The baby starts to sleep longer stretches at night. He sleeps four, five maybe six or even seven hours of sleep. Not you. You roll over and look at the clock and it’s 2:00AM. I HATE that feeling. I start thinking “I’ve got a couple more hours, maybe even one, before he’s awake again. Go back to sleep. Go back to sleep.” Nothing. Notta. No sleep for me.
I remember it hit me at about two and a half weeks postpartum. I don’t think I was seriously depressed, but I was seriously sleep deprived and I really believe the lack of sleep contributes to depression. It at least does for me. Mike had started back to work and it was just Asher and me. Sleep when the baby sleeps, they say. Ha! Yah right. I am not one of those people. I take about twenty minutes to fall asleep which means I would be on the verge of deep sleep and Asher would start to wake up. I’d have to get up and get going and feel like crap because I didn’t really sleep. Asher started sleeping five hour stretches at night and for the life of me, I could not. I began to agonize over my lack of sleep. In a twenty four hour period, I was getting four maybe five hours of sleep. I had to do something.
I started reading articles on the Internet and began talking to my doctor and realized I needed to change my tactic on getting sleep. Here are some strategies I tried that helped and continue to help me. Who knows? They might even help you. If you’re as sleep deprived as I was, you’ll try anything!
I quit trying to nap during the day when Asher napped. I accepted the fact that I do not nap well. I couldn’t give up all sleep opportunities during the day, so I decided to pick one nap that was most predictable when I knew Asher would sleep the longest. This nap was typically in the morning. I could get about forty-five minutes to an hour of sleep and just try to move on with day instead agonizing over not being able to sleep during Asher’s naps.
I started to get some exercise. I needed to do something to get moving. I think a big misunderstanding is that you feel so tired you obviously don’t feel like moving about, but staying in a zombie mode makes obtaining sleep worse. Physical exertion is a great, natural sleep inducer. I’m not talking about getting out and running a marathon. Just taking a 20-30 minute walk helped.
I quit surfing the Internet (checking Facebook) on my phone right before bed. Apparently the lighting on your electronic devices makes it hard for your brain to shut down to fall asleep. I even quit watching the news with Mike.
I wouldn’t look at the clock if I woke, I’d keep my eyes shut, and take deep breaths. By not looking at the clock, I couldn’t get into that vicious thought process of how I should be sleeping or how Asher would wake any time. Be trying to keep myself sleepy, my mind would stay calm.
I turned down the baby monitor. We sleep with all our doors open. Asher is right down the hall from us. Our monitors pick up every sound! I realized that if Asher woke crying, I knew I’d hear him. I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of the monitors completely because that would create new anxieties. 🙂
I would get up and just do what I kept thinking about. This might sound counterproductive, but if I’m laying there thinking about laundry, the grocery list or something else I want to get done, then it would serve me better to get up and do it quickly so I could quit thinking about it. I don’t do this often. I try to keep my mind turned off, but if I’m having a particularly rough go, then I just get up and take care of what I want.
I pray. Insomnia can make for a great prayer time. Especially since I usually have a lot going through my mind when I can’t sleep. I also read several Bible verses about sleeping. I have a great little scripture reference book titled Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling by John Kruis. This book has a great section on verses for sleeping. Doing this usually brings me the most sense of peace.
The most important decision I had to make was to CHOOSE to quit agonizing over sleep and be in the moment. It might be the toughest “strategy” that requires the most deligence at times, but I have learned it is the most effective.
These don’t always work all the time, but I have found they work quite a bit for me. I definitely don’t have that sense of agony and obsession over lost sleep anymore. What has worked for you?