Thursday, 26 April 2012

The cruelty of sleep deprivation

One of the things that came as a total shock to me when I first had a baby was the lack of sleep. I quickly realised that my baby did not know or care that it was night time and it was time to sleep, he needed what he needed day or night. At nine months, he finally slept through and I remember telling people, "he didn't sleep through until he was NINE MONTHS, can you believe that?!"

Then when we had son 2 I was determined we were going to make sure that didn't happen again. Although he was breast fed I tried to introduce a bottle straight away to use for his last feed of the day. He wasn't having any of it. In fact he would not touch a bottle until he was 10 months old. I have heard other opinions on this, but it is my belief that breast fed babies do not sleep as well as formula fed ones. It's probably something to do with the composition of the milk, but anyway being breast fed certainly did nothing for the sleeping patterns of my baby and I was so exhausted we co-slept and he was an unwitting "attachment baby", though this was not a conscious choice.

At ten months he was still waking for 3-4 feeds during the night and I had gone back to work. People kept saying, "go to bed early", but there was really no point as he was waking up between 7 and 10pm anyway so my sleep would have been disturbed. At this point, he started to take a bottle, though he was like a new born as he wasn't used to the sucking action needed to drain the bottle so it took ages during the night for him to drink. Many people said things like "give him water", or "reduce the size of the feed". But he was absolutely starving and nothing else would do.

When he turned one, I decided enough was enough, unfortunately son 2 did not agree and was still keen to have milk in the night. He was eating well in the day so I just couldn't understand why he was still waking up all the time.

By this time my life had been affected in every way by the lack of sleep. I had lost weight, I was pale and drawn.  Worst of all my personality had been affected, I was very snappy and impatient and had completely lost my sense of humour. Nothing was funny anymore and I had lost the ability to smile and enjoy myself. All I talked about was his sleeping problems and asking people for advice I knew I would never take.  Then I started to have more serious health problems, I constantly had colds and flu, I would catch mystery tummy bugs all the time that didn't seem to affect anyone else. My hands would shake all the time, I just couldn't keep them still. Then I started with the most terrible heartburn that had me in tears most days. I felt stressed and the slightest problem seemed insurmountable. I felt embittered and miserable in my dealings with others and couldn't shake it off.  I also started to forget things, nothing would stay in my memory. This was hard to take as my memory has always been so good, in fact I have relied on it many times in exams when I haven't bothered to study and it has rarely let me down.

I can see why sleep deprivation is considered to be torture. When you are so utterly sleep deprived all you can think about it sleep, even hunger and thirst does not compare.

Now son 2 is 14 months old and last night he slept through. I feel human again, though still not myself. I am hoping this is the start of good things and a better time for all of us.

What are your experiences of sleep problems with young children, and how did you overcome them?

13 comments:

  1. Until he was two my eldest would settle himself, although he never slept through, and he was formula fed. Then at 2 he had an illness for two months, and that was it for him settling himself. Now either myself or my husband has to sit with him until he falls asleep, which can be 10pm some nights:/

    Last summer we had a new baby, so I was ebf him and trying to get Noah to bed, it was a nightmare. The 3 of us used to go to bed at 7 in my bed so I could be with both!

    I took Noah to sleep clinic (just health visitors really), but all they gave me was "have a strict routine" which we always have. I get So fed up seeing Facebook updates from friends who have kids still sleeping at 10 am, I've had to block some as it feels like they are posting to wind me up. Which I know they are not, but I havnt had a full night sleep in 4 years and I'm ready to crack.

    I hope your sleep situation improves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi thanks for your comment. I have considered a sleep clinic,there is one locally to us and it is £245 all in. Supposedly they have a 95% success rate. We started going to an Osteopath a while ago who said there was some sort of tension in his back, but it just got too expensive. Does it sometimes feel to you that it is never ending, even though you know it will end and one day you will sleep again? The other thing is that I have really aged since having my second child, perhaps it is linked to my facial expression as I always look tense and anxious. x

      Delete
  2. Sleep deprivation is truly the worst thing about parenthood. I didn't sleep through until I went to school and my son is a light sleeper too. He rarely sleeps through. I've got used to it and we often get 6 hours on the trot which are a luxury.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks.It comes to something when 6 hours is considered good doesn't it?! I have spent two nights away from my children since my second son was born and I can honestly say I felt like a different person. Roll on better times!

      Delete
  3. I know the agony! I was up at 4 yesterday and then up for 3 hours last night - at one point coping with 2 crying and awake children on my own (husband was away). I honestly feel that sleep deprivation is the worse thing ever. You start the day just wondering how you are going to get through and you dread going to sleep as you lie there wondering how long you will get until you are woken by the dreaded cry. I think it is incredibly aging too as you need sleep to re-generate your cells. - I look back at photos of me a few years ago and in comparison I look grey and haggard now, but I also don't have the energy to put as much effort into looking decent. Have been getting very tempted to go to a sleep clinic but for £250 are they really going to tell me anything I don't already know! x Emma x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's so hard isn't it and no joke. Just seems unrelenting and when you've got two they wake each other up! With E we don't have a problem as he the maturity now to go back to sleep. It's L who is really difficult, he's just so angry when he wakes up, thrashing about in a rage.

      Delete
  4. I empathise!

    My little one was mix fed up until 3 months. Then weaned onto solids and formula feeds only from 4 months. I felt this was right for him as he was such a hungry boy. They say formula feeds keep babies tummies fuller for longer but I would say take this advice with a pinch of salt. When my little one was newborn he fed every 2 hours mix-feeding ie. bf and then bottle fed every single feed, day and night for the first 2 months. I also got used to feeding every 2 hours with an hour break in between during this time. 4 hours sleep felt like a full night's sleep by the time he reached this pivotal new stretched sleep.

    Once we weaned him and he was on solids, he started to sleep through the night for a month or two. It felt amazing. Then the teeth came and gone were the uninterrupted nights! I would be up trying to console him every hour or maybe every half hour.

    Now my little one is 2, his sleep has finally settled but only recently. And when I say settled, he still wakes up and runs to my bed between 12-2am every night for comfort. (Nightmares?) I gave up and I let him co-sleep whenever he does run to my bed. This was the better option as opposed to returning him to his bed every hour thereafter I physically couldn't do it especially with being a single parent and not having a partner to swap shifts with.

    It will get better with time... here's hoping the latest uninterrupted sleep was not a fluke and you can enjoy more settled nights! I know too well the feeling lying in bed just waiting for the cries!

    All the best,
    Michelle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so hard esp as you are on your own so there is only YOU dealing with it. It's depressing to think that every night out are going to get disturbed in some way. If only sleep could be stored up like money, I would have banked quite a lot from my student days!

      Delete
  5. My two kids are now 6 and 3 and there have been two periods with my eldest where I can honestly say I felt like I hit rock bottom. With her she was older (1.5 and 4.5) and the wakenings were coupled with screaming, demanding, wild antics that looking back are just insane, it was like she was possessed!

    I can remember feeling like my mouth always turned downwards. I was so sad. I couldn't ever see it ending and the worst hopeless feeling like I had utterly lost control. Like, this is it, this is my life.

    I can remember crying at the nursery gate, driving and not knowing how I'd got to our destination safely, standing in between my husband and our daughter as he cried and screamed and broke down. Sleep became absolutely everything in our life, everything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My older son does sometimes wake in the night doing what you describe and has no recollection of it the next day it's like a night terror or something. Either way it wakes my younger son up and then it takes an age to get him off again!

      Delete
  6. But we came through the other side and you will too. This will stop and you'll see your happy son one day and realise that actually you're happy too and this will all be a memory. I apologise for such a huge comment but this clearly touched a raw nerve for me even after all this time. Being tired is different from sleep deprecation. I have my experience and the things we did to solve our problems if you'd like them then tweet me and I can email you direct. Thanks for your post my love, made a difference to my day x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comments! I think you are right and tiredness is one thing but this has gone way beyond. The worst thing for me is the sense of anxiety and panic I feel about the smallest things. I think the lack of sleep has really sapped my confidence but I'm not sure why. It's also hard if I have a big day at work because I never know if I'm goIng to get any sleep the night before, which also makes me anxious. I know we will probably look back and laugh but that feels far away right now !

      Delete
  7. when I heard that Mike is the girl next door prestigious universities of the top students, Cheap LV Handbags but also heard that his uggs on sale father was the Christian Louboutin Daffodile boss of a company, the great work they discount christian louboutin want to be independent, uggs outlet suddenly ugg regret, would like Li and Okay. Mike has had an excuse, Bags Louis Vuitton saying there girlfriend. Had to give up the girl Cheap Louis Vuitton Handbags next door.Do not rush off lights guests. ugg pas cher After all, this is not only ugg soldes the respect of others, but also for their respect. If only because the ugg australia other christian louboutin side looks poor Discount LV Handbags to pick and choose, eller or the other depending on whether the trade-offs to measure economic ugg boots strength, easily Discount Louis Vuitton exterminate each other's lights always seem hasty. If you really find christian louboutin remise 50% love, please adhere to it, in the end, the guests of christian louboutin shoes the cheap christian louboutin performance is really disappointing, then, this time to put Christian Louboutin Bois Dore out the lights too late.

    ReplyDelete

Talk to me!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...