The last day of 2017 began, for me, at 5:24am. I wish I could say that was atypical, abnormal, a fluke, but alas- it is my new normal for about the last six months.
I need to start by complimenting my boys on the things, sleep related, that they do SO well. My boys have never fought going to bed- our bedtime routines have been consistent, positive, and a well-oiled machines since they were very very small. They go to bed, fairly early, willingly. They do not come into our room to sleep with us in our bed... ever. They do not wake up in the middle of the night. They have never fought taking a nap. I'm knocking on wood as I write all these things...
Nolan and Judah have always been earlier risers- they've never slept past 7:00am... like ever. But, something happened to Nolan and Judah where they began waking up about an hour earlier than they had previously done for at least the last two years. Their 6:30-6:45 wake up times have now turned in 5:30am wake ups.
I said I was embarrassed writing this post because if I truly admit the amount of articles I've read on sleep, the amount of data I've collected, the statistics I've analyzed, the hypothesis I've gathered, and the amount of case studies I've ran to try to "fix" this problem to get us all more sleep, you, my reader, would start looking at my funny and I won't blame you if you do. I seriously have done enough field related work and research to have earned me, I believe, a doctorate in youth sleep studies. I may only currently have two patients: Nolan and Judah, but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who knew more about youth sleep patterns and the latest research, findings, and studies than I would. You'd also be hard pressed to find anyone who's tried as many things as I've tried to learn about and analyze sleep.
I happen to firmly believe that starting your day in the 5s for anything other than leaving for a vacation is ridiculous. I'm sorry. I'm not asking for my small humans to wake up at 8:00am or anything- I'm merely asking for my day to start with a 6 in front of it. I used to want the start time to be 6:30 or later for my boys, but now, I'll take 6:01 and be perfectly content. Is that too much to ask?!
I'd be a lot better at accepting that this early wake-up time is my new normal if Nolan and Judah could prove that it's all the sleep they needed. However, when Judah is having meltdowns at 7:15 in the morning and Nolan is falling asleep on the way home from school at 2:45pm begging for a nap, and they both are disastrously cranky at dinnertime, I know what they are getting is not enough. Period. They show, often, that they are tired.
I also know that Josh and I cannot parent to our best ability when our day starts before 5:30am most days. My fuse is short, my patience is thin, my energy is low. Every time Carter goes down for a nap, the struggle in my head of whether I should be productive or just take a freaking nap has turned into a moral dilemma, which has lowered my productivity for both my professional work life and my home work life. On the weekends, one of Josh and my biggest priorities is how to squeak in extra opportunities to get each other some extra sleep. We, he and I, have not handled this well. No matter how early you try to go to bed (after tidying up for the day and trying to spend a little time together after people go to bed), 5:30am is early- let's be real. Josh and me are not getting enough sleep. We also show, often, that we are tired.
When this first began, we thought it had something to do with the nicer weather coming in spring/summer especially the freaking birds chirping VERY early in the morning. We already had blackout curtains, but invested in sound machines hoping we could get back on track. Nope. Summer does offer so much more daylight so we rolled with it a little bit keeping our fingers crossed that more darkness would trigger more sleep. Then the time change happened in the fall, making our wake up times more like 4:30am and that's when I really started to lose it. I also happened to be in my first trimester of pregnancy and was in desparate need of extra sleep and wasn't getting it.
I did what any researcher would do: I collected data... a lot of it. I studied naps, bedtime times, first wake up times, moods, locations of sleep, bathroom patterns, etc. Then I hypothesized like crazy making all kinds of conjectures about what was causing this change. After making these, of course, I needed to change some things up and see if it helped any.
|Just one example of data I collected|
I messed with bedtime: later bedtime, earlier bedtime, yoga before bed, essential oils, classical music, deep breathing exercises, no drinks, extra potty trips, Nolan and Judah sleeping in separate bedrooms.
I messed with wake ups: alarms set, post it notes, non verbal communication, quiet morning choices, morning walks, morning rest time.
I read article after article on toddler and preschool sleep written by doctors, pediatricians, other moms. I offered rewards, punishments, praise, constructive criticism.
Do you want to look at me funny yet? Again, I don't blame you.
Here we are, on the last day of 2017, still tired... all of us. Well, except Carter... somehow he sleeps blissfully unaware of our struggle until at least 7:30 in the morning.
|My sleeping Bing, blissfully unaware of our sleep woes|
I am not the type of person to give up on things I want to be different, which is why I'm tackling this thing six months later. Feel free to offer suggestions to me- I've probably already tried them, but maybe there's something I've missed. You will be my hero. I'll also take suggestions on how to function, happily, productively, positively, and patiently on a day that starts at 5:30am. Please send help.
Don't worry, I may be exhausted and very perturbed, but I haven't lost all my perspective- I'd much rather be waking up at 5:30am hearing Judah call down the hall that he can't sleep anymore than be waking up at 5:30am to drive to Ann Arbor for yet another doctor's appointment at U of M Center for Reproductive Medicine. I am tired and I would like more sleep, but I will take this any day. However, I will keep pushing, trying new things, reading, and researching on this topic because that is my way.
2017: I leave you grateful and tired, my belly a lot bigger, circles under my eyes a lot darker. I'm about to walk down the stairs after hearing Judah's second or third meltdown of the day- it's 8:48am. We have already showered, folded laundry, cleaned bathrooms, built train tracks, ate breakfast, read books, and I've wrote this blog. I will likely not make it to midnight tonight to see 2018 start, after all, 5:30am comes early...