Do I really need to ‘sleep through the night’?

Sometimes I think we can get very caught up in this concept of sleeping through the night. It’s a loosely defined notion anyway, since some childcare writers consider 5 hours straight sleeping through the night, whereas some of us might be looking for the ever elusive 10-12 hour stretch.

When the Imp was 1 – 3 months old, I had to get a student to come to our house in the afternoon to sit on the couch and have the Imp sleep in her arms while she watched tv, so that I could get 3 hours straight sleep. That afternoon kip made all the difference and kept me functioning when I was so close to having a sleep deprived breakdown.

All I wished for in that time is that the Imp would sleep for 3 hour stretches at night, so that I could be functional.

When the Imp started to sleep 3 hour stretches and I was functional, I then wished for 4 hour stretches so that I could be less tired and more energised.

Then the 4 hours came, I still felt tired and I still wished for more … wouldn’t it be great if he just woke up once …

or maybe he’ll sleep through the night soon …

And so I wonder, how much is enough? Of course, we enter into this parenting business with an understanding that we will no longer be able to be completely selfish now that we have a little person relying on us for everything. I do feel lucky to have a healthy, happy baby and want to slap myself for being so caught up in how much sleep I’m getting.

The first key is to ignore ignore ignore. Sure, everyone is asking and saying your baby should be sleeping through. But is there really a problem? The professionals that claim babies don’t need feeding at night after 6 months surely only look at feeding from a nutritional standpoint. Feeding is surely more than that, comfort, security, closeness, nurturing.

Sleep deprivation is a truly awful state, but I have to be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that I’m oh so sleep deprived because I got up once in the night. Oh, come on, have a strong coffee and move on! I’ll try and reserve my empathy for the parents who are still getting up every 2 hours or so.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that if I get enough sleep to function adequately the next day, that should really do (for now).

A nice thought from Kellymom:

Remember that night waking in babies and young children is normal and temporary! Children grow out of night waking, even when we do nothing to discourage it. This period of time will be a very tiny part of your child’s years with you.


One Response to Do I really need to ‘sleep through the night’?

  1. tibsy says:

    I completely agree with this one amber!! I’ve done EXACTLY the same. I have to keep reminding myself that she’s still so tiny and that I KNOW it will change. Also Tams mantra ‘It’s just a phase’ helps!!!!!

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