Sleep. Who Needs It?

We all have those days. Something goes a little off, not even in a bad way, during the day and we spend half the night up with a little one who is either screaming or ready to play.

I had that kind of night last night. My little one fell asleep much too early. Though how 8 can be too early, I’m not sure. I think he’s just constructed like his mother where sleep is concerned, he just doesn’t seem to need as much of it as say, his older brother. He woke up happy and ready to play at about 2AM. I managed to get him back to sleep about 4 or so and I’ve been stealing moments to shut my eyes ever since.

Sleep routines never seem to work for us, though that’s as much my fault as anything. We just can’t seem to get it together. In part, it is difficult because my husband works a rotating shift schedule. Every week is different, as far as when he is home and able to spend time with the boys so he can’t really be too involved in a solid bedtime routine. Having a six month old puppy doesn’t help either. Even very early, we couldn’t set up any kind of routines, his reflux made it impossible. But, I suppose I need to try again.

It’s a common problem and everyone has their suggestions from melatonin, foods high in tryptophan, white noise or soft music, weighted blankets, strict routines. We have tried some of these things but haven’t yet found what works for us.

What works for you?


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. heathstaff
    Jul 27, 2010 @ 16:49:45

    We use melatonin with both of our kids on the spectrum. If I did not use it, I am sure that I would have died a long time ago from sleep deprivation. I was skeptical for awhile about it, but it has truely help us all. Hunter, our oldest son, never slept well. Once we threw a new baby in the mix, we were really in trouble. First, we made the mistake of letting him fall asleep watching cartoons. Then, we later learned from our developmentalist that it was way too much sensory input while falling asleep. Putting that habit away was a challenge in itself.

    Then we tried to have somewhat of a night time routine. However, we all know that a new baby has no routine and often doesn’t sleep when everyone else does. But we tried to keep bath time pretty predictable and relax time with one parent every night, usually with my husband when he was on daylight and on his days off. However, it was a battle to the death when I was by myself with both boys. There were nights that I slept maybe 3 hours of broken sleep. Needless to say, we were all very tired and grumpy for quite a long time.

    Once we got our oldest a diagnosis, we decided it was not just our imaginations, he did in deed, have a sleep disorder. We decided to try Melatonin and it was a God send for us. I hated to have him take something, but later we learned it is common for kids on the spectrum to have low Melatonin and Lithium levels, which contributes to sleep issues. Those dreaded sleep issues came back to haunt us with our youngest son Tristan as well.

    Hunter also had a lot of sensory issues that prevented him from sleeping as well. See he didn’t know and still has issues with proprioception, or being able to distinguish where his body is in relation to the world. He was such a wild sleeper, tossing and turning all night. Even when he did sleep, it was not a restful sleep, so he was always so weak and tired. Once ours younger son came, he craved being squeezed and hugged in tight spots. We then learned about the importance of the sensory system and sleep. For almost a year, he slept in a playpen layered in blankets and covered with a crib tent. We also added a weighted blanket for soothing deep pressure.

    Now that we have his sensory system calmed down a bit, he usually always sleeps in a real bed with his weighted blanket on. However, we still have days when he is sick that he will want to sleep with us or in his crib. We continue to work on him sleeping well and are transitioning out of Melatonin for most nights.

    Tristan, on the other hand, has continued sleep issues that vary from week to week. We found through our Defeat Autism Now doctor, that night wakening often is related to allergies of some type, be it food or environmental. So we have to get him tested for some food allergies, since Hunter has so many, it would not be a surprise to us if he did as well. Tristan is on Melatonin and 5 htp, which is a precurser to tryptophan, the stuff that makes us sleepy in turkey. See he can fall asleep with the Melatonin, but he wakes up in 2 hours and is ready to go again. You can see how this could take a lot out of any parent. He also uses a weighted blanket to sleep because he craves that deep pressure also. Both the boys take a bath with lavender oil to help calm them at night and they also use white noise from air purifiers.

    These are the methods that we haved used and worked well with at least Hunter. We are continuing the battle in finding a solution with Tristan’s sleep issues. What works for us, may not work for you but when we are all sleep deprived things do not run smoothly. If my children wanted to sleep on a bed of nails and they said it felt good and they slept, I would not have a problem with it. As long as everyone is resting well, I would try anything that you have researched and deem safe for your family.


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