Sleep Problems - Problem #2 (long)

michie1February 6, 2002

OK, my 2nd problem is a bedtime hr. Now I'm a night owl & so is 7 mos old daughter so I don't want her nor do I expect her to go to sleep at 7 or 8pm, like it seems most babies do. After all, I don't function well in the early morning so why do I want her asleep so early when I'll be up at least until midnight & then the next morn she'd probably wake before I'm ready to.

Anyway, we've never set a bedtime b/c I feel how can anyone be forced to get sleepy. This has been a problem for me all my life & my Dad said I was the same way when I was born & it's never changed. I believe you have a biological sleep clock & it doesn't always work the way society sugggests it should. It seems whenever she falls asleep for the night that's bedtime. It's not even a consistent time - it could be 10pm (not usual), midnight (most common) or up until 2 or 3 am.

I want to be able to get her to sleep by 10pm so that I can have 2 hrs to myself before I go to bed. If she doesn't fall asleep until midnight or later then I'm up at least another 2 hrs, & then the next day I'm dead & can't get up earlier than her to get anything done.

We started a routine where we give her dinner at 6:30, a few min rest, followed by a bath & jammies, I read her a book & then we have more quiet play - lullabies instead of dancing music, lamps instead of overhead lighting & we try to hang out in our bedroom instead of the livingroom after that & my husband & I watch TV while she is playing. Since I don't expect her to go to sleep after her bath & play at 8pm, how can I help her to get sleepy at 10pm since there is a big space in btn those 2 things?

Once she gets to sleep she's a good sleeper - sleeping btn 10-12 hrs. without generally waking, so that's a big plus.

What do I do when she wakes up from a nightime nap at let's say 10 or 11pm & then has a ton of energy (she's not cranky - she's playful & singing & is ready for gymnastics). Please don't tell me to keep her awake, b/c just like I don't understand how you can get sleepy when you aren't there is no way to keep up a tired baby without it completely taking up all your time & having a miserable baby.

Please help!

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Forgot to mention that from early on we have tried to separate night from day by opening up shades during the day, we have 3 dogs that bark allot & doesn't bother her 1 bit, my husband is loud & comes in & out of the house, we don't keep voices or tv or phone calls down when she sleeps during the day & up until last week her daytime naps were always out in the open where there were always things going on & errands get done while she occassionally naps. I already mentioned how we try to extablish quiet time after her bath.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2002 at 11:36PM
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Keep a baby observation journal. Divide up her days into time blocks and write out what you do and what you notice about her responses. Just take notes for a few days. Try to cover a time period where she has a couple of later nights and a couple of earlier nights. Go back and check to see when or if she took naps or had different activities those days. Look for patterns you can work with.

Ideas for helping a baby re-settle themselves are to go to them if they are used to that, and give them some verbal attention and touch. But, keep everything quiet and supportive (no gymnastics; to help them keep clear about 'bedtime' and 'nighttime' versus 'gymnastics time').

A basic problem with always letting a baby's own inclinations lead is that in human relationships there are multiple sets of human needs which have to be balanced. The adults have _needs_ which may rightly include 2 hours of quiet time for you before your sleep time. That is important for you to experience in order to feel rested and on top of your game, and to be the best mother you can be for your baby. Your baby needs you to be on top of your game.

Maybe work on a transition routine with her for those last 2 hours. Help her wind up her play time. Maybe have a quiet hour of infant massage and soft baby bedtime music.

Even for adults, the need for and ability to just fall asleep isn't always the same every day. Usually adults can figure out personal strategies that help them fall asleep. Or, they will have learned how to have their own quiet time in bed (reading, or thinking, or writing, or something else). Babies can slowly learn this kind of thing by having adult support and contact where needed, but not too much added stimulation.

If you're going by feel, and in a pinch when she does wake up if she does seem to be very energetic and in need of some exercise it might buy some time to have her do exercises or something stimulating. Be careful because this can be confusing and can become a problematic pattern. But, if your sanity is on the line and you're at the end of your adult coping resources, it's better to risk the negative pattern (which can still be undone later) than to risk your having a breakdown. After the exercise, infant massage can help her (and you) relax and unwind.

you can experiment with cutting out a nap, or reducing nap time (interfere with sleep time by about 15 minutes at a time because that won't be too big a change usually and you will notice pretty quickly if it's a 15 minutes she 'needed' or if it's 15 minutes you can rearrange in her sleep schedules)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2002 at 12:04PM
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I also have the same thoughts on sleep time for my son. We really didn't have a specific bedtime for him when he was a baby either. I stay at home with him and I'm more of night owl, so I couldn't see why he would have to be in bed early and then he'd be up at 6 or 7 and I'd be cranky. It's worked out great for us and DS is almost 3. For about a year now his bedtime is 11pm.

It sounds like you are doing as much as you can to get your daughter to relax and be ready for bed. Would it help to really wind her up and let her wear off some energy? Maybe make it so the last hour or 45 mins. or even 30 mins is wind down time? I think if you have her relaxing for too many hours, she may just get used to that and not get tired. Also, it may take time and kids won't fall asleep right away every night. It totally depends on what you did that day and if they're worn out. Some nights will be more trying than others. Really for as long as I can remember I havent' had down time alone after DS goes to bed. I usually put him to bed and then go myself.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2002 at 12:19PM
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When I mentioned that she does gymnastics it isn't b/c I'm allowing her to do it - it's b/c that's what she's doing on her despite the quiet & low light atmostphere we're providing. She is up & energetic & rolls around & tosses & claps & sings, trys to grab at & play with the dogs, you name it.

I find it riduculous when people suggest to cut out naps. How in the world do you keep up a baby who's exhausted? What's worse to have a real cranky baby for thenext few hrs 5 hrs until I want her to sleep? Besides, daughter might take 1-2 naps per day, although 1 of those is usually in the evening or nighttime & each only consist of 20-30 minutes - not much more I can shorten them. The only time she'll take longer naps is if I'm holding her, such as when I try to grab a nap too. Her naps are so short that during her afternoon nap I have to decide whether to shower or eat lunch & if I get to shower whether I get to wash my hair or shave that day. Believe me I could use her to take a longer nap so I can get myself together.

"Would it help to really wind her up and let her wear off some energy? Maybe make it so the last hour or 45 mins. or even 30 mins is wind down time? I think if you have her relaxing for too many hours, she may just get used to that and not get tired."

Now that's an idea. So, do you mean that after dinner & her bath we might want to do some really exhausting play & then about 1/2 hr before we want her to go to sleep try quieting things down & she if she's tired enough to go to sleep? I just want to understand before I start something new. I think that might be something I would give a try to.

Any other help would be greatly appreciated.

"Really for as long as I can remember I havent' had down time alone after DS goes to bed. I usually put him to bed and then go myself."

Gosh I feel bad for you. I am a night owl & I am wired unless I get to watch tv alone & quiet for a couple of hrs. I myself have a hard time getting to sleep as early as I'd like. I wish I could fall asleep when she does at night, but my aim to to get her to bed by 10pm & me by 12:30am & then I'd be happy & well rested - I think.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2002 at 12:59AM
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IMHO, a well established, consistent bedtime would help solve both of your sleep problems. Not overnight mind you. It will probably take you a few weeks of being VERY consistent.

I do NOT believe in rigid, scheduled bedtimes etc...but do believe that routines occurring at about the same time every day are important for all children. Routines provide our children with security, something that small children crave. Eventually you won't be requiring her to go to sleep when she isn't tired because she will adjust her habits to get up and go down at about the same time everyday.

Your established quiet time sounds good. However, if you don't expect her to go to sleep until 10pm move everything else later too. Keeping your dinner time at 6:30 is a good idea, but let her be more active immediately after. Start her bedtime routine then at about 8:30. I would do the bath, then the books and lullabies.

As for getting her to go to sleep on her own...I too had a baby that screamed when put down awake (even if he was partially asleep.) I finally gave in and kept rocking. He finally outgrew the need to be rocked to sleep at about 17 months.

As for the crib...Just keep putting her down in her crib. I would work on this first and then work on getting her to go to sleep independently. Tackle one issue at a time...

    Bookmark   February 8, 2002 at 5:04PM
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I think the only problem with having such late bedtimes is if you ever want someone else to care for the child overnight.

Just a thought.

Have a great day!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2002 at 11:03AM
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