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Help! My wife really needs sleep! Any ideas?

by 570 · August 24, 2011 at 12:42 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?

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8 Replies

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24412 · August 23, 2011 at 08:13 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.

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12362 · August 23, 2011 at 08:16 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.

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288 · August 23, 2011 at 08:11 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...

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971 · August 23, 2011 at 08:21 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.

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3916 · 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.

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32177 · August 23, 2011 at 09:36 PM

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

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2733 · August 23, 2011 at 08:49 PM

More fat + less carbs usually = better sleep.

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

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355 · August 23, 2011 at 08:12 PM

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

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