Friday, March 18, 2011

The Sleep Issue

Im not going to claim that Im an expert on sleep or that I have the secret key to easy night time parenting. Far from it, in fact! My kid doesn’t sleep through the night on a consistant basis at all. She goes in and out of good sleep phases just like most of the young kids I know. What I can talk about is the things I do that I think helps her to relax, keep vata dosha mitigated and, if all other things align, to maybe even sleep better. Sometimes this means 7-5am and no peep. Other times, its hard to tell what is going on but she may wake up 2 or 3 times. I think there is some correlation between her teething and waking but I don’t know for sure.

A little bit of sleep history. At 3 months we had the best sleeper. She consistently slept 9-10 hours straight a night. This lasted only 3 months and then it got bad for about 6 months. After she grew out of the co-sleeper and her sleep had regressed to constant waking, we decided that the only way I’d get sleep is by taking her into the bed with us. So at about 7 months, she joined Jon and I in bed. I really liked the cuddling but I couldn’t get comfortable at all with her next to me so we needed to end that. But it wasn’t easy. She still was nursing to sleep and would wake if you moved her.

We sought the help of the No-Cry Sleep Solution to help us have a plan. Our goal was for her to sleep in her crib in her room. First step was to move the futon mattress to our floor and put her to sleep on that. She would sleep part of the night on the floor by herself and part of the night with either Jon or I on the floor with her. We did that for months and then made the move to her crib at about 1 yr with that futon on the floor for us to lay on as needed. Somewhere in this, we decided to night wean. That wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t had the most amazing husband to do all of the night wakings and be by Lily’s side. I have no other tools besides boob. And she does wakes less since she doesn’t expect milk all night.

We always had a routine going and for most of the time, going to sleep hasn’t been the problem for us. The routine and the time preceding the routine are very relaxed. That’s the main one. No over stimulation. Too much stimulation increases vata dosha and that is not what you want to do before bed.

One of the foods that I specifically use for helping with sleep is urad dal. Some of the longest sleeps she has had were weeks where I made it a few times for dinner. Urad dal is vata reducing but it is a little heavy to digest so its only good for those with healthy agni/digestive fire. Luckily for us, all of our household falls in this category. Urad dal gives strenghth , increases breast milk, improves quality of semen and promotes sleep, to name just a few benefits. Our current favorite is these yummy urad dal pancakes/chila (recipe below). In school we learned how to make them with mung beans which were a favorite first finger food for Lily. A little while ago, I came across a recipe for the urad dal chila. My recipe meets both of those together to form one that works for my families’ needs.

Another that we now incorporate is milk w/ nutmeg. We are now trying to wean from the breast and give cow milk.

We start the routine with a bath filled with essential oils. I always use lavender and sometimes patchouli or sandalwood. I like to burn incense as well. Dim lights. A really nice mood. Then we move to her room where she gets her head and feet massaged by brahmi-sesame oil. This helps to reduce vata and is good for nerves, intelligence memory among other things.

After that we put on our pajamas, read some books, have milk and go to sleep. The night could go any which way from there but I do think all of these things don’t make it worse. Sounds lovely, right? Who wouldn’t be relaxed from that routine?

Recipe of the day:

Urad dal pancake

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup split w/ out skin urad dal (soaked over night)
  • 1 tsp amchur / mango powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbs shredded ginger
  • ½ tsp himalayan rock salt
  • 1 cup spinach (chopped)
  • 1/3 cup ghee
  1. Heat pan
  2. Grind urad dal to paste using some of the reserved water from soaking
  3. Add spices and spinach to batter
  4. Spread ghee in pan
  5. Ladle batter into pan / spread thin like a crepe
  6. Cook approx 30 seconds on each side / until brown
  7. Serrve with chutney or eat as is

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