Monday, January 31, 2011

A Few Thoughts About Sleep

It's no secret that I love to sleep. Any time, any where. 8+ hours at night, minimum. Naps. Snoozes. Whatever you call it, I like to sleep. There is nothing like a good night of sleep and certainly there is nothing as rejuvenating as sleeping in past 9am on any given day. Every day, really. 

You might say I'm a bit obssesive about sleep.

Enter the variable of a child, or in my case, children, and my obsession gets a little tricky.

When Anders was born, I knew there would be many sleepless nights ahead. Surprisingly, he turned out to be a pretty good sleeper. There were a few bumps along the way, but overall he was a great sleeper and I was soon able to get back to my obsession, even if it was modified a little. I was feeling pretty good, even when I found out I was pregnant with Jacobson Baby #2.

Fast forward to May 2010.

Anders quit sleeping.

Not only had he dropped his morning nap,  all of a sudden he didn't want to take an afternoon nap and 6am seemed to be a perfectly normal time to start the day. We switched him to a "big boy" bed because Baby #2 was coming soon, and he quickly figured out that he could get in/out of his bed much easier than his crib. Going to bed at night became a fight.

And so a struggle of epic proportions began.

20 month old with a new found love of not sleeping
Pregnant mother who is obssessed with sleep (and a lot of it)

We have tried everything over the last 7 months:
  • Gates (yes, pluarl) in his doorway to keep him in
  • Clocks to show what time it is (don't get out of bed until "X" time)
  • Bribery
  • Threats
  • Laying in his room with him
  • Pack-n-play
  • Rain machine for background noise
  • Music
  • Allowing him to lay on the floor instead of in bed
  • Crying (me, not necessarily Anders)
  • Praying...
For months I was angry about his lack of willingness to love sleep as much as I do. I was so exhausted when Cade was born--not due to having a newborn, but because Anders was just wearing me out. It was hard for me to enjoy spending time with Anders because he was so tired all the time and just plain cranky. I kept thinking that if he would just sleep until 7am, I would be such a better mom--he would get more sleep, I would get more sleep and our day would just get off to a better start.

We have had some small successes along the way. He did start taking a longer afternoon nap again and staying in bed has gotten a lot better. There are days where he gets up at 6am, but he will come and lay in our bed with us for a while before starting his day. Anders has adapted to sleeping about 9 hours at night and 1.5-2 during the day.

So what worked? Which items on the list were the "winners"? Aren't you just dying to know?

Probably a combination of a few of them. But I am convinced that the one that has made the most impact is prayer. Simply put, I think this issue comes down to being a spiritual issue for me:

Sleep is my "god" and God didn't like that. And so he helped me adjust my priorities.

I still love to sleep. And my thoughful husband allows me the luxury of sleeping in one day on the weekends while he hangs out with the kids. But I am working on not being so obsessed with needing sleep above all else. This has been a real inner struggle for me over the past 7 months.

Let's just say God and I have had a few "discussions" over the last few months. In the beginning it was mostly me telling him how much I hated this new arrangment and could he please make Anders sleep more. But these conversations slowly turned to him reminding me that I am not in control and he knows what's best, even if I was a bit tired.

It has been a daily surrender to God of my attitude, will, and anger about not getting the amount of sleep I wanted. But when I'm most tired and exhausted, I have to rely on him because I don't have the energy to do it myself. And that is really a wonderful place to be. Relying on God. 100%.

I have had to own my bad attitude and adjust my expectations of Anders and my own needs. And I have learned two very valuable lessons.

1. If we allow God, he will use our children to teach us as much or more than we could ever teach them.
2. God wants to mold and refine us into who he wants us to be. We can take the easy road. Or in my case, climb Mt. Everest. Next time I'll hopefully choose the Walk in the Park route.

What is your "god"?
How is God encouraging you to let it go?
Did you have to climb Mt. Everest to let it go or did you learn a little more easily than I did?
What was the most recent thing your child(ren) taught you?

My hope is that you haven't had to go through the "Valley of the Shadow of No Sleep". In the end I'm glad I visited there for a while because ultimately, it brought me closer to the feet of God. And there is no better place to be.

Except maybe in bed. (I'm still learning...)


Jeni said...

Thanks for sharing, Sarah. It's amazing that this can grow you closer to the Lord! Thanks for your inspiring words! :)

my3boys said...

First of all, YEA! You blogged! Woo-hoo! You are so smart and I love reading what you have to say. I especially love seeing the life lessons, and the "God Lessons" that you find in your daily struggles. I like the questions at the end too. It made me think about how many struggles we had with Andrew sleeping at Anders' age and how I probably didn't invite God to help me at that time. I've always said that God usually needs to knock me over the head with something because I haven't heard his whispers and shouts. I'm going to keep trying though. Thanks, Sarah! :)

taylordi said...

Be careful about not sleeping well, if it goes on for too long it can upset your coritsol levels, it did mine and it's taking a long time to get back in balance. It can throw your body into "flight or flight" for years and that is not good. I hope that this is just a temporary thing, a time to learn. Just be careful about getting enough sleep to stay healthy and balanced. I went about 6 years of not getting good consistant sleep and like you I need 8 hours straight a night. It really took a toll on my body, I didn't let go and trust as early as I should have, when you get sleep deprived you don't always think clearly! Good luck!

Beverly said...

Well said, Sarah! This is something I have always struggled with each time God sends us a new baby. A friend wrote something at some point (blog or FB post, I can't remember) asking something along the lines of, "Do we trust God to take care of our needs, even when we're up all night with a baby?" It made me think--yes, physically we DO need sleep, and I would often remind God of that and how much better I would be at this mothering thing if I weren't so tired and cranky! But the Bible also promises that He gives rest to the weary and increases the power of the weak. So there may well be seasons of my life when I am not actually getting that recommended daily allowance of zzz's, I trust God to carry me through that season?

I definitely hear your heart on this one and totally identify! God has taught me so much through this parenting journey. I joke that He's obviously not through teaching me what I need to know, because He keeps sending us children. ;-) May we always be willing to learn, no matter what season of life we're in.

You're an amazing mom, ya know? :-)