A family's story

Who needs sleep?

I am sure that if you google “sleep issues”, my family is in the first few hits. I know I write whine about this often, but goodness, why can’t my family learn to sleep? I think I need the Sleep Whisperer or something. I have, most definitely, failed miserably in the “teach your kids how to sleep” department.

Exhibit A: Jake

Jake has never been a huge sleeper. It’s well-known by family and friends, alike, that Jake is, ahem, never tired. He has only slept about 9 hours at night since the time he was 4. In those days, thankfully, he did make up for some of his sleep with long naps. The naps disappeared sometime after he turned 5. Currently, he goes to bed around 8, lights out at 8:30, and is up, I kid you not, by 5 am. Every.Single.Day. (Ok, that’s exaggerating…there are a few days here and there, typically on weekends, when he’ll sleep until 6. But those are few and far between.) I would also like to state, for the record, that we can put Jake to bed at 7 pm, 9 pm, or 11 pm (after a neighborhood bonfire), and he’ll STILL FREAKIN’ WAKE UP AT 5 am.

This week, Jake has decided that 4:30 am is the perfect wake-up time. Trouble is, he has to announce his awakeness (yes, I’m making that a word) to Hubz and me. He’s almost 9, and I could really give a hmm-hmm about the fact that he has used the bathroom. On the days that he doesn’t announce his bathroom visits, he climbs into bed and stares us in the face until we wake up in a panic because “I always feel like someone is watching me.” I am currently trying to find some good blackout drapes to put over his wood blinds…and we’ve even discussed buying one of those light-up alarm clocks that will give him a visual clue as to an acceptable “emerging from your room” time.


Exhibit B: Tate

Many of my sleepless rants are centered around Mr. Tater. Love him. Hate his sleep issues. This child has never really slept consistently through the night. Ever. In six years and 2 months. We’ve had bouts of good sleep..but then something, such as a cold, gets in the way and we’re back to square one. I am going to bring this ridiculousness up with his ABA team at our next meeting. I think we need to work on it. We have a fairly established routine, so I know it can’t be a “lack of routine” thing. I have read it is “typical” for 6 year olds to fight bedtime. Tate takes it to a new level. We can escort him back to his room 2, 3, 5, 23 times a night, if necessary. And he’s LOUD. Like wake-his-brothers-from-deep-sleep-loud.

The past 3 nights, it has taken either me or Hubz to lay down with him to get him to sleep. Sunday night it took 20 minutes for him to calm down. Monday night it took 30. Last night took an hour and 15 minutes. For serious! We invested in a fabulous weighted blanket…which does seem to help keep him asleep…except that with the emergence of summer weather, well, he doesn’t want it on his body. He doesn’t tolerate the spray melatonin our psychiatrist recommended. We can’t try any capsules of melatonin, because they are all too high-powered for our little man. Last night, on top of taking for-freaking-ever to fall asleep, he was up at 1  and at 2 am shouting that he wanted to go home. (I reassured him that he was, indeed, at home.) He was up for good at 4:30…when he heard Jake’s door open and the toilet flush.


Exhibit C: Cole

Cole is our best sleeper. Even so, he only sleeps 9 or so hours at night. We put him to bed with his brothers, but he’ll play, quietly, in his room for an hour or two. Luckily, he still takes decent naps to make up for the sleep he should be getting at night. This morning he woke up, screaming. He was convinced that there was a chipmunk in his room. His bedroom is on the second floor of our house. I would be freaked even more than he is if that is true. Hubz did some recon work up there while I took Jake to his bus stop this morning, and couldn’t find anything. Cole made me check it out again before his nap this afternoon. Thankfully I didn’t find anything either, or we’d be in a hotel tonight. I’m sure it was just something he dreamed or imagined…and yet, those are some crafty little critters…I wouldn’t put it past them to manage a tunnel into our upstairs…it may be time to call an exterminator!

Exhibit D: Jake and Tate one-two punch

As you can imagine, the mid-night wakings from Exhibit B, coupled with the butt-crack-of-dawn wakings of Exhibit A are leaving Hubz and I at a massive sleep loss. I am surviving the day thanks to some coffee, tea, and a diet coke. I’m drinking ice-cold water, which keeps me going, too. But seriously, what does a woman have to do to get some sleep around here???

In the meantime, I struggle not to doze off while the therapists are here with Tate…and play the lyrics of the old Barenaked Ladies Song in my mind over and over…

Who needs sleep? Well, you’re never gonna get it.

Who needs sleep? Tell me what’s that for?

Who needs sleep? Be happy what you’re getting..there’s a guy who’s been awake since the Second World War.



Comments on: "Who needs sleep?" (12)

  1. Brooke Graphia said:

    Oh GOSH!!
    (Jake suggestion) Jake is old enough for a digital clock and a lesson on we do not come out our room until the clock says…. keep his electronic games in there something
    Tate why is the pill too powerful for Tate they come in 1,3 and 5 mg I would think the smaller would work??????
    Bryson who has/had horrible sleep issues AND night terrors (sounds like what Tate had when begging to go home ) it changed my life!!
    I am so sorry I cannot imagine living in constant sleep deprivation!!! Praying that you find the right formula

    • We have a digital clock in there. With his inability to grasp numbers, etc, he has no concept that 4 is before 6 and that it is wayyyy to early. He can grasp the concept that if the light is on, come out, if not, stay in bed. *sigh* I may try other melatonin…anything to get Tate a good night’s sleep!

  2. First of all, do you know me well enough to know that any discussion of lack of sleep goes with my general rant to get an EEG and rule out sleep seizure activity? I think you do. I cannot remember if your boys have been assessed for that. Toots did not sleep for the first 2.5 years of his life through the night. There were wakings at 1:30-2 a.m., 4 a.m. and he never went to bed before 10 p.m. If we got him to bed by 10 p.m., he was up by 11:30 p.m. as well. There were times it was so bad I thought of taking him to the ER. It turned out to be his sleep seizures. At 2.5, he had pneumonia and was given some prednisone (a strong steroid) which also has an affect on seizures – I thought it was the asthma diagnosed then but it turned out it was always seizures. Undetectable except by the EEG.

    Now, with that out of the way, Toots has never ever napped (except for his first nanny when he was 1 year old). He goes to bed between 10-11 every night. I tried 1.0 ml of Melatonin but he had a horrible reaction (very melty during the day) and I gave up on it. After a few more weeks, I tried again, cutting that dose to half a ml in a dropper for liquid Melatonin I bought from Whole Foods. It has been a wonder drug – WONDER drug! Within 45 minutes of me giving it to him, he passes out like clockwork. Try again!! Get the liquid. Give him half of the dose like I’m doing. Please – for your sanity – keep trying and modifying the dose!! xoxo

    • Tate has had an EEG…both a standard and a 48 hour. Those indicated that he has had no seizure activity. With Jake, I am waiting to hear what the neuropsych has to say. If she recommends a neurologist visit, then we will get him checked out!

      I think I need to get that liquid melatonin!

  3. This all sounds very familiar. Ryan was almost always up by 5:30 a.m. and if we put him to bed later he generally got up earlier. He takes melatonin — I don’t know how much it helps, but the only thing that has truly made difference is his weighted blanket. He doesn’t wake as often during the night and has even SLEPT IN a few days til 7, 8, or beyond. i cannot recommend this product enough. It is exactly what he needed. We still have some bad sleep nights, but they are far more infrequent now.

    Hang in there!

    • Thanks, Neil. We bought a weighted blanket from the website you had previously suggested. It worked great…when Tate kept it on. Now that it’s been hotter than Hades around here, he won’t use it. This week we gave up, and let him and Jake sleep in the basement. He uses his weighted blanket down there because it’s cooler. He’s slept through the night 3 nights in a row, with only one interruption on Sunday night. Just might have to keep him down there while this heat wave persists. I agree, that blanket is worth its weight in gold.

      • So glad to hear it! I’m sure it doesn’t work for everyone but I know of a lot of success stories so far. It really has made an incredible difference in our house.

  4. greenwichspecialneedssupport said:

    Reblogged this on Greenwich Special Needs Support Group and commented:
    We’ve had so many sleeping issues. Does anyone think it’s worth getting tonsils out for my snoring son?

  5. I’m going to echo Karen here — the melatonin has worked wonders for Little Miss.

    Previously, we were using a good bedtime routine and trying to put her down by 9:30. She would then toss, turn, play, fight, jump, sing, and generally cause mayhem on up until midnight or so. But nooo… we weren’t done there! Then, she was up at 2, 4, 6, 7… she’d finally fall back to sleep after my husband got up for work and happily sleep until 10. IT SUCKED.

    We too found the wonders of liquid melatonin. If you don’t have Whole Foods around you, try a vitamin store (we found ours at Vitamin World in 1mg:1ml cherry flavor for about $8). The 1ml dose works on Little Miss in about 30 minutes.

    Of course, this only got us from your “exhibit B” child to your “exhibit a” child, LOL. Little Miss is still an early riser — she was doing 5 AM ever since the first signs of spring (damn you, daylight savings time!). We added blackout curtains (check Target for panels at a decent price) and now at least, she will try to go back to sleep after our 5 AM wake-up call.

    It’s still not a perfect solution, but on good nights we get about 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I never knew how good that could be!

    • Thanks, Karla. I have to get that liquid melatonin. We have a natural food store here in town, I may try that. Otherwise, I can hit up Whole Foods on Friday when I take Tate to therapy!

  6. what about the melatonin drops, Lisa? That’s what Lily takes. And first of all, let me state for the record that I believe melatonin does two things for kids. 1) Jack and 2) shit. But that’s based on my experience with Lily. If it works for your kiddos, what about the dropper? It actually tastes sorta good. (I try my kids meds before I give them so I have a valid counterargument when they tell me how bad it tastes).

    • Thanks, Jim. Gotta try those melatonin drops. Worth an effort, anyway! Thanks for verifying that they don’t taste awful, either. Score!

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