I was hungry for advice and the books gave it but I paid particular heed to the advice offered by family and friends who seemed to have it under control. So here is my summary of the essential ingredients for a successful baby bedtime routine and the benefits of establishing it.
Whilst I don't know the secret to a happy marriage, I do think our vows, if we were to renew them, which we won't be - (I can't even organise a Tesco shop any more let alone an event; plus, it might require the wearing of something other than leggings... horror) - our promises might well be a little different from those we made previously.
The modern world is a manic place, juggling family life with work, keeping on top of the housework, the endless barrage of paperwork, not to mention keeping up to date with technology! There are so many things that demand our time and attention. And very often it leaves very little time for getting our own needs met.
If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, insomnia can lead to anxiety surrounding sleep. You don't want your negative perception of sleep to create the assumption that every time you try to sleep you won't be able to, so the key here is positive reinforcement.
This is it now, you know what's coming; you need to dig deep and find the strength within you to get through the night. But to help you, here are a few little reminders/tips on how to cope when the chips are down.
They read her books about sleepy rabbits, tired bears and exhausted princesses. They sang her lullabies that instructed her to 'sleep, baby sleep' or to 'hush little baby' - yet still she remained wide-awake. (Not sleepy yet? Maybe I am reading it too quickly.)
The point I'm trying to make is that there is nothing that can prepare you for such levels of sleep deprivation. New parents will agree that there are times where you feel so tired, you could happily fall asleep on a bed of nails whilst giving Jabba the Hut a piggy back.
This week on Radio 4, Today's Sarah Montague presented a half hour exploration of the health risks of working these unsociable hours. Getting up to present the BBC's flagship radio news programme at 0330 was her inspiration.
If you have tried every trick in the bedtime book and your offspring is still wide awake then maybe it is time to call it a day, well, a night! Take yourself and your little one into another room. Watch TV, have a cup of tea or a glass of wine. Enjoy your baby, enjoy being with your partner and calm the hell down!
From showing the world how stoic you are by putting in so much overtime and working at weekends, the new, smarter way to work is to improve your work/life balance, starting from looking after your sleep.
Several years ago my penchant for sleep and the accompanying lethargy had got so bad I went to see my doctor. I felt there was obviously something wrong with me physically as I struggled to get from one hour to the next.
If you co-sleep when you do not want to co-sleep, but your baby makes you co-sleep, then your night may go a little something like this. Although for your sake, I hope that it does not.
In my case, sleep deprivation is a feature of life, as I try to help my son get a good night's sleep. I know that when I get in to bed I will probably be up in an hour's time, and sometimes not get back to my own bed at all before having to go to work.
People don't talk about sleep problems, because they're embarrassed; they've accepted it as a perpetual part of their lives and others might treat it as a triviality or selfish indulgence that you choose to yield to - you've made your bed, so now you (can't) lie in it.
Picture the scene, it's 4am, you've had forty minutes sleep in three bouts since 5am yesterday and over the crackly monitor comes the familiar half coughed cry just as your head hits the pillow...
As they grow, there are good runs and bad runs. Over winter it doesn't end, this relay of broken nights. They begin with sickness and end with sickness, the washing machine spins constantly, the soundtrack to dark.