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Let's Talk About Sleep Deprivation

By MadelinePetersen |

Tate wide awake at 5:00 this morning

When my son started whimpering at 5:00 this morning, my heart sunk. Steve had been up with him from 2:30 to 4:00, and I couldn’t believe he was awake again. I got up in a haze to nurse him.

After 2 1/2 weeks, it has finally hit me. I am beyond exhausted.

Before I had the baby I was the kind of person who couldn’t function on less than 9 hours. I rarely was out of bed before 8 in the morning, and often dragged myself into the office at close to 10. I haven’t gotten more than 6 hours of sleep since the little man was born, and I don’t know how I am still standing.

Everyone says you just have to keep him awake during the day, then he will sleep at night. Let’s just say this is far easier said than done. When the babe sleeps, he sleeps like the dead. If he wants to sleep nothing changes his mind, not even a full meal sitting in front of his face. But at two in the morning he decides to strap on his dancing shoes with eyes wide open, and there is no reasoning with him!

Anyone have any similar experiences and/or solutions? Please share, because I would love an extra hour of sleep (or even an extra minute).

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About MadelinePetersen



Madeline blogs and tweets about budget-friendly clothes, modest apparel, sales, her obsession with pop culture, and her pudgy little baby, Tate, on her personal blog, Uber Chic for Cheap. A former Babble contributor, she currently resides in Corpus Christi, Texas.

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24 thoughts on “Let's Talk About Sleep Deprivation

  1. Holly says:

    sleep when the baby sleeps! For real! that is the only way! hahaha! when they are so small they need to be getting all that rest and they will eventually figure it out. Im not huge on keeping a sleepy baby awake just to try and get him to adjust because more often than not that baby is only going to be cranky and tired and you will too. He will still wake up every two hours at night too. Eli woke up at pretty regular intervals up until he was like 7 months old, but naps really are a new moms best friend and until you get the hang of all of this dont worry if your house is a mess and you are eating off of paper plates to avoid dish pile up! It gets easier as they get older:)

  2. Roni says:

    YES! Just posted about this recently myself…

    I’m finally getting some 3-4 hour stretches. What I’ve discovered is the more the baby sleeps the better. My son is now 2 1/2 months so he’s now in the crib and taking 2-3 naps a day and I put him down at 8ish for the night.

    It backfired on me to keep him awake because all it did was make an overtired baby who couldn’t fall asleep.


  3. Liz says:

    We had the same problem when our baby was 2 weeks. Our doctor had us wake him every two hours just enough for him to cry and open his eyes. That prevented him from getting into a deep sleep. It probably took half hour to get both to happen but it really helped. Now at 2 months he’s sleeping 6-7 hour stretches!

  4. Julie says:

    Room darkening curtains are a new mom’s best friend. Babies are very in tune with that morning sunlight and are very likely to snap wide awake when it hits their little faces. If you’re not already doing it, and you’re not against it, my other recommendation is co-sleeping. Babies go back to sleep easier if you can just roll over and offer the boob. They usually don’t hit full conciousness in the first place. Good luck babe. All I can say is it doesn’t last forever. ((hugs))

  5. Nay says:

    I agree with previous comment, co-sleeping worked for me, I was never sleep deprived because I never had to fully wake to feed the baby. I would stick a boob in her mouth and go back to sleep. Sooo easy. Now at 8 months she can get the boob all by herself. Goodluck

  6. Beth says:

    We asked our pediatrician this question….his advice was to just go with the baby’s flow. Never wake her up to eat, and yes, they will have day and night backwards for a few weeks, but they will gradually straighten that out, set their own sleep schedules and be happy, good sleepers. I was skeptical, and tired, and daytime naps with the baby didn’t cut it for me, but I adore our pediatrician so I gave it a shot. Our baby started sleeping 5-6 hour solid stretches at 6 weeks! She also takes a long morning nap and a long afternoon nap. I am now a believer…let the baby do its own thing, and just go with it.

  7. Jackie says:

    I’m a big believer in babywise. Spencer learned pretty quickly the difference between night and day, and I think the whole philosophy just makes sense. Best of luck with whatever, you decide on!

  8. Jodi says:

    I remember being thrilled when my son slept for more than 4 hours overnight, it was like a dream come true… I was never a good napper so when he’d sleep during they day, I would be up and then exhausted by 9:00… The only advice I can give is that it REALLY gets easier, but it will take some time… Babies have their own time tables and have no concept of day/night, plus they just want mommy regardless of the time of day… We had a co-sleeper bed in ours for 3 months and when I went back to work, he was in the crib full-time… He’s doing great at daycare, has 2 naps, and is down by 8:00 every night… Hang in there!

  9. Jennifer says:

    The book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child was my bible. I learned so much about sleeping that made no sense to me, but I was desperate. The sleep training stuff isn’t recommended for little ones, but it does explain a lot about sleep at that age. I loved it. Also, I always hit a wall at 3 weeks with a newborn, even with my third. After 3 weeks things seemed to turn around a little bit for everyone. Good luck!

  10. Sunni Wilkinson says:

    “On Becoming Babywise” is a fabulous book that details how to get your baby on a schedule to eat better and sleep better. I just read it because I’d dropped the ball with my 2nd baby (now 9 months), and it took only 24 hours to start to pay off. Some really great tips there for any mom not sleeping enough. My own sleep deprivation is responsible for fingers slammed in closet doors, head butts against doors, and other clumsy and incredibly embarassing moments.

  11. Trista says:

    Schedule!! Both my kids have slept fully through the night starting at about 6 weeks. I notice they could only stay awake a couple hours before getting tired and hungry, so I developed a nighttime of 9 o’clock for feeding and putting them down and kept them up a few hours before this and just kept repeating nightly. Hayden is 6 months and Hunter is 21 months and they both sleep from 9pm -7 am, with scheduled naps during the day also. Co-sleeping scares me as I knew someone personally who did this and accidentally smothered their baby to death.

  12. Dara says:

    Co-sleeping worked wonders for me! Erik was paranoid for the first few months so I just had Elsa in her crib right next to me. When Erik saw how dead I was and researched with me how to co-sleep safely he felt so much more comfortable about it. Now I’m alive and I can function!!! Hooray for co-sleeping! There is also nothing better then waking up to my little girl snuggled up to me on one side and my husband on the other! :D Also try reading “The no-cry nap solution” and “The no-cry sleep solution” by Elizabeth Pantley. You can borrow them if you are interested. I highly recommend sleeping when he sleeps as well – that way when 2:00 a.m. rolls around you might just be awake before he is….okay probably not.

  13. Jessica says:

    Both of my boys had night and day mixed up in the beginning. It took about two to three weeks before things got better. But it DOES get better! Make sure when he is awake during the night, you keep it as dark as possible, I used a nightlight. Also, try not to talk to him and interact during night feedings. I know it’s hard to resist that sweet face, but try! :) With both of my kids, I swaddled with the miracle blanket (you can google it and learn all about it) and they were both sleeping 6+ hours a night by 6 weeks. I advise every new mother to invest in a miracle blanket! Now my youngest is 4 1/2 months old and though he sleeps great I still remember the tears, frustration, and exhaustion of those first few weeks all too well. But it really will get easier. For now, try to rest when baby does. Even if you can’t sleep during the day when he does, just sit back and relax.

  14. Bre says:

    Story of my life!! Sleeping is my favorite thing ever. But my little Bear seemed to hate it. During the day he would sleep for like 30 min at a time (making “sleep when the baby sleeps impossible) and wake every 3 hrs at night. Well, I am happy to report that without “sleep training” or any interference he slept 5 hrs last night! He is 5w4d and I feel like a better mom now that I got some solid z’s. I think it has to do with the baby’s weight. 10-11 lbs allows for their digestive system to mature and for them to be able to go longer between meals at night. Good luck and stay strong! Or just make someone else watch him for a few hours to get some sleep

  15. Zoe says:

    Tate will sleep better soon, and by that I mean he will get into a more predictable pattern. He is still so tiny and trying to figure out his place in the world. And this too shall pass. But please ignore the people who say to keep a baby/child awake so they will sleep more at night. Sleep begets sleep. The more rest a baby gets, the better they will sleep. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true.

  16. Lindsey says:

    You’ve made it to two weeks. It gets better with each month. mine was 2 weeks, then one month, then two months and after 3 months it’s cake. Just hold on and make it through. There is light! Your doing a great job!

  17. Michelle says:

    We started co-sleeping at 2 weeks, and we immediately slept better. It was amazing. Now, at 9 weeks, he sleeps better and longer alone, so he is back in the bassinet.

  18. Rosstwinmom says:

    I agree that patience is your best friend right now. Try co sleep if you feel up to it and otherwise just know it will get better. He is still so little! Don’t listen to when any other mother tells you their baby slept a lot. They are usually exaggerating. ;-)

    Babies that little do not need to be sleep-trained yet. They are just brand new and working things out. I know that doesn’t make you less tired, but it’s true. Try to find anyone you trust to come and do some chores or letting you sleep.

    I was adamant about the happy napper makes a better sleeper. My husband and mil both tried to make me keep my boys awake more so they’d sleep better at night. Never works. Trust me. Over tired babies are so sad!

  19. Tabitha says:

    I am right there with you. :(

    Little Miss Sydney is 2 weeks (& 3 days) old & I am getting almost no sleep at all. They say “sleep when the baby sleeps”, but for this lifelong insomniac–who cannot sleep under pressure–that is easier said than done.

    It had gotten so bad (3 hours sleep in 3 days) that at my postpartum appointment today we started discussing sleeping pills & anti-anxiety meds. This can’t continue. My husband needs to go back to work & I need to be rested enough to care for my daughter.

  20. Natalie says:

    My view on tiny infants is simple. It’s hard work, but easy decision making. Do whatever the baby wants. If he wants to sleep, let him. If he wants to eat, feed him. If he wants to be held, hold him. You can’t spoil an infant, and their wants and needs are the same at this age. It all works itself out. My personal opinion is that sleep training is unkind and not developmentally appropriate. Your baby is so young, don’t try to impose adult norms on him, you’ll only frustrate yourself. Stop watching the clock and just watch baby’s cues. Sleep when he sleeps.

  21. Katie says:

    Everyone has a different solution – just try & use what works for you. For us, no one book/method has completely worked for our daughter. She’s a pretty determined little thing. Honestly, I think trying to get her used to naps & going to sleep around the same time each night has helped, but she’s still stubborn about it a few days a week (& she’s six months old). I took bits I liked from different books. The best thing I found was from Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and it was to put her down for a nap/sleep at night when she started showing signs of sleepiness (for her, it’s rubbing her eyes, yawning, glazed looks, pulling her ears, & general fussiness). We’re currently working on getting her down drowsy & not fully asleep – sometimes works, sometimes not. I know it’s frustrating. Can you take shifts with your husband? Or have a friend or relative come over so you can get a nap for an hour or so? It makes such a difference. Good luck! (People keep telling me kids grow out of this eventually, and not to wish it away…I’m trying.) :)

  22. Julia says:

    Co-sleeping helped me a lot coz it meant I didn’t have to get out of bed to go get baby and so on. Also it made him sleep longer coz I was nearby – he just seemed to want a human near him/touching him all the time from the time he was born. My baby is now 14 months old and he still spends the second half of the night in my bed. I don’t really mind at all, in fact – I love it.
    Also I agree with the above – forget the housework, laundry, etc. When baby sleeps, you sleep. Then when he is up at 2am and wont go back to sleep – you can carry him around and do the laundry together.

  23. Savy Mamas says:

    New moms who are sleep deprived might need sleep coaching esp if you are struggling with naps, bedtime, sleep transitions, night weaning, changing sleep associations, moving babies/toddlers to another bedroom, or chronic night waking for toddlers. You can get 50% off a four week private sleep coaching program ($390 value for $195) with Mommywise at Deal ends on Sunday. Hope it helps!

  24. Mounique says:

    I do not believe in waking up at all hours in the night. I gave birth to twins at 18, another at 28 and now at 33 number 4 is on the way in less than a month. I always fed my babies on time and kept them at an appropriate sleep schedule. The last feeding was at 8:00 pm and they didn’t wake until 6:00 am the following day. The problem I believe with most mothers is that they believe that their babies are going to “die” if they cry. If you run in the room everytime they do, you are showing them that they run you. If you already fed them, changed them, bathed them and put them down in a comfortable position and they are waking up again in an hour, let them cry it out. Nothing is going to happen to them!

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