Why won’t she sleep…Living with sleep deprivation!

Why won’t she sleep…Living with sleep deprivation!

Even before I became pregnant I knew that sleepless nights came with having a baby, it wasn’t something that I really gave much thought about, I just knew I would be up at night feeding my newborn baby.

When Alice arrived I was breastfeeding her and therefore all night feeds were done by me and I was ok with that. My nights would be spent feeding Alice and browsing the internet, buying things at 2am and then forgetting I had done it until the parcel arrived…there were a lot of parcels, oops!

After about two months of very regular night feeds, we got into a pattern, I would dream feed Alice at 10.30pm, what a great concept this is, it was my favourite feed of the day. Then she would go through to 5am and then I would give her a feed and back to sleep she went until 8am.

I actually really liked this pattern, and I didn’t feel sleep deprived. Then on Boxing day night, when Alice was four months old, she went through the night. There are lots of different interpretations of ‘sleeping through the night’, this is mine…Alice would have a feed at 7pm, I would dream feed her at 10.30pm and she would sleep until 7am/7.30am.

I didn’t do anything to make this happen, she just dropped the 5am feed and would wake up slightly earlier in the morning. This became our normal and yes, there were nights where she would randomly wake up and we would be walking around the house with her trying anything to get her back to sleep. But, generally we didn’t hear from her.

Alice loved to sleep, before she could talk, she would point at the stairs asking to go for her nap or to bed at night. She just knew when she was tired and wanted to go to sleep. I know I was lucky!

This was her sleep pattern until she was 2 years and nine months old and then everything changed…

By now, our little Holly had arrived, she was nine months old at this point and had never slept through the night. Holly would wake up once, have a quick feed and go back to sleep. It was manageable and I didn’t feel too sleep deprived with it.

So, what changed? Alice started waking up at night and would come looking for me and she did this more than once a night and she did it every night.

Why? I don’t know for sure because that is the thing with children sometimes you just never understand why things are happening. I believe it’s because we went away on a short break and at bedtime Alice was a bit unsure about being on her own to go to sleep and she asked me to sit with her. Which of course I did, what mother wouldn’t sit with their child if they were a bit scared in a new environment.

Alice went to sleep within minutes and it didn’t feel like a big thing, I did this for the three nights we were away.

When we returned home Alice asked me to sit with her like I had on holiday, we were all tired and I just did it, without thinking it through. Looking back now, I probably should have said that she didn’t need mummy now we were back in her lovely safe bedroom…but hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Then every time Alice would disturb during the night, which everyone naturally does, she would see that I was not sat there and would come and find me, asking me to sit in her room. This would happen about three or four times a night, every night.

I was also getting up at least once with Holly and I was exhausted, I have not felt tiredness like it before. Some nights I was lucky if I got two or three hours of broken sleep and most nights I was so exhausted that I would fall asleep on Alice’s floor. I even hid a little blanket under her bed, so I wouldn’t get cold.

During these months I really struggled, I was exhausted every day and had my two girls to look after every day. I used to just exist, I wasn’t living. I would crawl over the line every Friday night, knowing that I could have a bit of lie in at the weekend when Andy was home. I felt like I was running on empty most of the time.

I got into a pattern of once I had fed Holly, the next time Alice woke up, I would just go and sleep on her floor because at least then I was getting some sleep. This did nothing for my back and I would be in pain a lot of the time.

The lack of sleep really changed how I was as a mummy, I had such little energy, that I was not doing things that we normally love to do, like baking with Alice. Before we would go out in the morning and in the afternoon, but now I could only manage to go out in the mornings and would just flop in the afternoons and let the girls play around me.

I became ‘shouty mum’, something that I had never been before, I had very little patience and I just felt on a short fuse all the time.

Waking up so many times in the night, was affecting Alice too, her temperament was different and she too was not full of energy. Together we were not a good combination.

I would spend hours pouring over the internet looking for ways to make this all stop and to get Alice back to sleeping all night long. But there is no magical answer, no quick fix.

We brought a Gro Clock, but that would work for one night and then not again. We tried leaving her door open and the bathroom light on, again that worked for three nights….yes three nights in a row and then not again.

My best week of sleep, was when we went on holiday because Alice had twin beds in her room and on the first occasion she would wake up, I would go and lie on the other bed and fall asleep. She would then sleep for the rest the night, but as much as it is tempting to put a spare bed in Alice’s room, I know that isn’t the answer.

Some days, when it hasn’t been too bad that night, I think it won’t last forever it’s just a phase and I’m sure it will stop at some point. Then on other days, when I am so tired I can barely stay awake, I would shout at Andy ‘we can’t go on like this’.

I know that me siting by her bed, was probably the reason for it, and that I needed to stop doing it, to see if it made a difference and if Alice was our only child I probably would have done it sooner. But because I didn’t know how Alice would react and I didn’t want her to wake up Holly, I carried on with the easy option or at least the quieter option.

But, the time came where I thought I have to try and stop this. We planned it when Andy had a couple of days off work, just in case the whole house was up all night!

I told Alice a few times during the day, that mummy was no longer going to sit by her bed, but I would sit outside her door. She seemed to accept this and even told daddy what was going to happened when he came home from work.

It all went very smoothly, I put Alice to bed and left the room, to sit outside. She went off to sleep, but getting her to sleep has never been a problem. She would always go straight off and we normally wouldn’t hear from her until after midnight, that was when the fun times started!

I was hoping that with me being outside the door, when she woke up during the night, she wouldn’t be expecting to see me there anymore and would just roll over and go back to sleep. How wrong was I, she would get out of bed to check I was still sat outside and when I wasn’t there she would cry for me to come back.

Luckily by now Holly was going through the night, so that was one less wake up. But, there was no sign of things getting better with Alice.

We carried on like this for a few more months, we managed to get her to stop crying out for me, so that Holly wasn’t woken up and instead she would come and look for me in my bedroom.

Sometimes I wish she would just curl up in my bed and go to sleep, but she has never wanted to get in our bed and she would scream as a baby if we even went near it. Which in a way, I guess is a good thing as otherwise that would be my next problem, getting her to sleep in her own bed!

It has got better, I very rarely spend hours sat on our landing wishing Alice to sleep, like I used to. But she does still wake up every night and I have to take her back to bed. The worst nights, are when she wakes at 4am and she can’t get back off to sleep, those days are not pretty.

As we are approaching nearly a year of Alice waking up every night, it doesn’t feel like a phase, but I still go to bed every night hoping that the phase has ended.

But then I hear the tiny sound of her feet coming and I know it hasn’t…

I know it won’t last forever and I am getting more sleep than I was, so I am less shouty mummy. But, for now this is our life and it’s tough.




Cuddle Fairy


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  1. 05/04/2016 / 09:14

    I feel for you Hun. I would have written a post myself last night about trying to get more sleep, if I hadn’t have had to come to bed really early because I had a migraine from sleep deprivation! I lay in bed with Mabel and cuddle her to sleep every night. Sometimes she wakes up and sometimes she doesn’t but if she does then she has to come in with us. It’s not ideal at all but at the moment that’s the way it is. Greta is the same except she is happy with Daddy so it doesn’t always have to be me. I don’t know what the answer is, I don’t know if there is one, weight have to try and cope with is. I know exactly what you mean about how it effects you though. I find it so frustrating that I’m half the mum I know I could be if I just got a full nights sleep.

    • 05/04/2016 / 21:57

      Thank you hun, isn’t it tough? It affects the whole family when sleep doesn’t happen. We have good days and bad days, but even the good days involved at least one wake up! Sending sleepy thoughts to you and hope one day we can all sleep!!!

  2. 05/04/2016 / 12:24

    I really feel for you reading this. I feel lucky that we are going through a good phase with Max’s sleeping at the moment (bar any bouts of sickness which throw it out). But he was a bad sleeper from birth to 8 months, and then again but even worse from 11-15 months. Sleep deprivation is awful, and especially when it ends up being for such a long stretch – it puts a cloud over your whole life and it’s really hard not to be Shouty Mum and moody with everyone. I don’t think I have any helpful advice for you, particularly as I’ve only ever dealt with it with the one child, but I really hope things improve for you.

    • 05/04/2016 / 21:55

      Thank you lovely. That is the biggest problem, is that it has been going for so long. Normally these things are in short phases, but we are nearly at a year! x

  3. 05/04/2016 / 13:23

    Oh no, that’s so tough. We’ve not yet started a through the night with our man for more than a day or two at a time – he’s just turned two and seems to wake but go back to sleep easy enough once or twice a night most nights. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have gotten used to having a “good sleeper” and then have the tables turned – especially with two kiddies! Sending all of the caffeine and sleepy thoughts your way, hopefully the end is in sight! Be nice to yourself – sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture so it’s no wonder Shouty Mom makes an appearance every now and again.

    • 05/04/2016 / 21:53

      Thank you lovely, yes I know it won’t last forever, just feels like it when you in the moment x

  4. Dean of Little Steps
    05/04/2016 / 14:47

    Oh no. I feel for you. My daughter is now 5 and I’m ashamed to admit that she doesn’t go through the night without calling for me. Oh there are rare nights when she does fall asleep, but only happens when she’s really tired. I didn’t believe in the letting her cry out technique. Tried it once and couldn’t take it. It works for others, I know. But not for us. All kids are different of course. I keep thinking she’s growing up so fast and the time will come when she won’t even want my company anymore and would prefer her friends. Of course there are stressful days and nights, but most times I enjoy being with her, even at night 😉

    • 05/04/2016 / 21:51

      No need to be ashamed, you are doing what is right for you and your daughter. I’m the same, yes I wish every day she would sleep, but I wouldn’t not be there for her. x

  5. Carrie
    05/04/2016 / 15:24

    I can completely relate to much of this Laura. We haven’t had an easy ride with I’s sleep either. It’s getting much better now but it’s been hard. I feel for you and totally know what you’re going through!

    • 05/04/2016 / 21:49

      Thanks hun. It’s tough isn’t it? I think because she was such a good sleeper, it was a shock and for a long time I couldn’t help think back to how good it was. That feels like a long time ago now! x

      • Carrie
        07/04/2016 / 20:18

        It certainly is tough. With sleep I always think nothing is forever, it always changes, when you’ve got it good it’s always followed by bad patches, but when it’s bad it can only get better!

  6. 05/04/2016 / 23:36

    Oh hun sleep deprivation is the worst I hope that Alice’s sleeping pattern will get better. I am glad that Holly is sleeping through the night though xx

  7. Oh I really feel for you with this – sleep deprivation is complete torture especially when it is so prolonged. We went through a similar phase with Jessica where I would spend hours sitting on her floor every night. Thankfully she will co-sleep but trying to encourage her back into her own bed has been tough. She slept in her own bed on holiday when we shared a room so we rearranged our bedroom to make a family bedroom. It worked for a couple of nights but she will still end up in our bed for part of the night most nights and now Sophie wants to do the same it’s becoming a bit of a tight squeeze and I’m definitely feeling the effects of having less sleep. It’s hard when these things go on long-term and you can’t see that they’ll ever be an end but it sounds like it is getting a little better and hopefully will continue to do so. Hope you manage to find something that works for you and Alice and that you all start getting more sleep soon.

  8. 06/04/2016 / 08:16

    Eeek. Sleep deprivation is so hard. The bad parts of your day feel a million times worse on no sleep. My youngest is a much poorer sleeper than my son was. Still waking more often than not. And sometimes she just screams! I wrote a post ‘Though she be little, she is fierce’ on it! I really hope it improves soon. It *will* improve though I know you must feel like it won’t after so long. Big hugs. #BloggerClubUk

  9. 06/04/2016 / 08:19

    Oh gosh, I really feel for you. I am so thankful mine are older now and sleep through the night no problem, but I remember these days well. It’s not easy, but this too shall pass.

  10. Nichola
    06/04/2016 / 09:44

    Reading your post is quite eye opening for me! At the moment with our 3 month old baby it’s common to think that sleep deprivation won’t last for many more months, but stories like yours are a ‘wake up’ (Sorry couldn’t resist) call to remember that it could be a very sleepy long journey ahead. They say you get used to being sleep, but my husband and I wouldn’t agree with that so far.

    I really hope you start getting more sleep soon!

  11. 06/04/2016 / 16:06

    Oh hun I feel your pain. Josh is 4 months and I’m still trying to work out how to make him sleep a bit longer! I hope Alice improves her sleeping a bit hun. As a fellow sleep deprived mummy feel free to tweet me for middle of the night sympathy ha ha xx #BloggerClubUK

  12. 06/04/2016 / 19:09

    Nothing worse than sleep deprivation! I really feel for you. I struggle to function. We’ve been fairly luckily with Mini R and his sleep but every now and then it goes off track and it’s hard work. Good luck and well done for being amazing #BloggerClubUK

  13. 06/04/2016 / 20:00

    My mummy could have written this post! This was me over Christmas (we were away in a strange place), Jan and Feb. My mummy would sit on my bed, rub my back until I fell asleep. All sleep crutches and sleep assistance for me. I was waking up 3 or 4 times a night for 2 months shouting out for my parents. They were both knackered with this sleep deprived 3 year old and full time working. Something had to stop. So my mum went cold turkey with me for 3 nights. She didn’t come when I cried out, she silently led me back to the bed around 10 times a night. It was really hard and painful for everyone. But it worked. I now self settle and don’t need my mummy anymore to go to sleep. The crying out method is harsh, but it does work in our experience. Xx hang in there #BloggerClubUK

  14. 07/04/2016 / 11:17

    Oh this is the worst! I just can’t function with little sleep – luckily mine have always been good sleepers. Pickle does join me every night to sleep – I do like it though 🙂 Kaz x

  15. 07/04/2016 / 18:57

    Hopefully she will grow out of it, I hope things continue to improve slowly. My nephew hit 11 and stopped sleeping properly and has been suffering with insomnia on and off for a couple of years now. Fortunately he doesn’t need his mum to come sit outside his room. #bloggerclubuk

    • 09/04/2016 / 16:41

      I hope every night that she does, one day I am sure she will!

  16. 08/04/2016 / 22:32

    Oh I have been here. It really isn’t fun and it’s true that sleep deprivation is a form of torture. My son did and still does sleep around 3 or 4 hours. Sending hugs to you all

  17. 08/04/2016 / 23:55

    Aww that sounds really difficult. Both of mine were bad sleepers, especially second, & were hard to get to sleep alone or sleep through until over a year. Eldest has been very good ever since, youngest can still be a bit worse, but both are not really so bad now, but I know good sleepers can suddenly become kids who get up a lot. Interestingly, I was a child who woke up a lot. I didn’t like bed, was scared of the quiet & dark at night time & had bad nightmares. But I was never one for getting out of bed or going to my parents. I would turn my light on & stay up half the night from a young age though! So I was sleep depriving myself & have had bad sleep patterns ever since, so doubt that’s much better! #BloggerClubUK

    • 09/04/2016 / 16:28

      Yes, just when you think you are in a good place, they change and become bad sleepers. I certainly wasn’t expecting it from Alice. I was the same as a child, I would have my quiet toys that I was allowed to play with when I woke up as a child. x

  18. Wow, I really feel for you! It is so hard just to function day to day when you must be feeling so constantly tired. I have a two and a four year old who are now both pretty good sleepers. I remember stages though, when I just couldn’t enjoy my evening because I just knew one of them would be waking up soon and that would be it.
    I’m sure you’ve tried loads of things but a couple of suggestions are:
    – Offer her a reward to not getting out of bed. This sounds like a bribe but it’s not really. Think of an activity or toy that you know she will absolutely love and tell her it’s hers if she can be a big girl and stay in her own bed.
    – My two listen to audio books in bed now and they love it. Occasionally, I will wake up in the early hours and hear Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because my little one has woken up, put on a story, and gone back to bed. Worth a try maybe?
    – I’m sure you do this anyway, but being totally silent and not interacting with her when she comes to your room is really important I think. It’s not easy to do but it might make her see that there is nothing fun about getting up so she may as well stay in bed!
    Good luck and hope things get better soon!

  19. 10/04/2016 / 19:22

    Oh yes that is so tough for you! It does pass but it is so so wearing when you’re in the middle of it. I can sympathise with your post. Well done you for keeping going in such a positive manner:)

    mainy – myrealfairy


  20. 11/04/2016 / 00:06

    Oh bless you I can imagine just how tiring this must be. I’ve always been really lucky with my 2 they’ve had lie ins since they were just a few months old.

    With my eldest’s type 1 diabetes though on the nights when his levels play up I end up sat on his bed trying to force my eyes not go close so I do know how sleep deprivation feels …. really not good. I’m sat on his bed now waiting his his blood levels to reach a safer level so we can both get some sleep!

    Thanks for linking up to #Picknmix
    Stevie x

    • 11/04/2016 / 12:55

      Oh not that is tough for both of you. Sleep deprivation is the worst x

  21. 11/04/2016 / 13:26

    Oh I feel your pain! I had all sorts of sleep issues with my kiddies. It can get really hard though & I know what you mean about becoming shouty mummy. It’s very hard to be patient when you are beyond exhausted. My oldest was a great sleeper & regressed. I put a t-shirt I had worn during the day over his pillow so it smelled like me. I said it was mommy – which sounds silly but it worked. Also, if he woke I’d go in & sit next to him with my back to him. Each night I’d sit further away – eventually I could leave the room after settling him. I ended up doing the same technique with my other two kiddies but it was when they were younger. Good luck to you lovely” Thanks so much for joining us at #bloggerclubuk

    • 11/04/2016 / 21:07

      Thank you lovely. I will give the t-shirt a try, sometimes the things that sound silly end up working x

  22. 11/04/2016 / 16:11

    Oh you poor things, I really feel for you. My son is 10 and after 8 years of being an amazing sleeper, he recently started having anxiety at night time. He couldn’t get to sleep or get back to sleep if he woke in the night for the toilet. He wanted reassurance and if we slept with him, he was fine but we didn’t want to start that game. He’s a lot better now. thank goodness. We found audio books so helpful. My son goes to sleep listening to one, it makes him feel like he has someone with him and takes his mind off trying to ‘get to sleep’. Maybe give it a try. Good luck! xx