Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Can you read this? Unfortunately, it's true for me tonight.
One benefit of marathon training that I didn't expect is that since I launched into it in June I have been sleeping much better.

I had a rough time with the sleep deprivation that comes with small babies. Our kids slept through the night fairly quickly (around four or five months it was pretty consistent), but those of you with kids know that even good sleepers are easily disrupted by things like illness, feeding routine changes and potty training--and they don't necessarily wake up at the reasonable morning hour you want them to. So even when we weren't feeding infants in the night any more, the sleep wasn't great--not for someone like me, who really needs eight uninterrupted hours a night under normal circumstances and when running a lot does best with nine or ten.

It made me into a bit of an insomniac. Up until last summer, if one of the kids woke for a bathroom trip or a nightmare or a wet bed, it often meant the end of my night's sleep, no matter what time it was. I'd lie awake staring at the ceiling, wondering if and when they'd emerge to wake me up again. This happened several times a week, more nights than it didn't happen. It's a big reason I didn't consider training for a marathon at all until last year. I just didn't think I could get the sleep I needed to support the training.

Happily, the training seems to have helped take care of the sleep issue to a certain extent. Since upping my miles, I sleep more deeply, so that even when one or both of the kids wake me, I go back to sleep fast and stay that way most of the time. When a daytime nap is possible, I find myself falling asleep easily then, too, and waking refreshed.

But it's still not perfect, as tonight illustrates. Will, my son, startled me awake from a deep sleep right at midnight. I took him to the bathroom. An hour later (and I hadn't fallen asleep again this time), he was back. I took him back to bed again. And that was it. I've been awake ever since. As I type, it's 4:17 a.m. I moved to the couch about an hour ago, afraid I was going to wake Dan, resulting in two grumpy adults tomorrow. My plan is to wait until 5:30, when my alarm was due to go off anyway, get my six miles in and then go back to bed until I'm due at work at noon. Tuesdays are my night shift, so I'll be there until 9 p.m. There will be no chance for running or napping in the afternoon.

It's bleak. Outside, a cold front is moving in. I can hear the leaves skittering on the porch and in the street, and the wind is whistling eerily at the corners of the windows. I know my run will make me feel at least temporarily better, but I won't feel safe going out until it's a bit closer to dawn (even at 5:30 around here there are people headed out to work, so I'm not alone out there in the dark).

Now I know to some of you I am a big ol' wimp. I'm not nursing a baby, and I don't have special needs kids (bed-wetters who soak through pull-ups don't count as "special needs") or an unhelpful husband (Dan handles as many night wakings as I do; he just doesn't have the same issue I do with returning to sleep after them). But regardless, I'm sick of this. Yes, it's been better than it was. But any insomnia is too much insomnia. I'm ready for it to be over for good. Maybe this is melodramatic, but I'm afraid if it goes on much longer it will be a problem I'll never shake.

Perhaps we haven't disciplined our kids properly--shouldn't almost-five-year-olds be capable of going to the bathroom in the night without waking their parents? If anyone out there has any advice on how to get that ball rolling, I'm all ears and bloodshot eyes. I am not a sentimental parent, especially when it comes to sleep. I remember as a kid myself being very respectful of my parents' sleep. I never woke them, unless I had thrown up or had a fever. What I don't remember is how they got me to be that way!

Update: It's 7:15 and I just returned from a 6-mile progression run. One kid is up--everyone else is still asleep. And you know what? I feel awesome! The weather was amazing--cool breezes, and everywhere the golden leaves, the yellow and red ones, wafting down on me in the glow of the streetlamps and later the rising sun. Walking down the sidewalk at the end, I felt like I was in some musical on stage. I know I'll be tired later, but this is the magic of running. I now feel good about this day.


  1. Ugh! Being woken and not getting back to sleep is HARD! I feel for you. I wish I had answers for you regarding getting the kids to stay down, etc. but I don't.
    My kids are good about sleeping thru the night, it's my damn dogs that get me up at 3am to go out. Beats crap on the floor I guess.
    Lack of sleep takes it's toll. I hope this is a phase that ends for you soon!

  2. Sorry about the insomnia. I've gone through years of the same troubles and it's just in the past 6 months or so that things have gotten so much better. I still occasionally can't fall back to sleep if I get up with the kids, but it's much more rare. I think making sure I'm up fairly early so I'm actually tired when I go to bed really helps and also no drinking alcohol at night.

    The only advice I have for with the kids is to bribe them. Let them know that if they get up and go potty by themselves during the night and you aren't woken up, they get a surprise in the morning. Maybe after a week straight of not waking you they get to go somewhere really fun. I used this on my daughter when she went through a phase of coming into my bedroom several times an evening because she didn't want to go to bed. She didn't have the potty issues, though - I don't know about that part, but if it's both of them, I would assume it's just habit for them and they just need a little bribing...well, it couldn't hurt to try :D

  3. I am very sorry about the insomnia. Unfortunately I don't have any advices for the kids. Here the only problem for a continuous sleep are the cats.
    And as Teamarcia said I also hope that this phase ends for you soon.

  4. Ugh - my best friend suffers from a lot of insomnia - I don't know how you guys function :( I don't know HOW to get the kids to stay down, as I have an awful sleeper in my daughter who's 6. I'm fortunate that I can get back to sleep, otherwise I would be in the same boat as you. Hang in there..

  5. Lack of quality sleep is about the only thing that can put me over the edge. It was really around the time my son was 3-4 that he finally would sleep well through the night. Finally.

    I don't know what I would do if they woke me up to take them to the potty. Probably just tell them to go and leave me alone. lol My son is 6 and uses a pull-up because he sleeps so soundly he doesn't wake up to go. but that's a whole other issue.. :)

    Bribing or the positive reward idea sounds great. Good luck.

  6. I am right there with you- on the NEED for more sleep, and the LACK of getting it. When you figure out how to get them to sleep through the night without waking ME up for every little thing...please let me know! Seriously, my 8 year old does NOT need to wake me up when she goes to get a drink, my 5 year old DOES NOT need to wake me up every time he goes potty, and the 15 month old...well...he just needs to SLEEP! *sigh**yawn* oh well...

  7. Lack of sleep is no fun and I have suffered from it for years. But luckily when I am in heavy training I don't have the problem as much. I just pass out. I wish I had words of advice but I don't. I just wish you the best.

    Congrats on a great run!

  8. Oh my goodness, you are NOT a wimp. I can completely relate to you on this one. Yes, right now I have a baby and he is causing most of my sleep issues, but last night my Will who is turning 5 on Thursday, wet the bed. I was already up with the baby so I asked my husband to help him. Of course Will threw a fit and only wanted me which then made my husband a total grump. So then I was up with both boys and once I finally got them settled I was wide-eyed in my bed, unable to fall back asleep. When I think about how LITTLE sleep I am getting, it scares me. I cannot believe how infrequently I sleep and I know it is impacting me in many ways. When my older kids do sleep through the night they always wake up before 6AM. ALWAYS. It is exhausting. I have to trust that some day everyone will be "normal" with their sleeping, but it can't happen soon enough.
    Anyway, enough about me! I'm so glad that your run renewed you and that you feel ready for the day ahead. It sounds like a fantastic morning run!

  9. So sorry you are not sleeping! That is the worst!! I remember right after having my son I asked someone when he would start sleeping through the night. She said 8. I was like 8 years old!! She said it was always something: needing a drink, bad dream, sick, etc. I have been very disappointed that she seems to be right. Our 4 1/2 year old still wakes us up too if it makes you feel any better.
    I am glad your run made you feel better!! Enjoy the weather before the snow starts tomorrow :(

  10. Ugh! HATE those kinds of nights. I was pretty liberal about letting my son wake me up for whatever. The good news is they grow out of it, but I remember thinking that it would NEVER end. :)
    Glad you had a good run. Hope you have a wonderful day and that you don't get too tired later on.

  11. We are also very respectful of sleep in our family, but I think Nick was six or seven when he stopped waking us up. I worked such strange shifts, though, that I was often still awake when he got up in the middle of the night. (He also had an older brother to bug. Older brother was closer to 10, but he was high maintenance.) I have the same problem with falling back to sleep (and John can sleep anywhere at any time-- drives me crazy!)

    I'm glad you had a good run! Sounds lovely!

  12. When my now 19 year old son was your son's age he woke me up every time he had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night -- it was rather funny because his room was upstairs and ours was downstairs and he had to pass 2 bathrooms on the way to wake me and use mine.

    But you know what, they grow out of it. Very soon he really won't want your help with the potty. Not that that is any help right now.

    I'm a terrible sleep overall and it is the thing that I worry most about when contemplating a spring marathon -- how on earth will I cope with lack of sleep. But I'm hoping the more I run the better I sleep for all the reasons you mention.

  13. I am the world's worst sleeper, I wake up EVERY night (and I don't even have little ones to wake me) and sometimes lay there for well over 3 hours - or more. A couple years ago it was so bad I was on Ambiem and have been desperate enough now and then to get some more. I attribute most of my issues to age, I can't tell you how many woman I know who have gone though this. Another issue with me is just plain ol' stress :(.

    My daughter used to get up all the time when she was about 4 (and I was pregnant with the twins) and I finally had to use good old bribery with her. The Lion King had just come out and she wanted this stuffed lion from the movie so badly. We bought it but then each night she got up in the middle of the night and woke me up, I took it away the next day and eventually, she didn't do it anymore :). Man, I still feel guilty about that. Haha. Hope it gets better soon...just be glad you aren't sporting about 5-6 hours a night like I typically get. sucks!

  14. So glad you went out for that run--you sounded so much happier after that! Insomnia is tough; I am a terrible sleeper sometimes too. My only advice on the kid front is that any time my kids have gotten up in the middle of the night, I give them their tiny bit of cuddle time w/ me, then it's back to sleep in their own beds. It's hard sometimes, but I think it gets the point across that waking up in the middle of the night doesn't equal party time! I have no idea what you're doing in this regard--may be the same thing--but thought I would share!

  15. Insomnia is the worst - regardless of what's causing it. I cuddle w/ Insomnia on a regular basis and it kills me (and I too am not nursing a baby). Just can't make my brain stop!!!!!!

  16. I miss the "marathon training sleep", I have never slept so well in my life. Now that I am not currently training for any marathons, I don't sleep as well or as deep. I still manage to get 7-8 hours in, but man, it doesn't seem as restful. Insomnia is the worst, I hate waking up and not being able to get back to sleep.

    Yay for your progression run and I am happy that you are feeling better about the day. :)

    I am so behind on blog reading. We just got back from the mountains last night (just in time for the snow!), so I haven't been reading for the last week. Thank you for tagging me in the Versatile blogger! I will try and get a post up soon!

  17. PS-I hope our Cardinals make a comeback!!!

  18. I think if you duct-taped the kid to the toilet one night, the message may likely be received!