Tag Archives: sleep

I can live how I like (within reason)

My life is very hectic as I’m sure is the case for many of you; I am constantly running from place to place and the timetable of my day is effectively ruled by my sons’ activities.  I try to sit down for half an hour to have my lunch (whilst watching ‘Doctors’ I’m slightly ashamed to say) and I usually sit down to watch a bit of television or a film for an hour in the evening but then I carry on working, often until around one o’clock in the morning and frequently later.  This does not sit comfortably with a 7am start.

I am a woman who needs my sleep.  Over the years, the only thing that has stood between me and total meltdown is that I fall asleep the moment my light goes out and do not wake until my alarm goes off in the morning.  I lose sleep cumulatively over the week and, at the weekends, I sleep until at least eleven in order to restore my factory settings.

But now, my day is longer, I drive 450 miles a week just going to school, work and clubs and there are things afoot at the Wartime Housewife which are demanding more time and concentration.  I need more sleep and I have decided that whenever possible, I will go to bed for an hour at some point during the day and, most importantly, I will not feel guilty about it because I’m a grown up and I can do what I like.

The problem is that we have all been brainwashed by generations of people who say things like “Early to be, early to rise” and who frown on people who get up late.  There is now a culture of never sitting still, never having thinking time or acknowledging when one needs to rest.  My grandmother always had an hour’s rest after lunch and she was much better for it.  A geologist friend of mine used to put a card on his office door saying ‘Do not disturb – I am thinking’ and would put it on his timesheet as Thinking Time.

The difficulty that both my sisters and I have, is that our mother was ill for many years with depression and agoraphobia and would stay in bed all day, every day, not getting dressed or doing anything in the house.  We have spent our lives doing regular checks on ourselves to make sure that we’re not starting to behave like her or slipping into bad habits.  Even though our mother is now better, she still takes to her bed at the drop of a hat and we sub-consciously rail against any behavior that feels similar.

I didn’t get to bed until gone one o’clock this morning and, as I was coming back from the school run, I could feel my eyelids drooping as I drove along the A6.  Not good.  So I went back to bed for an hour and now I feel better.  And what’s more, I shall continue to do this whenever I feel like it, in the interests of sanity.

I am the Wartime Housewife, I am a grown up and I can do what I like (within reason).

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Filed under Family and Friends, Life in general, The Wartime Housewife Blog

Sleeper – Part 3

Babies.  The guidelines for getting babies into good sleep habits are pretty much the same as for children and adults.  Plenty of fresh air, good routines and take away their mobile ‘phones.  Sorted.

But seriously folks babies are clever creatures and they pick up on how things are going to be run pretty quickly.  Now I am almost certainly going to get pilloried by someone at some time for my approach to babies and I must stress that these are MY opinions and ultimately you must go with your own instincts.  Midwives vary, in that some of them give you good advice and some of them feed you the party line.

The most obvious things to make babies cry are being hungry, wet, dirty or windy.   These things make me cry too.  Let’s assume that they have fed well, have a clean dry bottom and have burped like a builder on Special Brew.  Put them in the cot, wrapped appropriately, with the window open, tell them it’s sleep time and leave the room.  If they start to cry, give it a good long time before you go back, and when you do, don’t pick them up, tell them it’s sleep time, make lots of reassuring noises and leave again.  Be firm. This can be quite hard, but in the long run it pays off and they soon learn that you mean it.

If a child is constantly hungry, it may be that they’re not getting enough from you or their bottle.  Boy the Elder was a ridiculously large baby and although he fed well, he was still always hungry.  I started supplementing his feeds with thin baby rice, then pureed swede at 5 weeks and he was as happy as a sandboy.  Ask your midwife or family for advice if you’re not sure. 

Boy the Younger, on the other hand, was small, thin, yellow and had pointy ears.  He didn’t sleep, he was jaundiced, he didn’t feed properly, he didn’t stop crying.  For the first month I wished I’d never had him (and I can’t tell you how bad that feels).  And then I returned to my right mind and took him to see the cranial osteopath.  She diagnosed compression at the base of his skull and very tight membranes across the plates of his head.  It only took a few sessions before there was a massive improvement in his feeding and sleeping.

Cranial osteopathy is a wonderful thing.  During the birth process, babies are stuck upside down in a tight, nasty place for quite a long time and this can cause the plates of the skull and the vertebrae of the spine to compress and tighten.  This compression can lead to poor feeding, poor sleep habits and restlessness.  Boy the Younger had a permanent headache for three months so it was no wonder he cried all the time and was off his trough.

Boy the Elder simply couldn’t be bothered to be born and at ten days over his due date I was carted off to be induced.  After 18 hours of established labour, an emergency C.section was carried out to prevent the pair of us being carried off.  He was born with a very pointy head indeed, so he was whipped off to the osteopath within ten days.  He was the healthiest, most well behaved baby one could hope for and he was sleeping through the night at 8 weeks.  Osteopaths aren’t cheap, but my goodness it’s worth it.

If babies are restless, massage is a wonderful way, not just of relaxing them, but bonding with them as well.  There are lots of great books about baby massage and many health centres run classes.  Otherwise, a good Aromatherapist will show you how to do it.  It also improves circulation, muscle tone, digestion – it soothes the gut if they suffer from wind or colic, and helps to boost the immune system.  It can also form a mutually advantageous part of their routine if you get into the habit of doing five or ten minutes of massage after the bath and just before you put them down to sleep.  You can also add one drop of lavender essential oil to their bath which helps to promote deep sleep.

I always put my children to sleep in the pram in the garden during the day, summer and winter alike.  I remember Sister the First ringing me in November (BTE was born in September) and she remarked on how quiet it was.  I told her BTE was asleep in the garden.  “No wonder he’s quiet!” she said “he’s got hypothermia!”  Oh how we laughed.  The only time I brought them in was if it was really torrenting with rain, foggy or snowing.  The blankets were on, the hood was up, the apron was secured with the flap up and the pram was turned into the wind.  For BTE I had a normal sized pram in which he could lie flat, but for BTY we had renovated my mother’s beautiful 1950’s, coach built, Silver Cross pram which was big enough to hold small parties in.

If you really don’t feel safe putting your baby outside, then put the cot near the window and leave the window wide open to allow the fresh air in.  If it gets chilly, pop a hat on them and an extra blanket.  They don’t die of cold when you walk them to the shops so they won’t die of cold in their bedroom.

If you can manage to establish routines early on, it is easier to continue these when they start crawling and toddling.  I am not a morning person and if I’m woken very early I’m a very bad person indeed.  When BTE started escaping from his cot, we put a stairgate over his bedroom door and left a few toys and books where he could get them.  He soon realised that I would come and get him, but that no amount of yelling would get me there any earlier.  It was rather nice to pad down to his room and see him sitting looking at his books or playing with his toys. 

BTY was not so compliant, as he is a morning person (and still bounces about at a revoltingly early hour).  I used to leave a drink of water and a piece of bread and butter under his cot and this would keep him quiet until I got up; earlier than I would have liked, but still civilized by most people’s standards.

And one more thing.  Don’t put babies in front of the television.  Don’t laugh, I know lots of people who have.  When I was teaching baby massage classes, I had a mother come to me because her 3 month old baby would not sleep at all during the day.  It turned out that she was lying him on a rug in the lounge with the television on all day to keep him amused.  We had a conversation, she switched the telly off, put him to sleep outside and bingo.  Slept like a …. baby.

  • Make sure your baby has fresh air every day
  • Try to establish a routine as soon as you can and stick to it
  • Have soft lighting in the bedroom
  • Have some cuddly  ‘wind down’ before going up to bed
  • Keep the bedroom cool
  • Read even tiny babies a story, tuck them up, then leave the room
  • If they won’t stop crying  and you’ve eliminated possible health problems , consider massage and/or cranial osteopathy
  • Trust your instincts and if you’re not sure, ask someone.

That’s enough about kipping now.

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Filed under Children, Family and Friends, Health and Fitness, Life in general, Medical, Natural Home Medicines

Sleeper – Part 2

Now today we’re going to talk about sleep and children.  Before we say anything else, let’s establish one thing.  Children need a lot of sleep.  Babies need around 17 hours, young children between 10 and 12 hours.  Teenagers, it would appear, genuinely need more sleep than adults at around 9.5 hours per night.

So.  How many children are actually getting enough sleep to function properly?  According to The Independent newspaper, up to two thirds of British children are not getting enough sleep and have missed as much as 4,500 hours by their 7th birthday.  Blimey.

An increasing number of children are chronically sleep deprived.  This leads them to be bad-tempered, unable to concentrate at school, have poor memory, reduced creativity, have cognitive impairment, they are more clumsy, have lower immunity, behavioural problems and a wide variety of health problems including obesity, diabetes and depression.

Good sleeping habits have to be taught like everything else.  Babies can be taught from a very early age that there are times for feeding and times for sleeping and this should continue into childhood.  Babies and young children are exhausting, particularly if you have more than one and, as a parent, you owe it to yourself to train your child to go to bed at a sensible time, not only for their sake, but for your own.  Parents need child free time and time to rest and be with their partners, even if it’s only for a short time.  Children must not be allowed to dictate the timetable of an entire household.

Another area where chronic sleep deprivation seems to have an impact is children with ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and inadequate sleep appears to be a contributing factor.  In a study in  Finland, children between 7 and 8 who got less than 7.7 hours of sleep per night were significantly more likely to be hyperactive or inattentive than the children who had 9.4 hours sleep or more.

Now this would appear to be common sense surely.  Our parents’ generation sent us off to bed early as a matter of course, so what’s happened?   I think it’s a combination of several things:

Too much television and time on computers:  although we think TV is soporific and that we’re veg-ing out, it actually stimulates brainwaves but not in a way that aids brain development.  The fast pace in the editing of many children’s programmes leads to difficulties with attention and hyperstimulation.

Not enough fresh air and exercise: not only will this prevent them from becoming overweight which can cause sleep difficulties in itself, but it helps with respiration and a healthy heart.  They will also be tired for the right reasons, all of which promote healthy sleep.

Poor diet: Sugar and refined carbohydrates create fluctuating blood sugar levels that can disrupt your sleep in the middle of the night. Another side effect of excessive sugar consumption is insulin rebound, in which the body is overwhelmed with an influx of simple sugars and as a result cannot digest food properly. This condition causes a stress reaction in the body that prevents sleep.

Lack of parental control:  As a parent we have a responsibility to make sure our children go to bed at the right time.  It’s our job.  We have to set boundaries; 8 o’clock must mean 8 o’clock and when you say one story, only read one story.  If they’re getting enough sleep, there’s a reasonable chance their behaviour will be better and therefore cause fewer disruptions, making you less stressed and therefore better able to cope with enforcing a routine.

Lack of routine:  Children need routine – it makes them feel safe – and this ties in with the paragraph above.  Do the same things every night; warm milky drink, wash, teeth, bed, story, goodnight.  It’s not always possible to stick to it, but do try.

Many children are sent off to bed with no supervision whatsoever.  Many parents don’t read bedtime stories, don’t supervise washing and teeth cleaning, don’t tuck their children up, and let them fall asleep in front of television of computer games.  There’s no security in this.  To be tucked up in bed with a warm kiss goodnight, is sometimes all a child needs to settle.  In my opinion, young children shouldn’t have computers or televisions in their rooms in the first place.  How can you monitor what and when they’re watching?

As adults, we know that when we are chronically tired we cope less well with stress, so why should our children be any different?  Will a permanently tired child turn into a permanently tired adult who can’t cope with the vicissitudes of modern life.  We can’t risk it.

Children do suffer from stress and even if you have a good bedtime routine, life events can cause children to become anxious and not sleep.  Talk to your child and listen to what they have to say.  If it persists, take them to the doctor in case they need some counselling or treatment for a physical problem.

So to recap:

  • Make sure your child has fresh air and exercise every day
  • Set your routine and stick to it
  • Remove televisions, computers and mobile ‘phones from the bedroom
  • Have soft lighting in the bedroom
  • Don’t have dinner too close to bedtime – a milky drink and a biscuit or a banana should be sufficient
  • Have half an hour’s ‘wind down’ before going up to bed
  • Keep the bedroom cool
  • Supervise bedtime, tuck them in, read them a story, then leave the room
  • Make sure they know you’re pleased when they stay in bed – maybe keep a star chart so they can earn a treat

I understand that this is sometimes difficult.  Boy the Elder needs 23 ½ hours sleep a night and Boy the Younger needs 9 or 10.  When they shared a room it was horrendous as Boy the Elder was getting massive sleep deprivation and in the end he would often have to come in with me.  It is much better now they have separate rooms and, combined with a stricter regime, star charts really do help because they can see immediate evidence of their successes.

I’ve just realised that we haven’t even started on babies, so I shall have to do a Sleeper Part 3, but don’t worry, it won’t be as long as the first two!

Sources:
Royal College of Psychiatrists
The Sleep Disorders Centre, Sacre-Coeur Hospital, Paris
MIND
British Medical Association Journal August 2000
Paediatrics – April 2009
The Sleep Apnoea Trust
The Independent newspaper – May 2003
The Times newspaper – November 2009
Loughborough University, England
The University of Montreal, Canada
The University of Helsinki, Finland
The Good Night Guide for Children booklet

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Filed under Children, Health and Fitness, Medical

The Wartime Housewife has been Enhanced

My Office

Not in a surgical way of course, for The Wartime Housewife is already a perfect specimen of housewifely voluptuousness. 

No.  For tonight, ladies and gentlemen, I have finally been upgraded.  One scrumptious gig of Random Access Memory has been inserted lovingly into my hard drive and I can now run four – Yes Four!- programmes at once and still finish a perfect blog in time for the Ten O’Clock News. 

I can check my mail, write my blog, marvel at my ever soaring statistics and doctor photographs without once poking my own eyes out with a crochet hook in frustration and rage because of the binary alzheimers which has increasingly been my personal dis-ease. 

And if you’re lucky, I might even stop banging on about it to you, when I’m banging my own head on my desk at two o’clock in the morning.

For I have been visited by none other than Bruce Edwards, better known as ‘PC Sorted’ (or was that Inspector Morse?) the Domestic IT Specialist of this parish.  He cruised in like a rooster and upgraded me in a flash, then disappeared into the darkness, as the words “Just doing my job Ma’am” floated by on the mist-laden breeze. 

Actually I made the last bit up, but I want you all to share my joy.
I may even sleep now.

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Off we go again – but with heels on

Happy New Year to you all!

I’m sorry that I haven’t posted for a while, but Christmas has been a joyful, but hectic old time and this is the first day that I’ve had a moment to myself for nearly three weeks.  I have also finally caught up with the Lost Sleep that goes hand in hand with the week leading up to Christmas.  Having woken briefly for The Archers, slithered downstairs just long enough to boil an egg and make soldiers, then return to bed to almost finish the Andrew Martin book (Murder at Deviation Junction) I was given for Christmas, I feel thoroughly refreshed and ready for action.

Action, in the immediate sense, meant tidying the midden that was my bedroom and photographing three pairs of shoes.  I need to explain this.

I love shoes. I am not a frivolous woman; my interests in life tend towards the intellectual, the artistic and the practical and I am passionate about many things.  But shoes are one girly fetish to which I submit with joy. Except in extremis, it matters not whether you gain or lose a few pounds,  your shoes still fit.

Oh yes

I have nearly sixty pairs of shoes and boots ranging from a clomping pair of ex-army yompers through sensible black pumps to the sluttiest pair of 5″ red suede stilettos you have ever seen (a gift from Lady Somerset).  In order to enjoy them to the full, I keep them all in boxes, stacked on a bookshelf in my bedroom, each with a photograph carefully pasted on the front for ease of identity. It really speeds up getting dressed, I can tell you!  Practical you see, practical.

Sadly, I don’t get as many opportunities as I would like to wear the really slutty ones, but I know they’re there.  Waiting in their boxes, for the time when, having run an appraising eye over the serried ranks of foot-soldiers waiting for duty, I fix a resolute eye on the perfect pair – perhaps The Pewter Wedges, perhaps the Black PVC Platform Boots – and say “You are the Chosen Ones.  Come forth and dazzle your public!”.

Actually, I may not have had quite enough sleep after all…

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