Today is a momentous day. Why? Because my husband and I got to sleep in until 5.45am! ‘That’s not a sleep in’ I hear you say. Well, it is for us!
Over the past four months, things have been tough, my husband and I have literally been walking zombies giving each other no more than a grunt to say hello or goodbye and having no adult conversation in the evening because one or both of us were already asleep on the couch at 8pm.
For some strange reason (well it was strange to us) our son went from being the perfect sleeper, self settling at 7pm every night and waking around 6am, to requiring help to fall asleep and waking at 4am! Little did we know then that what we had was bliss.
It all started last year; it was discovered that our son had mild hearing loss and would require surgery to remove his adenoids and insert grommets. The surgery went well, but his sleep did a complete back flip straight after his surgery. Self settling was a thing of the past and he decided that 4am was the new waking hour and playtime. There was only so much we could take of this early waking.
We persisted and persisted. I went on forums, I asked friends, I asked the playgroup mums, I posted on social media, and asked family ‘what can we do to make our toddler sleep past 4am?’ As much as we appreciated the suggestions, we’d tried them all without success. We’d tried the block out curtains, going to bed earlier, going to bed later, perhaps he was hungry, perhaps he was cold or too hot? Perhaps the night light was too bright or too dim. Perhaps now that he could hear, the birds were too noisy in the morning. Maybe he was thirsty, perhaps his nappy was too full and we should change it again before bed, and the list went on. We just couldn’t figure it out, and we were baffled because since his surgery, we had not done anything different to our routine.
Day time sleeps were a bit hit and miss in terms of how long and when or if they’d happen, but soon fell back into routine where he’d have a huge stretch of sleep – usually three hours! This was bliss for me; I could get so many things done in this time. But after reading up on toddler sleep, it dawned on me just the other day (who knows why it took so long for the alarm bells to ring) that he was getting too much sleep during the day. I figured that if he was going to sleep around 7pm at night he was getting 9 hours plus 3 hours in the day, that’s 12 hours total, about the average amount a 2 year old needs! So I relinquished the extra hour that I would usually have up my sleeve and decided to wake him from his day sleep after 2 hours. He didn’t like it and took a while to wake up, but he generally continued the day well. I knew it would take at least a few days of doing this for it to sink in and for him to possibly start waking later in the morning.
And voila! On the second day my son woke at 5.45am, and it happened the third day and the fourth. I’m so frustrated with myself that it took me this long to figure it out considering it was something so simple. Over time, it seems that his little body just didn’t need as much sleep anymore and he was compensating for it during the day; it just so happens that this stage in his development coincided with his surgery. Waking him up after 2 hours lets him know that he can’t make up for waking so early during the day. And I might be going a little crazy from this most glorious breakthrough, but I’m almost certain he’s entertaining himself much better during the day too because he’s more focused and not over tired or tired from too much sleep, making things a whole lot easier for me.
Oh these little people, they can change overnight and make you feel like you’re going mad, but when you have breakthroughs like this, it’s like you’ve won the lottery (well almost)!