© 2019 by Dale Allen Berg

2020 Twenty: Get 8 Hours of Sleep



A popular topic with new parents is, if and when their child sleeps through the night. We love to discuss the sleeping habits of our children with other parents. But when was the last time YOU slept through the night?!?


For some of you (probably those of you without any kids) it was last night. I know this. You may have inadvertently reminded me of this as you signed off at 8PM telling me that 6AM arrives fast, so you need to get your 10 hours of sleep in. I then spend the next few hours battling my own bitterness and jealousy as the end of my day is no where in sight.


I just have to say that having one kid was so easy. And I know I've gotten into trouble for saying this before, but its true. Obviously there are aspects of having ANY amount of kids - even just one - that are difficult and challenging at times, but for this topic specifically I'm prepared to go down with my statement. And here's why...


Because I was an arrogant douche when I just had one kid too. Liam began sleeping through the night around 6-8 weeks old. I was dumbfounded. This was NOT what everyone told me to expect. You know the most common greeting for a first time parent, right?


"Ahh... you're a first time parent, hey? How much do you miss sleep? HAHA!"

To which I would say... "not at all, we all slept for 10 hours last night". It was so easy. It was fun. All around Liam was a dream. And unfortunately I may have been a little too arrogant about that fact. However, when everyone warned me "just wait until you have two", I humbly accepted it and braced for the glass ceiling to break.


And it did. The spring of 2016 would be the last time I slept through the night. For the past three and half years, I've averaged 4 hours of interrupted sleep per night. The worst night being only 90 minutes long, and the best night I've had since child number two, AND three showed up, was 6 hours. The heart attack I had when I woke up, thinking I had missed something, or that my kids had been neglected and ignored almost ruined it for me.


I don't remember much of the first two years, but my body has some pretty stiff muscle memory of the schedule and routine we've developed in the last two.


Liam still sleeps through the night. He gets sick some nights, and occasionally sleep walks... but for the most part I put him down around 8:00PM and he sleeps through till 7:00AM. Ethan has gone down at roughly the same time, but has needed me to co-sleep with him until he falls asleep. Then he wakes up at 10:30PM, 12:15AM and one final time at 2:00AM. It's like clockwork. So I've had to choose... do I go to bed, knowing I'm going to be woken up three times... or do I just stay up?


But wait... there's one more kid.


Madison has Rett Syndrome, as you're fully aware, and a very common symptom is sleep disturbance. Madison's form of this, is GETTING to sleep. Once she's sleeping, she's gone, but it often takes... (brace for it)... UP TO FOUR HOURS to put her to bed. I have tried to get her to bed immediately after the boys are gone - around 8:30PM or 9:00PM - and often I'm still rocking her, cuddling with her, burping her, singing to her, etc. at 1:00AM. And don't forget, during that all, I have to set her down at 10:30PM and 12:15AM to tend to Ethan, often waking her up even more, leaving me to start over.


And then Liam emerges from his room around 7:00AM and we get to start all over again!


I haven't slept through the night in almost four years.

But then near the end of November or maybe at the beginning of December something happened.... the stars aligned, and just out of the blue everyone slept through the night. Well, everyone except for me. I stayed up all night waiting... listening... checking on them...


Christmas holidays upset things a bit, but I've gotten everyone back into routine and we've already had multiple nights here in January where everyone has been sleeping between 10PM and 7AM. NINE CONSECUTIVE HOURS! No sounds. No wake ups. No stuck burps. No co-sleeping. Just silence.


This is my year. This goal is within sight. I now need to adjust my own routine, knowing all the overnight demands on me are fading away. But, it's going to happen. Well if my body lets it happen. I'm afraid my body won't let me sleep for eight hours, because it's so ingrained in me to be up. But can you imagine what I'm going to be able to accomplish after getting a full night of sleep? I'll be invincible! Okay, that might be a stretch... but it's sure going to feel good.