How to Survive Sleep Regressions (Without Going Crazy)

new, exhausted father asleep while feeding a baby

Chocolate and sleep. Right now, those are the two things I want most of all. Because being exhausted due to sleep regressions (even just thinking about them!) isn’t any fun. Yay… /yawn.

This isn’t our first time experiencing the “joys” of surviving a sleep regression. With 4 children, we’ve been around the block a few times. Even so, each of our children’s sleep regressions has hints of individuality to it. So it’s still good practice to review (or learn, if this is your first kiddo!) how to survive sleep regressions, no matter the age.

How to survive sleep regressions

So there are two main ways to survive sleep regressions:

  1. Survive it by any means possible and hope things get better.
  2. Sleep train your way out of it ASAP.

I’ll give you a hint: option 1 is a very common plan of action. It’s the one we took with our first child. But it also doesn’t work very well – at least, it didn’t for us. In fact, things got worse. Much worse.

So if you want to get back to sleeping through the night and your child isn’t currently doing that, you’re going to need to sleep train them.

All that means is this:

Sleep training your children means gently teaching them to get an adequate amount of restful sleep so they can lead happier, more fulfilling lives.

That’s it. Now, there are several different sleep training methods you can choose from to make that happen. And if you’d like to read about the various sleep training methods or get help in making your own personalized sleep training plan, there you go.

You’re well on your way to surviving sleep training without going crazy. That being said, a little more detail never hurts, right?

Surviving the worst sleep regressions: from birth to toddling

Okay, so there’s more than one sleep regression in this range. There’s typically several:

  • Between 3-5 months (ours usually happened at 4 months)
  • Somewhere between 7-9 months (my kids all seemed to have theirs at about 8 months)
  • Between 10-12 months (for us, it’s an 11-month sleep regression)
  • And again at about 2 years of age

Now, if you’re lucky enough to have babies who actually slept in the first place, here’s the good news: sleep regressions are short and survivable. They’re usually only a week or two long, provided you patiently and lovingly stick to your schedule and tough it out.

On the other hand, if you had kids like mine who wouldn’t sleep unless held, well, sleep regressions are less fun. They’ll still insist on being held. Oh – and they’ll still wake up a lot more often.

Basically, you and the sleep regressed kid will be even more exhausted than usual. It’s all good, though. Because we’ve got moms with some great ideas to make any and all sleep regressions more livable/survivable.

1: True Aim – 5 Ways to Help Your Newborn Sleep. Her advice includes burping baby a ton and sticking to a schedule!

2: Today’s Parnet – How to survive your baby’s four-month sleep regression gives several more stories from moms surviving sleep regressions. One mom even leaves a note, warning her neighbors, of what’s going on.

3: The Pragmatic Parent – Surviving the Dreaded 8 month sleep regression. Her advice includes creating a soothing sleep environment.

4: Here’s how I survived my youngest son’s 11 month old sleep regression.

Consistency, naps, and early bedtimes are the key during that first year. Especially as those kiddos outgrow naps, y’all.

Surviving nap transitions and sleep regression tips for toddlers

Now, once your child turns 1, you’re generally in the “nap transition” phase. In fact, your child may already have given up one of their earlier naps each day.

My oldest two kids thought they were done napping by 12 months – and by 18 months, they were definitely done. (You can cry for me, it’s okay – but we survived!)

Sometimes they’d nap a few times here and there. But by 18 months, like I said, there were zero naps – not even in the car. So it’s even more important to focus on routine, no matter what time of year it is.

5: SAHM Plus – 11 Terrific Tricks You Need to Get Baby to Sleep. Remember that early bedtimes are key!

But if nothing else seems to be working, focus on survival, tacos, chocolate, getting as much sleep as possible, and praying.

6: The Good Mama – The 5 Stages of Toddler Night Waking. Her point that a lack of sleep begets a further lack of sleep is spot on!

7: Candle in the Night – Surviving Sleep Regression. She recommends going with the flow – and asking for help!

Keep at it, friends. It may take some time, trying different bedtime routines, and some less-than-gentle reminders that the kids need to “just go to sleep!”, but eventually, they will sleep. Hopefully. Just remember that bedtime is a nightly struggle/routine. And that sleep issues aren’t just for kids.

Surviving sleep problems as an adult

Getting adequate sleep is also important for us adults. So for our last look at surviving sleep regressions, let’s be sure to help ourselves, shall we?

That way, whether we just need help recovering from our kid’s sleep regressions or we seem to be having our own adult sleep regression, we’ll be ready to get back to the healing sleep we need.

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  1. Make sure that you’re keeping screens off before bedtime. That light messes with your brain – and your sleep!
  2. Keep your bedroom for sleep – and make it a sleep-friendly environment.
  3. Go to bed and wake up at regular times as much as possible.
  4. Use this loopless white noise machine to help you drift off to sleep.
  5. Hang blackout curtains to block out distracting lights at night.
  6. Use meditation or these relaxation techniques to help your mind know how to let go of stress and anxiety each night so that you can sleep.

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Okay, wow. After all that talk about sleep, naps, and chocolate, I think I need all of the above. How about you? What helps you and your kids sleep better each night?

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Kimberly C. Starr

I'm a ginger who loves reading, eating, being a nurse, spending time with my family, and writing about it all. I believe humor is the best medicine, followed very closely by chocolate and tacos. To read more about me, click here.

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