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THAT MOM: 90 Minute Sleep Miracle

on November 15 | in Co-Sleeping | by | with 21 Comments

[info_box]This sleep miracle was brought to you by Angela Aitken, who first shared this book with me on THAT Mom. Angela is just one of the many women here that have inspired, taught, and encouraged me. Thank you! [/info_box]

In a previous post I wrote about the disastrous results of attempting the 90 Minute Baby Sleep Program without, ahem, actually reading the book. Well, when the book FINALLY arrived I decided not to bother with it. My baby couldn’t stay awake for 90 minutes, so the theory was just another unhelpful fad . . . end of discussion, right?

Wrong.

After being clued into a possible cycle, I couldn’t help but notice that it kept popping up in real life. Micah would wake, fuss about one hour after being awake and fall asleep around 90 minutes. Nothing consistent, just some patches of pattern here and there with the occasional meltdown (his and mine).

Finally curiosity got the best of me. I picked up the book. Five pages in I was hooked. Dr. Polly Moore’s advice goes against much of what I was doing and most of what I’ve heard, but her research and reasoning is very compelling.

Specifically, she discourages the practice of waking babies up from long daytime naps to keep them from getting their “days and nights mixed up.” Baby’s neurological network is running a “system check” while they sleep, she says, adding that baby must be allowed to complete this task in order to achieve quality sleep. According to her research, the profound neurological benefits of uninterrupted sleep are worth the temporary day/night confusion.

I decided to give it another try. Disaster AGAIN. Micah was doing reasonably well up to that point, why couldn’t I just be happy with that? Why did I have to tweak things and mess up our routine?

Simply put, because I prefer to let nature take its course wherever possible. If there is an innate rhythm to babies sleep I want to know about it!!! But after that second meltdown I decided I was out on any more experiments.

Holy Grail Of Sleep???

As Dr. Moore explained her theory in more detail I began to reconsider whether those miserable two attempts were really failures. Apparently there is often a recalibration period that can be pretty messy. Maybe those miserable days were the beginnings of a transition to something better, so I decided to give it another shot.

WORST. DAY. EVER.

Followed by three days of bliss. It could have been five, but I’ll get to that. On the no good, very bad first day of the program Micah fell asleep every 90 minutes as predicted. However, he only slept for ten to twenty minute intervals all day long. By evening we were both on the verge of hysteria. As the sun set I laid down in bed with him, desperate for some rest after a day of non-stop nursing, rocking and walking. To my surprise, we both fell asleep.

He woke up a different baby. I have gone whole days with barely a whimper at naptime. I nurse, I rock. He stares lovingly up and me, smiling until his lids close and he goes limp in my arms. He sleeps deeply for long stretches.

It’s freakin’ beautiful.

I will say this, though: The first chapters extremely helpful, but I do not agree with later parts of the book in which Dr. Moore recommends teaching baby to “self soothe’ around the six month mark (she is pro “cry it out”). Fortunately, the 90 minute approach works without that aspect.

And boy does it work.

Finding The Sweet Spot

The other night I was rocking Micah. As his lids drooped closed I said to Daniel “It’s 6:10 isn’t it?” He looked at the clock behind me. “Yep. How did you know?”

“Because that’s when I predicted Micah would fall asleep.” Pretty cool, huh? The best part about discovering this rhythm is that I know where to focus my efforts. When Katie was a baby, I sometimes carried her for HOURS before she fell asleep. It would seem she was almost asleep and then her eyes would pop wide open for another hour of misery. Now when I soothe Micah I can see why. At the end of his wake cycle he gets a little fussy. He begins to squirm and whimper. With Katie I would take this as a sign that what I was doing wasn’t working and I needed to try something new (swaddle, unswaddle, change diaper, etc.).



Click Image to Order!

Now, if Micah begins to fuss right before the 90 minute mark I don’t change a thing. Swaddling or changing him during the few minutes his body is most receptive to sleep wastes a precious opportunity. If I know I am in the sweet spot I just continue to soothe him. There have been times I thought, “This is not going to happen. He’s four minutes from the 90 minute mark and he’s wide awake.” But, believe it or not, he somehow settles down and sleeps. Here’s an example of how it went today:

1o:50 a.m. – Awake. Check time and determine the next sleep interval should be around 12:2o p.m.

12:10 p.m. – Smiling and cooing

12:15 p.m. – Body stiff while I walk with him, eyes WIDE OPEN

12:17 p.m. – Body more relaxed, sucking fingers

12:22 p.m. – Asleep

12:27 p.m. – Transfer from my arms to bed

Stay Tuned

I promised to share my experiences in real time, so here they are. However, I’ve only been doing this for about five days. What happens on day six is anyone’s guess.

I will say this: I went against Dr. Moore advice and tried to get Micah to nap “on the go” while Katie had a few playdates. His sleep during those two days was more disrupted than previous days. For now, I have decided to plan short play trips for Katie that don’t interfere with Micah’s naps. Hopefully when his naps fall into a more predictable cycle (around 3-4 months) I will try to push the boundaries again. For now, though, I think it’s worth it to stick close by.

These past few days have been incredible. My stress level has plummeted. I make scheduling decisions, like when to get Katie ready for a nap so we all fall asleep together, with confidence. It’s not perfect, but it’s better.

Again, big thanks to Angela for telling me about this book!

I’ll be wrapping this series up soon. Have I left you with any lingering questions? Let me know!

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21 Responses to THAT MOM: 90 Minute Sleep Miracle

  1. Lesley says:

    So I guess I will need to get the book to learn how to handle this with a 6 month old?? Lexi had been sleeping wonderfully…and over the past 2weeks everything has changed and I am quite discouraged…I am thrilled for you to have found the secret that seems to be working for you guys though!!!! Thanks for sharing!

    • Heather says:

      Give it a try! I have already promised my book to someone or I would give it to you, but it was worth the minimal expense to gain a better understanding of circadian rhythms. Obviously Lexi can stay awake for more than 90 minutes, but Dr. Moore explains very well how to apply the research at that age. Hang in there!!!

  2. Joy says:

    Pretty sure I’m going to go read this book. It’s always good to have lots of tools in our mommy tool box.

  3. I’m for sure going to get this book before baby girl #2 comes! I want to do some things differently with her sleep and this will help me understand what that is. Thanks!!

  4. margo says:

    At what age does it say the 90 minutes stretches longer? My little one is 4 months and still does the 90 minutes.

    • Heather says:

      That’s normal according to Dr. Moore. “There is no single precise age at which babies become capable of staying awake for longer than 90 minutes. Sometime after the fourth month or so, however, many babies extend one or more of their wakeful cycles from 90 minutes to three hours (which is two consecutive 90 minute cycles) or even four and a half hours (which is three consecutive 90 minute cycles). No matter when your baby begins to stay awake for longer periods, there are some fairly predictable ways this change takes shape. The first longer wakeful period usually appears in the evening, just before bedtime. It can also appear just after the morning awakening. Although you might expect this change to occur in gradual increments, from 90 minutes of wakefulness to 100 minutes to 110 minutes and so on, babies usually make the transition rather suddenly, from 90 minutes straight to 180 or 270 minutes.”

  5. Kirsten says:

    Sounds great! So glad it’s working for you! Do you feel this works better than “No-Cry Sleep Solution”? or is it a book that could be used in conjunction with it?

    • Heather says:

      I think they’re very complementary. The research in the “The 90 Minute Baby Sleep Solution” is very helpful but I don’t agree with her “cry it out” advice. For ideas to help baby learn to fall asleep gently I would definitely go with the “No Cry Sleep Solution.”

  6. Angela A. says:

    Hooray! That’s so awesome Heather! And I’m so glad to have someone to compare notes with. I kinda gave up on the program here and there too but found that I couldn’t help but look at the clock and notice 90 minute marks after having read the book. Might be both a blessing and a curse. :) We’re still following it and I can tell Cash is moving toward extending his evening wake time because he doesn’t always go down at the last 90 minute mark of the day. We also still have more short (45 minute) naps than long ones which is my main complaint, but I’m hopeful that will change with age. Still having 7-10+ hr stretches at night (hallelujah)! Looked back on my log books I kept of my daughter’s sleep patterns (yes, I’m a nerd) and lo and behold, she also would go down around 90 minutes (although I didn’t know to look for the pattern at the time) and sleep 45 minutes until around 12 wks old at which time she had 2 short and 1 long nap per day. So that gives me hope…Cash hits 12 wks this Thursday.

    I agree with you about the last part of the book…just took that with a grain of salt. I agree with all else though. Definitely also like the “No-Cry Sleep Solution” books (especially the nap one) and think these methods work great together…but this gives you the “sweet spot” (perfect description) to aim for instead of just soothe, soothe, soothe and not knowing when/if the end is in sight.

    I will also say that although I still look for the 90 minute mark, he doesn’t always go down right on it anymore. Now it’s more like sometime between 90-110 minutes. That is probably a lot my fault though because I tend to get busy right up until the 90 min, so don’t give much wind-down time.

    Anyway, I’ll wrap this up…need to just e-mail you directly. I’m so glad you gave it a try and I really hope it continues to work. Love the science behind it…not just another anecdotal sleep book.

  7. kate saab says:

    LOVE this series! Thanks so much Heather! The 90 minute thing is amazing – it has totally helped with my 4 month old baby Seva. I can plan around when he’s going to be tired now which is, as you know, extremely helpful when you have a toddler running around!

  8. [...] didn’t think much of our new guest until Micah neared the 90 minute mark and I needed to find something for Katie to do while I helped him fall asleep. Novelty works like [...]

  9. Hi there! Exact same experience with the program- miserable for the first week as I was putting her down for like 6 short naps a day. But eventually, we found our groove and she’s able to put herself to sleep most of the time. It’s bliss! Anyway, since you wrote this a while ago, can you follow up with how it’s working for you now? Did your baby’s wake times suddenly increase in 90 minute increments like the book describes?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Kristin! Things went beautifully for awhile but then we hit a snag. My son had undiagnosed tongue and maxillary ties that prevented him from being able to nurse correctly. As he got older and needed more nourishment the problem got worse and by five months I was waking up sometimes once an hour to feed him because he was so hungry all the time. That really knocked our cycle around, but eventually he had surgery and now he has one three hour wake cycle in the morning, one that varies, and a longer cycle in the evening. There may be more of a pattern but I haven’t taken the time to notice :)

  10. ana says:

    just started trying this today. book is on its way,so i haven’t actually read it yet -could you please tell me what went wrong the first time you tried it (before reading the book) so i don’t make the same mistake? thanks!!
    did the method continue working for you?

  11. SarahBeth says:

    This book changed my life! My husband and I were at our wits end with a majorly colicky baby, when someone suggested that I read this. I realized that my daughter wasn’t getting nearly enough sleep in a 24 hour period, and accepted the hard truth that I really, truly, needed to change my busy lifestyle to accommodate her sleep needs. From 7-10 months she was consistently doing three naps a day, 2 at 11 months, and finally 1 nap at 16 months.

    Ana – the key is to decide to do it, and stick to the program. It can be rough at first with so many short naps (you wonder if you will ever see the light of day again with all the soothing and rocking), but it gets better, easier, and predictable. And definitely ignore anyone who raises an eyebrow at how often your child sleeps. A happy, well-rested baby is so worth it!

    The best part about the 90 Minute Program? Its gentle, following your baby’s natural rhythms and teaching you to be a better, more in-tune parent. And it really, truly works!

  12. Kat says:

    Hi, Heather! Was hoping you might give an update on how you feel this book has helped with Micah as he aged and the new one.

    • Heather says:

      We ran into some complications with Micah. As it turns out, he had an undiagnosed tongue-tie that prevented him from nursing efficiently. To compensate, he woke more frequently than normal to nurse. We had it corrected at 5 months and then again t 8 months because the first procedure was not successful. When we did that and he was able to nurse well he started sleeping through the night.

      Levi, my third baby, had his tongue tie corrected at 2 weeks old. He is an amazing sleeper and has pretty much been sleeping through the night for months (WHAT?!?!?) I don’t follow a schedule for naps with him simply because our family’s schedule is a moving target and it doesn’t make sense for us. Hope that helps!

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