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Light sleepers "get used to it?"

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

When asking older parents (like, my parents age) for advice regarding our super light sleeper, no one seems to take it seriously. They all say she will "get used to" sleeping in not-perfectly-quiet environments (like a guest room during a family get together). But it seems to require forcing her to sleep in these environments often... which she just doesn't. She just skips naps and then sleeps a ton when we get home. We also sadly don't leave the house very often, so she's in our quiet home for most naps anyway, and would have no opportunity to "get used to" sleeping through sounds. 


Have you had a light sleeper ever just get used to sleeping through sounds? She only does if in a carrier, where I can bounce her gently through the noise until she falls back asleep. So, not even then really. 


And by light sleeper, I mean, she sleeping in our room until we move, and we actually change for bed and brush our teeth etc. in the second bathroom in the hall to not wake her, and we have a ZERO pillow talk policy, because whispers wake her. And every time I move a pillow I cringe, waiting to see if that wakes her too! 

post #2 of 15
DD was exactly like this. Exactly like this. And no one really understood. My parents came to visit when she was a few months old and their version of "super quiet" was like elephants stampeding compared to DH and me. They woke her up so many times...

Now, she's 15 months and sleeps a lot better. However, the noise sensitivity is only about 10-15% better. She's also "high needs" and "highly sensitive" though, so we're realizing that this is just who she is and she's not likely to change significantly.

What has helped is getting her more consolidated sleep and longer night stretches. We also moved her out of our room a couple of weeks ago. We would have kept her with us longer but every little noise woke her (I completely understand about pillow/blanket rustling, btw). DH had already moved out of the room a long time ago because he couldn't handle the noise restrictions. It was crazy!

Good luck with this! It's very difficult to have to be so quiet and anxious.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I can't wait until we move to a bigger home. Right now she's in our room out of need.

Thanks for the empathy though. Glad to know I'm not just being overprotective or something.
post #4 of 15
I understand. You're welcome!!
post #5 of 15
At 3.5, mine is now only über-wake able during certain sensitive periods of her sleep. These periods have decreased as her sleep stretches have improved. I totally get what you're saying about people not getting it. The guest room we were in at the in laws this week was like a train station of dogs and 400 pound men. She woke up about a million times, but no one seemed inclined to be quieter....
post #6 of 15

Yes, I know what you mean. We have a second bathroom downstairs and put another set of toothbrushes and my face cleaning stuff down there because that's where we get ready for bed at night so as not to wake DD. To be fair she does not always wake at such small noises anymore but I don't know when she's in a deep sleep vs. not so I don't want to take the chance.


I love it when people (especially those without children) tell me how I just need to make lots of noise when she is sleeping and falling asleep and she will eventually get used to it. Well, maybe yes and maybe no, but in the meantime I sure will be missing out on some sleep... It might work for kids who put themselves to sleep or if you do CIO but we need to parent DD to sleep so every wakeup means less sleep and extra work for us. We'll see how this changes with baby #2 as I'm sure having an energetic 3 year old will make for a different noise environment!


A lot of this advice also comes from people who seem to have a faulty memory (or rose-coloured glasses when it comes to the past). For example my MIL is always telling me how DH was a really good sleeper, blah blah blah, when he himself remembers it quite differently. He's always had trouble falling asleep (still does, it takes him an hour or more to fall asleep), wakes easily at noises and has trouble getting back to sleep in the night.

post #7 of 15

Have you tried playing a sound machine for some white noise to block out the sounds that might otherwise wake her?

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Oh, yes. She sleeps very well at home because we totally sound insulate her and then avoid her vicinity like it's some kind of cursed land, and we might wake the legendary dragon that lives there smile.gif.

I know what works when I can control her environment.

It's when I am visiting friends or going out that everyone insists I just stay even though she I struggling to nap, or like at a restaurant recently, when my mom said that she'd just fall asleep in the car seat at the table and that she'd get used to the sounds.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
The thing is she does rarely just conk out in the sling or something around sounds, but it's a rare treat, and not something I can cour on when planning my day.

I am just wondering if anyone's babes did start doing that now often and you can now say they USED to be light sleepers.
post #10 of 15

If your baby has high needs for quiet- I don't know there's anything you can do. To get her used to noises- you would have to stop insulating her (not all at once, gradually), but there's no guarantee that will work. If you have a period of time where getting enough sleep isn't as necessary (because that ever happens)- you could start gradually introducing noises to get your baby used to it- but, again, I don't know for sure that would work.


We had a few people advise us to make sure to expose our kiddo to noise while sleeping in the first few months. I don't know if your baby did or not- but it's more common for newborns to sleep through anything than it is for older babies- if your baby is like that and you continue exposing them to noise while asleep, then the baby will keep up the ability to sleep through noise. In theory, anyways- it's anecdotal advice, not based on documented evidence. Ideally you can start getting your baby used to noise in utero-- again, just anecdotal evidence, and I'm certain there are some babies who won't sleep through noise no matter what you do.

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
We totally kept her sleeping in all kinds of environments until she was 3 months old or so. She suddenly just stopped napping but for once a day, and it took me a while to realize that she just couldn't sleep through stuff anymore.
post #12 of 15

Yeah, some babies are like that- I don't think there's anything you can do. Especially when you aren't at home. Sleeping in an unfamiliar environment is hard for adults, a lot of people will wake up at the slightest noise when they're in a strange place even if they're usually heavy sleepers. It can take a good while to get used to sleeping in a new place. Do you bed share? And do so when you're in new places? If you do, that's really the best advice I could think of. If you have her in a travel bassinet or something when you're not at home- could you get her used to sleeping in that while at home so that she isn't in a new place AND a new bed?

post #13 of 15
I chuckled at the white noise suggestion because, like you, we've always had REALLY loud white noise and a "no movement except to breathe" rule. This type of baby just hears EVERYTHING.

I wouldn't try to desensitize her yet. Not while her sleep is so important. The more tired she is, the more sensitive she'll be. If possible, I would wait it out to closer to a year and then maybe start scaling back on insulation noises. DD has done better the more familiar she gets with noises in general. For example, she's heard lots of planes go by overhead now, she's seen them actually flying and connected them to the noise, and she's learned the sign for plane. NOW she'll sleep through a plane going over.

Also, nursing her through her naps beginning when she was 9+ months helped some. It was the ultimate comfort for her, so if she heard a bang or two, she didn't jump up and scream. But she did still notice it, so it helped her feel ok with noticing a noise but going back to sleep.

I think, unfortunately, there's very little you can do about it right now. I'm sorry. I know how hard it is to only get out of the house for a little bit and to have to rush home when other babies would just fall asleep where they are. For us, this was just one of the many unexpected sacrifices we had to make for our daughter. I hope that's not the case for you.
post #14 of 15

Ds1 and ds2 were like this. We did the white noise thing and kept quiet. People thought we were nuts and that we should have exposed them to noise etc. However, it would have been more work making noise every night than it was to just deal with the few instances that we had a noisy house. 

post #15 of 15
I would think that it would be strange to have a baby that easily passes out in a new and stimulating environment, lol! Although there are some who do, I think most babies have trouble settling in an environment that is unfamiliar, nevermind a baby who is sensitive to their environment to begin with! You aren't doing anything wrong, your baby isn't weird. I think that family easily forget what things are like with a baby. Yes, some babies can become accustomed to falling asleep in different kinds of circumstances, or may do better out when they are older andsleep deeper. But its definitely not true for all babies. My DS did go from needing to sleep with me on my chest at all times to me being able to sneak away after getting him to sleep at about 7 - 8months or so. And DD can sleep through more because there has always been more background noise for her. But you can't recreate a restaurant environment at home, nor would you really want to, I would think. Her ability to do so will depend more on her temperment and development than you creating a perfect storm of stimulation to desensitize her.
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