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Late To Bed, Late to Rise - A Sleep Rant

Yesterday I woke up and thought it was Monday.  Seriously.  It felt like the week was just starting.  It literally took me several minutes to muster enough clarity in the brain fog to remember that it was actually Wednesday.

I blame it on my kid going to bed at 12:45am on Tuesday night (or Wednesday morning). Yes, correct. After midnight (and more likely, later than you). She also napped, from 5:30-8:00pm. And her wake-up time? 9:40am. Now before any alarm bells are raised, let's do some math. From midnight until midnight, Little L did sleep a grand total of 12 hours and 10 minutes, well within "normal" limits for a kid her age. Truth be told, that's abnormal for her, since her normal sleep duration averages about 11 hours.

So anyway, although she's getting her rest, she is choosing to do so at late hours. She is my little owl who doesn't love mornings, and as a toddler, she has also embraced the "always fight your nap" manifesto as her own personal life goal. I mean, I tried to get her to nap starting at 2:00. I even took her for a walk for an hour from 3:00-4:00, in the hopes that maybe the motion would conk her out.  No such luck (although she did polish off most of her yogurt melts, popcorn, yogurt-covered raisins and other snacks).

She naps when she wants. Her nap times in the month of October have been all over the map, from as early as 12:30pm to as late as 6:20pm. It does keep us on our toes, trying to figure out when/if she will actually go down for a few hours!

**Begin Rant**

Some have suggested the idea of a sleep trainer. I am balking at that, because I cannot justify paying money for another "consult" when I know that this is simply Little L's current phase and I do not anticipate it lasting months and years. Also, I find it sort of outrageous that a)one might pay upwards of $800 for services from someone who has no official "credential" (because how does one qualify to be a sleep trainer or sleep expert, anyway? Not a recognized degree program or medical profession, sorry!), b)one would allow someone with only the briefest exposure to your child to tell you how to train/raise this little one who you know better than anyone else, and c)any "sleep trainer" would claim to "work with your values and goals" without bias towards a form of CIO, because really, almost every sleep trainer would have to advocate for some form of crying in order to get your strong-willed baby to do something that he/she obviously has no interest in doing. I mean, come on! Could any sleep trainer really guarantee that his/her advice would produce the wanted results with nary a tear shed? Could any sleep expert promise me a 100% money-back guarantee that, in using their sleep training methods, Little L will not ever experience a stressful event that results in extra cortisol being released in her body?

Yeah, I don't think so. Sleep training is not for this momma. And might I add, in full disclosure, we *did* pay an OT for sleep training consults already. It set us back $600 (which is a lot in Zulily purchases), and although she also promised a gentle form of non-CIO sleep training that would work within our parenting styles and goals, her advice in the end still advocated for some crying and several nights of stressful sleep for Little L, Hubbs and I. In fact, after I saw the report, I closed the .doc and cursed her in my brain for wasting my time and money. (Thankfully, since she is a registered OT, I could at least claim it on my taxes). I never bothered to even implement her plan for a day, because I already knew my Little L well, and I did not want her to have an anxious, unpleasant association with sleep, which for sure the prescribed methods would have wrought.

Now, I do realize that at some point, Little L will need to go to bed earlier, like when she starts preschool at age 3.5. She's currently only 20 months, however, and her sleep patterns have changed much over this time, so I can only assume that these will keep changing between now and when she's 42 months. Heck, I have a feeling things will change once Daylight Savings starts this weekend!

And though I don't love going to bed at midnight, I do love waking up late. A cursory Google of the web would produce a bazillion results for parents who complain that their toddlers wake up too early; I count my blessings because that ain't me! A late bedtime is also good for going out to other peoples' homes with Little L, which 7:00pm bedtimes aren't so convenient for. And I do love that, since Little L is awake during all of the sunshiny hours of the day, she can take full advantage of the nice weather while it lasts. She also doesn't hate sleep, nor does she associate our family bed or her own bed with a separation from her mommy or daddy; there is no fear in bedtimes. She will, on her own prompting, ask for nye-nye (nursing) when she's tired and wanting to sleep; sometimes she even says, "Sleepy! Go to bed!" She will comply with my gentle suggestion to go read in the bed when it is time to wind down, and she doesn't cry for naps or bedtime. It's great that she is listening to her own body, and even when she's fighting the nap, I am pretty sure it's because she simply isn't ready to sleep yet (even if I am)!

In the end, I can't tell you if sleep training is right for your kid. Maybe it is; maybe your baby has never experienced even one proper night's rest and is so beyond fatigued that it is costing him/her developmentally. By no means is this a right/wrong issue, but one that's subjective to the kid involved, the parents involved, and the situation at hand. I can think of several examples of people I know who needed a sleep consultant for their babies, who were either chronic cryers or extremely sleep-deprived. However, I know that for Little L, and for her very connection-conscious momma, there's no question that I need to "tough out" this phase rather than subject her to some sort of graduated plan of behaviour modification just to get her to sleep on my schedule.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to get my second mug of coffee....

PS - I know I sound super ragey in this post. Totally the limitation of the medium, since I am violently passionate about my choices as a mommy, but not violent in general ;)

PPS - Little L is such a little kid now, but when she's asleep she still looks like a baby. My baby! :)



mazoola said…
we're on a similar path with "tough it out" as our motto. it just feels good to wake up with a kid that smiles and says 'hi' to you each morning, well rested, and in a good mood!

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