3960d381831b80ad96164f34e2ab6030
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Help! My wife really needs sleep! Any ideas?

by (570)
Updated August 24, 2011 at 12:42 PM
Created August 23, 2011 at 7:26 PM

My wife does not get enough sleep. While I can sleep through our babies constant whining through the night or our older childrens' night terrors, she does not. She is doing pretty well on Paleo now (there is hope for those of you who are wondering about your non-compliant spouses) she isn't losing weight and I wonder if sleep isn't the culprit. Any ideas on how to deal with babies stealing your sleep even when you know it is important? What did Grokette do I wonder?

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900
0 · August 24, 2011 at 7:17 PM

Yes, maybe on certain nights she could wear some industrial ear plugs and a sleep mask, and you are the sole one in charge of getting up. (Or you could split the night in half by that same route). Of course, that might work better if you slept in twin beds, so that you don't rock the mattress getting up so much.

A45af235ed4dd0b4f548c59e91b75763
0 · August 24, 2011 at 3:52 PM

You can get used to Karate kicking, just try to take them in the back.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461
0 · August 24, 2011 at 1:56 AM

All I can say is, feel your pain (with a 4 year old and a 20 month old). Sleep is my most precious commodity right now - when weekends come I heavily lean on my husband to help me squeeze in an indulgently long nap or two, and when I manage to do that, the rest of the week becomes a lot more manageable. Of course, during busier weekends when the nap(s) don't exist, well...let's just say Monday hits with a vengeance. :-\

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
0 · August 23, 2011 at 11:16 PM

Last comment for now, I promise. Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng) tincture has been a lifesaver for me when I hit the mama exhaustion wall. It can take about a week to really feel the results, but the sleep deprivation seemed to be less brutal after a 2 week regimen of 1 dropperful morning and afternoon. Try feeding her some liver too and see if that perks her up. Breastfeeding can exacerbate tendencies towards anemia.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
0 · August 23, 2011 at 10:50 PM

An au pair might be the 3rd option.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
0 · August 23, 2011 at 10:47 PM

Also, relief is probably around the bend. Around 16-18 months even the most on demand nurser will probably start sleeping in at least one 5-7 hour stint.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
0 · August 23, 2011 at 10:44 PM

Sounds like she's still nervous you could faint getting up, possibly with one of the kiddos in your arms. I used to crash and burn jumping up when my alarm clock went off, just remembering to spend a minute sitting on the edge of the bed seemed to normalize bp enough for me. Are there any grandma's available for the occasional sleepover, just until things get more settled? While the kids are away at school she should really try to get a nap in with the baby, and not feel like she needs to catch up on chores then.

32123f4f25bdf6a7b70c9c2a719386ed
0 · August 23, 2011 at 10:40 PM

The third option is to sleep with your baby. If your wife is nursing it is very easy to breastfeed and sleep at the same time. I did it with four babies. The first one I got up at night and feed him for about 3 months...I was exhausted. Then I started taking him to bed with me and all the night feedings took place there and was finally able to get enough sleep. With the following children I just started out with them in our bed. It did get a little crowded sometimes but we managed with a kingsize bed and eventually they all started sleeping in their own beds.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
0 · August 23, 2011 at 10:34 PM

One big bed for your immediate family plus lots of extended family within earshot would be the primal way to deal with this. In an extended family situation, much more of the night parenting would involve grandmas and aunties. Grandmas especially seem to have a natural tendency wake up early, and as a general rule they also enjoy snuggling babies. – Happy Now 0 secs ago

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
0 · August 23, 2011 at 10:28 PM

One big bed for your immediate family plus lots of extended family within earshot would be the primal way to deal with this. In an extended family situation, much more of the night parenting would involve grandmas and aunties. Grandmas especially seem to have a natural tendencies to both wake up early and enjoy snuggling babies.

3960d381831b80ad96164f34e2ab6030
0 · August 23, 2011 at 9:40 PM

I agree that she should have the go ahead to wake me up by any means possible, but one time I was still so tired that I got up and fainted! lol! This happened about a month after eating Paleo. It actually happened again one night before I started learning about postural hypotension and it hasn't happened since (1 year and a half later). Still, she's a little hesitant. Maybe it would be a better solution now that I have figured out what was happening, but I'm not sure she's completely convinced.

3960d381831b80ad96164f34e2ab6030
0 · August 23, 2011 at 9:36 PM

We co-sleep and have with all our children, but sometimes we wonder if this is the problem (even though I would think we evolved to sleep in this way). She sleeps in much later than I do (she's a stay-at-home mom) and I get the kids off to school, but she doesn't really seem to get much more sleep. At least, not deep sleep.

3960d381831b80ad96164f34e2ab6030
0 · August 23, 2011 at 9:32 PM

When our children cry, I seem to wake up, but my ears must be used to not waking up for whining. My wife, on the other hand, says that she isn't so lucky. When I wake up, I take them to the bathroom or get up and rock them. However, my wife nurses and, well, I can't do that. If the answer is simply sleep deprivation and no other way around it for both of us, I guess that's fine, but is that the only answer: "If you want her to get more sleep and be healthier, you need to get less sleep and be less healthy." Is there a third option?

3960d381831b80ad96164f34e2ab6030
0 · August 23, 2011 at 9:27 PM

My kids are 7, 4 and 1. Just wondering if there is any other way through it from a primal perspective.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
0 · August 23, 2011 at 9:16 PM

Unfortunately, it also passes readily into the breastmilk and can cause excessive drowsiness in babies. That said, I did occasionally have a cup of valerian tea at bedtime in those first months of nursing when I was otherwise at my wits end.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
0 · August 23, 2011 at 9:13 PM

True, co-sleeping isn't for everybody, especially if you have karate kicking kiddos, but it is probably what Grokette did.

D3495cd9e3e7173f24e1dbee40774573
0 · August 23, 2011 at 8:21 PM

Yeh, taking turns for who gets up might work. Perhaps if your wife knows you'll get up to deal with it she might be able to drift over. I really feel for you if you're both working. At least it's not forever. Weight loss probably shouldn't be a priority until breastfeeding is past and the baby is sleeping well. Perhaps it might also be worth looking at why the older children are having such frequent nightmares.

47e1e207e9cd7df2a5adcf571f17f76f
0 · August 23, 2011 at 8:15 PM

well this was much more helpful than my snarky answer I think ;)

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705
0 · August 23, 2011 at 7:32 PM

How old are your kids? When they are still pretty small, I think you just have to deal with it.

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8 Replies

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
11
24528 · August 23, 2011 at 8:13 PM

You just kind of roll with it the best you can, parenting doesn't stop at bedtime. Sleeping a solid 8 hours and the early years of motherhood seems to be mutually exclusive. Mamas are pretty much hardwired to respond to any sounds of distress from their babies, dads are not, which is why you can sleep and she can't. If you want to split the burden you could give her permission to wake you up by whatever means necessary to share the night time child care. Or you could shell out for a postpartum doula a few nights a week to take the night shift and give mom a break. If you can take over child care on weekend mornings and let your wife sleep in that will give her some more sleep too.

What are your sleeping arrangements like? If she is having to run across the house and turn on lights to get to the kids her serotonin/melatonin signals will certainly be suffering. Using red or amber lights at night can go a long way towards keeping her brain from thinking it is morning. Grokette surely never had her kids more than an arm's length away in the night. Boob in mouth usually gets the baby back to sleep pretty quickly, and results in the most sleep for mom. Here's a study about it: http://www.drmomma.org/2011/07/study-finds-breastfeeding-cosleeping.html

There is some evidence that women undergo actual mental and physical changes to deal with the lack of sleep while child rearing but it can certainly affect weight loss too. Encourage her to nap whenever possible. The cumulative stress of motherhood can also keep cortisol levels elevated, which also slows the loss of baby weight. Make sure the "baby chores" don't fall entirely on her, get her some massage gift certificates, send her to the spa every so often, and make sure she has time to work out or go for walks if she wants to.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
0 · August 23, 2011 at 11:16 PM

Last comment for now, I promise. Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng) tincture has been a lifesaver for me when I hit the mama exhaustion wall. It can take about a week to really feel the results, but the sleep deprivation seemed to be less brutal after a 2 week regimen of 1 dropperful morning and afternoon. Try feeding her some liver too and see if that perks her up. Breastfeeding can exacerbate tendencies towards anemia.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
0 · August 23, 2011 at 10:47 PM

Also, relief is probably around the bend. Around 16-18 months even the most on demand nurser will probably start sleeping in at least one 5-7 hour stint.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
0 · August 23, 2011 at 10:44 PM

Sounds like she's still nervous you could faint getting up, possibly with one of the kiddos in your arms. I used to crash and burn jumping up when my alarm clock went off, just remembering to spend a minute sitting on the edge of the bed seemed to normalize bp enough for me. Are there any grandma's available for the occasional sleepover, just until things get more settled? While the kids are away at school she should really try to get a nap in with the baby, and not feel like she needs to catch up on chores then.

3960d381831b80ad96164f34e2ab6030
0 · August 23, 2011 at 9:40 PM

I agree that she should have the go ahead to wake me up by any means possible, but one time I was still so tired that I got up and fainted! lol! This happened about a month after eating Paleo. It actually happened again one night before I started learning about postural hypotension and it hasn't happened since (1 year and a half later). Still, she's a little hesitant. Maybe it would be a better solution now that I have figured out what was happening, but I'm not sure she's completely convinced.

3960d381831b80ad96164f34e2ab6030
0 · August 23, 2011 at 9:36 PM

We co-sleep and have with all our children, but sometimes we wonder if this is the problem (even though I would think we evolved to sleep in this way). She sleeps in much later than I do (she's a stay-at-home mom) and I get the kids off to school, but she doesn't really seem to get much more sleep. At least, not deep sleep.

D3495cd9e3e7173f24e1dbee40774573
0 · August 23, 2011 at 8:21 PM

Yeh, taking turns for who gets up might work. Perhaps if your wife knows you'll get up to deal with it she might be able to drift over. I really feel for you if you're both working. At least it's not forever. Weight loss probably shouldn't be a priority until breastfeeding is past and the baby is sleeping well. Perhaps it might also be worth looking at why the older children are having such frequent nightmares.

47e1e207e9cd7df2a5adcf571f17f76f
0 · August 23, 2011 at 8:15 PM

well this was much more helpful than my snarky answer I think ;)

Medium avatar
6
12359 · August 23, 2011 at 8:16 PM

Hi Steven - I am right there with your wife right now - I have a 2 yr old who has been a rubbish sleeper since birth. It's tough - but you do what you have to do to get by. It would be really helpful for her if you could take a couple nights a week where you are the go-to parent for night wakes - and have her sleep somewhere where she can't hear them. Catching up on sleep is tough - but even if you give her one night per week, she'll feel so much better.

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900
0 · August 24, 2011 at 7:17 PM

Yes, maybe on certain nights she could wear some industrial ear plugs and a sleep mask, and you are the sole one in charge of getting up. (Or you could split the night in half by that same route). Of course, that might work better if you slept in twin beds, so that you don't rock the mattress getting up so much.

47e1e207e9cd7df2a5adcf571f17f76f
5
288 · August 23, 2011 at 8:11 PM

"While I can sleep through our babies constant whining through the night or our older childrens' night terrors, she does not."

Didn't you just answer your own question? Are you suggesting you both should just sleep through your children's needs all night? hmmm...

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
0 · August 23, 2011 at 10:50 PM

An au pair might be the 3rd option.

32123f4f25bdf6a7b70c9c2a719386ed
0 · August 23, 2011 at 10:40 PM

The third option is to sleep with your baby. If your wife is nursing it is very easy to breastfeed and sleep at the same time. I did it with four babies. The first one I got up at night and feed him for about 3 months...I was exhausted. Then I started taking him to bed with me and all the night feedings took place there and was finally able to get enough sleep. With the following children I just started out with them in our bed. It did get a little crowded sometimes but we managed with a kingsize bed and eventually they all started sleeping in their own beds.

3960d381831b80ad96164f34e2ab6030
0 · August 23, 2011 at 9:32 PM

When our children cry, I seem to wake up, but my ears must be used to not waking up for whining. My wife, on the other hand, says that she isn't so lucky. When I wake up, I take them to the bathroom or get up and rock them. However, my wife nurses and, well, I can't do that. If the answer is simply sleep deprivation and no other way around it for both of us, I guess that's fine, but is that the only answer: "If you want her to get more sleep and be healthier, you need to get less sleep and be less healthy." Is there a third option?

1a0976c846702f549ee4df0d811098be
3
972 · August 23, 2011 at 8:21 PM

I absolutely second the suggestions that you could take some of the sleep sacrifice on yourself. It's pretty natural for her to be more responsive to kid-in-need sounds than you, but that doesn't mean that co-sleeping is the only way for her to get more sleep. (For our family, co-sleeping meant that NO ONE slept). Maybe one or more nights a week, she could sleep in a room alone with the door closed and earplugs in and you could sleep on a spare bed/couch/something much closer to (or in) the kids' rooms. You might not respond as quickly as she would, but if you're in or close to their room, you will probably be able to hear them before the sound penetrates her ear plugs.

Also, if the kids don't actually NEED anything and it is just normal nighttime noises like breathing loudly, grunting, etc that wake her up, she could try the earplugs even with you in the same room. Our philosophy with our now three year olds is that if we can't hear it through two closed doors and over the noise of whatever is going on elsewhere in the house, then it's not something we need to respond to. DEFINITELY don't use a baby monitor.

A45af235ed4dd0b4f548c59e91b75763
0 · August 24, 2011 at 3:52 PM

You can get used to Karate kicking, just try to take them in the back.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
0 · August 23, 2011 at 9:13 PM

True, co-sleeping isn't for everybody, especially if you have karate kicking kiddos, but it is probably what Grokette did.

B14dc4aa1ddefbec3bc09550428ee493
1
3904 · August 24, 2011 at 12:42 PM

I can't speak for Grokette, but I would poke Grok in the ribs and let him know it's his turn. When your kids are small they count on you to be there. It might not seem like a big deal from an adult perspective, but to kids its huge knowing that Mom and Dad are there for them. Maybe start taking turns with your wife in tending to the kids? I'm sure she'd appreciate it.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab
1
32518 · August 23, 2011 at 9:36 PM

Sufficient Magnesium should help her relax back into sleep after nursing. 400-600 mg of Magnesium Citrate, malate or glycinate.

095ef76482234d3db444b77d7ed01c29
1
2765 · August 23, 2011 at 8:49 PM

More fat + less carbs usually = better sleep.

If all else fails... catnip about 30 minutes before bed and vandal root at bedtime.

79dc9d47aeb85d76439c2aa0661df568
0
355 · August 23, 2011 at 8:12 PM

Valerian root is a traditional sleep aid. Also, try soft earplugs and a face mask.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
0 · August 23, 2011 at 9:16 PM

Unfortunately, it also passes readily into the breastmilk and can cause excessive drowsiness in babies. That said, I did occasionally have a cup of valerian tea at bedtime in those first months of nursing when I was otherwise at my wits end.

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