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Quantifying Your Sleep with an Infant

It’s almost impossible to predict how your life is going to change once you have a baby. But one thing that was apparent early on was how hard sleep deprivation was going to be. While Aaron and I vary widely in some interests, we share a similar love of data. Given that, when Max was born it was a no brainer that we start tracking everything from our sleep to his diapers, bottles, sleep sessions, etc. We easily log all of our sleep activity using the Fitbit HR, which automatically detects sleep without having to manually start and stop a timer. Here is a visual of how an infant impacts your sleep.

MONTH 1-4. I would’t say the first 4 months were a breeze, but they weren’t as hard as I was anticipating. This was partly because I had developed a worst case scenario in my mind and was mentally prepared for how difficult this time would be. I pictured myself looking like a zombie with bloodshot eyes, greasy hair and 2 day old sweatpants on. Needless to say, it wasn’t like that at all.

Since we didn’t start giving Max a bottle until he was about 6 weeks old, the nightime feedings were up to me. Luckily Aaron was an amazing and supportive partner. He woke up for every single feeding, even after he went back to work, to change Max’s diaper and help us get situated.

By the time I went back to work, Max was 8 weeks old and only waking up once to nurse. I didn’t even mind getting up because Max would latch easily and then immediately go back to sleep afterwards. I was averaging between 6-7 hours a night and I remember thinking “I can do this”. Here’s a look at my sleep from the first 4 months. Each black line is a sleep session and the gaps between black lines represent time awake. So if Max woke up 2 times in one night, then I might have had 3 sleep sessions. The orange and red tick marks are Fitbit’s assessment of sleep quality (the fewer ticks means less disrupted sleep).

Quantifying Your Sleep with an Infant - The First 4 Months

MONTH 5-8. Shortly after Max turned 4 months old his sleep routine completely changed and as a result so did ours. Max started waking up 2-3 times a night, wasn’t hungry, and wouldn’t go back to sleep. Aaron and I would take turns staying up and rocking Max until he fell asleep. Some nights we even tried to drive him around and even that wasn’t a guarantee. Our average sleep per night dropped to around 4 hours, with some nights as few as 2 hours. And from the graph below, you can see that the time between sleep sessions was much longer than the first 4 months. This period was tough.

Quantifying Your Sleep with an Infant - Month 5-8

MONTH 9-. August 30th, also known as the day we sleep trained Max or better yet, the day we got our sleep back. I wrote about the details of sleep training in Max’s 8 month post, but I think the impact is even more obvious when you look at my sleep data. Almost immediately, I started averaging around 7 hours of sleep and usually that was in 1 sleep session!

Quantifying Your Sleep with an Infant - Month 9-

Luckily Max has only gotten better at putting himself to sleep, but Aaron and I won’t forget how tough those few months were. Now that we are all well rested, we are having so much more fun these days! Here is one of my favorite visualizations of my sleep. The graph is showing length of each sleep session. Notice the first 5 weeks I never slept more than 2-3 hours at a time, but that gradually got better over the first year. The data shown here only goes up to November, but my sleep has remained consistent since then!

Quantifying Your Sleep with an Infant - Average length of each sleep session

I’d love to hear how much sleep other moms (or dads!) are getting?