5 Tips to Manage Sleep Deprivation (and Stay Married)

Today, we have a guest post from Gervase Kolmos, a Certified Life coach and the founder of Shiny.Happy.Human. As we approach Valentine’s Day, we thought it would be a good idea to share some tips for how to manage sleep deprivation AND your relationship with your spouse at the same time. Be sure to read all the way to bottom to find out how you could win one of Gervase’s Rise and Shine Coaching sessions.

During our first days home with our newborn daughter, my husband and I weren’t really as exhausted as we anticipated. Terrified, anxious and enamored? Yes, yes and yes. But one thing we knew we were going to do right was sleep when the baby slept, just as we’d been instructed (over and over and over). I remember that first day, after placing the sleeping baby in her bassinet around 4pm for the first of many naps, my husband had drawn the curtains and turned out the lights. (No need for me to change because I had slipped into pajamas upon entering the house.) We “went to bed” with our little one and woke for a few hours around 8 pm and just repeated this cycle for a few days. It was Twilight-ish, but I remember thinking (quite pleased) how well-rested and in love with my little family I felt.

My husband and I languished in that surreal stage of parenting for those first few days. And then, he went back to work, and I had an abrupt realization: Adopting the sleeping cycles of a newborn was an unsustainable and unrealistic long-term solution.

Soon after, my warm fuzzies gave way to impatience, resentment towards my husband, and yes, exhaustion. “If I could just have 5 straight hours of sleep,” I started to think. Or, “if [my husband] would just offer to breastfeed at 2AM for once, I might get some shut-eye.” I’m kidding. But, seriously, sleep-deprivation does some crazy things to your brain, and it’s not uncommon to start resenting your other half for things he can or (in this case) cannot do.

Here are some tips to help you manage, assuage and, in some cases, even eliminate the negative effects sleep deprivation can have on your relationship:

  1. Preemptively Discuss: Lack of communication between couples is so often the source of unmet expectations. If you don’t know where your partner stands on taking the midnight baby shift, then that is probably a good place to start a discussion. Have the conversation about what you each expect your days and nights during those first 6 months to look like. That way, if you are on different pages, you can correct that ASAP. (As in, if he or she is NOT onboard with helping with midnight shifts, you can swiftly explain why they need to be.)
  2. Lean on Each Other: As mothers we tend to do the whole Mother Teresa thing and take all the parenting responsibilities on our shoulders because a) our husbands won’t do it right, b) we do it better than our husbands, or c) our husbands won’t do it right. Marriage is a partnership that is best maximized when you LEAN on each other. When you are stretching yourself too thin and the effects of exhaustion are really spilling over into your marriage, this is the time to lean on into your other half. Put him in charge while you take a nap, go out with girl friends or hit your yoga mat. He already feels helpless if you’re breastfeeding and/or doing the bulk of the parenting, and he is looking to you for his parenting cue. Give it to him. It will boost his confidence and practice and give you a much-needed break.
  3. Look at Each Other: This may sound crazy, but when you have a newborn, you literally spend HOURS staring at your new bundle of joy and no one else. (It’s weird. I know.) I remember when our little one was weeks old and I was having a rare moment alone with my husband. He leaned his face in to give me a kiss and I screamed, “Your face is huge!” This is hilarious, and also really quite sad. It had been weeks since I’d really looked at the love of my life with the same attention and affection I was lavishing on our newborn. Try to make even a few minutes each day to look at and really see your partner. It’s okay if he’s taken a backseat to the baby during this time, but don’t forget the (very normal) size of his face. Yes, you can go to sleep immediately following this exercise.
  4. Take Turns Sleeping In: When you’re awoken at 2AM, it’s acceptable to feel tired and groggy, but what about when you’re woken again at 6AM, and it’s time for you to start the day? Personally, I would rather wake up at 2AM and sleep til 8AM (if we’re getting wild). This is why my hubs and I started taking turns religiously on weekend mornings when our daughter was young. What was the point of both of us waking exhausted at 6AM, when one of us could just as easily do it and the other could feel the long-forgotten bliss of sleeping til the sun was up? If it’s your turn to wake with the babe, make it count. Let your partner sleep til 10 if they need to. Because guess what? It’s your turn tomorrow! YAYYYYY!!!
  5. Tapping Out: This particular technique developed when my hubs and I were in the throes of exhaustion. On those days when you are sleeping standing up and so deadbeat tired that you want to bawl your eyes out—tap out. Tapping out is an unspoken rule that gives you full permission to take a nap with zero guilt tripping, explaining or consequences when you wake. It should be reserved for very extreme emergencies and it is definitely reciprocal. It implies “it’s your turn next,” and also “I love you. I’m sorry. Thank you.” You will see positive effects of this free pass on your relationship, your parenting and your energy levels. The gratitude I feel for my husband when he “allows” me (because he has no choice, because like I said this is an unwritten rule) to tap out on a rough day, fuels my happy marriage and motherhood for far longer than another sleepless night.

What relationship tips do you have for how to survive sleep deprivation?

042114_Gervase_026Gervase is a Certified Life Coach and the founder of Shiny. Happy. Human. She gets fired up about empowering new moms and newlyweds to boldly design THEIR happy. She is an excellent secret keeper and a professional cat-napper and believes her relationships are her best assets. Say Hi to her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Gervase is giving away a Rise & Shine Coaching Session to one Baby Sleep Site reader. The Rise and Shine Coaching Session is for you if you’re feeling called to RISE to a particular challenge—whether personal or professional—and lacking the luster (i.e. motivation & accountability) to get it done. We’ll polish you off and send you shining on your way with this one-time 75-minute session, designed to help you make progress in an area of your life that is requiring a wake-up call. (Value $90) Enter below for your chance to win! Accepting entries today through 11:59 pm ET, February 16,2015. Open to entrants worldwide.

Celebrating Our Newest Arrival with a Giveaway!

Newborn Sleep eBook GiveawayHave you heard the news? On Tuesday, we unveiled the newest addition to our Baby Sleep Site® family of products: 4 Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep. Written specifically for parents of newborns and young infants, this book is designed to help parents create healthy baby sleep habits right from the start.

It may be a bit of an understatement to say that we’re excited about our newest e-Book. Truth is, all of us are absolutely thrilled that we can finally put this awesome resource into the hands of our Baby Sleep Site® parents.

In fact, we’re so thrilled, we decided we had to celebrate. And what better way to celebrate than to host a giveaway? :) That’s right — a brand-new e-book AND fabulous prizes! So enter today, using the widget below (and also on our Facebook Page). We will be accepting entries from today through Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 8:59 pm EST.

Ready for the details? Check out the list below for a description of the prizes we are giving away in celebration or our new e-Book.

Grand Prize- Newborn e-Book Bundle (a $99 value)

Newborn eBook Bundle GiveawayBecause all of us here at The Baby Sleep Site® know first-hand just how exhausting and overwhelming the newborn stage can be, we created a bundle package that includes a copy of the e-Book, 4 Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep, PLUS a Basic E-Mail Consultation. With this bundle package, you get all the helpful, hands-on information in the book as well as a Personalized Sleep Plan™, created specifically for your newborn. At $99, this bundle package is already a great deal. But an even better deal? Winning it in our giveaway! One winner will receive the 4 Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep Bundle Package. (Please Note: If you already have an account, your account will be credited. This prize is available to entrants worldwide.)

$75 Amazon Gift Card

amazon-GCEvery mom and dad deserve a little shopping spree now and then — and we are doing our part to make that happen! One winner will receive an Amazon gift card worth $75, to use toward any Amazon.com online purchase. The Amazon gift card is available to both U.S. and international contestants where Amazon is available.

5 Copies of Our Newborn E-Book

Essential Keys to Your Newborn's Sleep5 lucky winners will receive an instant download of our newest e-Book, 4 Essential Keys to Your Baby’s Sleep. This fantastic resource is packed full of information that all parents of newborns and young infants will benefit from, such as:

  • tips and special help on feeding (both breast and bottle) from Miriam, our lactation consultant.
  • suggested routines for promoting sleep.
  • guidelines to help you decode your baby’s cries, and advice on how to cope with fussiness and colic.
  • sample daily sleep and feeding schedules, for both breastfed and formula fed babies.

The E-Book is available in your choice of formats: PDF, Kindle, Nook, or iPad.

Remember, the deadline to enter is 8:59 pm EST on Thursday, October 24, 2013. So don’t wait; enter now!

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Labor Day Scavenger Hunt and a Giveaway!

Baby Sleep Site Labor Day Giveaway

It’s that time of year again! Here in the U.S., the days are just a bit shorter and those of us with school aged kids are in the throes of Back to School. Here at The Baby Sleep Site™, we have a tradition of celebrating the upcoming Labor Day Weekend with a giveaway – a bit of a last summer HURRAH! Just because fall is right around the corner, we don’t think the fun has to end. With that in mind, we are having the first ever Baby Sleep Site™ Scavenger Hunt and Giveaway!

For this Scavenger Hunt, you will be hunting for the fun, summer-inspired images shown below. As you hunt for the images, be sure to note their location. Then come back to this page and enter the location where you found at least *THREE* of the images into the Rafflecopter widget below. This will enter you to win a variety of prizes, including a Grand Prize of a $250 Amazon Gift Card!

The Details

1. Throughout the site, we have hidden the images below:


2. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to try to…
a) find at least three of these images,
b) note the title of the page where you found the image, and
c) enter the location of each into the Rafflecopter widget below.

For 5 particular images, you have a chance to win additional and immediate prizes and bonus items. You can hunt for any or ALL of the following:

These immediate downloads and bonuses are in addition to entering for a chance to win one of the prizes listed below.

The Prizes

Winners for the prizes listed below will be randomly selected from those who correctly enter the location of three of the images.

Grand Prize- $250 Gift Card to Amazon

The Grand Prize Winner of the Labor Day Scavenger Hunt will win a $250 Gift Card to Amazon. Amazon gift cards can be used to easily order online from a huge selection of items. *Please note* The Grand Prize is available to all entrants where Amazon is available.

Baby Shusher


The Baby Shusher™ has been called a “Sleep Miracle” and was created by real parents with a genuine passion to help babies sleep.

This is a doctor-approved and thoroughly tested technique designed to break a baby’s cry spell and engage their natural calming reflex. The rhythmic shush reminds baby of being inside mom, where they were inundated 24 hours a day with loud sounds of blood flow and other in utero noises (up to 85 dBs, or the sound of a very loud vacuum cleaner). What may sound harsh at first is actually very calming to a baby. The Baby Shusher™ has two timer options, 15 and 30 minutes. It also easily attaches to car seat, stroller, swing or crib and works for newborns and up.

You can read more on the Baby Shusher website, or you can purchase one directly if you don’t want to wait to see if you’ve won!

10 lucky winners will each receive a Baby Shusher. *This prize is available to U.S. and International entrants.

Tuck Me In! Book

Tuck-Me-In-smallTuck Me In! by Dean Hacohen, is the irresistable, best-selling, interactive bedtime book that was an Oprah 2012 favorite. The stars are out. The moon is rising. All the baby animals, from peacocks to pigs to zebras, are ready for bed. Will you tuck them in and say good night? Just turn the pages and the big inviting flaps that serve as blankets cover each little creature up to its chin. This simple but endlessly satisfying novelty, with its array of goggle-eyed baby animals, bold patterns, and vibrant colors, is sure to be the book of choice for little ones everywhere, night after night.

Based on the idea that kids are more receptive to being tucked in if they first get to tuck in others, Tuck Me In! has been published in multiple languages and has been delighting little ones and their parents all over the world.

Find out more about Tuck Me In!

3 tucked in

5 winners will receive a copy of Tuck Me In! *This prize is available to U.S. and Canadian entrants.

Let’s Get Started!

The Labor Day Scavenger Hunt begins today through 11:59 pm EST, September 2, 2013.

**Here’s a hint to get to you started:**
If you don’t have time to hunt, maybe you can SCHEDULE a time later to do it.

Day 2 Hint
Baby slept like a dream for the first 3 months, but at 4 months old, no more!

Day 3 Hint
If your baby won’t nap, you’d probably search for this article to find out why.

Day 4 Hint
Ten fingers, ten toes, 10 tips for helping baby sleep.

Day 5 Hint
Rocking, swinging, pacifier, feeding…when baby depends on these to go to sleep, then it can be a problem.

Day 6 Hint
The 4 month sleep regression was hard, but now baby is 9 months old and it’s happening again!

Day 7 Hint
Your toddler may be able to count to 5 but do you know these 5 things that might be affecting her sleep?

Check back daily on The Baby Sleep Site Facebook page or follow The Baby Sleep Site on Twitter where we’ll be posting additional hints!

Happy Hunting!

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Helping Toddlers Better Understand How to Sleep and a Giveaway!

YellowFishAsleep_1000x1000Greetings from ZAZOO KiDS! We are so pleased to be here on The Baby Sleep Site® today. We have long admired The Baby Sleep Site community for their values that run so parallel to our own: good sleep, for the entire family, is an important piece of the path to happy, healthy lives.

One prevalent piece of the parenthood discussion is the challenge that surrounds newborn and infant sleep schedules. New mothers and fathers are counseled from every angle on how to best help their newborn babies sleep through the night, as quickly as possible. We have noticed, however, that the conversation often ends there. But as every parent knows, all infants become toddlers, and often, bedtime difficulties continue coming up well into childhood.

Toddlers are in a period of discovery and sometimes they just want to keep playing and learning – past their bedtime. Often, toddlers who suffer from chronic ear infections or other health issues develop a habitual tendency to wake up through the night, even after they have healed. Toddlers are also at a developmental point that invites separation anxiety and night terrors into their sleep lives. While the things that cause infants to wake up are usually rooted in survival –like hunger or pain – toddlers have reached a different stage and should be treated accordingly.

Some parents even express, incredulously, that their toddlers seemed to sleep much better when they were babies. There is good news, however, to pair with these challenges. Along with the toddler’s increased development comes an increased capacity to learn behaviors and expectations. The secret to helping a toddler sleep through the night lies in managing their understanding of sleep expectations and how to meet them.

The tricks to training toddlers in sleep are simpler than you might imagine.

Consistent naptimes. Consistent bedtimes.

Toddlers have a biological clock just like their parents, and sticking to the same times for sleep every day helps their minds understand when to relax and fall into slumber. Consistency is everything.

Cold water.

Give your toddlers a glass of water to keep by their bedside, and teach them that if they are having trouble falling back to sleep, a refreshing sip of it will do the trick. They will learn this habit and administer it to themselves – while you sleep through the night.

The Bedtime Routine.

You have heard this before, and not without reason. A bedtime routine helps anyone relax, settle down and prepare the brain for sleep, especially toddlers.

Comfort Objects

We think comfort objects aren’t such a bad idea. With the knowledge that toddlers often suffer from separation anxiety, why not allow them to have a comforting blanket or stuffed animal next to them in the dark hours of the morning?

Clock Training.

Owls_GNgirl_1000x1000 (2)At ZAZOO, we have created a business around the need for kids (and their parents) to sleep better. Consider using our clock to help your child sleep through the night. It shows children the time, even before they can understand it, but quickly switches to an image that is easily recognizable as “awake time” or “rest time.” We find that some kids even take pride in learning to distinguish the correct time, and its associated behavior, all by themselves. The clock enables toddlers to meet sleep expectations with visual guidance.

The ZAZOO Photo Clock is best introduced between the ages of 18 and 36 months, depending on the child’s developmental status and maturity level. Their ability to associate the time they see with the image they see will become apparent to you through reading and other activities.

Don’t be alarmed if you try the clock and your child doesn’t show interest; instead, change the settings. The clock is designed to be personalized – upload family photos and favorite songs to make it engaging, and use creative approaches like making the “rest time” image a picture of the child using it!

Incorporate the Photo Clock into your child’s life at nighttime, when it’s meant to be used. Review what the images mean together as if you are reading a bedtime story, and make it part of the regular bedtime routine. Ask your child to verbally repeat to you what the “sun photo” means, for example, by saying “The sun means it’s okay to get out of bed!” With some practice, you will see great rewards from the Photo Clock – more rest for you and your kids!

If you’re a tired parent struggling with toddler sleep issues, hang in there. There are solutions to your problem and it will get better! We hope these tips, along with our Photo Clock, provide some of the relief that you need. Happy resting!

About ZAZOO KiDS: The award-winning ZAZOO Photo Clock is an innovative sleep solution for children who wake up too early or don’t stay in bed all night. The contemporary ZAZOO Photo Clock lets your child know it’s time to wake when the sun is displayed and time to stay in bed when the moon is displayed. There is even a convenient nap-time setting.

Parents can use the pre-programmed image options or easily personalize the awake and asleep images. Ensuring years of use, the ZAZOO Photo Clock includes features such as: rotating photo frame, music, audio book, alarm clock and video capabilities. The ZAZOO Photo Clock now includes music from children’s artists from coast-to-coast in an amazing 11-song compilation that’s built into the memory of the Photo Clock. Or, upload your own tunes or audiobooks.

ZAZOO KiDS has kindly offered to giveaway one of their photo clocks to a Baby Sleep Site reader. See below for the options for entering the giveaway.

You can enter the giveaway today through 8:59 pm EST on August 18, 2013. *Open to US Entrants Only.

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5 Ways To Help Your Child Feel Empowered Rather than Frightened by Bad Dreams

The following is a guest post from Martha Heineman Pieper, Ph.D. Please see below for more information about Dr. Pieper plus a giveaway!

cover mdihabd-1When your child runs into your room in the night chased by bad dreams, he is frightened not only by the bad dreams, which seem utterly real to him, but also by the conviction that he is at the mercy of these dreams. This helpless feeling often makes children afraid of bedtime, with the result that children and parents miss out on much-needed sleep.

Unfortunately the advice parents are usually given – to tell the child the dream isn’t “real” and to show the child that there is nothing hiding under the bed or in the closet – doesn’t help and, in fact, ensures that the child will reawaken parents on a regular basis. Dreams are very real to children, and when parents try to convince them otherwise, children feel misunderstood or, worse, inadequate because they remain fearful in spite of parents’ reassurances. That monster may not be under the bed now, but it could come back as soon as parents leave the room and it was certainly there before because the child “saw” it. The result is that children continue to feel terrified by their bad dreams, which sends them running into their parents’ room night after night.

The solution is to help children understand that they have created their bad dreams out of anxious, angry, or disappointed feelings from the previous day. Making this connection empowers children. They start thinking of dreams as puzzles they can solve rather than as torture they must endure.

Interpreting children’s dreams is not terribly difficult because children’s dreams are usually fairly transparent. Bad dreams are an attempt to deal with lingering emotional upsets. So the best way to help a child who has had a bad dream is to explain that, “Dreams are stories we tell ourselves for a reason. We just have to understand the reason.” Once children understand that they are the authors of their bad dreams, they can enthusiastically engage in connecting the dream with losses that are still bothering them. Eventually, they can learn to make sense of dreams on their own and often are able to put themselves back to sleep without having to awaken their parents.

Typically any experience that makes children sad, angry, or worried can cause bad dreams. Examples are everyday unpleasantness such as sibling rivalry, the flu, a spat with a friend, a negative teacher, and disagreements with parents over bedtime. Or the dreams may be caused by more traumatic occurrences, such as parental divorce, a grave illness in the family, or the death of a pet. Parents are amazed to find that when they ask children what might be bothering them, children over three can usually identify a worry or loss that parents can connect with the bad dream. To illustrate, one three-year-old was devastated when he dreamt that his beloved dog was licking him in a very painful manner. He couldn’t understand why his pet would want to hurt him. He ran to his parents, who asked if he could think of something upsetting that had happened that day. Their son remembered that he had fallen at school and badly skinned his leg. Once the child saw the connection he had made in the dream between the upset he had felt at the pain of the skinned knee and the discomfort of the dog’s rough tongue, he laughed and said, “I knew Patsy would never hurt me!” and went back to bed happy and comfortable.

Parents are often surprised at how enthusiastically children engage in the process of connecting their bad dreams to events from the day before. Children love a puzzle and they want to feel in charge rather than victimized. This active approach to identifying the causes of bad dreams will ensure that both children and parents will get more sleep.

It is also true that children may have fewer bad dreams altogether if parents regularly ask them at bedtime if they have any leftover bothersome feelings from that day. The experience of having a caring and sympathetic ear to tell their troubles to may be all that is needed to prevent children’s troubles from reappearing in disguised form in a bad dream.

The Most Helpful Responses to Children Who Have Bad Dreams:

  • Do ask them at bedtime if they are bothered by something that happened that day.
  • Don’t try to convince them their bad dreams aren’t “real.”
  • Do explain that they are the authors of their dreams.
  • Do help them to connect the dream with upset feelings from the day before.
  • Always offer a big hug and a snuggle when they come to you with a bad dream.

Do you remember nightmares as a child and your parent’s response to them? Is your child having nightmares? Share your story!

Martha Heineman Pieper, Ph.D., has spent over thirty-five years treating children, adolescents, and adults; counseling parents; supervising psychotherapists; and consulting with mental health clinics and preschools. Recently she wrote the award-winning children’s picture book, Mommy, Daddy, I Had a Bad Dream (www.smartlovepress.com) for ages three and up to help parents and children respond constructively to children’s bad dreams. Joey, a bouncy kangaroo has a series of bad dreams which his parents lovingly help him to understand until, by the last one, he is able to understand why he had it and to go back to bed feeling comforted and in charge.

Dr. Pieper co-authored with William J. Pieper, MD the bestselling parenting book: Smart Love: The Comprehensive Guide to Understanding, Regulating, and Enjoying Your Child. The Piepers also co-authored the popular adult self-help book, Addicted to Unhappiness and for ten years wrote the parenting column, “Smart Love,” in Chicago Parent. Dr. Pieper received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Her work is the inspiration for Smart Love Family Services (www.smartlovefamily.org) which provides a broad spectrum of services to children and families, including counseling services, parent education, toddler programs, and a preschool.

Dr. Pieper has been kind enough to offer 5 copies of her book for a giveaway for our readers. We will be randomly selecting 5 readers to win either a hard copy or a Kindle copy of “Mommy, Daddy, I Had a Bad Dream.” You can read more about this book on Dr. Pieper’s Book website.

We will be accepting entries from today through 8:59 pm EST, July 27, 2013.

(*Please note that this giveaway is open to US and international entrants.)

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