My wife and I completely differ in how we wake. I am more, “oh, I am awake. Let’s get up and do stuff.” She is more, “not yet!”
Fleur mostly takes after her mother in that initial wakefulness. After about half an hour she is more like me. The shift is sudden. One minute she is the world is ending, crying, grouchy, complaining about everything. The next she is fine.
This best of both worlds situation amuses me in hindsight.
She occasionally woke between 4 and 6 am, would come try and sleep with us, but after half an hour just be up. I would get up with her. I try to get her to eat something and go back to sleep.
Ideally she went back to sleep after a little bit. Too often she crashed just before wake up time.
Basically, that means I am up for the rest of the day.
Yeah, the sleep deprivation as a parent is impressive. Before parenthood, I assumed it would end after the late night feedings. I saw the stuff about it lasting years. I didn’t grasp that it remained as strong for years and then maybe taper off.
But, yeah, Mondays are like walking into a wall.
My approaches are:
Coffee doesn’t help so much as mask the tiredness. I use it anyway.
Sleep when I can. (For me, I fall out hard early in the night which matches the kid’s usual pattern.)
Leverage the external brain (calendar, reminders)
My wife does similar, but her sleep cycle wants the hardest sleep starting after 4 am, so the kid waking up around then hits her harder than it does me. I try my best to get the kid quiet in another part of the house. But, still, the brain fog is hindering her more.
As long as I can remember, going to sleep an hour or two later means waking up earlier than normal so I get 5-6 hours of sleep. I didn’t realize there was a pattern until almost 40. And even since it still boggles that it exists. It seems logical that going to sleep later should result in waking later. Maybe at the same time with aid of an alarm. But, for me, it means waking up before the alarm.
Going to sleep too early also means 5-6 hours of sleep. So, if I go to sleep at say 9pm, then I wake up between 2-3am. I probably am fully awake but tired for a few hours. I will crash hard and need another few hours of sleep to feel rested.
A few times now, I have gotten Fleur to sleep right after eating lunch. I know the daycare times it this way. It seemed arbitrary until I tried it and found it easy to get her to sleep.
Then I remembered something I read a while ago: Meats contain tryptophan. Fruits and sweets contain carbohydrates. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, we eat feel drowsy because of eating both. The carbohydrates prompts the release of insulin to use the branched-chain amino acids in rebuilding muscle, but the tryptophan is left behind. The tryptophan is metabolized into serotonin which is metabolized into melatonin. The last is what gives us that drowsy feel.
So, I now suspect the trick to getting the little one to take that nap is to get her full and use the excess melatonin as another nudge to “Go the #$@! to sleep!” That may also mean supper needs to be right before the bath when the neurotransmitter is maxed out.
A 2018 Pediatrics study found sleeping through the night overrated. Though, to be honest, I have skepticism about the potential for its validity due to:
it was based on self-reporting by the mothers
it only measured development through age 3.
RESULTS: Using a definition of either 6 or 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, we found that 27.9% to 57.0% of 6- and 12-month-old infants did not sleep through the night. Linear regressions revealed no significant associations between sleeping through the night and concurrent or later mental development, psychomotor development, or maternal mood (P > .05). However, sleeping through the night was associated with a much lower rate of breastfeeding (P < .0001).
— Pediatrics. 2018 Dec;142(6). pii: e20174330. doi: 10.1542/peds.2017-4330. Epub 2018 Nov 12.