This Is Why I Haven’t Been Sleeping Lately — How About You?

It's Be Well Philly Sleep Week, y'all, and we're embarking on a quest for rest.

This is Noah, the tiny human who is sort of responsible for my lack of sleep. (At least he's cute.)

This is Noah, the tiny human who is sort of responsible for my lack of sleep. (At least he’s cute.)

I’m writing this post to distract myself from the fact that my second pot of coffee isn’t quite done brewing yet. I’m pretty much operating on a hope and a prayer here that any of the sentences I’m typing actually make a tiny bit of sense.

You still with me? Good. Because that primal need, my friends, for a steady drip of caffeine basically sums up the state of affairs as it pertains to my sleeping habits lately — and by “lately,” I mean for nearly the past year, since bringing my first child, Noah, home from the hospital. 

I know what you’re thinking: Oh, boo-hoo; another new mom complaining about how tired she is. But it’s not what you think. Sure, I fully expected a few months of sleepless nights with my infant son. But here’s the thing I didn’t see coming: I’m not exhausted because Noah keeps me up all night. On the contrary, Noah is a perfectly good nighttime sleeper at this point, consistently clocking between 11 and 12 hours of uninterrupted shuteye every single night. And he’s been doing so since around his six-month birthday, when my husband, Chris, and I made a serious concerted effort to sleep-train him (using this very effective method, if you’re wondering) and — thank our lucky stars — it worked!

No, the reason I don’t sleep anymore is because, well, I’m a mom now, and much as I have gathered from my mom friends, moms just don’t sleep very well. Plain and simple. It’s like some twisted rite of passage that once you beget a tiny version of yourself, your body and brain flat-out refuse to allow you to fall into deep, restorative, blissful sleep, probably due to some latent fear that something might happen to your tiny mini-me while you slumber. So instead, you’re always on high alert.

No joke: If my kid so much as sighs in his sleep or rolls over with more gusto than my subconscious would like, I’ll go from zero to 100 in less than three seconds in the middle of the night. And I’m not just awake — I’m A.W.A.K.E., eyes wide, mind racing, endless to-do lists flowing like water from the recesses of my brain. Trouble is, I often can’t get back to sleep.

And I know I’m not alone. A coworker, who just had her second child last fall, went into dreamy, delicious detail last week when she told me about a two-hour nap she’d taken a few days before. “It was the deepest sleep I’ve had in years,” she said. “I think it was because I knew both kids were safe at daycare and not in the house, and my husband was at work, so it was like the first time in four years that no one was going to need me for a two-hour window.”

Sigh. Dare to dream.

My newfound sleep frustrations are what led me to pitch a deep dive into sleep — glooooorious sleep! — for Philadelphia magazine’s Top Doctors issue this year. I knew that in addition to all the moms of the world, lots and lots and lots of people share my shuteye frustrations, so I figured what better way to overcome my sleep woes than to get local experts to show me how to do exactly that (and on work time to boot!). Along with my colleagues Sandy Hingston and Adjua Fisher, I spent much of the past few months talking to local sleep experts, reading their research, and learning all kinds of fascinating things about sleep and why it’s so important. In the process, I learned some super handy tricks of the trade for improving my sleeping habits and getting the shuteye I so desperately need.

The fruits of our labor can be found in Philly Mag’s May issue, on newsstands now, in the form of a massive, in-depth FAQ on every single thing you’ve ever wondered (or worried about) when it comes to sleep. This week on Be Well Philly, we’ll be sharing our findings in several installments for what we’ve dubbed Be Well Philly Sleep Week, a celebration, of sorts, of the glorious wonder that is sleep. We’ve packed it full of ways for you to learn the sleep ropes for yourself so you can finally, happily, deeply get some rest.

Keep your eyes peeled for all our Sleep Week goodness over the next couple of days. Meantime, I’m going keep working on my own sleep troubles; I’m happy to report that I’m coming along — my kid can now roll over without me waking up! Huzzah! — but I’m definitely not there yet. So you can bet I’ll be tapping that second pot of coffee to get me over the hump.

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