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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sleep Deprivation and Parent's Health

Slate tells us what moms of small sleepless children have known for a long time - parents of children who don't sleep well at night can suffer consequences to their physical and mental health. Everyone knows that a frazzled, run-down parent who is having sleep interrupted on a nightly basis can start to lag in the immunity department. The fact that people who are not sleeping well have trouble being bright and cheery in personal relationships isn't much of a shock either.

The article does discuss some strategies to getting small kids to sleep more soundly at night. Unfortunately, it still seems easier right now to just let the kid sleep on the floor of my room at 2 AM instead of getting a whole reward system going for keeping him in his bed. The middle of the night just never seems to be the best time for diplomatic negotiations with a strong-willed toddler who has a penchant for tantrums. So even though the system outlined in the article I linked might just work in the long term, so does another little trick - waiting until the kid is no longer a toddler and starts to sleep a little better. How long-term one is willing to wait is another question entirely.

So check out the article. Maybe you are feeling miserable enough to give some of the suggestions a shot. Let me know how it goes for you - or leave any other tips for getting toddlers to stay in their beds here in comments.

With any luck, maybe a particularly savvy commenter can get me some sleep and spare me picking up another cold or stomach bug.

43 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to you for allowing your child the comfort of staying with you at this tender young age. While many "authorities" on the subject will say that the child is manipulating, it is my humble opinion that a child is always worthy of love, comfort and security. This too shall pass...and this child (as did mine) will one day sleep on his/her own and will not feel he/she needs you at night. And all too quickly the day will come when the company of a spouse will be all he or she likes to have for a good night's sleep. Enjoy (and hopefully in the best of health).

6:59 PM  
Anonymous anothermom said...

May be obvious and forgive me for not knowing much about you. I'm new. Here goes: my miracle occured when I brought a folding bed up from the basement and set it up with brightly colored sheets in my older children's bedroom. We had tried putting the 2 year old with the older kids before, but never in her own cute bed, bedguard and all. She is very satisfied.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Sleep? What's that? LOL

My twins never slept at the same time and my ex-husband wasn't too thrilled about getting up so I slept on the floor of their rooms until about 2 1/2 years ago. They stopped coming to my bed about 18 months ago, though they still do on ocassion.

What did it finally? Peer pressure. We went away to visit family and they wanted to "be like the big kids" who stayed in their own beds. Then there were just a couple sleepovers at friend's homes and that sealed the deal. They wanted to be "big kids."

My ex-H pressed every sleep system book on the market on me. Bottom line, I was going to do what I felt was best and most loving for my children to achieve the sense of security they needed. System or no system.

However, since I am disabled I will tell you the lack of sleep took its toll. Until my children were about 5 years old, I suffered from chronic infections of one type or another. My clinical depression got much worse and I had post partum depression for a long time. I was sleeping after a few years but my decision making and health were compromised seriously.

Finally after a personal trauma in 2004 I got good help. And I started the process of divorce to get rid of the other thing that was dragging me down.

Your child wants to be near you right now - and that speaks very well for the love and security your child feels for you. It will pass.

12:27 AM  
Blogger Kol Ra'ash Gadol said...

IT seems to me the lack of sleep is not from the kid sleeping in the bed with us, but from the waking up to get there. I can't persuade my spouse - who mostly leeps through crying and has since the kid was born- to just let DS sleep with us, but the truth is as he gets older he only comes into the bed four times a week, down from every night, and I'm sure he will eventually wean himself off.

And besides, sleping in a separate bed is unnatural - human beings are programmed to want to be in a nice cuddly bed with other people. Why should children be different than adults in that respect? So good for you for letting the kid sleep in your room - or wherever it's easiest for you to get some sleep.

1:46 AM  
Blogger mother in israel said...

I am so tired of these articles about "infant sleep problems" and "poor sleepers." Babies and toddlers wake up at night. How much ink has been wasted writing about these "problem" children. Our busy schedules, not our babies. are the problem. My reaction to similar advice is here:

sleep training

5:05 AM  
Blogger Ezer K'negdo said...

It sounds like you are doing what feels right to you as a parent - kudos to you! You can read as many books and articles as you want, but ultimately you know your child, you know yourself and you have to do what is right for both of you. I could tell you lots of things that have worked for me and my kids, but in the end if what I have to say isn't up your alley, or isn't where your kid is at, it isn't going to be helpful. Keep on truckin'!! and i hope you get some sleep!

8:53 AM  
Anonymous desperate balabusta said...

Four kids, one now married, one about to be, the youngest is in high school: except for the oldest, each one came in every single night from age 2 through age 5 and crawled into my bed. There was nothing that wasn't tried, and by the time we got to the last guy, we didn't even bother. They are all remarkably well adjusted lovely adults, and the problem now is difficulty in waking them up!

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Each of my children woke up in the middle of the night and cried. After the first one, I put a mattress on the floor in the corner and butted our bed next to it (so that the child felt close and didn't fall out of bed). It worked. No more children in our bed and after a while, they didn't want to sleep on the mattress all by themselves, so they stopped waking up at night.

The good news is... my kids are in their twenties and haven't been back in my bed in a looooooong time! Seriously though, it is a phase they go through. The mattress thing in the room was perfect for us.

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Aharon said...

Using the system described in the book On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo had all four of ours sleeping through by 10 weeks of age.

YMMV. Good luck!

1:51 PM  
Blogger triLcat said...

I'm kinda on the fence. Firstly, I can't sleep with someone else in my bed - my husband and I have separate beds and if his arm is on my side, it often wakes me up. Secondly, having a child in your bed can mess with your marital intimacy.

What I've been told is that it's really important to keep the room dark and the tones low and to not let children cry for long - b/c they'll get worked up and then it'll be harder to get them to sleep.

I know, for example, that my neighbor tries to get up as soon as the baby's hungry and feed her so she eats while half-asleep and gets the idea that her tummy can be filled, she can be touched, but when it's dark, she sleeps.

We'll see how it works for me starting in July ;)

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary Ezzo is not a pediatrician, nor does he have any degree or training in infant or toddler behavior. He was a minister in an Evangelical church, which has since fired him and distanced itself from him and his teachings. His program was originally developed for parents within his church and relied heavily on Christian principles of good and evil. The American Academy of Pedicatrics has info on their website stating that the advice in his book can be damaging to children because of documented cases of failure to thrive that have resulted from using his strict feeding and sleep schedules. Please use caution when reading information from Gary Ezzo.

9:24 PM  
Blogger mother in israel said...

Anonymous 9:24 is correct about Ezzo.

4:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a schedule? When my boys were small (not infants, but say from age 1 on) the key to my sanity was: serious schedule. Not because it's inherently better for a kid to do things at the same time every day, which I doubt - but because it's better for ME, the mom - this I know. If mealtimes are regular, their hunger mechanism will adjust - they'll get hungry at the appointed hour and eat better. Similarly, if naptime and bedtime are at a fixed time, they'll get sleepy at the appointed hour. Worked for us. But I suspect that these other sleep issues, which luckily we avoided, are probably more intractable.

4:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with 4:59 AM. Sleep by 8 PM and naps as needed, but at least one per day. We didn't go out much because of their sleep schedule and infrequently used baby sitters.

When someone is sick in the house, everyone is instructed about washing hands frequently, I'll buy paper plates and cups AND use the dishwasher for everything else. It cuts down on the whole family getting sick and it works.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

another thing to keep in mind about sleep. Newborn sleep is very different from baby (6 months and up) sleep, which is very different from toddler sleep, which is different from preschooler sleep. The idea that once a child is sleeping through the night there will never be another difficult night is just false. What works when your baby is really young, might have no impact once your child is old enough to walk out of their room and speak directly with you.


Kids are not robots, and while sleep deprivation is hard, it really is part of the job description. The best advice I was ever given is to do what works best for your family in that specific time frame. Don't worry about habits or long term, worry about everyone getting enough sleep right now.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very surprised at you, OM. My bedroom is for me and my husband, the kids rooms are for them to sleep in. (High fever or night terrors aside, for example) Putting a child back to bed firmly and lovingly is no different than any other aspect of good parenting that requires consistency and commitment. Keeping a whiny kid in your bed night after night is nothing but sheer laziness and not healthy in the long term for the child or ones marriage.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Abbi said...

"Kids are not robots, and while sleep deprivation is hard, it really is part of the job description."

Sorry, I really disagree. I agree with 1:11- like anything else with parenting, indulgence will get you no where, while consistency and firm lovingness will get your everywhere.

My kids sleep through the night be 18 months, after the bulk of teething has been done and proper eating habits have been established. If they feel the need to come to bed, barring sickness, we have a cuddle and walk right back to bed.

1:26 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

Don't listen to anonymous below with her, lulei demistafina, flower child cluckings. Heed the words of your ancestors: "Thou shalt Ferberize!"

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

kids are very savy creatures, permission to sleep in moms room is reason enough for most to wake up nightly...all it takes is a few consistant night of putting them back in their own beds, and suddenly everyones sleeping through the night. ive found that most isssues we have with training our kids (whether for potty, sleeping through the night or weaning a passifier) has more to do with our (the parents) fears and or laziness of handling the situation than with our childrens stubborn demands. a few sleep deprived nights of teaching a child whos boss is rewarded by a future of generally uninterupted slumber.

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Orthomom,
Maybe its time to say,this blog has had a nice run and it served a great purpose in time of need to the community.Think about it?

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where did that come from?? Ever heard of a slow news week? Attitudes like yours are the reason the evening news is saturated with attention-grabbing violence. So there's no school board election or kashrus scandal to blog about at the moment . . . so what?! Parenting tips are interesting too! No doubt there's another juicy scandal brewing right around the bend that'll draw hundreds of hysterical comments as always. Have a little patience, take a bubble bath, rearrange your sock drawer, whatever. No need to assassinate OM!

8:42 PM  
Blogger SephardiLady said...

Just let your daughter sleep on your floor or even hop in your bed. The middle of the night is no time for a fight and all kids sleep by themselves in their own room at some time.

My 3 year old is fine 95% of the time in his own little bed. But last night he got up. I can only assume a nightmare. So, he hopped on in and we all got the sleep we needed.

My friends are probably surprised this one sleeps through the night. They swore to me he never would since we took the "easy" way out when he went through a number of different phases at a number of different times. During some of those times we even let him climb in before going to his own bed and then later moved him.

There are a lot of battles that we have to fight as parents. You have to choose those battles. I'd rather be a tough cookie when it comes to things like cleaning up, using silverware, speaking respectfully, holding hands in the parking lot, etc.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so glad you did this. Reading these comments has been so soothing to me. I am one of the dysfunctional moms who allow their children to sleep in or sleep with them at times. I have always gotten so much flak from my husband about this. Actually, he has pretty much given up. I was raised this way and I wound up sleeping alone at some point. I know that you firm moms have a point. I get that. But I think the person who said that we all have to do what's best for us in the end is right. I can't be anything different than I am and my kids are good, sweet, smart and friendly. This has been really cathartic to read.

10:02 PM  
Blogger triLcat said...

anonymous 10:02,

If your husband is objecting, then you may have a problem. Even if it's good for you and the child, the marriage has to come first.

If the husband objects on principle, but isn't actually suffering, then maybe doing some reading and talking on the subject will help. If it's affecting your intimacy, though, you gotta get your private space clear of kids at night.

12:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the people who said that the main reason we let the kids in our bed is its the middle of the night and we are tired. the result is poor sleep the rest of the time and the pattern continues.

Deal with it lovingly and firmly in THEIR bed. I have slept in my sons bed because of night terrors not the other way around. I sneak out after an hour or two. He wakes up in the morning not thinking to try it the next day. The bedroom is for parents not for kids and parents.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Abbi said...

Sephardilady
I'd rather my kids eat with their hands and have everyone sleep in their own beds through the night, since I'm completely incapable of sleeping with anyone in my bed.

I guess everyone has different priorities.

12:33 AM  
Blogger Juggling Frogs said...

Wishing I could send you some sleep and virus immunity via e-mail attachment, but my computer doesn't recognize the filetype.

Hang in there!

All the best,
CLKL

12:09 PM  
Anonymous cutemom said...

just to share . . . my kids all slept in my bed ot my husband's bed, or the mattress on the floor until they were ready to move on to their own bed, and were always welcome to come back. The only caveat was "don't wake mommy or tatti" -- and they didn't. I was only sleep deprived for the first 6 months of the kids life. Other than that, I was not woken up at all unless someone was sick.

For us, it was (and is) completely worth it.

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Sarah Zeldman said...

From another perspective...

In my opinion, every mother-to-be ought to be taught the art of the powernap.

Yes, there really is an art to it. Sleep too long and you'll be groggy, too short and you won't be refreshed. A perfect powernap of between 20-30 minutes will refresh you for the next 3-4 hours at least.

I learned how to powernap properly from a hypnosis CD, but just this week I've been using a solution I found online. You can find it at http://www.solutionsforbusymoms.com/pzizz

8:53 PM  
Blogger Padmanaban said...

If you feel sleepy or tired during daytime, then there may be possibilities of Sleep apnea. It is the worst case and one cannot find it themselves. Consult your family members or your partner who sleep along with you regarding your problem. If you had Sleep apnea then proper care should be taken to cure the problem.

6:09 AM  
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Blogger John said...

Great Blog I am sure will be helpful for many and solving problem of snoring for others. Keep up a good work for Sleep Apnea Cures.

4:36 AM  
Blogger Admin said...

Every night I found myself have a difficulty to fall asleep, even if I have sleep apnea. So, I should feel very tired in the evening, which is true.
However, when I'm in bed and turn off the light, a lot of things come to my mind and I cannot fall asleep. I found this particularly strange in a person who has a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.

11:45 AM  

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