When your baby won’t sleep, it can cause a lot of issues for you and your baby. Your baby may be fussier during the day or you may have less patience to cook, clean, or play with your baby. Or, maybe your baby is super happy without sleep, so you let it continue for many weeks, months, or even years!
While many parents wait for their baby to “outgrow” their sleep problems, one thing some may overlook is the impact your baby’s lack of sleep might have on your marriage.
In my 10 years as a sleep consultant, there have been quite a few times parents e-mail us something to the effect “thank you for saving my marriage.” As a wife of 15 years, this is one of the most rewarding e-mails I get! Here are 3 ways your baby’s lack of sleep may be ruining your marriage.
Baby Not Sleeping Means More Marital Arguments
The most obvious impact your baby’s lack of sleep might have is that you may be more irritable. Remember how things your significant other used to do were cute? Now, they might seem really irritating and annoying. Or, remember how it wasn’t a big deal when you had to cook AND do the dishes? And, now, that may anger you and lead to resentment.
You are more likely to argue with your spouse when you’re sleep-deprived. Aside from health problems we could get from not sleeping enough, we are often less patient and moody when we need more sleep.
And, aside from arguing about chores that didn’t get done, we are more likely to argue about how to fix the baby’s sleep problems, too. For example, you may want to use a gentle sleep coaching method while your spouse is ready to rip off the band-aid and do cry it out.
Now, a few arguments for the first few months of baby’s life may not be a big deal. But, if you argue frequent enough and for many months, this can, unfortunately, have long-term effects on your marriage. It may cause resentment in your spouse, especially if they are getting plenty of sleep and you’re up with the baby every night!
Baby Not Sleeping Means Less Time Together
Thankfully, some of us handle sleep-deprivation fairly well. We may not get overly irritable at all. In fact, where did your happy baby get it? Probably from you! But, even if you are not arguing with your spouse, if your baby is not sleeping, this means you have less time together.
You might be rocking baby to sleep for over an hour every night before you can put him down. Or, maybe your baby is waking up all night. It’s rather difficult to have quality time or watch a movie when you’re up with the baby every 30 minutes to an hour. And, if you also have a toddler or another older child, fuhgeddaboudit! You might be splitting up duties with your spouse and will have even less time together.
Less time together, especially quality time, can be a recipe for disaster. I’ve been married for over 15 years now and I can tell you when we spend less time together, we relate less to one another. We may feel like “ships passing in the night.” For some couples, lack of time together may mean they fall out of love with their spouse and that’s obviously not good!
Baby Not Sleeping Means Less Intimacy
Unfortunately, for women especially, when you’re sleep-deprived, one of the first things that seem to go is your libido. During the day, you have been pulled in so many directions. You might be cleaning, cooking, playing make-believe, reading to your child, going to the park, etc. And, if you’re a working parent like me, you’ve had to bring home some bacon! Whether you are a stay-at-home parent, work-at-home parent, or working parent, there is no shortage of things to do every single day.
After you finally get the baby to bed, the last thing on your mind may be making love to your spouse. That would take way too much time and energy that you don’t have! You are probably feeling the pressure to go to bed early because your baby is likely to wake up within the next few hours…for the first of possibly many times.
While one spouse might try quoting the health benefits of sex, the other might prioritize sleep and start quoting the health benefits of sleep. And, both would be right. While there are many ways to be intimate without love-making, most people don’t get married thinking they’ll end up in a sexless marriage. The chance of feeling sexy on a fragmented 6 hours of sleep each night is very low, of course. So, who can blame you if you don’t want to be intimate?
Baby Not Sleeping? 5 Tips How to Help Your Baby Sleep
No matter how old your baby is, it’s not too late to help him or her get more sleep! This is not only for your baby but for you and your spouse, too. If your wife is up with the baby all night, you can help! If your husband is up with the baby all night, you can help! If you’re both up with the baby, you can help the entire family! Here are 5 tips to get more sleep:
- Use White Noise – Many babies sleep better with white noise. Consider a product like a Baby Shusher. The Baby Shusher uses a real human voice to lull your baby to sleep, which frees up your time. It’s very portable and easy to clean. It was voted by parents as the BabyList’s Best Product Award in 2019! The device is also available as part of a gift set which I’m sure would make any new mom happy.
- Create a Bedtime Routine – Some families report simply creating a bedtime routine improves their baby’s sleep. Cueing your baby that sleep is on the horizon is one of the most important steps you can take to get more sleep.
- Set the right temperature – Many parents worry about their baby being too cold but being too warm can actually make sleep worse (for adults, too!). The ideal room temperature for sleep is 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit or 20-21 degrees Celsius.
- Learn Why Your Baby Is Waking at Night – Solving the root cause of your baby’s night-waking is the key to making long-term progress. If you are addressing an issue that isn’t the problem, it gets you no closer to getting better sleep at night.
- Teach your baby to sleep independently – In parenting, we strive to help our children grow up to be successful adults. We teach them many things including manners at the table, good study habits, how to tie their shoes, and for many, we teach them how to sleep. Sleep doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you’re unsure where to start, downloading our free e-Book, 5 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night is a great first step!
Getting more sleep for your baby isn’t selfish. It’s important for your child, for you, and your marriage. Don’t lose another wink of sleep without taking steps to solve your baby’s sleep problems. Everyone around you will thank you! You know what they say:
Happy Wife, Happy Life.
Happy Husband. Happy Life.
Happy Baby. Happy Family.