Hi Is This Normal,

I am convinced that the lack of sleep is going to kill me, ruin my relationship and take a major toll on my kids happiness. I don’t understand how anyone can survive on 3 hours of sleep every night. Before my kid I successfully got a full 8 hours of sleep almost every night. If I didn’t, I caught up on the weekends. My body is fueled off 8 hours- it’s all I’ve known for 5+ years at least. I’m not even human anymore. I feel like I’m wobbling towards a full breakdown every day. What am I supposed to do here? I need more sleep. I need to sleep.

Sleepless and Insane

 

Dear Sleepless and Insane,

You are absolutely right: you 100% need sleep. Like, your physical and mental health depend on it. Humans cannot function without sleep! It’s one of our downfalls and someone should really consider writing an update to our internal code to fix this annoying bug. If we can figure out how to get our phones to read our thoughts and send us ads for stuff we briefly considered buying, then this should be easy peasy.

You didn’t mention how old your kiddo is, but in my experience, the sleeplessness seems to come in waves. When they’re newborns, we’re up every 2-3 hours to feed them. Then they start to sleep longer, but our sleep is still disrupted by the occasional nighttime feeding, diaper change, or random cry in the middle of the night (or those annoying…yes I said it, annoying grunts babies seem to make that keep you up all freggin’ night long). When your kid becomes a toddler, you think you’ve reached the pot of gold at the end of rainbow, and then BAM! Out goes the crib, here comes the big kid bed, and suddenly you’ve got a night roamer who can apparently function on small spurts of sleep throughout the day (Monster? Alien? I’m still figuring this out with my tween!). You’ll wake up to find the pantry in disarray and start to wonder if you have a night burglar, only to find your darling 3 year old asleep in a pile of cracker crumbs. Never a dull moment, I tell ya.

When you say you don’t understand how anyone can survive on 3 hours of sleep a night, it’s because no one can actually survive on 3 hours of sleep a night. At least, not as a functioning, productive human being. The average adult needs somewhere between 7-9 hours of sleep a night to maintain good physical and mental health. Now, we all know that the average parent probably gets nowhere near that amount! However, it is possible to bank some of those lost hours on other nights. It’s not ideal, but we do what we have to do, right?

It sounds like you and your partner need to sit down and come up with a nighttime schedule. One of you gets up with the kiddo on MWF and alternate Saturdays and Sundays, or take alternating shifts every night (so 8p-12a is yours, 12a-4a is theirs, etc), or something along those lines that works for your family and schedule. Not that I want to spread the sleeplessness around, but also … you kind of need to spread the sleeplessness around. If you’re the one getting up every single time your little one needs something during the night, that’s not what I would call a fair balance of responsibility. If, as your kiddo gets older, you find that they’re still not sleeping through the night, you can start researching different methods for sleep training (that phrase gets a bad rap, but there are so many amazing and gentle no-cry sleep training methods out there. And despite your own attitude about it, if this continues for much longer you may need to consider them for your own sanity’s sake).

It does get better, it really does. I know it doesn’t feel like that right now, but take heart, Sleepless – one day, your kid will sleep through the night, and you will too. In the meantime, you have to go at this with a zone defense, and if that means your partner is a little crabbier because they’re not getting a full 8 a night, then so be it. At least you’ll be able to function.

Still Sort of Sleepless But Less Insane,

Is This Normal

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