Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sleep: The Experiment

The Problem: D's sleep has been going haywire for a couple of months now. He used to sleep from about 10-10:30pm until between 6 and 7am. When he woke up in the morning, I would take him back to bed with me, nurse him, and he would go back to sleep until about 8:30-9. It was glorious. His naps during the day were shorter - he would be awake for 2 hours, sleep for 45-90 mins, and go through this cycle again about 3-4 times during the day. 

Now, he goes to bed about 9-9:30pm. Sometimes, like last night, he will sleep until 5-6am. We have a rule in our house - No Babies In The Bed Until 6:30am. So when he wakes up, I nurse him and try to put him back in his crib once he falls back asleep. Lately, this doesn't work and he wakes up as soon as you put him down. Then I try bringing him back in bed with me. No dice. He kicks me, pulls my hair, whines, does everything BUT go back to sleep. This means that on the best nights, when he doesn't wake up several times in between, I get 6 hours of sleep. And That. Sucks. 

So we get up, he plays. Then he gets exhausted and whiny and goes down for a nap around 10am. This nap has been known to be as long as 3.5 hours. Later in the afternoon he might take another nap for 45mins-1hr, and sometimes if we're lucky we'll get an early evening nap after dinner. 

In summation, the kid's sleep pattern is fucked up and I need to fix it before I lose my mind.

Literature Review: A search of The Googlez, a flip through What To Expect The First Year, Baby 411, and every other baby book, message board, article I can find recommend Crying It Out, The Ferber Method, and various other so-called "Sleep-Training Methods" that others find successful. D does not respond to any of them. He will cry until his little lungs collapse and then not only did no one get any sleep, but I feel guilty as hell on top of that.

Some of the literature suggests that babies at this age begin to change their nap routines - adding and dropping naps, sleeping longer or shorter amounts of time, taking naps at different times. But there seems to be something else going on here because his nighttime sleeping is also being affected.

He is no longer sick. He is not currently teething.

Hypothesis: The disturbance in his sleep seems to coincide with the winter equinox. It has been gradually getting worse. In this amateur scientist's opinion, it is very likely that the lengthening daylight hours have been fucking with my baby's head. This possibility is not mentioned in any of the literature to date.

I believe the fact that my room has an eastern exposure and no curtains means that the earlier sunrise is making it difficult for D to fall back asleep in my room, but that he also won't go back to sleep in his room because he knows it is time to go lay with Mommy in her big bed. I think this is why his first morning nap is so long, because he is making up for the earlier waking time through a routine nap.

I think this problem is compounded by the later sunset, which seems to make him think that bedtime is sometimes actually his evening nap. When he does not have an early evening nap, he tends to sleep until 11:30-12 and then wakes up again and we have to nurse him, rock him, dance him back to sleep.

If we can get him to go back to sleep in the morning after his first awakening, I think it will reset his internal clock back by a couple of hours and his routine will fall back into place.

Materials: Room-darkening curtains to be placed in the master bedroom, since the baby's room already has some. 

Method: Bribe my husband to finally, Finally, Finally put up the curtain rods in the master bedroom so I can hang up the curtains myself. Once they are in place, I will retry the method of bringing the baby into my room to sleep in the morning. Data will consist of whether or not the child returns to sleep, coded as "Yes" or "No" and the amount of the sleep recorded if the response is "Yes." 

Data will be collected beginning on 2/23/11 and continue until Mama gets some motherfucking sleep. 

Check back for the results.

Oh yeah, and wish me luck!

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Anonymous said...

You might also think about starting a bed time routine - it's worked really well for Monkey, in spite of the fact daylight is starting to creep in during his bedtime. Other than that, I don't have much - other than good luck thoughts coming your way!! :)

BTW, the captcha for this comment was "crions" - hmm....

JLK said...

We do have a bedtime routine in place, thank goodness. Getting him to bed at night is not the problem, thankfully. He's usually really, really good about going to sleep when we put him to bed at 9pm or so. It's what happens between 11pm and 7am that's the problem. :(

Alyssa said...

Sending you lots of luck!

Comrade PhysioProf said...

Give him some MFJ! Works for me!

JLK said...

Thanks, Alyssa!

@ CPP - You know who need some MFJ? Me! I do!

Domestic Diva said...

I've been there...three times. And it will get better....hopefully sooner than later. My daughter was the same way for a while, but with two older ones to chase all day, I used to just let her sleep ON me. Terrible, I know. But eventually she got sleep and I did too...for her, it seemed it had to do with upcoming growth spurts. She was very fussy & unsettled through the night, eliminated one of her naps and then 2 weeks or so later she began eating a lot more. Then came the sleep again. We probably did this cycle 3 times between 5-12 months...now she's 19 months and sleeps 12 hours at night and 1-3 in the afternoon. You'll get back into a nice pattern...hang in there until you do!

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