A story about not sleeping

Posted Wednesday 19th September 2012   By Ericka Waller

As a mum of three, I am no stranger to sleep deprivation

My children started keeping me up at night before they were even born (giant heads on my now weak bladder) and they are showing no signs of stopping yet.

The husband and I have read alot of books about sleep training, done alot of Internet research on night terrors. Downloaded alot of sleep-inducing music. Spent a lot on night lights. We've lost many a night's sleep discussing/arguing how to get a night's sleep.

But it always boils down to this.

We are weak. We are sleep addicts. We break all the rules.

Maybe they would sleep better if we did "cry-it-out", stopped drinks before bedtime, bottles during the night, letting them sleep in bed with us, or even wedging in bed with them - but when it's 2am all we care about is going back to the land of nod, and we don't care what it takes to get us there.

Cry-it-out has never worked for me. My mother loves to tell me how, as a baby, I used to cry for her at night, how she went to the doctor about it, who told her to shut the door and leave me to it. "You gave up crying in the end" she says proudly "And slept like a baby."

An abandoned one.

I just can't do it. The sound of my girls crying drags me up the stairs against my will. I can't not go to them. The husband is just as weak. He is hot on my tail with drinks, favourite teddies, Charlie cloths and Nelsons Teether sachets.

Stopping drinks before bedtime is an impossibility in our house. I sincerely hope my kids curb their enthusiasm of downing a pint so quickly before they hit their teens. To deny them a drink seems positively cruel. I know too, that by giving them a bottle in the night, we may be programming their little bodies to need a bottle in the night - but if we give them a bottle... they go to sleep again!

Tommee Tippee is our friend. If we'd had a son, I may well have named him after the genius bringing of sleep. I may make an arty statue out of the old bottles one day, in homage to him (If we ever ever stop using them that is).

As for the co-sleeping issue... We've just ordered a Super King Size bed, so when they five of us are all in together, we might have a fraction more space to thrash about and punch one another in. I think that shows our attitude to co-sleeping. If it means we get some sleep, we are all for it.

So addicted to sleep are we, we will even wedge ourselves into a toddler bed to get some. I've even been known to nod off sat inside a travel cot. I don't care. I'm not ashamed. I love sleep! I don't want to hunch over a bed or cot, trying to soothe someone else to sleep. I lead by example. I get right on in the bed/cot too and give them them a real life demonstration on how to nod off.

Over the years, lovely, (in case they read this) well-meaning friends have started many sleep related conversations with "What you two need to do is... " and proceeded to give us unwanted, unsolicited advice which we have no intention of following. We've tried, tested, and failed it all.

If anyone ever asks my advice on sleeping (The scary dark circles under my eyes make this a rare occurrence), I tell them to do whatever works for them. And this is what I tell myself.... My children will all sleep through the night at some point.

One day they will realise they are not farm animals who need to wake us at dawn. We will need an alarm clock in our lives again one day. The ongoing game of musical beds we started all those years ago will end one day I am going to "Oversleep" again.