by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. and Jan Hanson, L.Ac.
"Our twins are one year old, but they are still waking up a lot at night, and it usually falls to me to deal with them. What can I do before I go out of my mind with sleep deprivation?"
Loss of sleep is a major reason why many mothers of young children feel depleted; besides wearing you out, sleep deprivation robs the brain of certain substances you need for health and well-being. Some suggestions:
- Make sure your kids don't have any health problems, like allergies, that could be waking them up.
- Explore approaches like the family bed or the Ferber method to get your children to sleep through the night. But pick a method that suits you and your family rather than be pressured into some one-size-fits-all approach.
- If you're home with the babies, take naps during the day when they do instead of turning to housework. Your health is more important than a tidy home!
- Negotiate with your partner to take over more of the night-time parenting. With expressed breastmilk or formula, there is no reason a dad can't handle at least half of those duties. If you're a stay-at-home mom, your day-time job is at least as hard and as important as his is, and the same is obviously true if you go off to work.
- Adjust dad's sleep schedule so he goes to bed earlier with you and the babies and then can get up with the kids in the morning when they're typically easier to handle while you get an extra hour's sleep.
If you stick with it, you'll definitely get more sleep!
Rick Hanson is a clinical psychologist, Jan Hanson is an acupuncturist/nutritionist, and they are raising a daughter and son, ages 12 and 14. With Ricki Pollycove, M.D., they are the authors of Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships, published by Penguin.
Copyright © Rick Hanson, Ph.D. and Jan Hanson, L.Ac. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.