Overtired but won't sleep

(16 Posts)
gubbinsy Wed 18-Dec-13 07:05:15

Just looking for any advice on my 5 week old DS. He takes forever to settle to sleep and in the evenings (and this morning) can work himself up to screaming because he's so tired but whatever we do just can't seem to drop off.

I am really trying to read sleepy signs but he just likes to look around all the time. The only way to settle him is in the sling and walk around. This is fine but I am averaging three hours broken sleep a night (EBF) and it's starting to really affect me and my mood as well. I know all the nap when he naps advice and I try but if he will only sleep in sling when moving (or pram if out but not for that long) then that obviously irked that out! DH takes him in eves but I am now so tired that it's taking me a good half hour to fall asleep and he feeds every 2 hours so not leaving me with a lot.

He has got a cold at the moment which I realise might be contributing (hoping) as have DH and I which is probably making is feel worse too.

I think we probably have to just ride this out and hope it will pass but I am starting to worry that it's affecting me - crying a lot and feeling like things will never get better.

cantthinkofagoodone Wed 18-Dec-13 13:15:47

Oh, sleep deprivation is so hard so be kind to yourself. He will get better soon.

I found clock watching much easier than trying to read my baby as his signs weren't obvious. At 5 weeks his awake time should only be about 45 minutes and he probably can't self soothe so after 35-40 minutes turn off anything stimulating and start feeding, rocking, shh-patting, walking the pram (or rocking him in the pram). He should then go over at around 45 minutes.

When he misses his sweet spot, he will probably become overtired and so much more difficult to settle.

Remember that this too shall pass and eat a lot of chocolate and cake in the meantime. Accept any offers of help from family members - just ask them to come over, you feed your DS and send them out for a walk so you can sleep in peace.

I hope this helps a little. They need to come with a manual!

cantthinkofagoodone Wed 18-Dec-13 13:16:37

P.S. if you're feeling low, mention it to your HV so she can monitor you.

batfuttocks Wed 18-Dec-13 13:22:39

He's really little! I think things are about at their hardest coming up to six weeks, but often a lot better around 9-12 weeks. Hang in there!

I was told by some book once upon a time that babies tend to only need to be awake for an hour and a half to two hours at a time, before needing sleep. I'm on baby no three now, and this has always held true for my children. In my experience you don't always see the sleepy signs, even when they are tired. Have you tried just putting your baby down to sleep, when they have a full tummy, and have been awake for around an hour and a half? I've never had to leave mine crying to do this, it just seemed to fit with their rhythms. They look around for a bit then drift off. It might help to start doing this by popping the baby in a pram and taking them for a walk at first but once they get used to it you'll probably find they drop off in their cot.

Might just be my children though smile

batfuttocks Wed 18-Dec-13 13:24:05

And agree with the first poster, at five weeks awake time can be even shorter. Mines four months now and can't make it past ninety minutes really.

There is definitely a sweet spot and if. You miss it, you're buggered!

CoffeeChocolateWine Wed 18-Dec-13 13:43:03

I really sympathise OP. My DD was like this when she was really little...fought sleep all the time, if she did sleep it would only be for about 15-20 minutes and she would just scream during her awake time because she was so overtired. It really does take its toll.

Please believe that things won't always be like this even though it feels like it when you are going through it. It probably seems like an age away but it is amazing how something clicks with baby at around 12-13 weeks and your DS will settle down. And as he becomes more alert and active he'll sleep for longer periods too.

I do think that in these early weeks you do just have to ride it out and do what works with your DS. If you are finding that he will sleep in the sling then I would just force yourself to go out and walk with him so at least one of you is getting some sleep. It's the lesser of two evils compared with you being overtired AND having an overtired screaming baby! You will have an opportunity to sleep when he sleep once he settles down a bit. But with both of my two, it didn't happen for me in those early weeks. The newborn days are my least favourite part of being a mum!

Have you tried him in a bouncy chair or a cradle swing? The cradle swing was actually great as my DD did often fall asleep in it. But even if she didn't, it had an amazing calming effect on her.

CoffeeChocolateWine Wed 18-Dec-13 13:45:22

And yes, just to echo pp, my two could not be awake longer than 90mins before needing a sleep. My DD was very difficult to read when she was tired as she very rarely yawned. But the unblinking stare and playing with ears became her cue for bed.

cantthinkofagoodone Wed 18-Dec-13 13:45:40
Lucyadams184 Wed 18-Dec-13 13:59:24

Ahh, I remember those days. I would just write off the first six weeks. After that try for a routine. I used to go for a walk every day as you can guarantee they drop off straight away. Hopefully this will stop them getting too tired and fresh air does wonders for you.

It doesn't last forever, even if it feels like it. You will find a routine that works for you, you just have to stay strong. Before you know it you will have a teenager and getting them out of bed will be a nightmare.

gubbinsy Wed 18-Dec-13 14:26:59

Thanks all. Just at that point where it feels like it will never be better. I do try to put him down/settle him on me as soon as he's fed (and changed if needed). He'll stay quiet and stare for about 20 mins then starts crying. If I push him in the pram he will fall asleep but again, wakes up about 10 mins after we get home.

Think you're right and I just have to prioritise his sleep for now but it's vexing increasingly difficult to get the energy to do anything let alone leave the house! Friend coming round later and I'm starting to wonder if I should cancel so I can go to bed (she's coming at 4pm and DH home at half past). I'm becoming obsessed with sleep!

Hopefully some family will take him out over christmas so I can get an hour or so in during the day. Those charts are interesting - I assume the awake time includes feeding? He can easily feed for 45 mins!

cantthinkofagoodone Wed 18-Dec-13 15:26:43

The awake time does include feeding and resettling to sleep. I think that's why babies are supposed to only feed and sleep for the first while, I just didn't realise how much sleep they need.

I would get your friend to come over and either hold your baby whilst you sleep or ask her to cook your dinner whilst you chat. She won't mind. Guests have to make themselves useful, you can't be expected to host when your baby has decided that sleep is for wimps!

cantthinkofagoodone Wed 18-Dec-13 15:27:30

If he likes the motion, would he sleep well in a swing? It might be worth considering. I wish I had got one!

cantthinkofagoodone Wed 18-Dec-13 15:29:49

If you really want an early night, I feel that there's no harm in one bottle every few days so you can get rest but that's a personal choice. YOu could try expressing.

If you do that, get ear plugs or else you'll just be listening out for the cries.

It's all about coping - there's no shame in going to bed at 7. You can clean when baby's having a middle of the night party or up for the day at 5 if you REALLY need to.

minipie Thu 19-Dec-13 17:07:09

Oh god I well remember overtiredness hell with DD during weeks 5-8. (And again at various later points - she is a sleep fighter).

Long walks with baby in moving pram. As often as you can, for as long as you can. To get the naps into him and fix the overtiredness. It's less hard work than a sling (though not the best time of year for it I admit). It should only take a few days of doing this to see improvement though.

At that age it really is pretty much just feed and sleep because by the time they are done feeding and you've done a nappy change, they need to sleep again. They need something like 16/17 hours sleep in 24 I think which really means they need to sleep most of the time.

gubbinsy Fri 20-Dec-13 05:38:44

Thanks all. Been pretty rigid about only letting him be awake for an hour (ish) over last few days before putting him in sling/cot and settling to sleep. Fx seems a little better tho I'm still knackered! DH and I splitting eves now tho too so I try and get hour and a half or so before bed which is helping me with the night.
Only downside so far had been mornings of 5am starts where he won't settle back in bed so I've had to sling him and walk about - yawn! Had done a load of washing by 6.30am the other day tho! smile

cantthinkofagoodone Fri 20-Dec-13 11:22:22

Glad that you've seen an improvement. I used to get up and clean when we were in that 5am phase. It didn't last long though. The only bonus is that it's never that long before they're back to sleep at that age.

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