Diary of a Dad: Week 18 - Intermittent Sleepby Adam Riches
When you think you are winning in the sleep game, you quickly realise that there are no real winners. Just as your body adapts to one or two wake-ups a night, you’re thrown into the tornado-like hell of a sleep regression.
There is a part of every parent that asks themselves “why.” Why is it happening, why won’t my baby sleep, why, why, why. The answer quite often is that it’s just because they’re growing up. There are no definitive answers for some problems and although there are factors that contribute to sleep regressions, often it is nothing you have done. Repeat after me: it is nothing you have done!
The cognitive and physical development of a baby is phenomenal. Their brains and bodies develop at a speed that quite honestly, astounds me. They can go from having no teeth one day to having 4 a week later. Similarly, they can be cooing on a Saturday and saying a word a few days later and saying 5 the week after.
All of this takes its toll on a baby and it seems the first thing to go is sleep. You’d think that all of the growing and development would be exhausting, but sometimes it results in broken sleep. And for parents, that means a few turbulent weeks.
Our little boy is 9 months now and it feels like we have been through regression every couple of months, which is roughly in keeping with most babies (I think.) The onset is often the worst bit because you kind of get a bit complacent. When the baby sleeps more, I tend to go to bed later. I get sort of cocky with it and take for granted that I should be getting at least a few good hours sleep. Why do I do it?! I always regret it the next week when I haven't made the most of the stalemate.
Functioning on less sleep is difficult, but it’s weird how you go from say 10 hours pre-child to a few hours post child and somehow still survive. I mean, I walk around in a zombie-like state of semi-consciousness after the heavy nights, fuelled only by caffeine and a general determination to not fall asleep at my desk...but I can still get through the day.
Parents are resilient things, and although there are those people who say they’ll never be able to function without sleep, trust me, you will be fine. We have found there are a few little things that make sleep-deprived life slightly easier, like being planned with food so we aren’t hungry and tired and making sure we get out of the house so we don’t just feel sorry for ourselves.
Intermittent sleep can have such a psychological effect on you, especially as a new parent. Make sure you look after yourselves!