Getting Sleep With A Baby As A Part Time Insomniac

When we announced we were pregnant something everyone said, without out fail, was how much sleep we’d lose. Everyone’s advice was pretty much the same – from my mother to the midwife – “Sleep when he sleeps.”

There are many things wrong with that. For starters who is actually doing that. Snappy sleeps in half an hour snatches during the day, longer if he’s had a crappy night. By time you’ve settled him down and then settled yourself down and drifted off, he’s awake again. Then you’re awake again and wasted half an hour or an hour not sleeping or doing anything.

A newborn needs about as much sleep as a cat. A cat! Do you know how much my jerk cats sleep?? Eighteen hours. Eighteen hours out of twenty-four. Which is fine for babies and cats, they don’t really have much to do except eat and sleep and chase fluff around the carpet but the rest of us have stuff to do. Like work, and chores and blogging. Like feeding the same mammals during the short amount of time they’re not sleeping.

I don’t actually think it’s the lack of sleep that’s the problem. It’s the lack of REM sleep. Or the lack of undisturbed sleep. I’m pretty crap if I don’t get over eight hours in one go I know that for sure. My wife doesn’t sleep soundly or deeply if Snappy is in bed with us. If he’s in the basket she sleeps a little better.

I have struggled with sleeping soundly since I was about thirteen. I had insomnia for the longest time, most nights I slept for three or four hours maximum. Less if I was at my dad’s. I still struggle with it but only once or twice a month. I’ve come to deal with it in my own ways, and manage well enough on very little sleep some days. Usually the next night I’m dead to the world as soon as my head hits the pillow though not always.

So far this is what we’ve been doing to get enough sleep to survive –  a mixture of common sense, things my sister did and how I deal with insomnia.

Get To Bed Early

My sister managed with her seven-year-old son and her newborn daughter by going to bed early. And by early I mean the same time as my nephew. She would put him to bed then put herself to bed. Around eight pm or nine pm. That’s how she got her sleep. We do the same, though not that early unless we’re really tired.

Sleep in

Bethend has never really been much for sleeping in. Once she’s awake she’s awake and that’s it there’s no going back to sleep.  At least until we had Snappy. Now if she can – meaning if he sleeps in – she will try and sleep in. I can sleep in easily, so I do this whenever I can. On a Sunday I’ll sleep for as long as I can. As long as Bethend lets me get away with.

I Take A Shift

At least once a night I get up with Snappy. I do this most nights. We started doing this because even though I have to get up for work in the morning, my wife has to get up in the morning and look after the baby all day. If he’s not hungry there is no reason for me not to get up and sit with him for a little while – and with her pumping milk we’ve been trying to get him to take the bottle (mostly unsuccessfully granted). This means my wife gets some solid uninterrupted (at least by the baby) sleep every night. It makes the difference I hope.

Sleep hygiene

It’s important to have good sleep routines and sleep spaces. There is no point going to sleep in a room where you are uncomfortable or going to bed in an unsuitable mood. A clean room and clean bed can make all the difference. Napping is actually bad for getting a good night’s sleep – at least for some people. For me, it’s not so bad. For bethend a nap is disastrous. A good routine helps, a relaxing routine. No caffeine or heavy meals before bed, limit your screen time too helps. No blogging before bed!

Get up and start again

One thing I do, that my mother does and that I advise most people with sleeping trouble to do, is get up and start again. It doesn’t always work – you don’t always fall asleep when you go to bed the second time but you do feel a little less crummy while lying there trying to sleep. There is no point lying there suffering – I give it a good attempt but then I get up, make a cup of tea and start the bedtime routine all over again.

This is just what I do to get to sleep, what about you? Do you sleep when they sleep? Does that work for you? If not, how are you getting enough sleep? Let me know.

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8 Comments

  1. I go to bed between 10-10:30 right after I feed baby girl and put her to bed. She generally wakes once in the night to eat, so I’m up to feed her. If she wakes up for other reasons my hubs tends to her. Then I’m up for the day with baby girl between 5:30-6am. I am really good at falling asleep though. I’ve even slept through my 3 year old climbing into my bed at night.

  2. Sleep when the baby sleeps, advises no mum ever! Time for a cup of tea. I did used to get a duvet and kip on the sofa in the evening before night feeds started, that way if you fall asleep all good but if not you’ve still had some tv time and relaxed 😊 #kcacols

  3. Some very good advice here. I have to admit that, while it wasn’t possible to sleep when the newborn slept – because of the way they catnap – my slightly older baby did have predictable naps and I did sleep at the same time. The housework probably suffered, but that’s what I did! Now that they don’t nap at all, I really miss my naps and still take them whenever I get a chance! It’s great that both of you take turns getting up with the baby – my husband and I trade off nights so we can each have uninterrupted ones. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday.

  4. urgh i really struggled with the newborn lack of sleep phase and found it hard to “sleep when baby sleeps”. like you say, by the time you’ve settled down, they are up again. they doze on and off, just like my cats too (one of our cats sleeps around 22 hours i reckon.)
    i also suffered insomnia while my boy was younger as i felt so pressured to get to sleep! and the worry about that would mean i didnt. i had a few nights where i just didnt sleep and it was awful :/ #KCACOLS

  5. Some really good tips here. I used to always have early nights when my daughter was little to sleep when she slept. I don’t suffer so much with lak of sleep these days. Unless its nights like tonight when I have a lot on. But I do find I sleep better if I have managed some exercise that day especially if I leave it until before bed #kcacols
    Tracey Bowden recently posted…Sprucing up my Home OfficeMy Profile

  6. Sharing the sleep is the way to try and crack it, I think. That’s what my partner and I did. Both our two are pretty good sleepers, but we had a bedside cot the second time around and it was even easier again. You don’t even really have to get up.

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