Surviving Sleep Deprivation

Mum, Sleep

Now that my days of waking every hour of the night are a distant memory, I can talk about them fondly (okay, maybe not) and openly without feeling like I’m ranting or having a moan. Ted now sleeps through the night (HURRAH!) and although that feels like an absolute privilege now, I can remember all too vividly the dark depths of sleep deprivation.

I feel like I need to give you a bit of background to Ted’s sleeping habits to justify writing this blog. I know people have had it much worse than me, I really do… but at points I’ve had it pretty bad, and I hope that qualifies me as a person who can lecture about how you will survive it, because guess what? You really will!

So from birth to 4 months old, Ted was a dream. He’d sleep from 9 until 7 just waking up once between 1 and 2, going straight back down after a quick feed. There was never any need for co-sleeping or any additional aids, because for a newborn he was a perfect sleeper. Apparently our baby that was boast-worthy decided to shatter our dreams and went through his first sleep regression.

The following 5 months were a blur. I mean, I was awake most of the time, so you’d think I’d hold more memories than ever, but the truth is, most nights I was surviving off of 2 or 3 hours sleep. I don’t know what happened and why my angel child suddenly decided to become a devil sleep stealer, but it was incredibly difficult to even summon the energy to eat and drink some days, let alone do anything else. Ted went from waking up once, to waking up every 20 minutes some nights.

When Ted reached 6 months, we moved him into his own room and this helped a little. I refused to do it any sooner, as I’d never want to put Ted at a higher risk of SIDs, and I refused to co-sleep, purely because I was so determined (or stubborn) to get him to sleep in his cot. When I say helped a little, I mean he went from waking up every 20 minutes to every hour. Some nights I’d even get a 2 hour slot before he woke up again! Lucky, lucky me!

When Ted reached 9 months, he just decided to start waking up once again, and then by 10 months when my return to work was looming, he slept through the night, and has done ever since. But how did I survive those sleepless nights?

There’s three things I would recommend more than anything, and three things that kept me going through that time. Firstly, I slept whenever I had the opportunity to. My sleeping patterns must’ve been so messed up and I think I slept more on the sofa than I did my own bed, but if baby is sleeping then try and do the same. Forget about your washing pile, the washing up and tidying. Your own sanity is far more important. Those things can wait. Secondly, make sure you always accept any help. If someone says they will take baby for a few hours so you can kip, then do it. If someone offers to do the hoovering, don’t be scared to say yes. Thirdly, make sure you get out of the house every single day, even if it’s for 10 minutes. I always made sure that I went to the park, went to the local shop, went shopping in town, visited a variety of coffee shops, popped to the farm or to the supermarket to make sure that even on days where I didn’t have any plans that I was still getting out and seeing other adults and getting some fresh air. I think this helps us keep some sort of grasp of reality and prevent us living in a baby bubble.

It’s mad to me now when I think about those ridiculously difficult times as they often feel like a distant memory, but really I was only in the midst of them 5 months ago. I’m very much someone whose entire mood is dependent on how much sleep I’ve had, and I can’t tell you how relieved I am to come out the other side. I don’t panic every night now, worrying I won’t get more than 2 hours sleep over an entire night. I hope those of you dealing with a sleep regression at the moment, or those of you that just have a bad sleeper get some much needed sleep soon!