Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sleep Myths Debunked

If you are someone that is planning to have children, if you are like me, you will read books about how to make your child sleep. Because, if you are like me, you LOVE to sleep, sleep is your favorite hobby. And, if you are like me, once you have your baby, you will discover that there are myths and misnomers in said books and in the lore around babies.

MYTH #1: You can put a baby to sleep awake.

In many books, there is this mythical baby that you can put down to sleep full and awake and they will drift off to a peaceful sleep on their own. In my research, this baby does not exist. I know of NO ONE that has a baby that does not need to be nursed, rocked, bounced, or patted to sleep. I thought I knew one once, but months later his mom revealed to me that the baby sleeps in the bed with them. That does not count, if you have the baby on your body, the baby will sleep, this is not what the books are talking about. What they mean is putting the baby down in a crib awake and walking away. If you do this, babies cry.

MYTH #2: Sleep when the Baby sleeps.

Now, I LOVE to sleep, but I am not a baby. There are many, many times when I can wake up, feed her, snuggle her, put her back down, and crawl back into bed and go to sleep, but there are also many, many times when I wake up, it takes me 2 hours to go back to sleep and then I have exactly one hour of sleep before she wakes up again. Also, during the day there is no way to tell if she will sleep for 20 minutes or 3 hours. There is nothing more frustrating than laying down for a nap and having the baby wake up 10 minutes later, most often I would rather just not sleep.

MYTH #3: Sleeping in a family bed is wonderful.

Babies are not quiet sleepers. I would LOVE, love, love to create a family bed. My sweet girl loves to snuggle, I LOVE to snuggle, but there are problems: our bed is too soft, we have a love of lots of pillows, and we sleep like flailing dead people. AND our baby jerks about, farts, cries out, and snorts in her sleep. I might enjoy the occasional nap with our sweet girl, but sleeping together is out. At least until she is old enough to hold her own with us in our death-trap of a bed.

MYTH #4: Sleep deprivation makes you cranky

Sure there are plenty of times when I feel annoyed and tired, but most of those are when my baby is sleeping and I am not (like now). Really, I love waking up with her. I love how happy she is to see me, regardless of the hour of day or night. I love that I can comfort her so easily. I love that we stare at each other lovingly until she falls back to sleep. I love to wake up dying to nurse her and then crawl back into bed later, relieved, knowing she is full and ready for a few more hours of Zzz.

I know from watching my other friends and family that sleep is a top issue in the first few years. I am prepared for this to be a long roller coaster. But in the meantime, I will try to enjoy the warm cuddles, the soft breathing, and the limp release of my sweet, sleeping girl.

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