Marissa Jaret Winokur: Still Suffering from Sleep Deprivation

08/22/2010 at 05:00 PM ET
Brian Putnam/Getty

Marissa Jaret Winokur may be best known for her bubbly, energetic personality, but she admits that the first year of motherhood nearly wore her down.

“It really roughed me up,” Winokur, who’s mom to Zev Isaac, 2, and will be co-hosting CBS’s fall chatfest The Talk, tells PEOPLE Moms & Babies.

“You get sleep-deprived because you’re up all night. People don’t tell you this! I still haven’t had a good night’s sleep since my son has been born – still to this day. I’m sleeping in a racecar bed with my son right now – he’s in a big boy bed but he cries for me in the middle of the night.”

“I became a mother and it was so overwhelming because it was just that moment of, ‘Oh, my God. This is forever,'” she explains. “No one ever told me that. In theory you know this baby is forever, but I don’t think anyone just tells you the extreme responsibility and what that means.”

Winokur, 37, hesitates to label her experience postpartum depression. “I was never diagnosed with anything – I was just totally stressed out and it was hard and I got through it.”

Fortunately, her baby blues have subsided. “I tell every mom out there that at 11 months the cloud will lift and you will start feeling like yourself again,” she said.

Winokur says part of what helped her was “having a really supportive husband [Judah Miller]. Just having a big support team at home and actually dealing with the fact that it’s going to be okay [helps].”

She also frequently turns to her large Facebook following for pointers.

“I ask for all the mommies’ advice on Facebook. The best that I’ve gotten so far: when everyone else was telling me not to sleep in the bed with my son, they said, ‘If you need a good night’s sleep, go sleep in the bed with your son.'”

— Scott Huver

FILED UNDER: Exclusive , News , Parenting

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shannon on

Unfortunately, Marissa is conditioning her son to always expect her to come and console him in the middle of the night. It may be hard but she needs to ignore when he’s crying for no apparent reason. Eventually he will sleep through the night and she will as well.

Shannon on

“I became a mother and it was so overwhelming because it was just that moment of, ‘Oh, my God. This is forever,’” she explains. “No one ever told me that. In theory you know this baby is forever, but I don’t think anyone just tells you the extreme responsibility and what that means.”

^^ This made me LOL but I think I know what she meant. 🙂

Mia on

“You get sleep-deprived because you’re up all night. People don’t tell you this! Are you kidding me? Does she know no other Moms??? I have heard that statement a million times. Of course you are sleep deprived, most moms are!

Marla on

There is no reason a two-year-old should not be sleeping through the night, nor is there a reason why a two-year-old’s parents shouldn’t be either.

We all have to find our own paths as parents, so I’ll give her that, but to be sleep-deprived at this stage of the game is absolutely unnecessary. I have three boys (5, 3 and 11 months) so I speak from experience.

They are so cute, yet, can be slightly manipulative when it comes to sleep. If she truly wants to sleep, she can crack down and make it happen. If she likes sleeping in a racecar bed with her two-year-old son, rather than her husband, then that’s fine. But for the record, it doesn’t have to be that way.

And she is adorable, as is her son.

Shawna on

shannon – some people don’t practice neglect as part of their parenting…

Mira on

There’s nothing unfortunate about a mother consoling her 2-year-old. Shannon, there’s plenty of research that shows that *ignoring* your child’s crying is harmful to them, not responding to it. You got it all wrong.

Julie on

I would hope that my children would be “conditioned” to know that if they cry for me, I will be there for them. Now if they are 10 and still crying for me, there’s an issue there…..but 18 months old? They still need their Mommy.

Sarah S. on

It’s super-hard, but it’s got to be done!! Unfortunately, I did that all up unto this June…and my daughter is about to turn 10 years old in 2 weeks. Totally my bad judgement, but I kept thinking she needed me. Of course she was ready (more than me) to sleep alone. After a few nights of not-so-great sleep, all was well. Now it’s so easy to put her to bed. Marissa, please don’t go years and years like me of sleeping in your son’s bed–he’s not a newborn anymore. He will learn how to console himself without you in the bed. Do this for yourself, your husband and your son!! Trust me…all will be well. Good luck! 🙂

Marina on

Shannon, Why would you not console a crying child at night? Why would you condition him to know that you won’t come if he cries for “no apparent reason”? Enjoy you kids, nurture them, make them feel secure. If they know you come, they will grow into a confident adults.Ingoring a crying child at night may lead to a lot of problems later on in life.

Nick on

Some of you are so funny! Conditioning them to need you in the middle of the night. As the mother of now teenagers, I wish they needed me in the middle of the night. Cuddle and love them while you can! They will still need hugs, but certainly will sleep alone (and at sleepovers) without you.

jessicad on

Forever definitely hits you in that first year! I remember a woman in the grocery store admiring my daughter when she was around 10 months old and she asked me if the “fog” had lifted yet, I thought it was a perfect way of putting it. It’s so hazy and scary in the beginning but slowly you feel yourself coming out of it and getting more confident as a mother and getting into a routine, especially when they finally start sleeping through the night:)

Marissa seems like an amazing Mom and her family is always smiling!

I do hate that someone still felt the need to criticize her getting in the bed with her son, makes me sad that women are so hard on each other like that.

torgster on

How I would LOVE to put in my two cents worth but I’m going to make myself take the high road, as in if I can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all! LOL

Nick on

Enjoy sleeping with them now, as the mother of teenagers, they most certainly will sleep without you in the middle of the night! And they will be fine at sleepovers also. The seriousness and judgemental responses are amazing.

Good luck and enjoy these times now. You will get sleep again.

Megan on

“You get sleep-deprived because you’re up all night. People don’t tell you this!”

I must be hanging around a different crowd. Because the first thing I’ve always heard from new parents is “I’m so tired. I haven’t slept 8 hours straight yet.” I’ve yet to meet anyone who didn’t share that.

Also, I agree with Shannon. You always see people make that mistake on Super Nanny and then you end with parents in two separate beds long term.

Kelly on

If my son (who’s 27 months old) wakes up crying in the middle of the night, we go in and settle him down if he doesn’t settle himself after a few minutes. Not once have I or my husband crawled into bed with him, and I don’t think we ever will. There’s a big difference between letting your kid scream for a half hour, and giving them a chance to calm themselves back to sleep before going in and taking matters into your own hands. I do lean towards Shannon’s way of thinking, and I feel have well adjusted healthy kids to show for it.

Everyone’s parenting style is different, and we don’t have the right to tell other families what should work for them, but I do foresee there being issues down the road if Marissa continues to give into his every cry. Your kids learn how to manipulate you. Kids trained to behave this way learn that if they cry, you will come and get them and they’ll continue doing it as long as you let them get away with it. This isn’t to say you let your kid scream for hours on end, but a little crying never hurt any child, and your kid will NOT suffer in the long term. I have a 3 month old daughter that’s sleeping through the night and she’s already learning how to self soothe. And guess what? With two kids, I’m getting 8+ hours a night, and so are they.

Sarah on

Totally agree with Kelly. With my 16 month old, we had an issue a few months back whereby she would wake up and start wimpering in the middle of the night. We’d get up and go in and see her before she had had a chance to settle herself down on her own. Big mistake, because she then got into a habit of waking up and not being able to settle herself down. So, with the advice of a good friend (and also my Mom), we decided to leave her for 5 minutes to see if she would settle on her own. After 3 nights like that, she found her way to sleeping through the night again. It’s not about letting the baby scream for hours, it’s about letting them find their way with their sleep pattern. I must say, it’s the best thing we ever did. Of course, when we know the baby is teething, or if she is sick, then this does not apply, we go straight in to her (more or less), but generally speaking, we are delighted with how she is turning out.

I feel for Marissa, but at the same time, there are solutions at hand, and eventhough it is never pleasant to hear your baby scream for 5 minutes and I felt at the time I was about to jump out of bed to see what the matter was, I didn’t and I’m glad I didn’t.

As for sleeping in the same bed as him … well, I won’t comment on that, but let’s just say it’s not my style of parenting 🙂

JLD on

My son turned 16 in July; 11 years prior to that, he moved to his own bed and went willingly and happily. While our circumstances are slightly different (my son’s father wasn’t around much), I will NEVER regret the “family bed” with my son. We both slept better and when it was time for him to sleep in his own room, it was a matter of practice and praise; essentially like potty training-no doubt he was ready for both before me! At any rate, just as I’ve never seen a bride/groom walk down the aisle with a pacifier in their mouth, I’m more than certain I’ve never heard of a child not sleeping in their own bed and alone by the time they start dating. To each their own; what works or doesn’t for some won’t or will for others. Parenting is tough, unless those of you judging have the perfect solution for parenting ALL children, I think I’d keep my judgments to myself. Glass houses and stones-they never go well together. p.s. without a doubt, if my son’s father HAD been around, I still would’ve done it the same way as I had pretty much planned that previous.

Marina on

Sarah, the reason your baby is settling down is because you conditioned her to know that no matter how much she will cry during these five minutes, you won’t be coming. What a way to nurture your baby’s fears at night. How do you know that it’s nothing serious – is a bad dream serious, is a need for your closeness a sign of being manipulative?
Both my kids slept in bed with us and turned to be perfectly happy and heathy kids. My goal is to make sure that when they need the parent we are there for them, day and night. Now spoiling is different from nurturing is something else. Good luck with your parenting style. Remember, it’s not about what’s good for you.

Christie on

Sarah – you sound like my husband and I!! We have a 13 month old little boy and his sleep went through an awful time a couple of months ago. He was waking in the middle of the night and while we were initially worried that something was wrong, after a few nights we realized he was just enjoying sleeping in our arms in the glider better. As enjoyable as it was to be holding him, for 1 to 2 hours in the middle of the night it got a bit rough. I agree that 5 minutes of them crying can seem like a lifetime but we do the same thing – 5 to 10 minutes and if he hasn’t calmed down then we go in and soothe him. We stopped picking him up unless it obvious something is really wrong and he does just fine calming himself back down. He’s going through teething right now and fusses almost every night for about 5 minutes around 3 but goes right back to sleep until he wakes for the day. It can be done!!

T~ on

Unfortunately people think what worked for them is the way EVERYONE should do it. Thats not true. A mother knows their child, if she wants to be with him, then she should, she is not “teaching” him anything other than his mom will always be there. Some where the idea of being able to spoil a baby came into play. You cannot SPOIL a baby, especially not an infant. Depending on the personality of a 3 year old i am hesitant to say you can spoil them. If you have a manipulative 3 year old then yeah maybe they learn to control you, but my 3 year old was not like that. I dont see any harm in saying this was my experience, BUT “diagnosing” people and children we have never met, is a little egotistical in my opinion. Share you experience, but dont try to tell people how to parent based on your experience or lack there of. THAT JMHO!

Anonymous on

I wouldn’t (and didn’t) want my child to learn that no one will come when he/she needs help. Just because you don’t know the reason doesn’t mean there’s NO reason when a child cries in the middle of the night.

Sara on

“Unfortunately, Marissa is conditioning her son to always expect her to come and console him in the middle of the night.”

So how many 18year-olds do you know who still need mommy to come into their room at night and soothe them back to sleep?

Every child is different, sure. But not going to comfort a crying baby because there’s “no apparent reason” is not parenting, it’s neglect, nothing else. If you want your kid to learn that it cannot rely on you when it’s in need, sure, go ahead, let it cry. Personally, I’d rather my kids know I’ll always be there for them, even if it means sacrificing uninterrupted sleep for a while.

Monique on

There’s a world of difference between taking care of your crying child’s needs and needing to sleep with them every night just so they won’t cry. If you want to sleep in a family bed, that’s great, if you want to sleep each in their own rooms, that’s great too, but if you’re complaining that you’re sleep-deprived and not getting a good night’s sleep, then clearly something needs to be changed!

Jennifer on

Oh boy, my son was a sleep manipulator! He is 17 mo. now and sleeping great in his own crib (2 1/2 hour nap and all night long). But, it took a long time to get there. He would cry and scream and it was heart wrenching and terrible for my husband and I, but we had to let him cry it out at some point. My son needed to learn to put himself to sleep. After crossing out all the ideas of what it “could be” that was keeping him up at night (he wasn’t sick, wasn’t hurt, didn’t need changed, belly was full), we realized it was him…just wanting us. And we needed our sleep and he did too. And it was very hard when you would go in there to console him and he would start smiling and laughing. GRRRRR! Anyway, we are all happier now…and rested! Of course, our technique just worked for us…maybe it isn’t for everyone. And we also have two children…so, it is hard with one being tired…oh my, being pregnant and having #2 sends you into complete exhaustion mode! Good luck to Melissa and her family!

mae on

I respect the fact that Marissa ,unlike many other celebs, is being honest about her mixed feelings with regards to motherhood. Far too often moms make other moms feel less than with stories of their near perfect children and motherhood bliss. Being a mom is tough and the first year can be pretty challenging with the sleep deprivation. As for her choice of sleep methods –as the mom she knows what works best for her and her child.

Jill on

I have never heard of anywhere being unaware of how being a mom is exhausting. That is one of the first things I have heard. I have been around many families who have used the Ferber method and see nothing wrong with that if it is what the family decides. I think children need to be able to comfort themselves to an extent. We as parents want to do everything for our children and I think by letting them be independant is one of them. At almost 2 years old, I would not be sleeping in the same room as my child. Not going to happen ever. I have a bed and my child has a bed for a reason. It is important to set boundaries. The child will be fine as long as you let them know they will be fine. I feel that calming the child down and getting back to sleep is one thing, but remaining with them is another. The other thing I never understand is why children who have trouble sleeping at night can nap with no problem….it isn’t because it is dark, it is because it is a routine.

Christie on

I guess I am one of the lucky ones in that my daughter was sleeping through the night by 6-8 weeks. Unless she’s not feeling well for some reason, she still sleeps through for 10-11 hours a night and usually has at least one, if not two, naps of at least 2 hours every day. She’s 17 months old now and I actually find that I am more tired these days because she is so active and wants to get into everything. The first year was actually mostly a breeze because she was napping and not walking.

mmh on

Monique makes a good point. Marissa isn’t saying “this works for me”; she’s saying “this doesn’t work for me”… BIG difference…

Anna on

A two year old should be sleeping through the night. I feel like she truly treats her child like a baby. That is just my opinion from reading articles about her on this site. Granted she only has one child, but she seems to smother him a lot. From the way she dresses him to the way she talks about him. Geeze. Its just too much. And the way she goes on talking about him, come on. Its exhausting!

Laura on

Of course every child and every mother is different, but as a rule children need to learn how to self-soothe. As a psychologist treating anxiety disorders, I *do* see teenagers who cannot go to sleep on their own (they may not go into their parents’ room but they need TV or something else to go to sleep, avoid going to sleep and stay online until all hours, etc). can’t go to sleepovers, and so on. Ironically often the most “needy” kids who get “babied” the most are the ones who are predisposed to anxiety and need to develop confidence (in sleep and everything else). It is not neglect if it is done in a planful, caring way. I’d recommend that she consult with a sleep and anxiety/stress expert, and for those who cannot afford to meet with an expert there are many excellent research-based resources out there such as Sleeping Through The Night by Jodi Mindell. Without medical issues, babies are physically ready to sleep through the night between 2-6 months and the rest of the challenges are habits that can be modified.

meghan on

@Anna of course she goes on about him. This is a celebrity parents site, they want the quotes about her son. The press knows what she went through to have him and so they ask about him at public appearances. The press does that a lot with other celebrities, making them look like all they do is talk about their kids. It’s misleading. And so what if she wants to talk all day about her kid? I’m happy for her!

Sarah on

@ Laura – thanks for your comment. Mine kind of got torn apart by someone when all I was saying was that, at night, I always left it 5 minutes before going into my daughter’s room if she had started crying or wimpering. I often found that, by going in straigthaway, I was preventing her from self-soothing and actually, finished waking her up. I don’t deem that as neglect, I look at it as giving them the beginnings of a bit of self-confidence in their own ability. My daugther is just thriving, she no longer wakes up during the night, or if she does, it lasts a few seconds and she can just turn over and go back to sleep. We are all well-rested, and it shows in how our day goes. She’s a confident child, who likes to do things with me, but also, on her own, isn’t afraid to reach out towards others, but is also perfectly happy doing things on her own terms.
I’m all for nurturing, but at the end of the day, I do feel we need to equip our children for life, let them grow up and be who they need to be.

Kelly on

@ Sarah – We are so much alike in our parenting styles. Naysayers don’t seem to understand that this type of parenting isn’t about “neglect” (what loving stable parent would ever neglect their child?!), it’s about giving your child the tools to develop into self sufficient confident children and then adults. We’re not sitting on our beds tenting our fingers and cackling maniacally while our children sob uncontrollably in their beds. Why do you think shows like Nanny 911 exist? Parents on the whole these days want to be their kids’ friends, rather than authority figures, and most pay dearly for it once their kids are old enough to overtly manipulate and backtalk their parents. And I won’t raise my children to be one of those kids.

NoAdditives on

There is absolutely nothing wrong with comforting your child when they cry for you, no matter their age. Kids wake up for a wide variety of reasons and we don’t always know what they are. Sometimes, even as babies, they have bad dreams or simply wake up confused and then get scared. Settling them down or bringing them to bed with you does not harm them in any way and doesn’t necessarily turn into a life long habit. And, as others have said, comforting a baby or child does a world of good. It helps foster good self-esteem and self confidence and helps children create good coping skills for stressful situations. Children need to know that they are loved and will be taken care of, they do not need to be ignored.

melanie on

As for the one who said she never goes to check on her child and just lets him cry and work it out on its own,sounds to me like she would rather have her sleep than go check on her child. As a mother of 2, one grown, he is almost 24, and a 16 year old daughter, to say that you would not go check on your child is just wrong, yes, some times they do cry just to get attention, other times they may need a diaper changed, or are hungry, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to make sure that there needs are met.

My son had colic really bad for the first year,so sleep was not something that I got a lot of, and then he started having severe nosebleeds a few years later, and to think of not going to check on him, especially having severe nosebleeds, I shudder to think what could have happened to him if I had not checked on him.

I now have a daughter who has asthma and while it is not too much of a problem, thankfully, you still want them to know that they are being looked out for and protected.
God gave us our children and they are the most precious gift that we can be given, you lose sleep, but, what get from it knowing that everything is good with the children makes it all worth it, and to thing any other way to me just sounds like someone who wants a perfect world and can not afford to lose her sleep. Enjoy them while you can because they will be grown before you know it.