Sleep is (Clearly) for the Weak

Toddler sleep

“Lay down. It’s time to be sleeping!” I say in a too gruff, overtired voice.

I am just so very tired. Tired in the morning, the afternoon, the evening and all through night. Tired on the school run, during our time at home, as I work, as I rest.

Always tired.

I can honestly count the number of nights that I have slept uninterrupted over the past two and a half years on one hand. I know it’s five, at most. Five out of the last 882 days. No wonder I am tired. It seems her sleeping biorhythms are very, very different from mine.

I try to react with calm and compassion but some nights the gruff bark erupts unexpectedly from the depths of my fatigue. Like the voice of someone else.

It’s not something I am proud of.

“Hold my hand, mummy?” she asks in a small voice in the big dark.

Even in my fatigue I soften at her request and I take her small hand in mine.

I understand sleeping is hard. It’s lonely. It’s dark. Sometimes it is too cold or too hot. Sometimes you might feel a little thirsty or hungry or have a pain in you tummy or you just need to to know that someone is there to hold your hand.

As I remind myself once again of all these possible reasons that she wakes I try my best to respond with love, patience and calmness.

I will do better next time. I will try not to let the tiredness win. I will do my best as that is all that I can do.

Because not sleeping is hard too.

What are your best suggestions for managing long term sleep deprivation?


  1. I hear you Christie! Have you tried music in her room? Drowns out the sudden noises like dogs barking or the ‘scary sounds’ that happen during the night. My twins still have their music on each night. I can recommend “Music for Dreaming” as it is a continuous cycle, no gaps between songs. You can hear it on Spotify if you are on there. They have another CD that goes with it that is for Mum’s and it helps wind you down. I don’t really have any magical sleep deprivation tips except to say allow yourself the time to be gruff sometimes without feeling guilt, there is only so much we can do as parents and perfection is not one of those things!

  2. I’m just about dead, if that helps! It doesn’t, I know, but that all-pervasive tiredness… I feel ya x

  3. I don’t have any advice just loads of sympathy.

  4. I sympathize! I remember being appalled pre-children when my sister told me she hadn’t had a full nights sleep in 4 years. With 2 girls, I’m now going on 5 years. Probably no more than 3 nights of 7 straight hours of sleep in 5 years. Coffee is my best friend. I’ve just tried to be gentle with my expectations of myself, my girls and enjoy these years. I also agree with Jode, music or a sound machine helps. Letting them sleep in my bed on the rough nights helps us all sleep better too.

    1. I couldn’t live without coffee, Isa! And you are right, being gentle with expectations is so important.

  5. Your post brought tears to my eyes as you could have been writing about me. It is exactly how things are for me at the moment and my nearly two year old has given me a grand total of three nights where she slept through (although I still woke up). The tears were because I suddenly didn’t feel so alone in going through this. It’s very hard when everyone around you says their baby slept through from such and such an age and yours just isn’t a good sleeper at all. Thank you for reminding me I’m not doing it wrong and I’m not alone.

    1. It’s so hard, isn’t it!? Most of our real life friends are well and truly past this stage so they find it hard to remember and although they are empathetic, it’s so hard when you aren’t actually going through it. Our first daughter was/is a great sleeper so it has just been so hard this time and to be honest, a real shock. I hope you have good support, Sam, and that things turn around for you soon.

  6. It’s kind of funny that I’m reading this after being woken up – again – by my 2.5 year old. He’s back asleep but I’m up and it’s 1:45am.
    My eyes are burning and my alarm goes off at 5:30am, I know he’ll be up again in an hour or two.
    What keeps me going is knowing it’s not forever. This is my time with him, I want him to know and learn that I’ll always be there for him. I’ll always try and make him feel better. I love seeing the trust and love in his eyes.
    I think being a Mom is the most wonderful, fulfilling, exhausting, messy, confusing experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
    Going to try and go back to sleep now!

  7. Margaret Elvis says:

    Christie I feel for you and wish there was some way you could get help. I can sympathise but not empathise as with my two kids I seldom lost a night’s sleep. One would sleep from about 8pm to 8am and the other from 7pm to 7am. Even when they were poorly they didn’t lose us much sleep. I perhaps let them cry a little when they were babies when I knew they weren’t hungry, thirsty, uncomfortable or in pain and my mum did that with me going as far as to holding her arms across my bedroom door when I was about 10 months old to stop my dad and big brother from wanting to pick me up. I think the music idea mentioned above a good one and perhaps a night light or a light in the passage outside her bedroom left on. What does your paediatrician say about this strange sleep pattern that is happening? From above comments it is not as unusual as I thought it would be and I feel for all young mums who are trying to keep on going when they are exhausted.

  8. I usually fall asleep putting them to sleep and I sleep in my youngest bed most nights once she wakes as I fall asleep soothing her back to sleep! I just go with it my eldest is 6 and sleeps so we now I’m hoping my just 3yr old will follow suit soon! In the meantime I just keep þrying to not growl too much through the night and in the early mornings!

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