Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sleep disturbances

Two nights ago, I slept all the way from when I went to bed until when I intended to wake up in the morning, with no interruptions from children at any time during that period. It was amazingly restorative and also singularly disorienting. When I woke up, I couldn't remember where I was or why it was light outside. Sleeping through the night just isn't something that happens very often at our house (my kids hate sleep, remember?). Because even when babies (or kids, as the case may be) "sleep through the night," they don't. Not really. What we mean is, the baby/kid sleeps through the night - except for all those times he/she doesn't.

And in our house at least, even with "only" two kids, it's astounding what can disturb your sleep, via your children. There's no apparent pattern to their night wakings that can be identified and then remedied. Sometimes it's Miriam. Sometimes it's Magdalena. Sometimes it's a bad dream. Sometimes it's a bug bite that itches. Sometimes it's Miriam with a cough. Sometimes it's Magdalena with a stuffy nose. Sometimes Magdalena has to go potty and all parents who have recently gone through potty training know you can never say no to that, no matter what time it is. And sometimes, I have no idea what wakes them up. All I know is that - to take a recent example - it's ten o'clock at night and Magdalena just came sauntering into our bedroom wearing her pajamas and flip-flops, ready to go somewhere.



The frustrating part is that unlike most other unwelcome behavior in children, these night disturbances are maddeningly difficult to get rid of. Because by the time they wake us up, the damage is done. I don't have a chance to prevent it right before it happens. I can't see warning signs and re-route the way things are going. They wake up, and that's it - we're all a lot more tired the next morning.

Now I'll share with you something that I probably intended to blog about over a year ago but which must have been too disheartening at the time. Jeremy and I created a Google Doc in October 2009 titled "Sleep Disturbances." It was a grid of all the night wakings we experienced over a two-week period, and it listed the perpetrator and the time of the waking. And it looked like THIS:
Things are much better now, but doesn't this seem to anyone else like a heretofore untapped method of teaching birth control in high schools, via scare tactics? Or do teenagers only get pregnant with babies who automatically sleep through the night from birth? That must be it, otherwise high school health teachers would be all over this.

15 comments:

Susanne said...

Ha, ha...they need YOU to teach birth control! :D

Melody said...

Ah the joys of motherhood! My kids are pretty good at sleeping through the night. But there have been times... I don't know if everyone experiences this, but there was once that I was literally crazy from lack of sleep. Here is what I remember. Eli had been sick for several nights in a row and just after he got over being sick I got really sick and couldn't sleep. So I was going on at least 3 days straight with no sleep. That morning, as I was talking to Cameron, all of my muscles stopped working at once and I fell on the floor. At which point I started sobbing. I started trying to say something but I think I was pretty incoherent. I also remember coming up with some pretty strange conspiracy theories. Cameron stayed home from work that day and sent me to bed with some Tylenol PM. But now, luckily, my kids sleep through the night quite well. Except that Brianna is an early riser so every day she gets up between 6:00 and 6:30 (no matter what time she goes to bed the night before). *Sigh*

Nancy said...

I feel...your pain.

Amanda said...

Wow. Just, wow. All of my kids have slept through the night starting at about 6 months. We've had rough patches, (potty training, putting the girls in the same room, sleep training the latest infant), but for the most part, I put the kids in their beds and I don't see or hear them until morning. My heart goes out to you.

Scotty P said...

This may not work for your kids (or maybe you've already tried something like this), but Katie made Cora a sticker chart and gives her a sticker each night that she doesn't cry out (i.e., each night that she doesn't cause sleep disturbances). That has helped a lot.

Liz Johnson said...

The fact that you function is amazing to me. My kids wake up once during the night and I turn into the Great Dark Demon and threaten to eat their raw flesh with my bare hands. And then the next day, I am completely unable to keep it together. I yell and scream and cry and whine. Seriously.

You are my hero for keeping those children alive.

Kathy Haynie said...

They. Will. Grow. Up.

I promise. Hang in there. Families come in all flavors, and you are doing exactly the right things to love and nurture your children. Kudos and empathy...

Rob and Sara said...

I feel your pain! Anya is only 6 months so I haven't had to deal with the lack of sleep for the years that you have. I can say that during these past 6 months I have yet to go to sleep and not wake up until the next morning. I don't remember what that feels like. To those of you that say your kids sleep through the night, I have the same reaction I had when I was pregnant and throwing up several times a day and people told me "Oh, I never had morning sickness. I loved being pregnant!"... I want to punch you in the face (in a loving way of course.) :)

Christina LeSueur said...

Ironically I'm reading this at 11pm while my child is up for an unknown reason and won't go back to bed. James isn't that bad though...I don't know how you do it. Hopefully, I won't have to find out.

Jeanerbee said...

Have totally been there with the "only two kids" sleep disruption thing. Hence, no plans for a third for at least TWO more years. Haha. Thankfully they are both now sleeping through the night, but they do BOTH sneak in bed with us at some point during the night... we are both too tired to fully wake up and enforce them going back to their own rooms, but who can really sleep well with two boys kicking you in the wee hours of the morning. I guess we'll have to address it one of these nights....

Joana said...

Oh yes. My kids are HORRIBLE sleepers. My 6 year old has finally learned the art of sleeping, but my 4 year old and 2.5year old wake up during the night ALL.THE.TIME.

Bridget said...

I am so glad to hear that other people's children are poor sleepers, too! I keep thinking there must be SOMETHING we are doing so absolutely fundamentally wrong and if we could just fix that, we wouldn't be tired all of the time. But we've tried everything and I really think some kids just don't sleep well. And I happen to have two of them.

Liz, it's amazing how different I feel when I get an unbroken night's rest. This sounds strange to say, but I love my children so much more in the morning when I haven't seen them all night long.

Bridget said...

And Melody, you are not alone on going crazy. When things get really bad (like they were during that period I was keeping the sleep disturbances chart) I start doing weird things. Like taking a pan out of the oven without using an oven mitt. Stuff like that.

Amanda said...

I totally jinxed myself: last night Nora was up twice, the second time, Lillian got up too to see what all the fuss was about, and the baby was up twice. Another time, I could have sworn one of them was screaming, so I got out of bed, but they were all sleeping soundly by the time I got to the end of the hall.

Cait said...

My child hates sleep too!! He goes to bed at 11-ish and wakes up at the crack of dawn (usually 6-7am) and about fourteen times in between. Mind you, we are still co-sleeping and we can't figure out how to night-wean him so that's probably the issue, we brought it upon ourselves! But really, I have not slept more than 3 hours straight in like 2 years. It's rough sometimes. I tried keeping a chart once per instructions from The No-Cry Sleep Solution but he woke up so much and I was so disoriented I couldn't even logically do it.

And a few weeks ago I tried to readjust my electric stove burner while it was on. HIGH.

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