Natalie Martindale - Surviving Sleep Deprivation

Sleep, (im)perfect sleep. 

It’s an emotive subject, isn’t it? Between these two we’ve had 3 1/2 years of disturbed sleep. 

The last month has been particularly difficult with the smallest waking between 3-4AM and not really settling most nights. I think I’ve had one 4 hour stretch in that time.

But I remind myself it’s perfectly normal. Babies wake during the night, they need to feed (Tiny L enjoys a snack every 2 hours, and also FYI formula fed babies don’t sleep any better!), or need a nappy change (we seemed to have adopted a 3-4AM bowel clear out as well). 

Maybe they just miss their amazing parents and want to spend time with them during the night. There is a lot about how evolutionarily they need to be near their parents 24/7 and I can see that as a small, immobile creature, waking up in the dark seemingly alone would be scary. You can’t protect yourself from the wolf or tiger that may lurk just out of sight. 

I think society and social media is getting better in some ways at getting the message across that, “You know what? Not all babies sleep through” (what even is sleep through? Technically it’s only for a short stretch anyway!). Although, there is still a lot of smoke and mirrors going on. The influencers and celebs who employ Night Nannies or Sleep Trainers to help them towards achieving that coveted of things - a baby that sleeps through. Or parents that just gloss over the sleep aspect of having a baby so it appears you are the only one whose baby doesn’t sleep. It can be so isolating and lead to thoughts such as “What’s wrong with me and my baby?” We are there, our baby doesn’t sleep. Our toddler didn’t sleep through the night until relatively recently and we still get the odd wake up. They have both spent time in our bed (they always sleep better in our bed I guess again it’s an evolutionary thing, and when Daddy is away they are in bed with me as we generally will all get a better night sleep!).

It is absolutely soul crushing when you have night after night of bad sleep. It’s frustrating. It’s infuriating. Especially if you are then expected to function like a human being at work the next day (thank you for maternity for these first months!). 

I like to be honest, hence the 3AM stories showing “Hi everyone, I’m up, are you?” It’s cool, it’s normal and, yes, I do have a coffee at that time and I did successfully watch all of Season 10 of Grey’s Anatomy before Amazon chopped it.

There are ways and methods to help deal with the sleep deprivation. It can be just as hard but if you are able to catch a nap during the day, it can help. I’ve started trying to have a midday nap with the babe in bed. Or even just a chill when you sit or lie and rest which I find just as beneficial. 

Is it so bad if you bed share? If you are able to get a better night’s sleep, consider it. You won’t ruin your child, I promise you. Get yourself a Mum Tribe to go have a strong coffee and to commiserate with. Please moan that, once again, you are seeing in two 4AMs in a row.

And remember, it’s normal for your baby to not sleep at night. Be proud, be loud and don’t feel ashamed or like you are doing something wrong. Make the most of those extra cuddles and snuggles.


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