Monday, December 15, 2008

Sleep Breakthrough

Ever since we brought him home from the hospital, LL has been waking up every 3-4 hours during the night to eat. He occasionally does a longer stretch when he first goes to bed, but then he's up every 3 hours after that. That initial long stretch doesn't do me any good, though, since I don't go to sleep at 7:00 when he does. And the following 3-hours stretches are actually only 2 hours of sleep for me at a time, since the kid tends to eat for 45 minutes for each meal. (Our little gourmet....)

We had one good night last week Friday when he went to sleep at 6:00pm, woke up to eat at 1:00am, and then actually stayed asleep until 7:00am. I didn't benefit very much, though, since I was still awake from 3:30-4:30am, as my body refused to believe that I didn't need to be up. And the very next day, LL started a growth spurt, which lasted through mid-day Monday, during which he ate every two and a half hours, for 90 minutes at a time. (Yes, each meal lasted a continuous hour and a half!) It was totally exhausting, I got no sleep at all, and when the growth spurt was over, he'd forgotten that he was starting to sleep more, and went back to waking up every 3 hours.

Thursday morning, I completely lost it. I hadn't had more than four hours of consecutive sleep in five months (the last two months of pregnancy, plus almost three months of nighttime feedings for LL), and most nights my sleep was in two hour chunks. After feeding LL at 7:00am on Thursday, I handed him over to S and then broke down crying and sobbing for almost an hour. My breakdown included pointing out to S that I was pretty sure that LL was violating the sleep torture provisions of the Geneva Convention, and I was seriously going to lose my mind soon if something didn't give. I was just so exhausted.

So, Thursday night we tried The Experiment. LL had proven that he could go long stretches without eating at night when he wanted to, so we would try to convince him to just go back to sleep when he woke up. The plan was that when he cried, S would go in and try to get him to go back to sleep without eating. Change a diaper, put a pacifier back in, rock and sway and soothe... whatever was needed. If he was still crying after several minutes, I'd come in and feed him, but we'd let S try to manage without me if he could. LL went to sleep at 6:30pm. He woke up at 11:00pm and cried and cried, so I fed him. He woke up several more times (2am, 4am, 5am) but each time, S was able to immediately put him back to sleep, without involving me at all. Score! Mind you, I still woke up each time LL woke up, but I didn't have to get out of bed, and I was asleep again 5 minutes later. Good stuff.

Friday night, we tried the same strategy. Same pattern: asleep at 7:00, fed again at midnight, and didn't need Mom again until morning (7:30am). That's only one feeding in 12+ hours!

Saturday night, we decided to skip the crying at that midnight-ish wake-up. We'd put him to bed at 7:00, I'd feed him the first time he woke up, and S would handle the rest of the wake-ups until morning. You can imagine our surprise when his first wake-up wasn't until 5:00am. Yes, that's right, he slept from 7:00pm until 5:00am, continuously. And after I fed him at 5:00, he went right back to sleep and slept until his usual 7:30am.

Last night, we avoided even the 5am feeding. Asleep at 6:30pm, woke up at 7:30am. Not a peep in between. After four nights, I'm ready to say that this isn't a fluke. It still may not happen every night, I fully expect the occasional needy night, and who knows what happens when we travel next month to visit my family in Wisconsin for a week. But for now, life around here is great.

Oh, and did I mention how totally cheerful LL has been the past several days? Getting lots of sleep clearly agrees with him. He's all smiles and giggles, goes down easily for naps in his crib, hardly ever cries. I could get used to this! We're one happy well-rested family.


  1. ah yes!! sweet victory for the grad household! Nice job

  2. I read somewhere that babies wake up frequently during the night and then fall back asleep. The problem is that young babies don't know how to soothe themselves to sleep yet. So maybe that is what S just taught him! Jillian can soothe herself to sleep but only if she is in motion. So she sleeps in her swing all night. The challenge I have is trying to wean her from it...

  3. Awesome news!!! We still struggle with naps -- that's our next project, and I'm not looking forward to it.


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