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When Do You Get Your Zzzzz’s?

Right now the recurring theme in my house is sleep.

I take sleep, or rather, getting enough of it, very seriously when it comes to the kids, yet hubby and I don't take the same attitude for ourselves. Studies show that sleep deprivation is akin to driving under the influence and has even been linked to weight gain, so why don't I take it more seriously?

Sleep is the one aspect of pre-parenthood I miss the most. Forget spontaneity or even arriving at a restaurant later than 6:00 P.M. — give me six hours of uninterrupted sleep and I will be in heaven.

But with two kids under the age of 3, each with their own sleep patterns, it doesn't look like I'll be in heaven any time soon.

My oldest, Lucas, has always been very much of a schedule junkie. At 7 weeks, he started sleeping six hours without waking. Before long, he was sleeping 12 hours, waking at a blissful 8:00 A.M. But his nighttime sleeping came at a cost — he didn't nap longer than 30 minutes. Eventually he did settle into a morning and afternoon nap schedule, but even then, he never got the hang of napping on the go. This meant we were pretty much confined to running weekend errands in two-hour intervals so we could be back home in time for his nap. After he phased out of his morning nap, he would still take a three-hour nap at 1:00 on the dot.

But some time around his second birthday, everything began to change. He started stalling around naptime, pushing it back an hour. Then he would still sleep for three hours, which meant that by bedtime he wasn't the least bit tired. So we started the bedtime routine 30 minutes later, with lights out promptly at 8:30. Except that Lucas would sing and chat in the dark, sometimes staying up as late as 9:30.

So, do we address the slipping bedtime issue if Lucas is still getting a total of 13 hours of sleep a day? Or do we wait until he falls below the desirable threshold to take corrective action? So far, we're waiting...

Now on to Justin. Justin's sleep can best be described as erratic. Even though, at 5 ½ months, he shows definite signs of a nap schedule, he doesn't sleep very long. Some days he will take one very long nap, and others he will take multiple 30-minute snoozes.

It's a similar story at night. Justin will sleep 11 hours one night, wake up once another night, and wake up three times yet another night — though he consistently wakes up around 7:30 each morning. By all accounts, most breastfed babies can sleep through the night by 5 months, so when he wakes in the middle of the night, my first recourse is to try and swing him to sleep. Only if his cries escalate do I nurse him, and then it's usually only five minutes before he's fast asleep again. Which begs the question: If Justin is really only looking for a comfort session, then am I fostering bad sleep habits now that I'll be paying the price for later?

And speaking of paying the price later, I myself have gotten into the most horrible sleep habit: I lie down with Lucas at night. Doesn't sound so bad, except I am so exhausted at the end of the day that I immediately fall asleep. Every night. No matter how hard my husband tries, he is unable to rouse me. Somewhere around 1:30 A.M. I wake up in a panic, and then I'm up for an hour or two, chitchatting with hubby, pumping, and tending to some urgent matters (like paying bills) before heading back to (my) bed. From that point on, it's uncertain how many hours of uninterrupted sleep I will get before Justin wakes up, making for an overall poor night's sleep.

In case you're keeping track, that leaves hubby, who has developed the most horrible work habit. He generally works until 3:00 A.M. and sleeps in in the morning. Of course, when he has to wake up at a "normal" time, his body is out of whack, making for a grumpy hubby! Unfortunately, he is most productive after everyone has gone to bed and the house is quiet, so I don't expect to get him on a better sleep schedule any time soon.

Hopefull one day we will all be on the same, healthy sleep schedule.... But I'm not counting on it!