Tales of a Sleep-Tyrant: The Dreaded 4:30am Wake-up

Let’s be honest, the first few months of mommy-hood are ROUGH!!!

The sleepless nights….the physical and emotional fatigue….the zombie-like state of functioning….the unkempt hair….the Lululemon uniform…    Although this period seems like forever ago, for the past 3 months, I have been experiencing a similar but milder form of sleep deprivation c/o my wonderful son who seems to think he no longer needs an afternoon nap and that 4:30 AM  is a suitable time to start his day.

For the longest time, my son had been a “good sleeper”, sleeping 11 hours a night and taking a 2 hour nap in the afternoon.  At 6-months-old, my husband and I decided to “ferberize” him and although hearing him cry was absolutely torturous, I truly feel that this approach helped him develop the self-soothing skills he needed to fall asleep on his own.  I realize this technique is definitely not for everyone, but it worked for us!DSC00183

From that point on, I became a bit of a “SLEEP-TYRANT”.  I remember friends and family members looking at me like I was crazy, poking fun at my rigidity and questioning my son’s early bedtime.  It’s only in the past few months that my husband and I have caved and become a bit more rebellious by allowing my son to skip naps and stay up later.

So when he suddenly began having these “sleep issues” I was baffled.  I wracked my brain to try and determine the cause and came up with all kinds of different hypotheses: maybe he is experiencing separation anxiety and is waking up early because he needs to be with me? Maybe he is reacting to the fact that he changed classes at daycare? Maybe his mattress is not comfortable? The list goes on and on….IMG_2115

My husband and I spent countless hours analyzing the situation when we finally agreed that we needed help.  The sleep deprivation was affecting not only my son’s mood, but our relationship as well! We were on edge, snappy and at our wits end.  Whatever we were doing was not working.

So we met with a sleep consultant (Tracy Braunstein-she’s amazing!!!).  After assessing my son’s sleep environment and discussing the details of our naptime and bedtime routine, she identified that the main culprit is a bedtime that is just too late.  Get this…..she suggested we put our son to bed by the ABSOLUTE  LATEST…..6:30pm! We both looked at her like she was nuts.  But after two weeks of adjusting our schedule, my son’s 4:30am wake-up times have ceased to exist and his mood has significantly improved!  And a huge plus…..my husband and I have the whole evening to ourselves!log_sleep_2small

Deep down, I know who my son is.  He thrives on routine, structure, predictability and apparently an early bedtime! Needless to say, his early bedtime has put a bit of a damper on our family’s social life, but if it means that we can all sleep until 6:30am instead of waking up at the crack of dawn, we’ll deal! The sleep tyrant lives on!





  • sharon braunstein
    Posted at 01:13h, 15 November Reply

    Hey Steph:

    What a wonderful blog….I would like to thank you for sharing your story and I have to say that I am so very proud of Tracy….my daughter….

    From your co-blogger, Sharon B.

    Thank you!

  • Steph
    Posted at 08:31h, 15 November Reply

    Thanks Sharon! I know alot of parents struggle with sleep issues and it can be exhausting!!! Tracy was a wonderful help to us and happy to report we are all sleeping better thanks to her 🙂

  • Amy
    Posted at 22:01h, 18 November Reply

    Thanks for sharing Steph! My husband and I have been waking up with our 21mos old at 4:30am for the last two weeks, it’s been really hard!
    A few friends suggested putting him to bed earlier so we are hoping for the best!!!

    I hope your situation has continued to stay restful!

  • Steph
    Posted at 22:16h, 19 November Reply

    Hi Amy!! We’ve been trying to be really consistent with our routine and schedule and it seems to be working, the early wake ups have not returned! Good luck, hopefully the early bedtime will help.

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