When Hercule was two months old, he slept through the entire night. However, everything went downhill when he reached four months old. At four months, he started to wake up numerous times during the night and slept poorly throughout the day. I was utterly exhausted, and after months of having to wake up several times every night, I visited my doctor seeking help. I couldn’t handle another restless night! I was very anxious that even the sound of Hercule crying made me uneasy.
The lack of sleep affected the way I functioned and reduced my motivation. I was extremely irritable and on edge – it was a terrible time. If I have a second baby and notice a drastic change in his/her behaviour or sleep pattern – I’ll do the same thing and seek help.
What is Sleep School
It’s a place where you and your baby stay for a period of time. There are nurses, doctors and other specialists on hand to help identify and correct your babies sleep and or behavioural problems.
You need a referral from your doctor and the usual wait time is between 2 to 4 weeks. My doctor wrote a referral explaining the severity of my sleep deprivation, and as a result, I was fortunate to be admitted the following week for a 5-night stay.
My room was private and very comfortable. My five-night stay included all meals for the two of us. I learnt an entirely new routine for Hercule which included set times for when he sleeps, plays and eats. It was comforting to know that during my time, six other lovely mums also had similar issues with their babies sleep patterns.
What I learnt at sleep school
Sleep school taught me the following things:
– Ensuring Hercule sleeps enough during the day which helps promote a better night sleep.
– New techniques to assist Hercule to self-settle making it easier for him to connect his sleep cycles by himself.
– The need to introduce a ‘settle time’ before every sleep. I love settle time, because I get to spend 15 minutes singing, cuddling or reading to Hercule to help relax him before he sleeps.
– Eliminating the need to feed him before he sleeps.
What to expect at sleep school
Depending on how much assistance you need when you first arrive at sleep school, the nurses offer to take care of your baby while you rest, relax and catch up on your sleep for the first two days. It’s wise to make the most of this time because from the third day onwards you become more hands-on and need to be recharged to learn in a short time the new schedule of sleep, play and eat.
Did sleep school work?
It has been three months since I left sleep school and Hercule continues to sleep all through the night. I never have to pick him up and comfort him in my arms (which is challenging when he weighs over 9kg). Hercule sleeps on time – every time. He feeds better and generally is a happier baby. It’s seriously a blessing how well he adapted to sleep school.
If you have any issues with sleep deprivation during the first months of your baby’s life DON’T WAIT, speak up and seek help. We live in a country where we have so many services readily available to assist us. All you need to do is ‘to ask for help”. And that’s one thing I’m not afraid to do. I was not going to accept this was a typical pattern (and it’s not). I later learnt that one-third of babies have behavioural issues. These issues are the babies’ way of trying to get your attention.