Saturday, January 02, 2010

Sleep Help!

Okay, I'm finally going to put this out there in to the great world of the interwebs, lay my sole bare, because I, and my family, need help.

The sleep situation in our family sucks.

First I'll tell you what the situation is and why it is that way, what the problem is and then I'll end with my plea for suggestions.

So, the cast of sleepers in our home is me, my husband Matt and our two daughters, Eloise (3) and Iris (5 1/2). Right now Eloise and Iris share a room but in separate twin-sized beds, I sleep in the "master" (in quotes because I use that term VERY loosely) bedroom alone in a queen sized bed and Matt sleeps on the fold out couch. In our old apartment, Eloise and I shared a queen sized bed in one room and Matt and Iris were in another-- Matt in a queen-sized bed and Iris in a twin.

Ever since Iris was born I have co-slept and breastfed. I co-slept non-stop for over five years total, some of the time with a toddler AND a newborn. I night nursed my girls welllll past their second birthdays, so that was sleep deprivation galore for over four years. Once Eloise stopped nursing at night my sleep got a little better, but she still shared a bed with me.

Matt is a snorer and a loud/restless sleeper who goes to bed late, wakes up early and gets too warm easily. We have grand illusions of some day being able to share a bed but at this point, I'm not holding out hope. For whatever reasons, I don't see either A. him being able to suddenly be a quiet/calm sleeper who likes going to bed earlier and needs a pile of blankets on him every night, or B. me turning in to a super-heavy sleeper who doesn't need eighteen blankets every night. And to point out, I get woken up by the snoring even with ear plugs in. I have even gotten woken up by it when it's across the hall between two doors when I have a noise machine on. Matt=super loud, me=woken by a butterfly fluttering it's wings. It sucks. I could go on about this for ages, but that's another post for another day.

So, that's us.

Then there is my girls. Both are total night owls by nature, though Eloise has been easier to turn in to a kid who goes to bed at a decent hour. She is on '10' allll day and really wears herself out for the most part. With the girls in their own room there are a few ways it goes down at bedtime: We put them to bed by about 7:45/8:00. We leave the room. They stay awake talking/playing/coming upstairs/etc until about 9:30 on a very good night, midnight on a very bad night, usually more in between. They get up at 7:45 every day for school. OR I put them to bed but lay with one of them to keep them "quiet". This usually results in a pretty bad screaming match between Iris and I because she refuses to be quiet, but often times Eloise will fall asleep at a decent hour, by 8:30, leaving Iris to still be awake/come upstairs/etc until she eventually falls asleep, maybe around 10:30/11:00. OR we have started having one of us (Matt so far) put Eloise to bed earlier and then Iris to bed later. After about the 4th or 5th night of this Eloise caught on and no longer goes to bed without a fight-- she wants to be able to stay up, too!

So, with the girls, either Matt and/or I spend a very time-intensive night getting them to sleep, usually with tears on someones part, or we leave them alone and get grown-up time while they stay up really, really late.

Ideally, we would have a house with four bedrooms, one for each of us. But you know what? This house was barely affordable for us. A four bedroom house anywhere near Seattle is many many years and many many dollars away for us. We could convert the playroom to a bedroom, but then our actual living area would be about 600 SF and I don't know where all of those toys would go!

To be honest, the best sleep we all ever had, collectively, was when Eloise/I were in one room and Matt/Iris in another. But you know what? I don't WANT to share a room with my kids anymore. I paid my dues. I'm DONE. Part of me feels like a whiney baby saying that, but jesus. I exist in the world of attachment parenting where bed/room-sharing is common-- but until what point? My kids are 5 and 3! There also exists a world where kids are never allowed in to the parents bed or room and tsk tsk at bed/room sharing of any sort.

By far, I am getting the best sleep in the house now. I have a room and a bed to myself, a real, comfy bed with a huge pile of warm blankets where I can read real live books before I go to sleep (for the first time in over five years!). But I'm not a completely heartless jerk-- I can recognize that it's not working as a whole. My husband hasn't had a real bed in over six months. My kids aren't getting enough sleep and are over-tired alot of the time. On the plus side, I'm probably more even-keeled then I have been in years.

So people, any suggestions? How do we fix this?


  1. Once she falls asleep, does Iris stay asleep? Maybe a tiny dose of melatonin might be enough to help her reset her body clock and fall asleep earlier. We generally end up giving Michael some for several months at a time and then take a break and start over again. If we don't, he ends up doing what Iris does and won't fall asleep on his own until 11.

  2. This sounds EXACTLY like our situation. Me in my own bed, aware that the others aren't getting enough sleep... and yet we have no other living options, so no more rooms... but Don snores like a (something that snores a lot? a Matt?) and Imogen is a very, very restless sleeper, Jude wakes a lot and if he knows someone is there, he SCREAMS...
    I hope someone has the magic solution. I want it too!!!

  3. Jenn-- thanks for your comment! It's nice to see you here on the ol' blog! I have heard of melatonin and might give it a shot. I bought some calms forte but have only given it a couple of times with no obvious affect.

    Kim-- I remember reading some stuff you had written and thinking we lead eerily parallel lives in the sleep dept. NOT COOL!

  4. I've heard of melatonin too but otherwise no real advice.. just sympathy. We're just now venturing into the two kids in one room and the whole idea makes me nervous! My oldest (5yo) is a night owl too and takes forever to fall asleep. I think schools should just change the start time :D

  5. I completely and totally hear you. I coslept w/all three of my kids and loved it. Up to a point. They are now 9, 7 and 4 and all prefer sleeping w/me and Daddy than anywhere near their own beds. They don't most nights and we had the two oldests sleeping in their own beds or together in my 7 yr olds bed every night. The 4 yr old still slept w/us but she is so restless and I'm tired of getting kicked in the head. Lately my 7 yr old has been having nightmares (lately meaning like since halloween!) and now bedtime is a nightmare. She screams and cries and sobs. I was laying w/her but she takes forever to go to sleep and when she does if I so much as move my pinkie she's awake and the crying starts anew. I am at my wits end. Honestly I'm ready to just bribe her but that's avoiding the whole issue. I have no answers for you. I wish I did b/c than maybe I'd be able to figure out our own sleep dilemma. Let me know if you come up with any brillant ideas.

  6. I have no good advice but couldn't read without posting a bit of support for you.

  7. ooh, poor thing. sleep problems are soooo hard. unfortunately i don't have any real great ideas, but one question. any chance your husband has sleep apnea? mine does and since getting his cpap machine 10 or so years ago (prior to kiddos), his AND my sleep are much much better. the biggest drawback is that he is tied to his machine, so all late night sleep manuevering is done by me (too many kids migrating to our bed means i am the one to leave and find sleep in one of their empty beds). my opinion is that where/how kids sleep is no one's issue other than the parents, as long as everyone is happy. but, sounds like you're not happy. i'm sorry. i hope you figure it a solution soon. :)

  8. Thank you everyone! I really do appreciate the support. I feel pretty certain he has sleep apnea (having heard his snoring/not breathing routine at night for soooo long) but I don't think he'll ever do anything about it :(

    I've begun to realize that since I don't have a partner in bed with me, I don't mind kids in my bed as long as they don't start off there. As long as I can get my few moments to settle in and read before I fall asleep I'm good.

    We're getting a futon for the playroom very soon and that will turn in my husband's bed. While still nowhere near ideal, it's better than what we've got now.

  9. Hey Sybil...This has been on my mind since I read it the other day and I just wanted to give you a virtual hug. I feel sometimes like I wish we had 2 King Size beds in our room. I love them by me (us) but like you need that time alone for myself before turning off the lights. We all sleep in our own beds, for the most part, but when the bed hopping does start it is tough to get the rest that I need...even though I love their little bodies next to me. Maybe seeing the therapist will inadvertantly help Iris' sleep habits, too? xoxo


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