Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dear Sleep. I Miss You

Please Note: I am writing this post at 4:00 am. Unfortunately, being awake at this time has become the norm for me in the past 2 months. As I recently found out one of the common issues faced by parents of kids with autism is sleep deprivation. For some reason, sleepless nights often seems to come with raising a child with Autism and parents everywhere search for answers. Sounds odd and funny I know, but it’s true. If you don't believe me, simply google "Autism and sleep disorders" and you will get a flood of articles and forums full of parents asking for and dispensing advice regarding this groggy issue.
Natalie goes to sleep at 11PM every night. You cannot get her to sleep before that time. If you try, she will scream, cry and never stop until you finally allow her to get out of bed. It has not been uncommon for Natalie to wake up almost every night between 3AM and 4:30AM and simply be awake for the rest of the night (and morning). And it’s the staying awake part that makes the sleep deprivation so difficult and different from other aspects of child raising. Every parent has to deal with kids waking up at different times during the night, but usually it’s tied to a specific reason or easily identifiable – such as an illness.

It would be a lot easier if I felt like I could be productive for all of these hours I’m awake with Natalie. But it’s a lot of work being awake with her. She is either asking for a different show on TV, asking for snacks, trying to play with loud toys, or getting into some other type of trouble.
I was hoping that cutting down Natalie’s TV time and giving her a soothing warm bubble bath in the evenings would help her to sleep through the night more frequently. However, this is not the case. Additionally I thought that if she had more activity throughout the day it would help her to sleep all night. The added activity did seem to help for a few nights, but that is no longer the case. That is one element that makes this situation challenging: it’s so unpredictable. Invariably the question comes up: why does she wake up and stay up? And the answer is: nobody really knows. 

There are times when I hear her belly growling and I offer her a snack or maybe it is a noise just outside her window or mommy’s snoring (Lol). Of course, we have no way of finding out 100% what the issue is at any given time because Natalie can’t tell us.

We took Natalie to see her pediatrician yesterday and he suggested we give her 1mg of Melatonin in the hopes that it’ll help her sleep consistently. We will try this tonight. Fingers crossed.

But for now the rest of the day will be like so many the past couple of months – filled with lots of caffeine and me pushing myself to be as alert and productive as possible.

Please help me reach my Goal!