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My Baby Sleeps Through the Night, But Now I Can't

Photograph by Getty Images

Dear Heather,

My baby is finally sleeping better, so why do I still feel terrible and exhausted all the time?

Sleeping but Sleepy

RELATED: My Toddler Stays Up Until 3 in the Morning

Dear Sleeping,

It takes time for your body to recover from the sleep deprivation of new parenthood. When you have a baby, you lose control over your sleep and go from getting 7 to 8 hours straight to sometimes no more than 1 or 2 hours at a time. Even though it's natural, it's still a shock to the system. We hear a lot of parents tell us that they don't feel good, even after their baby starts sleeping better. There can be many reasons for this:

  • You have a lot of "sleep debt" to pay back from missed hours of sleep.
  • Your internal clock, or your 24-hour cycles, are slightly askew because you've been intermittently awake at night and maybe even asleep during the day.
  • Even though your baby is sleeping more, you still wake up at night in anticipation, or your sleep is lighter during the night.

It's really important to take care of yourself. Eat well, try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time in the morning, get outside in the morning sunlight and exercise—even if it means joining a baby-friendly exercise group. Go on long walks with the stroller or take advantage of the drop-off center at your gym. If you still don't feel like yourself after taking these types of measures, tell your OB or your general doctor.

RELATED: Is White Noise Really That Great For Baby Sleep?

Babies are noisy at night, so if yours is waking you up to feed or just with normal baby sounds, you might switch off being "on duty" with your partner if you can. Maybe one of you sleeps in a guest room or pops in some earplugs. Even a solid 4 hours of sleep can do wonders for a parent who has been waking up around the clock.

In our book, "The Happy Sleeper," we describe healing from sleep deprivation like peeling back layers of tiredness. For some people, it just takes longer to get to the core. But you will get there. You don't have to settle for less than feeling good and rested—that's important for you and your baby too.

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Do you have a sleep question you want Heather to answer for Sleep Fix? Email her at heatherturgeonmft@gmail.com. Sleep expert Heather Turgeon, co-author of "The Happy Sleeper: The Science-Backed Guide to Helping Your Baby Get a Good Night's Sleep—Newborn to School Age," will fix your family's sleep problems in this space as she does in her Los Angeles-based sleep consultations. Turgeon's solutions are nonjudgmental, kind and—best of all—based on science.

No situation is too challenging. Leave your sleep problem in the comments. Let's all get a good night's sleep, finally.

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