The dreaded “sleep regression”

Sleep regression

If, like me, you read your share of parenting books/site, you’ll know the term experts like to use is “sleep regression”. Supposedly, they happen at fairly predictable times. There’s the 4-6 month sleep regression, the 8-10 month sleep regression and the 18 month sleep regression. Personally, I hate the term. It’s as if the people who call it that have no experience with an actual baby, or parenthood, or sleep deprivation.

Harley hasn’t been a bad sleeper. I’ve heard such horror stories, I really can’t complain. From a relatively early age, she would sleep for 2-3 hours at a time, slowly extended to 3, 4, 5, 6 and eventually 8 hours of sleep. It was glorious. And then it was snatched away from me. For the past week or two, Harley has been refusing to nap, or fighting her naps so much that they’re almost impossible. You’d think that would leave her exhausted at night, but nope! Instead, she is up more frequently than she’s been in months. Obviously, this is taking its toll.

I know it’s temporary. I know she will go back to her normal sleep cycle. But it’s so hard not knowing WHY she just won’t sleep. Why is she waking up so much? Is it teething, or stomach cramps? And why does she wake up so upset? She will wake up in the middle of the night with a piercing scream instead of her usual little hungry whimpers. I’ll hold her, and before I can even offer the boob, she’s back to sleep. Was it a bad dream? A weird cramp? Some strange form of mid-sleep separation anxiety? Last night, I ended up sleeping on the couch with her in my arms for the last hour or so before I had to wake up so that I could at least get some rest.

I was worried about sleep before Harley arrived. Before baby, I was a solid sleeper – you know, one of those irritating people who can fall asleep at the drop of a hat and sleep for 7-8 hours. I liked my sleep, and I was worried about the effects of sleep deprivation. I knew it would be a reality and I’d cope. But things were getting better; Harley was sleeping through the night AND having two solid naps. And now… she seems to be fueled by breastmilk and adrenaline. It isn’t too bad yet – a couple of rough nights of sleep are doable, and my tolerance for sleep deprivation has improved. But I see myself getting irritable, and down, and frustrated simply because I’m tired. I want to have the energy to play with her, to have fun with her, to be the kind of mommy it’s important to me to be. I found myself getting down watching a series I love, or irritable because it didn’t make financial sense to buy a game I’ve been looking forward to. Sure, I experience those kinds of feelings from time to time, but not like this.

I know I’m bad with routine, that I let her nap at the “wrong” times. But please, please tell me how you got your kids on the right side of the clock? How did you get them to deal with sleep regressions? Or is it just a phase you have to survive and they go back to normal in a few days/weeks? Meanwhile, my Kenyan coffee needs to get way more affordable at the rate I’m going to need to chug it down.


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  • Alex Hicks

    I wish I could help. One of my twins still struggles to sleep, although there are extenuating circumstances. Doesn’t make it easier – I haven’t slept through the night for more than a few days consecutively since they were born in 2008.

    We tried quite a few different techniques, and my only take away from it all is that there isn’t a single solution that works for everyone. Although, I would make sure it isn’t teething issues – that can be solved, or at least mitigated.

    • Zoe Hawkins

      yeah, been giving her panado for the teething although that doesn’t really seem to be helping with the sleep. but at least I know she’s not in pain, so that’s a good thing.

  • I wish I had a solution for you. We just carried on as best we could, and made sure we stuck to the bedtime routine even though the nap one went out the window. It’s another one of those parenting moments where the annoying, “This too shall pass” is the only thing we got *sigh*.

    • Zoe Hawkins

      At least it will pass eventually. Just need to get through the next while until she remembers how to sleep… i hope.