July 11--Ginger Allington was getting up around the clock to nurse her baby back to sleep. Neither she nor her husband had slept much for months, and Allington says she remembers thinking: "We need to get him to sleep longer or I'm going to die." Her husband, Adam, described that period of time as the "widow maker." For those who doubt the desperation that parents feel when they suffer from acute or chronic sleep loss, consider that sleep deprivation is allegedly among the "enhanced interrogation techniques" used on detainees at Abu Ghraib.
Getting your child to fall asleep and stay asleep can be one of the most painful challenges of parenthood. I recall those hazy years when I was nursing a baby, then pregnant with the next and nursing again. For a five-year stretch, an uninterrupted night of sleep seemed like an out-of-reach dream. When Allington, 31, hit the sleep wall, her son was about 6 months old. She is a doctoral student in biology at St. Louis University and took a scientific approach to the situation: She read five books in three days on getting your baby to sleep. "It was the worst idea ever," she said. "I went from distraught to more distraught." Each book advocated a different approach and claimed the alternative was absolutely the wrong thing to do. They decided to seek professional help.
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