Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sleep Cycle Issues

I am tired. I am bone-tired. And I imagine that The Boss is even more tired than I.

Li'l Empress is in a new and challenging stage. For the last two weeks, she hasn't slept later than 6:40 a.m. - even after being up till 10 p.m. last Friday night when we had "Wii and Popcorn Night" with the cousins.

Making matters even more challenging is the fact that her sleep cycle seems to be stuck at a certain point. That point being 12:30 a.m. Almost every night for several weeks now, she has been waking and crying at the same time, give or take a ten minute window. The Boss usually hears her before I do and together we hover between deep sleep and semi-consciousness, trying to decide if this is going to escalate to full-blown crying that requires parental comfort. Those nights that she whimpers and falls back to sleep quickly, The Boss is right on her heels back to Dreamland. I, however, take longer. In order to keep my brain from fast-forwarding to the coming day and its obligations, I have a litany of hymns and Psalms I recite to calm my spirit and set my mind to rest. It's a trick I learned in junior high school when I was stressing over upcoming tests and projects. I was always stressing over some school-related event or another, it seems.

On those nights that parental comfort is required to soothe her back to sleep, we are now at the stage that we can just go to her and comfort her without starting our night time routine all over from scratch. Believe me, that was a hard fought battle and I'm grateful for how far we've come. Also noteworthy is the fact that we no longer have to pick her up and rock her in our arms to soothe her back to sleep. Daddy can go in, roll her over and cover her up and just rub her back slowly till she drifts off. Again, there are a couple things to be grateful for here. First, that she allows Daddy to comfort her is another victory. She has become quite the "Momma's girl" as of late and often spurns Daddy's attentions or comfort in other parts of the day. Second, now that she doesn't require being held, I'm grateful my hubby is tall enough to lean over the side of the crib without having to open and close it, thus making the return to sleep a soundless venture. Plus, when I'm the one leaning over the side of the crib to soother her, I'm developing bruises and sores under my arms from the crib rails. Yes, I am that short. So, yes, I am grateful for this stage of comfort giving.

However, the hard part of it all is that the longer The Boss is in with Li'l Empress, the more time my mind has to engage and start reviewing the coming day's calendar and "To Do" lists. Slow and plodding hymns and Psalms recited over and over don't cut it after about 10 minutes of listening to see how The Boss is faring. He's in rubbing her back and shushing her. I'm in our room planning tomorrow's dinner and plotting a quick trip to the library between loads of laundry and nap times. I'm crafting blog posts. I'm writing bulletin announcements in my head. By the time he comes back to bed, I'm ready to jump up at 12:50 a.m. and pump out a grocery list and update my freezer inventory.

It's a sickness, I get that. It's also made my days very challenging and very long. My prayer life has been reduced to "Dear Lord, please help that child sleep just a little longer tonight to get over that 12:30 hump." Or, "Jesus, please shut off my brain. Now."

So you can imagine my dread of this weekend. The time change that all mothers of toddlers dread has now become this looming event. It is keeping me awake and stressing over how to handle it. I am proactively trying to wrap my brain around how to sneak some extra sleep into my weekend. I'm forecasting the week coming and trying to decide what to cancel and move around to accommodate changes in the nap and bedtime routine. I'm missing sleep over missing sleep.

It's a sickness. I know. And now I'm wondering, just who in this house has the sleep cycle issues that need to be fixed?!


ComfyDenim said...

If it's a sickness - it's called "motherhood". I have folded loads and loads of laundry in the middle of the night before.

Would music help your brain go back to sleep? I have often plugged my mp3 player in one ear to have something to listen to other than my own to do lists and thoughts. I wonder if it would help you.

Hope you sleep well tonight!!!

Natalie said...

I think the time change will actually help her from getting up too early. But when you mentioned about her waking up or stirring at the same time every night, it made me remember a conversation I had on that exact same topic a few years ago. I'm going to have to think about it today and see if I can recall what was suggested, but I think they (I'm not even sure who "they" were) suggested waking her just before that 12:30 mark. Again, I know that sounds crazy but it had something to do with the brain, stages of sleep, yada, yada, yada. Let me noodle it today and get back to you.

Wife of the Pres. said...

Same here. I don't recite hymns but I recite prayers … you know, I just try to name all the people that come to my mind who have a need they have mentioned. Before long, I *usually* fall asleep at some point. Thing is, those nights I don't are miserable. S still wakes up on occasion and we give her a sippy cup of Pedia@ure. Pediatrician scoffs at us but I told her I appreciated her opinion and would do it anyway. she laughed as we do have a good relationship after 10+ years of partnering with the children's healthcare. Have you tried cosleeping? It is not something we do regularly but maybe she just needs it for a brief time?

Lastly, one of my bios had terrible sleep issues and to this day, the memories of it gives me nightmares!!! So mainly I just want to say major cyber-hugs!

Oh and one bit of advice … have a schedule where you are ON one week, OFF the next and vice versa for DH. That way, your body will begin to get trained to sleeping through the night at least every other week. It really worked for me; my DH (like yours) can go right back to sleep! But at the same time, I know he needs a solid night's sleep too sometimes. Just a thought until you can get through this rough patch.

Don't even get me started on springing forward! At least this time, S will be in the hospital so her sleep is going to be so messed up anyway. LOL!

Classic MaMa said...

I have no advice. Bubba wakes up around 11:30 every night to whimper a bit. (I think he's peeing and wakes himself up.) We lay there and ask the question: will he just go abck to sleep or is it a night of Daddy sleping with Bubba? So, in those instances, I will think of you and pray for you as you are probably asking the same questions we are around the same time. :)

Becki said...

When my daughter went through this same thing except is was 3:32 every night, our play therapist recommended giving her a massage right before bed with lotion. The power of touch is great. It works like a charm. We are 5 months without a sleepless night.

Aus said...

Oh my friend - we've been there for the past several months - but I must say that we HAVE made progress! First and foremost - hang tough and sleep when you need to - you are no good to the boss or anyone else if you are too wacked to think! Second - I like the boss doing morning watch soothing - it's good for her and probably you too! Feel free to e-mail me for more ideas - we've got several!

In the meantime - try a little adult beverage to take the edge off to go back to sleep - God provided the 'fruit of the vine' for us too! :)

Hugs - prayers!

aus and co.

Kimberly said...

Oh, I sympathize, although we are in a good place with sleep and the Snickerdoodle. I don't function well with lack of sleep. I can totally relate to the the other problem: can't-shut-off-brain-for-a-cotton-pickin-minute. But if my math is right (and so often it is not, but I'll take a stab at this) she will wake up at 7:40 after the time change-- so that's good, right. Honestly, I'd kinda forgotten it was so soon and will now start wondering how it's going to affect the Snickerdoodle's sleep. Oh boy... thinking of you!

BTW, I was excited to see your last comment on my blog-- the invitation is mutual, if you are ever traveling south and are in NC (or even just passing through) -- how fun would a real life visit be?!

Kimberly said...

Oh-- and I just love your new bloggy look!!!

Salzwedel Family said...

Boo hoo for sleepless nights. I know the time change always gets everyone in a frenzy here too. I've noticed them getting up earlier already...sigh.

Kateri said...

Hey you! I have no advice because what works for us doesn't work for everyone...and our girl is screaming again at bedtime so I'm certainly no expert. I have no idea why she is getting so upset again but at this point I'm happy if she sleeps in her own bed (which is still in our room) for the majority of the night. If she wakes up before we do, I pick her up and put her in our bed. She's back to lala land quicker than all get out...and we get more of that much-needed rest. Of course, that's progress. She's slept with us A LOT since coming home, which I think our girl needed and helped her to bond with both of us, but I know it's not for everyone. No judgements from me, baby!!
Hey...and listen, after our visit to your house with my child that refused to sleep without her daddy, I'm just glad that she sleeps at all :)
Love ya...and thanks for praying for me while you laid awake last night :)

Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

What a wonderful blog you have going here....I love it!!
If you have a moment or two or your life to waste, please drop by my blog and say hello :)
Take good care and........

Steady On
Reggie Girl


Oh yes, this is part of having a new little one. We went through this for months. Then it got better, then months again. She is now 3 years old and we have them about every 2 months. Very exhausting. I will pray for you. I know how you feel. Now we are potty training, about done, and she wakes up needing to go to the bathroom. Guess it never stops. I have a bio boy that never slept. He talked, walked and did everything until about 5 years old. Wow, I have 2 more years of that. Good luck. It is well worth it.

pups n horses said...

I know some of my mom ideas are quite different from others but this thought did come to mind. During the nicer days how much time is spent outside -- fresh air has always knocked my little guy out. If its chilly just bundle her up. In fact right now I think I hear the local parks calling your name.....LOL Also during naps if he would sleep too long I would wake him up - gently of course. When he was tiny I would tickly his feet a bit to keep him awake. And probably these have already been suggested but just thought I would toss my fifteen cents into the pile.