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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sleep schedule? What sleep schedule?

For the last couple of weeks Mira's sleep has been so chaotic. Some days she gets one nap, some days two. Sometimes it takes 15 minutes to get her down to sleep, sometimes an hour and a half. Some nights she wakes once, sometimes five times (seriously, sometimes I feel like I've got a newborn again). Sometimes she sleeps till 7am, sometimes 9am. It makes me really miss the days were I knew what to expect: A nap at 11am, another at 4pm, bedtime at 9pm, two brief night wakings and then up at 9am. At least then I could mentally prepare myself and I could actually schedule activities because I knew when she'd be up for them.

I feel like this chaos might be some sort of trial. Like we are on the cusp of something (what, I don't know). But that what I do now will have a big impact on the way she sleeps for the next while. So since we've got this insanity going on anyway, I figure now is a good time to try to set some ground rules because it certainly can't get any more out of whack (which is what you worry about when you change something that baby is used to).

So here are the main tenets I am trying to adhere to:
1. No more falling asleep on the breast. To break this habit, I'm using a technique called "Pantley's Gentle Removal Plan". It does seem to be working, as now a couple of times Mira has actually pulled away from the breast on her own and rolled over and gone to sleep without me having to force the issue at all. Used to be that she absolutely insisted on having the suction on my breast until she was fully asleep. So I think this is getting better.
2. Two naps a day are always attempted. Though, I am being flexible on the nap times. And if she refuses to fall asleep at one of those naps, then she has quiet time alone in her crib. She's actually gotten quite good at this. If she won't take her nap, I just give her a few quiet toys in her crib, maybe turn on some calm music, wait till she is content and relaxed, and then I leave the room. I duck my head in every few minutes to make sure she's ok, but I leave her in there quietly playing alone in her crib for at least 30 minutes. I think she actually likes it. She always seems happy when I come in to get her out, and she usually doesn't cry at all while she's alone. (If she does cry, I come in and sit with her, smiling, talking softly, until she is content again, and then I leave her to finish her "nap".)
3. Bed time is now 8pm sharp. Used to be that she'd go to bed anytime between 8pm and 9:30pm, usually around 9pm. Well, she's shown consistently that 8pm should be her bed time (it's like you flip a switch at 8pm on the dot and she goes from happy-let's-play-baby to OMG-get-me-to-bed-NOW-baby), we just haven't been listening (mostly because Brian wants to have more time in the evenings to play with her after he gets home from work). So now we're starting the bedtime routine at 7:30pm so that Mira can be nursing to sleep at precisely 8pm.

So anyway, we've been at the new rules for 2 days now so hopefully we'll start to see some results soon. Really what I'd like to see happen is that Mira finds a sleep schedule that works and is CONSISTENT. And if it ends up that what works is for me to be up twice a night for the next while, then I'm 100% ok with that, if that's what she needs. I just want it to be predictable. Is that too much to ask? ... Maybe so.

I think part of the issue lately could be that she's cutting two more teeth (she's getting the two on either side of her top teeth). So I think the pain might actually be disrupting her sleep sometimes. Even so, I'm hesitant to give her Tylenol because I never really feel certain that pain is the issue. And I don't want her on meds round the clock.

On a positive note, I do feel like we are moving in the right direction, because a couple of times recently she's woken up in the middle of the night, cried out once or twice, and then gone back to sleep without any intervention on my part. Between that and the whole pulling off the breast without any provocation, I feel like things are happening. And I feel good about knowing that I'm doing it on her pace, letting her set the rhythm so that it's all done in the gentlest, most loving environment for her. No excessive crying, no unanswered needs, all very supportive and responsive.

And because it's all been gentle and responsive, she's actually been in a good mood most days, despite the total sleep chaos. So at least she's still pleasant to be around, even if bedtime is a struggle. Here are a few pics from the last week.

1 comment:

Marcy said...

I remember reading in the books about how babies develop a semi-consistent sleep schedule by about 4 months of age. So I kept waiting... and waiting.. and waiting for that to happen. He was sometimes consistent in his night wakings, for up to a few weeks at a time or so, but for the most part it was chaos. I think sometime around 4-6 months we established a set bedtime, but that was the only consistent part of his sleep/wake cycle until he was about a year old. I'm not sure that's normal (certainly wasn't that much fun), but it's how he was. =/

That's so great that she enjoys independent playtime in her crib. It's good for mom to get some time away from baby and not have to entertain all the time, and it's also good for baby to learn to entertain herself and not have to have others do it for her all the time (at least that's how I feel about it).