can sleep through the night. You gotta force 'em!

I nursed makenzie to sleep from the beginnnig, but I just got lucky that she slept through the night alone.
with the twins, from they day they were born I made them "learn" how to put themselves to sleep... always putting them to bed drowsy but AWAKE.

ok, that was my soapbox. one day your kids will sleep... then you will have another and it will start all over again.
Love ya bridget!!!

Julie said...

I'm sure you don't want all the details of our sleep history, but in short, Adam is our best sleeper. He has been sleeping through the night since he was was 2 months old. It is a kind of heaven I never knew with the other two.

That said, he is a big grouch when it comes to taking naps during the day and I have to rock/bounce/beg/stand under the bathroom fan to try to get him to fall asleep during the day.

I wish I had answers to the sleep mysteries!

Liz Johnson said...

Both of my kids starting sleeping through the night at 16 pounds. With Connor, this occurred around 9 months (and after a couple of attempts at the 'cry it out' thing that didn't really work that well). With Nathan, this occurred around 2.5 months. I cannot figure out any other correlation between them. I also have a secret theory that boys are better sleepers than girls, but that is based on nothing besides my personal observations and my friends' struggles (or lack thereof) with their kids' sleep patterns.

Even with both of my kids sleeping through the night, I didn't ovulate again until I stopped nursing. I realize that's probably different for everybody, but it was pretty freaking nice to have a kid who slept through the night at 2.5 months, and to not get my period until he was 11 months. WONDERFUL, I tell you.

Ultimately, though, I think I just got lucky... and/or God recognized that I might commit homicide without adequate sleep. I wish I were joking.

David and Amber said...

I just finished the Baby Whisperer and I love it. I'm working with my 6 month old to help him sleep better and within a week he has already made leaps and bounds in his sleep habits, and I almost get 5 hour stretches between feeds. Good luck!! No sleep is so hard. When I get sleepy my common sense and patience is the first to go. Not a good combo.

Britney said...

I'm a big believer in swaddling and in the cry-it-out method. At least those methods worked well for my first two babies.

We'll see how number 3 does in the sleep department...

Teresa said...

Paisley began sleeping through the night (8 hours) at 8 weeks, but we made her cry it out for a few nights in a row. After that, she was "trained." Whenever she would get sick, however, I would nurse her in the night and break her habit. Then I would have to make her cry it out a few nights until she got back on track sleeping through the night. Now she is officially weaned at just about 11 months and she is sleeping about 12 hours- YAY. For her, the cry it out method worked, but I will admit that it is so hard to do!

Lilianne said...

Hot topic, Bridget! 23 comments. I'm glad I could be the 24th.

I pray EVERY night that when I do get pregnant, that God will send me one that will sleep, because I NEED SLEEP. For reals. It's about the only thing holding me back at this point.

I totally get it when you say that when you go to sleep, you sleep better knowing that something/someone isn't going to wake you up. So true. When we are on vacation, I never sleep well - because I'm always so worried about Lois waking up - which usually happens because she's in a place she's unfamiliar with.

While Lois seems to be a pretty solid sleeper now, she's still a light sleeper. I can't do anything while she's sleeping that might cause any noise. This is annoying. Period. And she didn't sleep through the night consistently until she was 11 months - so I feel blessed it wasn't 18!

We'll see how things go when we add another to the mix. I'm just hoping it goes a little better than the first time, because like I've heard you say, it's a total deal breaker. :-) We miss you! Hope you're surviving your first true winter!

Kristen said...

I find the fact that your different "methods" with the girls produced nearly identical results very interesting. I tend to believe that nursing babies to sleep is a horrible idea in the long run. However, your story seems to show that it didn't make much difference in long-term sleep habits. Interesting.


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