I am sitting here expressing milk for the 4th time tonight (no not tonight… its now 6am, how did that happen?!) My 4 month old has hit a tricky spot, namely the infamous ‘sleep regression’! I did not see this coming after our blissful sleeps since 11 weeks (please refer to my previous super smug post!)
Why have you forgotten how to sleep?!
In a bid to explain why I am now completely sleep deprived, I turned to research. It turns out sleep regressions at different stages are completely normal, albeit exhausting. In fact they are quite important for good brain development. Here is why I should cut my little dream thief a little slack:
- Isaac’s sleep cycle is beginning to mature and match that of an adult’s. As it is early days, the light stages of sleep every 2 hours or so trigger him to wake
- Isaac may want to practise his new skills like trying to roll over and doesn’t yet understand the socially appropriate time for this!
- Isaac may be going through a growth spurt and wish to feed more often (he has been banking around 1000ml a day lately!)
Coping with the lack of sleep
It now comes as no surprise to me that sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture for many years! I know I’d easily cave and give up my comrades within 24 hours! Being deprived of this absolute necessity has huge ramifications for how we can function physically. It also affects our mood in a huge way. I am very aware that I still have it good compared to many parents who get literally no sleep on a regular basis. MAXIMUM respect to you guys!
The number one way I am managing to cope psychologically is by telling myself how important this phase is for my baby. I also reassure myself that this is temporary, completely normal, and won’t last forever.
“Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts, and recycling it for more than it’s worth.” Baz Luhrmann…
Healthline among other websites has a very handy list of things you can do to help baby sleep better. Darken the room, offer a ‘dream feed’, establish a bedtime routine, ask others for help… However, in my exhaustion I have not found this advice too helpful (hence the above quote!) Instead I find myself moaning at my phone screen saying “I am, I am! I am already doing this!” Such well-meaning advice can feel a little like nagging when you already feel you’re trying everything. That all-too-familiar guilty “I can’t do it” feeling can get perpetuated. Therefore, I am not looking to add to the list.
I already blogged about how to get a successful sleep when Isaac was being a complete dream and I don’t regret it. After all, you have to celebrate the ‘wins’! However, I now understand first-hand that sleep-deprived parents will have tried everything to fix the issue!
The best thing, I reiterate, is to accept that there really is no ‘issue’. So long as this doesn’t go on forever, it really is just a phase. Continue to comfort your baby, feed on demand and moan to your mum friends. It will pass and you will sleep again!