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Self-Care # 113 – Regardless of the reasons not to, go get your sleep. Be a friend to yourself.
I was speaking with Sheri about her sleep problems, and we aired some of the fears that she hadn’t realized influenced her related choices.
Here’s her current scenario. She is a survivor of multiple trauma’s involving her children. Currently only 2 of her 7 member household sleep through the night. It’s been years since the rest of them did.
I can’t just let them cry (speaking about her 8 month old infant and toddler.) That’s child abuse.
Now this is a smart, well-read woman. She’s read “Baby Whisperer,” “Babywise,” “Dr. Spock,” and just about every other parenting book out there. She believes her intuition however and her intuition tells her that if baby cries, baby needs her.
Sheri tells me,
On a good night, when I am woken up only 6 times or less, I feel much better the next day.
(Um, did anyone else notice what she said? A good night. Ok.)
Sheri says when she sleeps “well,” her thoughts are clearer, her mood is more positive, she is a more effective parent and wife. Sheri is telling me what I tell others. However information and knowledge are not always enough.
Sheri knows she needs more sleep but she feels trapped between what she knows in her mind and what her gut tells her.
Question for Sheri: When you get up to soothe the babies, are you doing it more for you or for them? I got no direct answer to that question and let it rest.
Suggestions for Sheri and any other listening parents stuck between their mind and their intuition:
1. Clean out the spare room and put 2 small beds in there. Nothing else in the room. (Remember sleep hygiene. The bedroom is only for sleep and for sex and if you aren’t having sex, all you get to do is sleep. Sounds silly when in context of babies? This is however true. Regardless of your age.)
2. Put a fan outside the closed door to the baby’s room.
3. If you hear the baby crying, get up and help. If you don’t, than sleep, and baby can teach themselves to fall back to sleep without your help.
If you don’t do this already reader in your own bedroom, don’t feel too bad. I remember giving a lecture to a room full of physicians and asked them, “Who had their bedroom set up this way?” Not one of them raised their hands.
Changing our bedrooms to be appropriate for good sleep hygiene is a cultural change for the family. It moves activity out of the bedroom obviously and into the home’s community space. Everyone has to renegotiate that space. A personal hide-out can be harder to find.
But it works! Just Google “sleep hygiene” and you’ll read oodles on this. You don’t have to believe me.
I’ve worked with disabled kids even, who have a ton of biological reasons not to be able to sleep through the night. However, many of them did once their parents helped them with their sleep hygiene. This method can crack some of the hardest cases of insomnia. If these kids can do it, we can too.
If you can’t easily get into the groove of good sleep hygiene, you are not alone. Keep trying. It will be worth it.
Question: What are your barriers to getting good sleep? Or, what has helped you do whatever it takes to get your sleep? Has either choice been worth it to you? Please tell me your story.