Our youngest son has never been a good sleeper. He became a part of our family when he was 13 months old, and it felt like a perpetual newborn sleep stage for years, but I’ve learned several survival skills along the way.
While I hope your sleepless nights are much fewer and farther between, here are my survival skills for (as we like to say) “when the days stretch into days, and the nights are few”.
Quantity Over Quality :
No doubt quality sleep is a must for anyone. But when the nights are long, quantity trumps quality. Take sleep any way you can get it. This looks different for many situations. For us it often means laying near him and dozing while he remains wide awake and chatty.
I’m very thankful for a supportive husband who is great at tag-teaming long nights. It took us quite awhile to get to that point, though. Learning to communicate in the middle of the night when we were both half awake was not a pretty skill to learn. I’ll spare you the details, but eventually we figured it out, and it’s been absolutely key to surviving the sleepless nights. If you’re not in a position that you have a spouse who is able to help in the middle of the night, who else is on your team? Family? Friends? Maybe it’s not at night, but maybe there is a way they could support you getting some extra sleep or down time during the day.
Take Care of You :
As moms, many of us struggle with this, even on nights that sleep isn’t short. It is absolutely vital during this time, though. Exercise (even if it’s just a walk), water, fresh air, nutritious food–the basics. They will help you tremendously during the day when you’re short on sleep. And go easy on yourself. My house was rarely cleaned well when we had nights upon nights of sleeplessness. It is ok to ease up on the expectations of what gets done when you haven’t had enough sleep.
During one bout of sleeplessness, I decided to give up coffee. Ha! Who was I kidding? It lasted a day…maybe. Coffee is definitely a survival skill in my book (and maybe ice cream, too).