Maybe the most heard piece of advice I received as a new mom. Then when I couldn’t, I added it to the list of ways I was failing as a mother. I’m not one of those people that can fall asleep anywhere, anytime. I’m not one of those people who can just sort of lean their head over and nod off, even in the noisiest and busiest places. I envy that ability. I don’t have it. And I didn’t magically acquire it when I became a mom. When my baby slept during the day I would try to lie down and get a little bit of shut-eye. Nope. Never. Not one time. My body is totally awake during the day, no matter how little sleep I got the night before. Thank you, circadian rhythm of steel. Okay. I can deal with that. I tackle the laundry or cleaning when the baby sleeps, or just park it on the couch and zone out at the TV for a while.
But at night, what I really cannot handle, is not being able to fall back asleep after a night feeding. Those precious nighttime hours that are already disrupted by feedings. Especially in the early weeks when the baby is only sleeping an hour or two at a time, the pressure of using those scant couple hours to sleep is so huge. So when I put my angelic sleeping babe back down and get myself settled back in to enjoy a beautiful snooze, and instead I lie there wide awake, I want to scream, “WHY, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY AM I LAYING HERE AWAKE?” Go to sleep! If I go to sleep now, I might have two hours of sleep. If I go to sleep now, I might have 1.5 hours of sleep. Oh no, oh no, oh no. Please let me fall asleep. Just fall asleep already! Tomorrow is going to suck. I’m so tired, why can’t I fall asleep?!?!?! You know, those types of relaxing thoughts.
What can you do when you find yourself in this position of not falling asleep after a night feeding?
Step 1: Keep a sleep log.
It’s some work but the data will really give you good information about your sleep patterns and research shows that the act of logging helps create change. It’s best to keep it on your nightstand and fill it out when you wake up for the day. Create a table with column headers as days of the week and the following row labels: Date, time you got into bed, approximate time you think you fell asleep, how long were you up in the middle of the night adding all the times together to make one number, the time you woke up for the day, the time you got out of bed, your total time in bed (using the previous data), your total time asleep (using the previous data), and then in the final column rate your sleep quality Poor, Fair, or Good.