Six months passed and the cot was reassembled in my son's bedroom. I was ready to stop breast feeding at and wanted to move onto a night bottle. I thought it was going to be perfect. I was wrong.
Very few of us make enough time to sleep in our lives- even if we can. Almost all of us are sleep deprived. Of course some of us don't have any choice: people in health and emergency services, long-haul airline pilots, and families with young babies (especially if they sleep as little my son Toby did!).
Most of us can sleep soundly in the knowledge that we're highly unlikely to catch disease from our pets. We're more likely to get woken up in the wee small hours or scratched, either accidentally or purposefully, if we choose to share our bed with a feline. Dogs, on the other hand, are usually well behaved and will love to snuggle up to their human pack member...
Churchill and JFK probably didn't know much about sleep science; they just did what they knew worked for them. We're not all national leaders, so we might face resistance from colleagues. The solution: work for an enlightened employer - or for yourself - then find for yourself the benefits of an afternoon nap.
Sleep is an important process for the body to repair itself. The body temperature and blood pressure drop, the breathing becomes slower, and the muscles relax. While sleeping is a normal way for people to recover from the strain of everyday activities, bizarrely unexpected things happen, whether these are natural or manmade, harmless or not. Learn about what these are...
With the clock change, the amount of light in your child's room will also change which can affect their melatonin levels (melatonin is a hormone associated with the onset of sleep.) Make sure they get plenty of daylight and fresh air first thing in the morning to regulate their melatonin levels and suppress that sleepy hormone.
When people learn that I've spent the last six years plus existing on a miniscule amount of sleep, they are shocked, because I always seem so energetic apparently (they should see me at 3am!)
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!