Coping With Sleep Deprivation

I never knew what sleep deprivation meant until I became a mother. The first month was rough, but we made it through. Now that my daughter is 1, I look back and overall, it wasn’t too bad. You do make it through, and your baby will eventually sleep! I made a few “mistakes” during the first year that may have contributed to my lack of sleep. I use quotation marks because it isn’t really a problem unless it is an issue for you. And well for us, I was starting back at work and the lack of sleep was causing me anxiety!

Please note, when I talk about sleep deprivation, I am not talking about the newborn phase. Newborns are meant to wake every couple of hours to feed, this is normal and expected!

  1. Do not feed the baby to sleep. Feed the baby and then put the baby down in the cot awake. This teaches the baby to fall asleep without using your breast as a sleeping aid. I always breastfed Madeleine to sleep which worked fabulous for us from newborn to about 6 months of age. Then after that, her sleep cycle matured and shortened from 6 hours to 2 hours. She was up every 2 hours during the night, particularly after midnight. At each of those wakings, she expected to be breastfed back to sleep otherwise she would scream the house down!

    There’s a terrific article on the ‘Little Ones’ Blog which explains the different sleep cycle duration and how it matures over the first 6 months of a baby’s life. It will explain when your baby will likely wake, if they haven’t been taught how to put themselves back to sleep. You can read about it here.
  2. Be smart about which sleeping aid you use! This is a very important lesson. I am so glad that Madeleine didn’t take to a pacifier as we would’ve had another issue on our hands! Most babies who use a pacifier to put themselves to sleep, will wake up and cry if they can’t put the pacifier back into their mouth! One of the mums in my mother’s group was waking up every hour because her daughter’s pacifier kept falling out of the cot! Only use a sleeping aid that you can continually use and doesn’t require you to wake up during the night. We use white noise and a blanket, both of which are readily available and accessible!
  3. Sleep when the baby sleeps. This is so cliche but it definitely helps, even if it’s 10 minutes or even if it means I’ll be woken up by her crying. Overnight 4 x 45 minute sleep is better than not sleeping at all.
  4. Leave the house work. The dirty dishes, a home cooked dinner and the washing are things that can wait. They are replaceable. Unfortunately, you are not. There’s a precious little baby that needs you. You are important, so use your time wisely and sleep when you can. A well rested mother is better than one that’s sleep deprived.
  5. Consider leaving the baby with someone so that you can catch up on sleep. I used to be reluctant to ask for help, which is so silly of me. But sleep deprivation is real, your mother or mother-in-law would love to spend time with their grandchild. So give them a call, have them mind the baby, whilst you catch up on sleep!
  6. Have you considered co-sleeping? During the early days, I was a bit reluctant to co-sleep as I was worried about crushing my baby and the increased risks of SIDS. Once you have eliminated the possibility of both (there are some great cots that attach to your bed which allow for safer co-sleeping), it can be quite handy not having to leave your bed to breastfeed or settle them (especially in winter)!

Looking back I found 6 months and 11 months of age to be the worst months for sleep. At 6 months, once I taught Madeleine to fall asleep without my breast, this improved a lot! At 11 months, she experienced some separation anxiety but this seems to have subsided at 12 months.

24 thoughts on “Coping With Sleep Deprivation

    1. We become obsessed with sleep when we enter Motherhood. It’s hard, and definitely makes you more snappy! But when you get a break and the baby sleeps, it is such an achievement. I then dance around the house (after my nap) haha Xx

    1. Oh Madeleine loves the vacuum cleaner! I thought she was the only one! There’s an app you can download and I use my iPad for it! It puts her straight to sleep haha! Oh yes, she had a bit of reflux luckily it went away. I hear it’s really rough and can lasts for months!

      1. Oh whats the app called??
        Esme had it for a few weeks but was diagnosed at 4.5 weeks officially. she was given infant gaviscon which has thankfully started to work. we had 2+weeks of no sleep at all because of her screaming 🙁

      2. The Apps called baby sleep and it is free! It has all sorts of noises and times for you to choose from! YouTube annoys me because it has advertisements! Oh that mustve been horrible for you 🙁 I’m so sorry! Did you try elevating the cot a bit? It’s hard because they don’t want to lie down as the acid goes up their oesophagus 🙁 so stressful to watch them scream! I hope Esme is okay and you too! Xx

      3. aw amazing I’ve just downloaded it (:
        It was horrible but you know what mums are like, you just get on with it. Yes we tried that but no luck…we have bought a wedge now for under back which props her up. The only way we could get her to sleep at all was sitting in her car seat because she was sitting up in there. Were okay thanks (: getting there slowly 🙂 xx

      4. Woman are just amazing! Even when times are tough, we do it all over again! 😊😘 have a lovely weekend! Xx

    1. Oh thank you for re-blogging! This means so much to me! These are all from my experience and will definitely help when we eventually have our second baby! Xx
      PS. I can’t find the re-blog button on all my computers either?! (Apparently, it’s got something to do with the internet version you have? If you find out let me know)! Xx

  1. Interesting post, great tips and such a good topic! My two boys are still in the newborn phase (twins) but it’s good to keep in mind the tip about putting them to bed eyes open so they can learn to fall asleep by themselves! As a twin mom though the much used “sleep when the baby sleeps” doesn’t work cause there are two of them and something’s always happening! Also leaving the housework for later means it’ll never be done since hubby has 1 baby and I have the other 😉

    1. Hi there! Thanks for dropping by! Oh my, I can’t talk about what it’s like when you’re having twins as I’ve only had a singleton pregnancy! I can imagine it does get hectic! It use to annoy me people say sleep when the baby sleep as you can only really do that with 1 baby. Unfortunately though, you do get use to being sleep deprived! Oh my housework just builds up haha, it something that has to wait as I’m working almost full time now, and my sleep and sanity is more important than the floor or the dishes! Hope you and the boys are well 😊😊☺☺

  2. I love this post, my daughter is 5 months old and for about 6 weeks now has started to sleep less in the day and even less at night she goes to bed at 7 every night wakes a few times but just stirrings then 2am comes and on the dot every night she’s awake not crying but happy awake so she comes in bed with us and sleeps still 6am soundly 🙈

    1. Oh yes! Haha I remember the days of Madeleine coming into bed with us! It’s where they feel less lonely and safe! I didn’t mind her sleeping with us because she slept better next to us than in the cot. But when she learnt how to roll and stand up, we couldn’t have her in the bed with us anymore as she’d whack us! Haha

      1. Mae is at the rolling stage, my partner struggles with it more then me. I think if she goes to bed in her own cot with no problems coming in with us for a few hours isn’t the end of the world 😃

      2. Oh yes, the main thing is that you get sleep. It doesn’t matter what you do. Madeleine spent alot of time with us in bed. My hubby also didn’t like it either haha. But now that she’s a bit older she wants her own space! I still take her in if she wakes early in the morning! Xx 😊

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