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March 08, 2007

SLEEP CONSULTANTS

Anne Tergesen

Did anyone read the recent New York Times article about couples who hire sleep consultants? Their problem: Children who ditch lavishly appointed beds (princess models seem especially popular) to hop into the sack with mom and dad. Desperate for sleep, the disgruntled parents give in and spend the rest of the night clinging to the edge of their mattresses while their kicking, sprawling offspring occupy the center.

While everyone knows sleep deprivation afflicts the parents of infants, this article details the sad plight of parents whose offspring never seem to learn to sleep through the night—or at least not in their own beds. “It is so gross to think you’ve ended up with a family bed,” one mom told the Times.

Working parents figure prominently in the article. Exhausted after a long day at work, some don’t have the energy to make a stand, while others apparently feel too guilty. But sleep consultants—who say their practices are booming—say it’s not working parents’ guilt but the “difficulty parents have in setting appropriate limits” that’s to blame (at least that’s what clinical psychologist, Neil Newman told the Times).

I’m amazed and grateful that I somehow managed to escape this bed-hopping nightmare. Before I had children, I was horrified by the concept of a “family bed.” But sure enough, after each of my three sons was born, our bed became theirs. It was just too easy: I could feed them without getting up—or even waking up.

But eventually, the arrangement got out of hand. Too sleepy to realize what was going on, I’d end up feeding them all night long, only to wonder why they weren’t eating during the day. My oldest became especially difficult. In an effort to keep him out of our bed, we’d lie on his floor, next to his crib as he was falling asleep. This went on for weeks. Once, I remember crawling out of his room only to have him pop up and shout “lie down mommy!”

How did I finally break him of this absurd routine? I got pregnant with my second son and was just too tired and impatient to put up with it. I started to let him cry at night. I’d try not to let it go on too long—10 minutes was about all I could take. Luckily, he got the hint. It wasn’t easy to listen to, but I’m so glad he and his brothers are not in my bed today.

09:46 AM

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