Posts Tagged ‘sleep’

Got Sleepless Nights?

February 5, 2010

If we frame “parenting” as having a caring attitude toward not just our own children but each other and the world, then even when our kids are sleeping soundly through the night, our own sleep troubles can pose a major parenting challenge.

A reader inquires:

“I read your sleep post with interest. My kids are long past that now (teens), but the issue of sleep caught my attention in general.  That, largely because I have a sleep disorder that has been managed well for many years, but completely out of control for a number of months now.  I’m lost in the murky territories of extended and extreme sleep loss.  At least I know what it is, but it is debilitating, and no light at the end of the tunnel at present.

Certainly, it isn’t as difficult as it was when my kids were younger but it is difficult.  There are many things to do, and I cannot do them, or can only do them in the most limited fashion… How to not make it worse by breaking down in front of a child, and frightening him?  How to live with the guilt and the anger and not let it spill out?

I know I’m still managing to be a decent parent, but it hardly seems enough.  And the mask is heavy.  I’ll continue to wear it as much as I can, but it’s heavy, and getting harder to hold up.

I know, relatively, this is a small thing.  It could be so much worse. But I need to finish my job properly, somehow manage to do that. And it’s getting harder and scarier because physically I’m spiraling down, fast.”


Slogging through a day when we haven’t had enough sleep is bad enough (unless we’re still in college or early twenties and generally possess more resilient bodies to compensate for our blithely immature minds), but when sleep-deprivation becomes chronic, when words like “insomnia” give way to labels like “sleep disorder,” it can be miserable in the way vampires used to be portrayed (before they became sexy teens)—as a sort of non-living anxiously between worlds, an agony of nether-dwelling that leaves us perpetually drained (and potentially draining to others, particularly children who we are supposed to care for and nourish).

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Who’s counting… sheep? Sleep issues in early elementary age kids.

January 28, 2010

At some point in every child’s development our beds themselves become a boundary, challenging us parents to find the right balance between love and limits in the context of what works for our own families.

A reader inquires:

“We started out attachment parenting – and now struggle with keeping firm boundaries.

But at night, or should I say early morning – and I mean every early morning between 1 and 5 am my six year old son (almost 7) sleepwalks into our room and climbs into bed on my side.  My right arm and shoulder is where he nestles and sleeps the rest of his night.  Incidentally, this is the first place the nurse put him to rest on me after he was born.

I have become an increasingly light sleeper as I continue my journey into peri-menopause, and so am almost always awakened by this phenomenon.  Did I mention it’s every night?  I find my self increasingly sleep deprived, and wondering what to do.  Well, actually I’m torn between enjoying the last years of his babyish cuddling and desperate for a good nights sleep.”


In the spirit of being the village (and not just saying that it takes one), I turned to my colleagues over at Sleepy Planet, Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack, for true “expert” advice on this topic.

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Ideals and realities of loving the planet in the context of sleep deprivation

January 16, 2010

I ran into a friend at the market, shopping for baby’s first solid food and it was lovely to see him talking about planning to feed all organic food from his garden—and it was also humanizing and understandable to hear lofty ideals giving way, in the context of sheer exhaustion, to the pragmatics of store-bought (albeit organic) baby-food. 

We joked about our grand initial plans for all natural diapers and how we (me a decade and a half ago) threw in the towel on the diaper service a few weeks into our colic-riddled child’s ever-leaking, high-maintenance cloth diapers, while my friend had, a few scant months earlier, started with all natural diapers, but they were so stiff and like sandpaper, he said, that he too caved in for big-brand, eco-crappy survival. 

It’s not that my hat isn’t off to those who succeed; I have just found that in the trenches we turn to survival mode and carry our guilt along with our growing children, out of the car-seat, up the stairs, yearning for nothing more than a good night’s sleep.

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Is colic torture?

September 4, 2009

a cast for michelle's footI think most of us would agree that water-boarding is torture, but what about colic?  Given that colic subjects parents to severe levels of sensory input which do not stop despite all attempts at soothing, rocking, singing, distracting pleading and begging, I think that colic needs to be recognized as a form of torture.

Now, I’m not saying that babies do this on purpose, and I think that they should receive full immunity against prosecution (as well as against persecution and retaliation), but it’s only fair that we acknowledge how relentless and unstoppable howling, if done deliberately, could be considered a torture technique.  If prisoners were deprived of sleep, howled at for hours and then forced to deal with human feces, I think most of us would say that things had gone too far.

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