Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wanted: Sleep

Like I mentioned in a previous post, I do not function very well without sleep. And recently, our kids have not been very forthcoming on that front. Ironically, it is not even the baby who is keeping us up, at least not an unreasonable amount. I could deal with the nighttime nursing if I did not also have to contend with the other kids' antics.
For the past few months, Y has been having trouble falling asleep at night. Then he started waking up earlier and earlier, some days 5 am or 5 30. 6 30 is a good day. Sometimes for fun he would wake M up too.
My husband and I are both not early risers or morning people so we would let them play on their own while we tried to sleep, with often disastrous consequences- cocoa powder all over the couch, Pam sprayed all over our wood floors, spilled juice, etc.
Then a few weeks ago, M started waking up in the middle of the night too. One morning I found him watching videos glassy-eyed at 6 30 am. When I took away the iPad (note to self, don't leave entertainment sitting out for the kids to access on their own), he announced that he was going to bed. Within 30 seconds he was sleeping and he slept for three hours that morning, which led me to believe that he has been up for several hours in the middle of the night, watching Barney or Fireman Sam.
Last night was the last straw. I woke up in the middle of the night to the sounds of the boys laughing and playing. I assumed it was early morning and asked my husband to check on them. Whereupon we discovered that it was actually 2 30 am, not even remotely a time to wake up. It took two attempts to get Y back to bed...
This morning I was tired and cranky and decided that this has to stop. I spoke to the pediatrician, who said it was probably connected to a growth spurt or acquiring a new skill. She encouraged me to make strict rules about staying in bed, not waking the others and not making a mess. She also said we could try Melatonin as it works for some kids.
The problem is, Y does not really follow rules. Sometimes I am not sure if he does not understand them or just chooses to ignore them. He does not always understand rewards and consequences either, especially when they are more abstract and not immediate. So the next step is to speak to a behavioral specialist who can help us set appropriate limits for him with good reinforcers/consequences that are meaningful for him and will motivate him to comply. This is something I have been wanting to do for a while anyway in other realms such as safety awareness and sibling interactions but the sleep issue has finally gotten this project to the top of my "to-do" lists. I will report back once we have a plan in place, in case it could be helpful for others.
In the meantime, here is to hoping for a quiet night on all fronts.


  1. wonderful idea to work with a behavior specialist on this issue hatzlachah

  2. I've had similar issues with my boys, but with the exception of my 7 year old nonverbal autistic boy, they've grown out of it.

    I find that my son learns appropriate behaviors, but more slowly than typical kids.

    I too learned not to leave the iPod and iPad out; I have a hiding place in my closet, and when he finds it I move it to a different spot.

    If I don't want him to watch TV in the morning I unplug the TV or DVD player. Otherwise I make sure to set the channel to PBS or similar.

    Generally my kids are good sleepers, but we have had these phases and they tend to go away, with reminders that it's not OK to watch TV in the night, etc.

    Also, I sometimes leave a bowl of dry, good-tasting cereal on the kitchen table where he can see it - having something available to eat distracts him from getting into messier fare.