February 12, 2013
Baby Sleep Logic 101
People who think that sleeping like a baby is a good thing clearly have no clue what infant sleep really is like. Unless they mean to say that they wake up every few hours, want to sleep anywhere but in their bed, and can only fall asleep with the help of pacifiers, white noise machines, or by sucking their thumb.
When such clueless people (aka me 3 years ago) have a baby, they will try to apply their adult sleep habits to how their kid behaves or how they expect them to behave. Especially when babies are out of the newborn stage and start resembling a human, it just happens naturally to expect babies to follow common sense sleep logic. After only a few weeks of disappointment and sleep deprivation you begin to understand that they don’t. But you still wish they did. Then, when you finally gave up hope that they ever will sleep like a normal person, for some reason you still instinctively treat them as if they did. Only when you have fully and totally accepted that they just don’t make any freaking sense, is when they will surprise you with sleeping like a pro. Only for one night, of course.
After months of frustration, I compiled this 101 of baby sleep logic to keep reminding myself that kids aren’t just small versions of us. As a parent of two ultimate sleep fighters, I might have dealt with some of these issues to the extreme and I am sure that other babies follow different nonsensical patterns. Luckily our babies were pretty good night sleepers and only had problems with naps during the day. And – I just broke baby sleep rule number 1:
1. Don’t jinx yourself. The day you brag about how well your child sleeps, it will be over. It’s like they want to prove you wrong and practice their rebellion early on. So do your happy dance quietly, but never ever post any sleep success on Facebook.
2. Babies only sleep long / deeply / independently / (enter your happy word here) when you don’t expect it or it’s super inconvenient. Not when you need to get something done or at their regular bed time, only when you actually have places to be.
3. On that same note – kids only sleep in on weekdays when you already have a tight morning routine, so you will end up having to wake a sleeping baby (=#1 parenting sin).
4. Babies wake up earlier the later you out them to bed. The natural bed time for most babies is earlier than you think / than it is convenient for going out for dinner. So, you might have the genius idea to try to push their bed time later. Sure enough the kid will wake up at 5 AM the next morning. Trust me, don’t you ever mess with a bed time that works for your child!
5. Also, the less / crappier a baby sleeps, the less / crappier a baby will sleep. Unlike an adult, kids won’t make up for sleep deprivation the following night. Once their regular sleep pattern is disturbed, it can only get worse and takes at least two days to go back to normal.
6. Most babies don’t just close their eyes when they are tired and magically fall asleep by themselves. Those hilarious videos on Youtube where a baby falls asleep with his face in the food bowl only happen to 1% of us parents and only when you let your baby get seriously overtired (see rule #7 for overtiredness). The other 99% need to be put to to sleep by your active effort. Rocking, Singing, holding for 30 minutes have been reported in our house only to lead to a 30 minute nap.
7. When toddlers get overtired, they don’t voluntarily go to bed, but go nuts instead. They will run in circles, throw toys, yell at the top of their lungs, and go deaf as far as your reprimands are concerned. Afterwards they are so amped up that they will take twice as long to fall asleep as usual.
8. Most babies need to learn how to fall asleep independently. In one way or another. After dealing with putting your fussy baby to sleep for a few months it is very likely to get fed up and just let them cry themselves to sleep. It happens to the best of us. And then magic – suddenly your kid knows how to fall asleep. For Felix all it took was one time of crying for 3 minutes until he realized: “Wait, I can do this.”
9. It takes only one day to untrain good sleep habits, but a full week to retrain. Typically happens when your kids are sick or teething, that you just have to rock them to sleep again even though you know they are perfectly capable of falling asleep by themselves and you have already done everything you can to alleviate their pain.
10. Night terrors are very different from nightmares, and you won’t know which one your kid has when you hear them crying in the middle of the night, until you go into their room. If you are able to calm them down, then it was a nightmare. If they freak out when they see you and then continue to scream the house down for the next 20 minutes, it was a night terror and the best approach would have been to stay the heck out.
Well then, good night everyone!
June 20, 2012
Gro-Clock Sleep Trainer
We haven’t done any product reviews on here for a while, but this one I really wanted to share with you. Even though I am not sure if our recent toddler sleep success is directly related to using this sleep trainer (it might just be a coincidence or a phase like so many others), I definitely think that it is a great product and could help some desperate parents with early bird kids.
Here is our sleep story: Milo has always been an early riser. Just like his mom he gets tired when the sun goes down and is wide awake at sunrise. As opposed to me his inner clock is stronger than any blackout curtain or blind. In the first 20 months of his life he has probably slept longer than until 7 AM only a handful of times. His usual wake up time used to be anywhere from 5:30 to 6:30 AM and he would announce it with a loud yell for MAMAAAA! So no sleeping in for me either.
When we got back from our trip to Germany in May I feared for the worst jet lag considering that his inner clock would be set even earlier. So, while we were in Germany I ordered this sleep trainer. At that point it seemed to be the best product on the market and after using it I can confirm that it has some major advantages over other similar products.
Here’s the big idea: You set the desired wake-up time. For the beginning of the training set the time to the current wake-up time and then move gradually later each time after the kid has adjusted. At wake-up time the display will change from a blue star to a yellow sun. Explain to your child that it is time to get up only when the sun is up. In the evening you can activate night time mode at any time – the sun will set and turn into a blue star. Explain to your kid that the star is now asleep and he has to sleep as well until the sun rises again. Little stars go out one by one and show the progress of the night.
- Big display with big and easy to understand symbols
- Works as a night light with 10 different settings of brightness
- Works as a digital clock during the day
- Also has a separate timer for a day time nap
- Can be used as an alarm as well
- Has a key lock that prevents kid from turning on day-time mode himself
- Comes with a story book that explains how it works to the kid
- Currently not available in the US. Therefore higher shipping costs, longer delivery, and has to be used with a plug converter.
- Key lock only available for locking night time mode, but not to lock in day-time mode
Other things to consider: I think this clock works best for kids that are old enough to understand consequences and connections like “if … , then …”. I also communicated to Milo that not only does he have to stay in bed until the sun comes up, but he also has to be quiet so that he won’t wake up the star. I ordered the clock from Langtoninfo and had no problems with shipping and everything arrived in good order within the time frame that was promised.
Recently Milo has been staying in his bed/room quietly until I go get him.Â I set his wake-up time to 7 and that is usually when I go in.Â Most of the times he is already awake, but overall there are way more days now that he sleeps closer to 7 than to 6:30 AM. On some days I accidentally slept in until 8 and still didn’t hear a word. Only his diaper was overflowing by that time. So, he doesn’t even wake me up anymore once the sun is up and he is allowed to. Therefore I am not sure if it is really the clock’s contribution that makes him stay quiet in the morning or he just enjoys his alone time in his room. Either way I think that this sleep timer can really help getting into the right sleep mood. Ask me any questions you might have.
September 7, 2011
Dreams are my reality
Oh my god this title is totally taken from the song from that movie – La Boom. Does anybody remember those french movies from the 80s about how teenies find their first love? Soo kitschy and actually too embarrassing to admit to having seen them. Although I am pretty sure almost any European person of my generation has watched them. Which doesn’t make it any better.
Anyway, this is totally out of context. I was gonna tell you about the crazy dream I had this morning after I woke up at 6:30 with Milo still asleep and decided to doze off some more. It’s that evil kind of half sleep that’s not really fully relaxing and makes you dream all sorts of crazy stuff. In the end you wake up all exhausted and emotionally disturbed and wish you had just freaking gotten up when you had the chance.
“I’m exhausted, I have to wake up” is also my favorite quote from my real favorite movie “Science of Sleep”. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading now and go watch it. Go! It’s a must see. Apart from it being a very artsy and creative movie, it also holds a lot of truth to me and has parallels to my boring little life. I have always been a passionate dreamer. As long as I can remember vivid dreams have been part of my night life. Often times I had better stories to tell in the morning when waking up than about what happens during awake time.
The science of dreaming really explains everything and boils down to a person being a crappy sleeper or not. I am. Very light sleep here. A house mouse farting could easily wake me up any time of the night. Therefore I have lots of light sleep. Therefore many REM sleep phases in which dreams happen. In those sleep phases only certain areas of the brain are active: Exactly the ones that are responsible for memories, emotions, and visuals. The logical cortex is deeply asleep at that point, so it is not surprising that dreams often don’t make much sense, are highly emotional, visual, and often contain random elements of what we experienced the previous day.
Us humans like to make sense of all the random elements and tie them together as a story. Or even start interpreting them to find a higher meaning. Myself included. I swear I tried to stay away from it. No way I was gonna believe in that bogus when it all makes perfect scientific sense. But then I had those healing dreams. Here is a fun fact about little Nicola that not many of you might know: As a kid I was literally afraid of being late to an appointment. I had ways to drive my parents nuts urging them to hurry so that we could be 30 minutes early that are unheard of. It must not have been fun. But then I started having those recurring dreams where I had to be some place, but getting there on time was impossible. Either my legs were made of stone, they wouldn’t move, the staircase became endless, the elevator never arrived, or all of the above. So my dreams forced me to be late and learn that nothing bad happens. Ever since then I am still trying to be 5 minutes early, but don’t freak out anymore if I am 5 minutes late.
There was also a period in my life where I kept dreaming of dead people. Not very nice dreams, let me tell you that. Basically there was always one or more than one body in my house and I had to get rid of it somehow. I had to roll it away, drag it away, and nobody ever helped me. So I looked up the meaning of dead bodies in a dream book and it said that dreaming of bodies or dead means that one is in a relationship or situation in life that is not good for one and should be ended. Sure enough, a few months later the relationship ended and so did the dead people dreams.
Before I go to dream land, just real quick the dream from this morning: Linc and I had another(!!) wedding. This time it was supposed to be real fun so we made sure to hire comedians as the officiators and all sorts of clowns to entertain the crowd. For some reason we also thought that it was funny to top off the whole show with a McDonalds theme. The rings were presented in a sweet and sour dip container that still had the sauce in it and nobody was really paying attention to the wedding because there was too much clowning going on.
End of story. Now while I go to bed, why don’t you figure out what this dream could possibly mean?