I’m reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child and it’s one of the best sleep books I’ve read so far. Written by a prominent pediatrician (Dr. Marc Weissbluth), the basic premise of the book is that sleep yields sleep; i.e., more daytime sleep = more night-time sleep. And that, my friends, = a well-rested family.
I’m not going to do a formal review of the book — I’m only like an eighth of the way through — but I wanted to talk about it today because the book is relevant to EVERYONE … not just people with babies or small children.
I’ve always been the type of person to choose everything over sleep. I just couldn’t be bothered!
In college, it was school work or socializing I’d choose; I’d pull all-nighters often enough that I was inspired to get a laptop so as not to disturb my best friend who is a VERY light sleeper and would hear me tapping away at all hours of the night.
Once I got into the working world, exercise took precedence over sleep — I’d either go to the gym late at night or early in the morning.
And when I began over-exercising, I’d go both times … missing precious morning rest as well as night-time zs.
Now that I’m a mom and paying extra special attention to my daughter’s sleep/nap habits, I’ve become even more conscious of my own. And mine suck.
Though the first 10 weeks felt impossible (every new parent is sleep-deprived!), I don’t think we could have truly started organizing her sleep any sooner. But by week 11, I finally had Maya on a nap schedule and that’s when she started sleeping through the night (STTN).
Since then it’s been very consistent.
We begin her night-night routine around 7, 715 – right when she’s starting to get drowsy but before she gets fussy(that’s the key–catch them before they’re over-tired!). Then it’s bath, jammies, story or singing, bottle, swaddle, bed. Though it’s not possible to have a perfect night-time routine every night, we try to keep some consistency — give or take a half hour in either direction.
I rock her to sleep and then give her kisses and gingerly put her in her crib. If Rocco barks loudly while this process is taking place, sometimes she’ll startle and cry but after a quick hug she’s back out cold. And then, barring any random wake-ups, she sleeps peacefully til 5 or 6 or so when I hear her whimper, talk to herself, and then cry if she’s had enough and is ready to begin her day.
It all sounds so neat and tidy and, for now, it is. I’m well-aware teething could bring an onslaught of challenges and other things will happen to affect her sleep schedule. For now, though, she’s a good napper and a good sleeper — and I think it’s because she’s getting regular sleep during the day (loosely following the Baby Wise eat/play/sleep cycle every 3-4 hours).
As you can see, I have my kid’s sleep schedule organized quite well (for now).
But my husband and I? We’re a collective DISASTER. And from what I’m reading in this book, we need to get a grip because sleep deprivation is already catching up to us and it’s only going to get worse.
Realistically, though, finding more sleep is a tough pill to swallow. It’s not that we’re choosing things in favor of sleep anymore; rather, sleep doesn’t feel like it belongs at the top of the priority list now.
My night doesn’t really begin til Maya goes to bed around 8. So between the gym (most nights), showering, drying my hair for the next morning (so I don’t need to shower in the AM), preparing bottles and pumping, I can’t seem to get to bed before 11 any night, or even later. Since I wake up at 5 or 6 with Maya, that means I’m only getting 6 or 7 hours of sleep a night.
And my husband — an evening MBA student with a full-time engineering job and more group projects than any human should have — doesn’t come to bed til 2 AM on average. We’re a pathetic duo when it comes to sleep, and it’s not good for us as a couple or us individually. He gets roughly 5 hours of sleep most nights.
According to Weissbluth, you (kid or adult) can’t just “make up” for lost sleep — it has a cumulative effect and is just flat-out BAD for your health.
So how can we get a grip? Something’s gotta give. I can’t wake up earlier to go to the gym in the AM b/c I nurse Maya in the mornings now that I’m back at work, and her wake-up time is inconsistent anyway. I won’t go right after work because that would mean sacrificing time with her. So this means evening workouts — after she’s in bed — are the only way I can fit it in, if at all.
And even if I skip it, I’m still not getting to bed much earlier. Monday I chose quality time with my husband over the gym because with school, he often doesn’t have that luxury. But even still, we didn’t get to bed til close to midnight!
It’s really hard but I think I’m going to need to make a conscious decision to get to bed sooner. For one, I could prep bottles after work for the next day — since she gets formula during the day anyway. And I could count nightly walks as workouts a couple nights a week, which would save me some time at night.
A well-rested family, in many ways, starts with a well-rested baby. But if mom and dad are deprived too, then it ruins the whole household’s potential for harmony. It won’t be easy, but if there’s anything I’ve learned from this book, it’s that a good night’s sleep (for ALL) must be viewed as non-negotiable and as an integral part of overall health and wellness.
Because while I feel like I’m suffering now, it’ll only get harder as Maya gets older and there are even more demands on my day.
How about you? What tricks to do have for getting more zs?